|Church House Gardens||Bromley|
Church House Gardens and Library Gardens are now one public park but were originally two sites: Library Gardens formed from the grounds of 'Neelgherries', and those of Church House. Neelgherries was bequeathed to Bromley Town Council in 1900 and the Library and Gardens were opened to the public in 1906. Church House Gardens, purchased by Bromley Town Council in 1926, were connected to the Library Gardens and opened in July 1927. The two open spaces were combined in 1930 and have dramatic topography with a lake at the foot of richly planted slopes.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/02/2009
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Church House Gardens and Library Gardens are now one public park but were originally two sites: Library Gardens formed from the grounds of 'Neelgherries', which were bequeathed to the Council in 1900, and the former grounds of Church House, which were bought by Bromley Town Council in 1926. The Library and Library Gardens, laid out by Mr J Stenning under the supervision of the Borough Engineer, were established on the grounds of Neelgherries and opened to the public in 1906. The original iron entrance sign with 'Library Gardens' was removed in 1970 but is to be restored and replaced within the gardens. Church House Gardens, known to have been landscaped by a Mr Abel Moysey prior to its purchase by the Council, were then connected to the Library Gardens and opened in July 1927. The two open spaces were combined in 1930 and have dramatic topography with a lake at the foot of richly planted slopes. The historic boundary wall of Neelgherries survives on the lower slopes. The lake is made up of two of four spring-fed ponds that are shown on the OS map of 1863 as fish ponds. The many specimen trees and shrubs are dominated by rhododendrons and azalea with informal terraces descending to the lake from the north. The model boating pond, now empty, was constructed in 1933 using the Bromley Unemployed Works Scheme. The octagonal pond was reconfigured in the early 1980s as a paddling pool. The area to the east was redesigned after the construction of the new Bromley Library and the Churchill Theatre in 1977.
Church House was built in 1832 and remains of an earlier medieval building have been found here; its site was within the Diocese of Rochester and, although undocumented, it may have been the site of the original Manor of Bromley due to its commanding position. Church House remained in the ownership of the Diocese until it was acquired for the public park. The house was destroyed during WWII. The lodge on Glassmill Lane was built soon after 1853 when the Drive was laid out. Balustrading and a terrace ran along the rear elevation of Church House and balustrading (not the original) still stands on the edge of the steep terrace to the north, which survives from the original private garden. Views south across the adjoining countryside can be enjoyed from this spot. The large rockery below the terrace was created in the early 1950s from masonry reclaimed from the bombed-out parish church, and amongst the plants remnants of fluted columns, stone masons' marks and sculpted quatrefoils can be seen. The gardens also contain a section of Tudor wall with bee-bole thought to be from the kitchen garden wall of the 'Grete House' demolished in the early C19th. This was discovered in 1898 during construction of the Bromley Electric Light power station by the owner of the site, Daniel Grinstead. On his death, the wall was moved to Church House Gardens. The rustic bandstand built out onto the lake was burnt down c.1969 and later replaced by a concrete platform with band shell (no longer there) on the east of the lake opposite the amphitheatre. The tiered concrete seating on the opposite bank is designed to resemble an amphitheatre and was built in the 1920s as a job creation project; in 2008 it was remodelled with an integral stage area in place of the four lower tiers. The tarmac paths are separated from the water by iron railings.
Bromley Record, December 1901 and July 1906; Horsburgh E L S, 'Bromley from the earliest times to the present century', 1929, pp414, 441-442; Andrew Crowe, 'The Parks and Woodland of London', (Fourth Estate, 1987).
LPGT Volunteer Research by Tony Banfield, 2009