This place is supposed to have derived its name from the Saxon
words Brom-leag, signifying a field or heath where broom
grows; the great quantity of that plant on all the waste places
near the town, sufficiently corroborates this etymology.
Situation and boundaries.
Bromley is a market town (fn. 1) , lying in the hundred of Bromley and
Beckenham, and situated on the road to Tunbridge, at the distance
of ten miles from London. The parish is bounded by Beckenham,
West Wickham, Hayes, Keston, Farnborough, Orpington, Chislehurst, Lee, Eltham, and Lewisham. It contains about 3000 acres
of land, of which 350 are wood (fn. 2) , 250 waste, the remainder arable
and meadow, but principally the former. The soil is various; but
chiefly clay and gravel. This parish pays the sum of 296l. to the
land-tax, which is at the rate of 9d. in the pound.
The manor of Bromley was given to the Bishop and Church of
Rochester in the eighth century, by Ethelbert, King of Kent (fn. 3) .
It is probable that it was taken away from them by some future
monarch; for it appears that King Edgar, in 967, for a large sum
of money, granted to Bishop Alfstan ten hides of land in Bromley,
with extensive liberties and privileges (fn. 3) . His son Etheldred, not
regarding his father's grant, seized this land, and in 987 gave
it to his minister (fn. 4) ; but afterwards, repenting of what he had
done, in the year 998, the convent of Rochester and some of the
principal nobility being present, he restored to the Bishop six hides (fn. 5) ,
being the same, I suppose, which his predecessors had enjoyed under
King Ethelbert's grant. After the Conquest, Odo, Bishop of Baieux,
seized this manor; but it was recovered to the see of Rochester
by the exertions of Archbishop Lanfranc, in a solemn assembly of
the whole county, held by the King's command in 1076 (fn. 6) . In the
mean time, it had been diminished in extent one-half (fn. 7) . It has since
continued in the uninterrupted possession of the Bishops of Rochester, except during the Rebellion, and Cromwell's usurpation in
the last century. This manor was sold, in 1649, to Augustine
Skinner, for the sum of 5665l. 11s. 11d. and continued in the possession of his family till the Restoration (fn. 8) . In 1255, the manor of
Bromley was valued at 23l.; in 1267, at 29l. 3s. 7½d.; in 1291,
at 32l. 11s. 2d. (fn. 9) The Bishop of Rochester, as lord of the manor
of Bromley, has the return of writs within the manor, the assize of
bread and ale, view of frankpledge, &c.
The Bishops of Rochester had a mansion at this place at a very
early period. In the time of Bishop Gualeranus, or Walleran, who
died in 1184, it was become so ruinous, that his successor Gilbert
de Glanville, Chief Justice of England, was obliged to expend a
great sum of money on the repairs (fn. 10) . Bromley-palace has long been
the only habitable house belonging to the see of Rochester. Having
undergone frequent alterations and repairs (fn. 11) , the late Bishop, finding it much decayed, pulled it down soon after he came to the see,
and erected in its stead a plain brick mansion, which was finished in
1777. It stands about a quarter of a mile from the town, and is
pleasantly situated on the brow of a hill, looking towards Beckenham and Hayes. A view of the old palace, as it appeared in 1756,
was engraved for Hasted's History of Kent.
Roger Ford, abbot of Glastonbury, was killed at Bromley-palace
in the year 1261, being on a journey which he took to defend the
rights of his church (fn. 12) . At this palace, in a flower-pot, was found
the parchment forged by a conspiracy, of which Bishop Sprat
printed an account (fn. 13) .
St. Blaze's Well.
There is a spring of mineral water in the Bishop's ground called
St. Blaze's Well, near to which, before the Reformation, stood an
oratory. It was much frequented, not only on account of the
medicinal virtues of the water, but for the sake of certain indulgences (or remittances of penance) which Lucas, legate to
Pope Sixtus IV. granted to all such as should offer up their orisons
at this oratory of St. Blaze, in the three holy-days of Pentecost (fn. 14) .
The oratory fell to ruins after the Reformation, the well was
filled up, and its site forgotten. It was discovered in 1756, when
an account of the discovery, and the use of the water, which is a
chalybeate, was published by Thomas Reynolds, surgeon.
