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History of Beckenham

History of Beckenham
  • council: Bromley
  • population: 100,199
  • phone code: 020
  • postcode area: BR3
  • county: Greater London

Populated since the late Bronze Age, the area of Monks Orchard and Eden Park was favoured for itís gentle wooded hills and numerous north-flowing rivers when, in the 1800ís itís proximity to London began to draw in rich landowners.

The early 1900ís saw the demise of the large houses; however, the 1920 Monks Orchard auction of the Loyd lands meant that todayís housing estates spread quickly over the former park and farm lands. Attractive homes among woods, parks and playing-fields have provided the kind of environment where people have chosen to stay and businesses have flourished; a friendly, thriving community has been the result and The Book of Monks Orchard & Eden Park celebrates that community, covering every aspect of local life down through the years, from schooling and shopping, through entertainment and sport, to work and worship.

Saxon, Iron Age and Roman remains have been found in Beckenham. In fact the name Beckenham is thought to mean "Beohha's Village", Beohha being a Saxon leader. The village is also recorded in the Doomsday book of 1086.

Many old buildings still remain in Beckenham. The most notable of these is the 14th century St Georges Church with its 13th century Lychgate - the oldest in England. The grand Beckenham Place and Copers Cope House were both built in the 17th century and still stand today, as do a host of other Victorian and Georgian structures.

Beckenham has had a number of famous residents. Charles Darwin lived in the town for a time and Enid Blyton's early books were written in Beckenham. Legendary cricketer W G Grace is buried at Beckenham crematorium, as are Thomas Crapper (inventor of the flush toilet) and F Y Wolseley, (the car manufacturer). More recently, David Bowie lived in the town in the late 1960's and early 70's, and played gigs in The Three Tuns in the High Street (now The Rat and Parrot).

A Community Project
The Book of Monks Orchard & Eden Park arose from Ian Muirís concern for the future of the 254-acre Monks Orchard estate. How many residents can say that, like Ian, they played in the rivers and hayfields of Beckenham in the 1960ís? Eager to investigate the history and ecology of the area further, he enlisted the help of local researcher Pat Manning. Together they have compiled a fascinating selection of stories about the community of Monks Orchard and Eden Park; they have also been helped in countless ways by a great many residents equally keen to preserve their heritage. Ian and Patís findings, along with most of their historic photographs, numbering almost 300, are published her for the first time.

Shopping in Beckenham is a pleasure. Beckenham offers not only the usual range of high street chains but also a wide range of independent specialist shops, something that is vanishing all too quickly in many of our towns. Beckenham is also notable for its wide range of restaurants and bars. You may choose to quaff a pint of ale in one of the historic pubs, or sip champagne and oysters in a fashionable wine bar. Or if you are hungry you can choose from restaurants offering English, American, Indian, Thai, French, Italian or Chinese food.

Entertainment and Community
Beckenham is not just a place to shop and eat, it also has a number of entertainment facilities and community buildings.

Located in Croydon Road and a short walk from the war memorial roundabout is Beckenham Hospital. Also at the war memorial roundabout is the Odeon cinema, showing all the latest film releases. See our links page for what's on.

If its fitness you're after, why not visit the Spa, Beckenham's first-rate sports centre. It has a pool, sports hall, gym, sauna, a children's play area, squash courts, aerobics studio and more! And to relax why not visit one of Beckenham's three parks: Kelsey Park, Croydon Road Recreation Ground and St George's Common.

The Studio, located a short walk away in Beckenham Road runs a programme of music and arts events. It also runs music, singing and drama classes. Why not check out our events pages to see what's on? Also on Beckenham Road is Beckenham Library. This district library not only stocks a in-depth range of fiction and non-fiction books but also hires out tapes, CDs and videos, and can provide support material for homework up to undergraduate level.

Town Centre Manager
In January 2006, Nicola Musto took over the role of Town Centre Manager from Cheryl Curr, who has moved to Orpington. Working in partnership with retailers and other interested parties, she'll be working to keep the town competitive and help it take advantage of opportunities to keep it at the forefront of recreational shopping and entertainment.

Nicola can be contacted by e-mail

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