High Street No. 232 – Heritage Building

This shop was the site of Morley’s Academy, which was on the upper floors, where the author HG Wells went to school, after he had graduated from the Dame school on south street. It was demolished in 1902 and replaced with the current building.

Shop with 3 storeys brick Arts and Crafts era above.
The building which replaced Morley’s Academy that the author HG Wells attended.
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High Street 189-191 Former Cottages

The Funeral Directors , News Agents and dry cleaners shop occupy two 18th century cottages, part of a terrace originally of five.

They are typical Kentish vernacular style with the characteristic double pitched roofs clad with Kentish clay peg tiles.

Typical Kentish vernacular style 1700s cottages
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Palace Park – 1732 Lead Cistern

drawing of lead cistern with decorations

This lead cistern says that it was installed by Bishop of Rochester, Joseph Wilcocks. He carried out renovations and improvements to the palace. Thanks to Bromley Borough Local History.

The whereabouts of the cistern is not now know, it was last on the land that the council has sold for housing development.

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High Street – Bromley Zoo Mural – Heritage Buildings

Bromley Zoo Mural was designed and painted by artist Bruce Williams in 2001 to lead shoppers from the Hill Car park via Naval Walk to the High Street. A panda and leopard lurk among the shrubbery and a variety of animals are presented in cunning trompe l’oeil (trick the eye) scenes.

Unfortunately most of it has been lost, but it is hoped to replace it, this time on boards that can be removed if the walls change again.

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High Street No. 232, former Grete House lodge

This is one of a pair of early 18th century lodges at the entrance to the driveway to the Grete House, a Tudor mansion and its lands occupying all of what is now Sainsburys store and car park.

The lodge to Grete House in the 1990s

In the nineteenth century the lodge was the premises of Daniel Grinstead, one of a long line of seedsmen connected with the Mill at Southend, Downham. DG was a considerable entrepreneur and land owner. As director of the Bromley Electric Light Company he built, in 1898, a huge electricity generating station behind here with a tall chimney which belched black smoke over Market Square for 40 odd years.

Currently it’s a tattooists.

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High Street No. 206 Diners Inn formerly George Weeks ironmongery

brick and stone shop with gable and balcony
Diners Inn, formerly George Week’s ironmongery

The Diner Inn occupies George Weeks’ 1890s extension to his original shop next door. Its grand Arts & Crafts, Dutch influenced architecture, displays both his personal success and civic pride. Note the name above the front gable and advertisement on the side wall all in enduring ceramic tiles. The shop replaced an old house important as having been the premises of the famous Bromley based surgeon, Dr James Scott. So respected was he that special stage coaches, known as the Scott Coaches, regularly plied for London the Bell Inn opposite for the convenience of his affluent patients.

Stone balustrade on a balcony with pillars and lettering above the window
Ceramic tiles above a fine balustrade
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Famous People – Dr James Scott

Dr James Scott, from EL Horsburgh’s book.

In the Victorian times, Dr James Scott’s (1779-1848) had a surgery, on Bromley High Street. His surgery stood opposite the Royal Bell Hotel, where the Diners Inn (formerly George Week’s shop, as a ceramic tile panel attests) is now.

He was nationally famous and renowned, gained his notoriety on account of his specialism and success in the treatment of diseased joints and ulcers.

As Dr Scott’s reputation spread in the early 1800s, sufferers of these chronic and painful conditions from all over the country would make their way to Bromley. Many came to London and stayed in hotels, traveling down to Bromley for the day by coach. Others stayed at The Bell, The Swan and Mitre, The White Hart or one of the many other Bromley Inns. When John Harradine took over the Swan and Mitre in 1855, he found a huge collection of crutches in the loft. They had belonged to those people who had badly needed them when they arrived in Bromley, but had no need of crutches when they left. For several years Dr Scott’s annual income exceeded £10,000, a massive fortune in that period. And more than well deserved.

People from far and wide would literally sing his praises for allowing them a normal life free from terrible pain and suffering. Dr Scott was also partly responsible for the growth of the town. Families who could afford to travel the length of Britain to come to Bromley for treatment were often upper middle class, and thus many decided to live permanently in the town of Bromley, buying up houses until demand outstripped supply. New developments were built as a direct result of this. The houses on Bromley Common between Homesdale Road and St Luke’s Church date from that period.

Georgian houses with railings at the front
Dr James Scott’s surgery on the High Street – from the Stanley Hallworth collection

Thanks to Bromley Gloss for this information.

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High Street No. 181 Hunters Jewellers – Victorian Shop front

Hunters the Jewellers has the finest surviving Victorian Shopfront in Bromley.

A similar design for the tailors, Walter Tarry in the Upper High Street, was saved from destruction in the 1970s and is now on permanent display at the Museum of London at the Barbican.

However, the owner has retired, so it is likely that this shop front will be lost soon.

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Queens Mead and it’s Protected View

Down Glassmill Road, the other side of the River Ravensbourne from Martins Hill, is the grassy park of Queens Mead.

It has a protected view, though this looks like it will not survive much longer:

Grassy park with Churchill Theatre peeping over trees
View of Martins Hill from Queens Mead, with Churchill Theatre peeping over the trees.

The line of buildings that are very likely when ‘Site G’ is built (and more expected to the left of these blocks, when extra storeys are added on the redevelopment of the Hill Car park)

high rises tower above the trees
Proposed buildings ruin the protected view from Queens Mead

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West Street No. 2 – Old Fire Station – Heritage Building

The Treasure of China, Chinese restaurant, was the original fire station in Bromley. Before this point, the fire engine had been housed in the New Old Town Hall of Cole-Childs, in the centre of Market Square. It backs onto the Local Board building. You can see where the stable, at the side, used to be for the horse.

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