Manor of Sundridge.
The manor of Sundridge was, in the reign of Henry III. the
property of Peter le Blund, Constable of the Tower of London;
and, about the middle of the fourteenth century, came by intermarriage with an heir of the Blunds to the family of Willoughby (fn. 15) .
In 1393, it was the property of Sir Richard Stury. William Booth,
Esq. died seised of it in 1486; from him it descended to Sith Booth,
Esq. one of whose coheirs married Thomas Bettenham, Esq.: Stephen
Bettenham, Esq. (great grandson of Thomas) gave this estate in
marriage with his daughter Anne to Robert Pynsent, Esq. who died
at Sundridge, in 1679, without issue. He was succeeded in the
possession of this manor by Thomas Washer, Esq. who died in
1720. Mary, daughter and sole heir of John Washer, his son,
married William Willson, Esq. whose grandson William Wilson, Esq.
sold it, in 1792, to Edward George Lind, Esq. the present proprietor.
This manor is held under the Bishop of Rochester.
Manor of Simpsons.
The manor of Simpsons was, in 1302, the property of John de
Banquel (fn. 16) . Thomas Banquel died seised of it in 1361 (fn. 17) ; and it
appears that, upon a division of his estates, his younger son William
had this manor. The next owner upon record was William Clarke,
who had a licence from Henry V. to fortify and embattle his mansion-house, which was surrounded by a moat (fn. 18) . About the year
1450, it came by purchase to John Simpson, from whose family it
derived its present name (fn. 19) . Nicholas Simpson, his descendant, (who
was barber to Henry VIII.) aliened it to Alexander Basset, by whom
it was conveyed to Sir Humphrey Style. It has since passed through
the same hands as Langley-park in Beckenham, and is now the
property of the Right Hon. Lord Gwedir. Mr. Samuel Rickards,
the tenant, occupies it as a farm.
William de Latimer, in 1329, obtained a charter of free-warren
on lands at Bromley, which he had inherited from his father, who
died in 1327 (fn. 20) .
Freelands, a house with lands in this parish, was, in 1701, the
property of John Whalley, merchant. Some years ago a lease of it
was granted to Robert Nettleton, Esq. Governor of the Russia Company. The lease has since passed through the hands of Mr. Welles,
and Robert Adair, Esq. the late Surgeon-general: it is now vested in
Thomas Raikes, Esq. Deputy Governor of the Bank, who resides at
Freelands. The fee belongs to Mrs. Assheton.
Between Bromley and Chislehurst is Bickley, the seat of William
Welles, Esq.; at Plaistow, that of Peter Thellusson, Esq.
The parish church, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, is a spacious structure of flint and stone; consisting of a chancel, nave, and
two aisles. At the west end is a square embattled tower, with a
On the north wall of the chancel is a single stone stall of Gothic
architecture; the upper part is mutilated. On the same wall is the
monument of Bishop Pearce (fn. 21) . On the south side of the chancel
are the monuments of Harington Bagshaw (fn. 22) , curate of Bromley,
rector of Woolwich, and 40 years chaplain of Warner's College,
1739; Abigail, his wife, daughter of Sir John Busby, Knt. 1713;
Thomas Bagshaw, A. M. curate of Bromley, rector of Southflete,
and 54 years chaplain of Warner's College, 1787; and a wooden
tablet in memory of James Young (fn. 23) , merchant, 1687. On the
floor, are the tombs of Anthony Calthorpe (fn. 24) , Esq. 1594; Richard
Thornhill (fn. 25) , Esq. 1600; John Yonge, Bishop of Rochester (fn. 26) , 1605;
John Travell, Esq. of London, 1652; Catalina, relict of Thomas
Neesham, late rector of Stoke Dabourn, 1676; Robert Pynsent,
Gent. 1679; Mariabella, wife of John Whalley, of Freeland-house,
merchant, 1701; and William Willson, Esq. 1776.
Elizabeth, wife of Dr. Johnson.
