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Bromley Civic Centre Bromley
   
Summary: This site is that of the late C18th/19th landscaped grounds of the former palace and official residence of the Bishops of Rochester, who had been given Bromley Manor in the C10th. The present building was erected in 1775, with later additions made in the 1860s after the Manor was sold to Mr Coles Child, who also made changes to the gardens. Much of the once extensive Palace parkland was eventually sold for housing and road construction, the old Palace became a girls school in the 1930s. In 1982 the site was purchased by Bromley Council for the Civic Centre. What remains of the former park is south of the Old Palace ruins, and includes the lake, once part of the medieval moat, two Pulhamite rockeries and a Folly incorporating medieval stonework created for Child, and possibly an C18th ha-ha, although this may also be the work of James Pulham & Sons.
Previous / Other name: Bromley Palace Park; Grounds of Former Palace of Bishops of Rochester
Site location: Rochester Avenue, Bromley
Postcode: BR1 9SA > Google Map
Type of site: Public Gardens
Date(s): Late C18th/19th; 1982
Designer(s):
Listed structures: LBII: Ruins of old Palace; 2 Pulhamite Rockeries; Ice House; Ha-Ha
Borough: Bromley
Site ownership: LB Bromley
Site management: Leisure Services
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions: No dogs
Facilities: None in the grounds but toilets in the public part of the Civic Centre. Cafes and shops nearby in The Glades shopping centre.
Events: London Open House: Tel no for booking 020 8464 3333 x3218.
Public transport: Rail: Bromley South, Bromley North. Bus: 61,119, 146, 169, 227, 246, 269, 320, 336, 351, 352, 367, 402.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2011
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.bromley.gov.uk

Fuller information:

An ancient site, Bromley Manor was given to the Bishops of Rochester by King Edgar in the C10th. The Old Palace buildings were demolished when the present building was erected in 1775 for Bishop John Thomas, with later additions in the 1860s after the Manor was sold to Mr Coles Child, a merchant, in 1845. The Palace Park was once extensive, and included the area which from 1900 became Queens Garden (q.v.), separated from the Palace Park by an ancient footpath, Love Lane. Having survived Victorian expansion of Bromley, much of the parkland was sold in the 1930s for housing development and the old Palace became a girls school and teacher training college, Stockwell College. New college buildings enclosed the Palace in the 1960s and encroached on the Park to the north, east and west. In 1982 the site was purchased by Bromley Council who established the Civic Centre here. The west side of the old Park has been encroached by the construction of Kentish Way on the line of the old Love Lane, the multi-storey car park and new Council offices. In 1990 The Glades was built severing the last open green link from Market Square to the Palace lands.

What remains of the Park is found on the south side of the Old Palace, including the lake, once part of the medieval moat around the Old Palace, the site of St Blaise's Well now marked by a modern fountain, adjacent to which is one of two Pulhamite rock features created in 1865 by James Pulham & Son for Coles Child. Below the lake and beside the Ice House is the second, larger rockery intended to have its own waterfall and pool fed by a rock channel from the lake, originally crossed by an ornamental bridge. Beside the Rafford Way entrance is a Folly, incorporating medieval stonework, an arch and column found when Coles Child had the lake dredged; it is assumed to be the design of the Pulhams since they had made their name a few years earlier for the massive medieval folly they designed and built at Bennington Lordship. The low brick wall parallel to the south end of the lake may be an C18th Ha-Ha although the brickwork is similar to that found in the Pulhamite features so may be their work.

Although many C20th buildings now occupy the garden, lawns with mature specimen trees survive and include Lebanon Cedar, lime, beech, holly, yew, and oak, augmented with modern ornamental cypresses.

2006: Bromley Town Centre Area Action Plan proposed vacation of the Civic Centre, the sale of Palace and Park lands for housing and hotel development, and relocation of Pavilion Leisure Centre here. This was opposed by Friends of Bromley Town Parks and Gardens who wish to see the Palace as a public amenity building, and reclamation and restoration of the lost Park. The Pulhamite rockeries were listed in April 2008, following an application by the Friends of Bromley Town Parks, and were subsequently designated as 'at risk' and thereby eligible for a restoration grant from EH. In 2010 the Ice House and Ha-Ha were also listed. Grounds maintenance is undertaken by Thyme-Out, an HLF-funded project for people with learning difficulties, who were awarded a Green Pennant for their work in 2010, with the park receiving a Green Flag. Other recent achievements have been tree works to open up areas around the Pulhamite 'cascade' and views of the Palace across the lake and moat.

Sources consulted:

S Festing, "Great credit ...of Mr Pulham", Garden History 16.1 (Spring 1988), p96. Friends of Bromley Town Parks and Gardens leaflet on Bromley Palace Park; 'Durability Guaranteed' (EH Publications, January 2008, ref 51339 (EH 01/08) HAW4000.

LPGT Volunteer Research by Tony Banfield, 2009
Grid ref: TQ407691
Size in hectares: c.0.5
   
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
No
 
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: No
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: Yes - Local Importance
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: Yes - Area of Archaeological Significance (Medieval)
Other LA designation: Urban Open Space
   

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