Ten good reasons to visit Bromley
PUBLISHED: 16:35 24 April 2009 | UPDATED: 15:58 20 February 2013
Just 10 miles from central London, Bromley is a busy shopping and leisure destination, mixing entertainment, big business and wealth of historic faces and places
Bromley's history is a veritable who's who of famous faces. David Bowie went to school here, as did rocker Peter Frampton. Children's author Enid Blyton grew up in Beckenham and later taught at Bickley Park school, and fellow scribe Richmal Crompton, of Just William fame, lived in Cherry Orchard road. Daredevil Sir Malcolm Campbell was born nearby, author H.G. Wells lived on the High Street (at Atlas House), and Thomas Crapper, developer of the flush toilet, also lived in the town.
Crofton Roman Villa
Occupied from around AD140 to 400, this well-preserved Roman villa was once the centre of a 500-acre farming estate.
Enlarged and extended during its years of occupation, the villa would have once had around 20 rooms. Today 10 can still be seen, containing original tessellated floors, under-floor heating and masonry. Open to the public, it's only an hour from Londinium on a good horse.
Tel: 0208 4601442
With more than 20,000 objects from the history and archaeology of Bromley, the museum continues to collect both historic and modern items relating to the borough.
Set in The Priory, an important medieval building next to Orpington library, a number of events and exhibitions run throughout the year and best of all, it's free.
Tel: 01689 873826
With more than 100 types of tree, vast areas of lakes and beautifully kept flowerbeds, Kelsey Park is the jewel in Bromley's crown. A welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the town, the park is a real wildlife haven - the ardent twitcher could spot up to 65 species of birds here.
There's plenty of space for the kids to run riot, too, but if a quiet sit down with a cuppa and the paper is more your style, then head for the café and relax in peace.
Improve your swing at Bromley's golf centre, (0208 462 7014) offering a nine-hole golf course, a 20-bay floodlit driving range, a practice area, a putting green and a pro shop. When you think you're up to scratch, nip over to Sundridge Park Golf Club and enjoy the two championship courses. Tel: 0208 4600278
Founded in 1892, Bromley's football club played its first competitive game in the South London League, which it subsequently went on to win in 1897. After winning the Spartan League in 1908, the Athenian League in 1923 and 1949, and the Isthmian League in 1909, 1954 and 1961, the current team has a lot to live up to.
The Darwin connection
If you're feeling a little left out with all the Darwin programmes on television, why not get out and actually visit his home? Down House, just outside Bromley, is where Charles Darwin lived, worked, raised a family and, crucially, crafted his groundbreaking work On the Origin of Species.
Celebrating 200 years since Darwin's birth, a brand-new exhibition, Uncovering Origins, charts the progression of his ideas and the controversy they provoked, so get along there in this most celebratory of years.
Tel: 01689 8591.
Attracting big names year round, the Churchill Theatre (0870 0606620) is impossible to miss in Bromley's town centre. With a range of comedy, music, theatre, classes and workshops, there's something for every age
And make sure you don't miss the Bromley Little Theatre, (020 8464 8924) a vibrant 113-seat theatre producing 11 full-length plays every year, from comedies, thrillers and dramas to farces, musicals and classics.
Once home to squadrons of Spitfires, Biggin Hill was a crucial aerodrome to the Battle of Britain effort, during the Second World War, and would go on to become a front-line RAF station housing jet fighters.
Over the last 40 years, the aerodrome has steadily transformed from being a busy RAF base into a commercial airport. But don't worry, there's still plenty of heritage here, and watch the skies next month - it's the annual Biggin Hill Air Fair.
Tel: 01959 572277.
Shopping until you drop is a very real prospect in Bromley, with The Glades shopping centre housing just about everything you could ever need. High street chains mingle with independent retailers, and the pedestrianised High Street preserves the more traditional side of shopping. It also hosts a Farmers' Market on Fridays and Saturdays, from 9am to 5pm.