In the nave are the tombs of John King, of London, draper (fn. 27) ,
1603; Jane, daughter of John Brewton, Gent. wife of Henry
Bodenham, Esq. of Folston, Wilts, 1625; Elizabeth, wife of Dr.
Samuel Johnson (fn. 28) , 1753; Owen Gethin, Gent. 1754; Edward
Wyat, Esq. 1758; and William Everest, Gent. 1777.
At the east end of the south aisle is a wooden tablet, with the
arms and quarterings of Style (fn. 29) , and an inscription denoting that the
pews beneath were appropriated to the sole use of the Styles, ancient
owners of Simpsons', and were then (1727) the property of Lady
Elwill. On the same wall is the monument of John Maunsell,
Esq. (fn. 30) , of Chichely, Bucks, 1625; on the floor are the tombs of
Edward Brewster, apothecary, 1674; James Gosling, Esq. 1765;
the Rev. John Derby (fn. 31) , rector of South-flete, 1778; Henry Savage, Esq. 1785; Mary, wife of Charles Gore, Esq. 1785; and
Mrs. Mary Dimes, 1788.
On the west wall, under the gallery, are the monuments of Peregrina, wife of Lieut. Bussy Maunsell, 1721; and Jane, relict of
Charles Scot, Esq. (fn. 32) , of Gorrembury in North-Britain, (of the
noble family of Buccleugh,) 1767. Above are the monuments of
Thomas Chase, Esq. (fn. 33) , 1754; and Mary, wife of William Lyndon (fn. 34) , Esq. (daughter of Richard Ashe, Esq.), 1780. On the south
wall is that of Mary, wife of the Rev. Thomas Winterbottom,
rector of Ashurst, and vicar of Birling in Kent, 1720. At the
east end are monuments in memory of John Hawksworth, LL. D. (fn. 35) ,
1773; Mr. Benjamin Brown, (brother of Mrs. Hawksworth,) 1777;
and Thomas Chase, Esq. (fn. 36) , 1788. The north aisle was rebuilt in
1792; towards the expence of which, Bishop Thomas contributed
the sum of 500l.
The font is square; of Norman architecture; the sides are ornamented with rows of plain circular arches.
Walter de Henche, Bishop of Rochester, who died in 1360, was
buried in this church, in the south aisle (fn. 37) .
Against the south wall of the church, on the outside, is the
monument of Elizabeth, wife of the Rev. George Richards, vicar
of Hadlow, Kent, 1767.
Tombs in the churchyard.
In the churchyard are the tombs of Elizabeth, wife of Daniel
Giles, daughter of Joseph Herlackehden, 1668; Richard Gratwicke, merchant, 1674; Ann, his wife, daughter of Samuel Leaver,
merchant, 1712; Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Leaver, wife of
Richard Hampden, 1738; Capt. John Tanner, 1709; Barbara,
widow of the Rev. William Davidson, rector of Berwick upon
Tweed, 1713; Samuel King, citizen and clothworker, 172–; Charles
Hickman, Esq. of the Middle Temple, 1729; Thomas West, Esq. (fn. 38) ,
1731; John Lawson, 1734; Edward Ironside, banker, 1737; Jane
Belchier, his daughter, 1738; Mary Hunter, his daughter, 1752;
William Emmett, Esq. (eldest son of Maurice Emmett, Esq.) 1736;
Eleanor, his wife, daughter of John Thornhill, Esq. 1739; Avis,
relict of the Rev. Mark Hildesley, M.A. vicar of Sittingbourn, and
rector of Witton, (who died in 1726,) 1743 (fn. 39) ; Samuel Hyde, Esq. (fn. 40) ,
1748; Elizabeth Monk (fn. 41) , 1753; John Innocent, Gent. 1755; Mary,
widow of the Rev. Philip Stubbs, Archdeacon of St. Alban's, aged
95, 1759; Thomas Reynolds, Esq. 1759; Mrs. Hannah Nettleton,
1764; Mrs. Mary Nettleton, 1768; Sarah, relict of the Rev. William Perfect, vicar of East Malling, 1769; Ann, wife of Gilfred Lawson Reed, merchant, (grandaughter of Samuel King,) 1769; Mr.
