The history of the town and parish of Bromley dates back to Saxon times. The settlement takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon “Bromleag” meaning ‘place where the broom grows’ and was located in the old Saxon Kingdom of Kent. In 862 AD the Bishop of Rochester Eardwulf was granted the land to form the settlement by the King of Kent, Ethelbert. Subsequent bishops built and often rebuilt Bromley Palace to receive and house visitors to London, and continued to do so until 1845 when the Palace was bought by a private businessman named Coles Child. The 20th Century saw the manor house transformed into a girls’ finishing school, a teacher training college and finally a part of the Civic Centre.
In 1205, the town was granted a royal charter for its market by King John which had a great impact on its importance as a local economic centre. The town’s close proximity to London meant that during the industrial revolution it changed from being a rural centre to being a suburban district of the greater London area. Although historically part of the County of Kent, in 1894 it became an Urban District and in 1965 administratively became part of Greater London as the London Borough of Bromley, while still retaining a Kent postcode. During the Second World War, the town’s position close to the capital meant that it suffered a great deal of damage from bombing as well as V1 and V2 rocket attacks. The parish church of St Peter and St Paul was destroyed by a bombing raid and rebuilt in the 50s. The town has had a wide variety of famous inhabitants, most notable among them HG Wells, author of War of the Worlds and Richmal Crompton, author of the Just William stories who taught at the local High School. Charles Darwin also lived near to the town for many years, at Down House.