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Martins Hill Bromley
   

Martins Hill

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Reputedly named after a baker who lived here, Martin's Hill had long been a place where the people of Bromley promenaded. It was once famous for the broom that grew here, the plant after which Bromley takes its name. Between 1868 and 1872 only part of the hill was set aside for public use, the rest being open fields, the lower slopes formerly used for growing hops. In 1878, when the area was under threat of development, the site was acquired from the Ecclesiastical Board by Bromley Council and opened as the town's first ornamental park.
   
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Church Road/Martins Road/Glassmill Lane/Queensmead Road, Bromley
Postcode: BR2 0DG
Type of site: Public Park 
Date(s): 1878-1885
Designer(s):
Listed structures: LBII: War Memorial
Borough: Bromley
Site ownership: LB Bromley
Site management: Leisure Services; Friends of Bromley Town Parks and Gardens
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: 7.30am weekdays/9am Sat/Sun/BHs - half hour after dusk
Special conditions:
Facilities: Children’s playground, Sports pitches
Events:
Public transport: Rail: Shortlands c100m to west. Bus: 227, 351, 358, 726.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/02/2009
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.bromley.gov.uk

Fuller information:

Martins Hill is part of the public open space with Queensmead (q.v.), the latter, being flat, affording space for sports, and they relate visually to Church House Gardens (q.v.) across Glassmill Lane. Reputedly named after a baker who lived here, Martin's Hill had long been a place where the people of Bromley promenaded, and in the 1800s Crystal Palace dominated the view from the top of the hill. Bromley takes its name from the broom that was once abundant in the district, and Strong's Directory of 1832 reported that Martins Hill was one of the last places where flowering broom could still be seen. When the railway was first routed through the Shortlands Valley, railway gazetteers drew passengers' attention to the spectacle of the broom on Martin's Hill. Although by the 1970s there was no trace of the plant, following a royal visit to Bromley when broom was planted in tubs, a few sprigs were reputedly transplanted to Martin's Hill by a parks attendant, and are now naturalised and in substantial colonies. The 1st edition OS of 1874 shows Martin’s Hill as parkland, possibly part of Bromley parish church land. Between 1868 and 1872 only part of the hill was set aside for public use, the rest of what today is Martins Hill and Queensmead were open fields, the lower slopes formerly used for growing hops. In 1878, when the area was under threat of development for housing, the site was acquired from the Ecclesiastical Board by Bromley Council for £2,500. This was also as a result of public protests, and one poem in the press at that time pleaded:

'On this, the people's piece of land, /May builder never ply his skill, /May never innovating hand/ Deprive the town of Martin's Hill.'

Trees were planted and flowerbeds laid out, and Martin's Hill became the town's first ornamental park, and in 1929, ELS Horsburgh called it 'that glorious recreation ground, the pride of Bromley'. HG Wells, who was born in Bromley in 1866, reputedly wrote 'The War of the Worlds' (1898) here. The park has a lodge, brick and stone gatepiers and iron gates on Glassmill Lane. A war memorial, now commemorating the dead of the two world wars, stands inside the entrance, a stone obelisk with winged figures at the base. It was erected in 1922 and is set within formal planting, enclosed within iron railings.

A 1940s aerial photograph shows the lower slopes cultivated, probably for food production as part of the war effort. The park has a London plane tree walk along a terrace with views to the west; the undulating land drops away to the north and north-west, with level playing fields and a children’s play area to the north. Tarmac paths run around the boundaries of the grassy site, which has occasional trees.

Sources consulted:

H Jordan 'Public Parks 1885-1914', AA dissertation 1992, p137; E L S Horsburgh 'Bromley from the earliest times to the present century', 1929 p443; M Scott, 'Bromley, Keston and Hayes in Old Photographs', 1993, p124; information sheet produced by Friends of Bromley Town Parks and Gardens; An A to Z of Bromley's Parks, Local Open Space & Woodlands, (LB Bromley, 2007); Strong's Director, 1832 (Bromley Local Studies Library); Muriel Searle, 'Bromley Yesterdays' (Kylin Press, 1983), p21.

LPGT Volunteer Research by Tony Banfield, 2009
Grid ref: TQ397693
Size in hectares: 12.25
   
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: Yes
Conservation Area name: Bromley Town Centre
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation: Urban Open Space
   

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