Solomon Demeza, 1771; John Hyde, Esq. 1771; Mary, widow
of Edward Palmer, rector of Chalvington, Kent, 1773; Thomas
Jukes, Esq. 1775; William Jukes, Esq. 1790; Mr. John Buchanan, 1779; Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Shrimpton, Esq. of MarkLane, 1779; Henry Blake, Esq. 1780; Mr. Robert Stephens, son
of John Stephens, rector of Colwall, Herefordshire, 1781; Mary,
relict of James Barham, vicar of Bethersden, 1783; Rev. Richard
King, 1783; Lydia, relict of Samuel Kellett, Esq. 1786; Frances,
relict of William Huddleston, rector of Newenden, 1786; Richard
Welles, Esq. 1787; Mr. John Thomas, son of John Thomas, vicar
of St. Mary Hill, Glamorganshire, 1788; Edward Russell, Esq.
1789; Sarah, widow of Osborne Atterbury, (son of Bishop Atterbury,) rector of Oxhill, Warwickshire, 1789; Joseph Sparkes, Esq.
1790, John Christian, Esq. 1791; Mary, widow of the Rev. Samuel
Watson of Amersham, 1792; John Dewar, Esq. 1795; and Thomas
Grendon, Esq. (the date illegible).
The church of Bromley is within the diocese of Rochester, and
in the deanery of Dartford. The rectory, to which a manor belongs, was in the reign of Henry VIII. appropriated to the Bishops
of Rochester (fn. 42) . In 1287, it was rated at 30 marks; in 1534, at
39l. 12 s. The rectorial manor, parsonage-house, glebe lands, and
tithes were valued all together, in the year 1650, at 182l. 8s. 9d.
per annum. They had been all leased by Bishop Warner for 21
years, commencing in 1639, at the reserved rent of 60l. per ann.
and 40 quarters of oats (fn. 43) . John Younge was lessee in 1646. In
1706, the lease was in the possession of William Emmett, Esq.
whose grandaughter brought it to Mr. John Innocent. The present
lessee is George Norman, Esq. of Bromley-common, whose father
married Mr. Innocent's daughter.
The benesice was formerly a rectory in the patronage of the
Bishops of Rochester. Since the appropriation above mentioned,
it has been only a curacy. The curate, who is appointed by the
bishop, receives 20l. per annum out of the great tithes (fn. 44) . It is not
in charge in the King's books.
Henry Maundrel, curate.
Henry Maundrel, B. D. appointed curate of Bromley in 1680,
was Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, and chaplain to the factory
at Aleppo. He published a book of Travels from Aleppo to Jerusalem, which is in considerable reputation, and has gone through
several editions. A volume of his letters from the Levant, in MS.
is now in the possession of Mr. Montague of Alderton in Wiltshire.
Mr. Montague is great-nephew of Sir Charles Hedges, (Queen Anne's
Secretary,) who was related to Maundrel.
The present curate is Henry Smith, D. D. appointed, on the death
of Thomas Bagshaw, in 1787.
There are two meeting-houses in this parish, belonging to the
The register of baptisms in this parish begins in 1558, that of
burials in 1578, that of marriages in 1575.
Comparative state of population.
||Average of Baptisms.
||Average of Burials.
The present number of houses is 357 (fn. 46) .
Burials in the plague years.
In 1603, there were 26 burials; in 1625, 110; of which, 67
were between the months of July and December. In 1665, there
were only 27; seven persons are said to have died of the plague.
Extracts from the Parish Register.
"The 14 of Maye the reverend father, John, Byshop of Rochester,
had his funeral solemnized, his sonne, Mr. John Younge, being
cheese mourner, 1605." Bishop Yonge published an Exposition
of the 131st Psalm.
"April 11, 1608—a still-born child of my Ld of Rochester's
"Anne, daughter of Sr Thomas Monson, buried Oct. 29, 1609."
"Christian, wife of Sr Timothy Lowe, buried Aug. 4, 1615;
Sr Timothy Lowe, Sep. 9, 1617."
Family of Thornhill.
