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10 good reasons to visit Beckenham

PUBLISHED: 15:29 20 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:23 20 February 2013

10 good reasons to visit Beckenham

10 good reasons to visit Beckenham

Bustling, well connected and surprisingly leafy, Beckenham is a thriving centre as proud of its past as its bright future

10 good reasons to visit Beckenham

Bustling, well connected and surprisingly leafy, Beckenham is a thriving centre as proud of its past as its bright future

Up and down hill

The High Street winds up to the top of a hill, then down again the other side. Notice the interesting historic pub the Coach and Horses, just off the High Street, close to a fascinating building with red and black diapered brick. At one end the main road curves sharply to the left, leading to Beckenham Green near the church: this area is used for town events such as the St Georges Arts Festival.

Small and select

Beckenham Theatre Centre (07500 908331) is an amateur dramatic club with its own theatre, cleverly converted from what was originally a fine detached Victorian family home to become one of the smallest and quaintest auditoriums in country. Nine or more shows are produced annually (dramas, musicals et al) and theres a lively bar, where you can meet the actors. Forthcoming shows are Little Red Riding Hood (17- 31 December), and Hedda Gabler (4-9 February 2013).

Oldest lychgate

St Georges church is Beckenhams principal parish church, with the oldest lychgate in England. This 13th-century construction was rebuilt in 1885, and has a set of wooden Stations of the Cross, made in Oberammergau in 1930 and stained glass windows by Thomas Freeth, installed in the 1960s. Concerts are performed here by local groups and societies, and theres a St Georges annual Arts Festival where famous musicians perform, as does the highly accomplished St Georges Chamber Orchestra.

Willow trees and woodland

Lewisham Country Park is part of the centuries-old Beckenham Park Place estate, created by John Cator. There are wild flowers, willow trees, extensive woodlands, the River Ravensbourne runs through the area, and at weekends theres a Visitor Centre. It forms part of South Londons Green Chain Way walk. There are tennis courts, sports and recreational facilities, while within the park theres an 18-hole public golf course, with a putting green, golf shop and bar/caf.

Gorgeous geese

Kelsey Park has phenomenally attractive landscaped areas, as well as pretty woodland, a lake with Canada geese and other birds, a childrens playground, tennis courts and a crazy golf course. Croydon Road Recreation Ground has scenic views and a bandstand, landscaped gardens, a cricket ground, childrens paddling pool and enclosed play areas, a shop and facilities for tennis, basketball and netball it is used for firework displays and Queen of May celebrations.

Pathways and pergolas

Beckenham crematorium and cemetery has interesting woodland, with intricate pathways, gardens of remembrance with pergolas, rose beds and fine monuments and some fine landscaped areas, plus a Gothic-style chapel, behind which is a beautiful waterfall and rock pool feature. Interred here is the famous cricketer W G Grace, Thomas Crapper, who invented the WC ballcock, car manufacturer Frederick York Wolesley, and Alexander Muirhead, the first man to record the human heartbeat.

Getting active

The Spa at Beckenham (020 8650 0233) is a health centre with two excellent swimming pools, and a gym with comprehensive facilities, where you can run, row, use resistance equipment etc. Theres also a sports hall (for badminton and basketball) and studios for private hire, a soft play area for children, crche, and a caf. David Lloyd Beckenham (0845 125 7002) is a sports club with swimming pool, sauna/spa, sun beds, childrens area, crche, tennis, badminton courts, a bar and restaurant.

Relax and play

Gambado Beckenham (020 8662 6910) is an excellent childrens play centre. It has one of the largest play frames in Greater London, with special dodgems, climbing wall and carousel, a gated sensory area for toddlers, and Yum yum caf, plus a lounge for parents to relax in, with free Wi-Fi, papers and magazines. There are also trampolines and soft play structures.

Crystal Palace memories

The original Crystal Palace was built in 1851 in Hyde Park, to house the Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations. Afterwards the structure was dismantled and re erected in Sydenham in 1854, but burnt down in 1936. The Crystal Palace Museum (020 8676 0700) keeps this history alive through displays of photographs and original documents and ceramics. The museum is housed in the only surviving building constructed by the Crystal Palace Company.

Food and drink

Restaurants for Italian cuisine include: Biblioteca (020 8663 6789), Pierluigis Restaurant (020 8663 3387) and Zizzi (020 8658 2050) while for English fare theres Toby Carvery (020 8650 2233). Good pubs include The Jolly Woodman (020 8663 1031), The Coach and Horses (020 8650 9142) and the historic and quaint Ye Olde George Inn (020 8663 1011), as well as The Beckenham (020 8658 8844) for live music.

Getting there:

Beckenham is in south London, very close to Bromley, and just below Lewisham. It is on the A222, accessible via the A21 which connects London to the rest of Kent. There are two stations, Beckenham Junction and Beckenham Hill, both with services to London Victoria, and fine bus and coach links. For details call Traveline 0871 200 2233.

Satnav postcode: BR3 1DY

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