"Thomas, son of Sr Timothy Thornhill, baptized Sep. 24, 1615;
Frances, his daughter, buried Aug. 17, 1621; Elizabeth, baptized
Nov. 8, 1621; Mary, daughter of Sr John Thornhill, baptized
July 4, 1634; Jane, July 7, 1635; Charles, Oct. 18, 1636;
Frances, baptized, Dec. 18, 1640; buried Jany 1, 1640–1; Sr
John Thornhill, buried Aug. 7, 1646; Samuel, his son, June 28,
"William, son of Walter Curle, Ld Bishop of Bath and Wells (fn. 47) ,
baptized Dec. 27, 1629."
"Aug. 12, 1630—the Lady Cutts died in this parish, and was
buried at Fairland."
Family of Prescott.
"Margaret, daughter of Sr John Prescott, Knt, baptd Dec. 21,
1630; buried, Apl 14, 1633; Weston, his son, baptized May
28, 1634; Elizabeth, his daughter, buried Oct. 30, 1634; Susan,
bapt. Dec. 30, 1635; buried Apl 28, 1637; Henry, buried
Feb. 17, 1637–8; Jane, bapt. July 17, 1638; another Elizabeth,
Oct. 21, 1639."
"May 31, 1631—the Rt Revd Father in God, John Buckeridge,
the Ld Bishop of Ely, sometime Bishop of Rochester, buried."
Bishop Buckeridge, who had been President of St. John's College
in Oxford, was translated from the see of Rochester to that of
Ely, in 1628. He published a book against Cardinal Bellarmine,
concerning the Pope's authority in temporal affairs, and a few
sermons (fn. 48) .
"Stephen, son of Sr Stephen Scott, baptized Jan. 31, 1622–3."
"Samuel, son of Sr Edward Peyton, Knt and Bart, baptized
May 25, 1647; buried Aug. 18, 1648."
"George, son of Sr George Jeffreys, Knt, Recorder of London (fn. 49) ,
buried Aug. 26, 1679."
Three children at a birth.
"Joseph, Benjamin, and Rachel, children of John Dudney, baptized Oct. 17, buried Oct. 20, 1724."
Instances of longevity.
"Elizabeth Monk, widow, aged 101 last April, buried Sep. 3,
1753; Anne Passenger, Gent. aged 94 years, buried Feb. 26,
1767; Elizabeth Woodham, widow, aged 94, buried Oct. 20,
1771; Mary Screven, aged 90, buried Feb. 21, 1773."
"John Hawksworth, LL. D. buried Nov. 22, 1773." This
well-known writer was editor and principal author of the Adventurer; he wrote also an Eastern tale called Almoran and Hamet, and
some dramatic pieces, among which was Edgar and Emmeline, a
fairy tale acted with much success. The Narrative of the first
Voyage to the South Seas was drawn up by him, for which work
he received a very large sum of money. He published also a Translation of Telemachus, and was for some years editor of the Gentleman's Magazine. His widow is still living, and resides at Bromley.
See his epitaph, p. 314.
"Zachary Pearce, D. D. Ld Bishop of this diocese, aged 84,
buried July 8, 1774." This learned prelate was born at Ealing
in Middlesex (fn. 50) . His principal works are, Commentaries on the
Evangelists, to which his portrait is prefixed; an edition of Cicero
"de Oratore," and "de Officiis;" an edition of Longinus; some
controversial Tracts against Middleton and Woolston. He published also several sermons, and contributed to the Spectator and
Benefactions to it since the founder's death.
Bromley College was founded by the munificence of John
Warner, Bishop of Rochester, (from 1637 to 1666,) for the residence and maintenance of 20 widows of loyal and orthodox clergymen. This worthy prelate, by his will, bearing date 1666, empowered his executors, Sir Orlando Bridgman and Sir Philip Warwick, to raise a sum of money adequate to the purposes of such a
building out of his personal estate, and charged his manor of Sway
ton with the annual payment of 450l. viz. 50l. per ann. for the
chaplain, and 20l. each for the widows. The founder had expressed a desire, that this building should be erected as near to Rochester as conveniently might be, but as no healthy or convenient
spot could be obtained near that town, power was given by an act
of Parliament, passed in 1670, (for the purpose of explaining and
settling some parts of the Bishop's donation,) to build it any where
within the diocese, according to the discretion of the executors, who
fixed on the present site at the north end of the town of Bromley.
The founder not having made any provision for repairs, his executors, with the consent of the heir at law, charged the said manor
of Swayton with the farther sum of 5l. per ann. but this being
thought insufficient, the executors generously gave 100l. each,
with which a fee-farm rent of 10l. was purchased; but still this income was found much too small to keep the buildings in a state of
decent repair, and the trustees have been at times under the necessity
of soliciting voluntary contributions for that purpose. The fund
has since received farther augmentations. Dr. Plume, Archdeacon
of the diocese, left 100l. to it in 1704; Archbishop Tenison, who
died in 1715, left 100 guineas, one-half to the widows, and the
other half for repairs; Joseph Wilcocks, Esq. (son of Bishop
Wilcocks) completed the inclosure of the College-grove, by building a wall on the eastern side, at the expence of 120l.; and
Mrs. Wolfe, mother of the General, by her will, bearing date 1765,
left the sum of 500l. to put the buildings in a state of thorough
John Warner, Bishop of Rochester & founder of Bromley College
Jeffrey Hetherington, Esq. of North Cray, for many years before
his death, (which happened in 1767,) applied the interest of 2000l.
Old South Sea annuities, to the purpose of purchasing coals and
candles for the widows in Bishop Warner's College. This sum,
after his decease, was generously settled as a perpetuity, for the same
purpose, by his surviving brother and heir the late Rev. William
Hetherington. Bishop Pearce bequeathed the sum of 5000l. Old
South Sea annuities, for the purpose of augmenting the widow's
pensions to 30l. per ann. and the chaplain's salary to 60l.; Mrs. Helen Betenson, of Brabourne in Kent, by her will, bearing date 1786,
left the sum of 10,000l for the purpose of building ten additional
houses at Bromley College (fn. 49) , and endowing them with 20l. per
ann. each, for widows of clergymen. William Pearce, Esq. (brother
of Bishop Pearce), who died in 1782, left the sum of 12,000l. on
failure of issue from his great nephew William Pearce, Esq. and
his great niece, who was afterwards wife of the late John Farr
Abbot, Esq. (both now deceased without issue), for the purpose of
building ten houses (fn. 50) for widows of clergymen, in addition to Bishop
Warner's College, and endowing them with 20l. per ann. each. He
directed also, that 20l. per annum, should be applied towards the
augmentation of the chaplain's salary, which has experienced a farther increase of 6l. per ann. by the interest of 200l. 3 per cent.
left by the late chaplain, Mr. Bagshaw. The present chaplain is
Andrew Price, M.A.
This excellent institution is under the management of 14 trustees,
seven of whom are, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Rochester, the Archdeacon, and the Chancellor of
that diocese, the Dean of St. Paul's, and the Dean of the Arches,
for the time being. The others are elective: the present trustees
being, the Right Hon. Lord Viscount Sydney; the Right Hon. Lord
Amherst; Sir William Ashhurst, Justice of the King's Bench; Sir
Beaumont Hotham, Baron of the Exchequer; Henry Lee Warner,
Esq. (representative of the founder); Multon Lambard, Esq.; and
George Norman, Esq. who is Treasurer.
Bromley College was exempted from the payment of taxes, by
an act of Parliament, passed anno 30 Geo. II.
There is a charity-school at this place, in which 13 boys, and the
same number of girls, are clothed and educated. It was established
before the year 1718. It is supported by the interest of 1000l. (fn. 51)
3 per cent., an annual subscription, and the collections at a charity
sermon (fn. 52) .
Benefactions to the poor.
Bishop Buckeridge, anno 1631, gave 20l. to the poor of this
parish, with which, and a small addition, a house was purchased,
let formerly at 40s. per ann. but now inhabited by paupers, rentfree. Bishop Warner, anno 1666, gave the interest of 20l. to the
poor. Mrs. Eleanor Emmett, anno 1739, gave a rent-charge of 40s.