Bromley Common and its Schools

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The Parish Cottages

When Bromley Common was enclosed in 1821, the Parish of Bromley was allocated one tenth of an acre on the Westerham Turnpike (now Oakley Road).  This was probably to compensate them for the loss of estovers (the right to gather firewood) for church heating.

In June 1823, a local builder agreed to build six cottages on the land "in a workmanlike manner with a 9" (23 cm) wall in brick for the sum of £210. Two rooms to each cottage, one floored in paving bricks, the other boards."

Presumably the builder was not very workmanlike because, two years later, it was reported that the cottages were "very damp and wet" and the officers of the parish were ordered to enquire as to "the best means of remedying the defects by draining or putting in some iron or other spouts to the roof." In the builder’s defence, it has to be accepted that the whole area was very damp; note the pond almost against the back wall of the cottages. 

According to the map below, there was a well on the land at the front but no garden at the back. The two earth closets were probably at the end of the row and shared by all the inhabitants.

Map of the parish Cottages
Plan of the Parish Cottages from a map drawn in about 1865. It is not known which cottages were used by the Bromley Common Infant School between 1837 and 1846.
Click for map of the area in 1841 showing the cottages.

The cottages each had two rooms and only cost £35 each to build. They were used as rented accommodation for the poor, an alternative to the workhouse. For a short time, between 1837 and 1846, they were home to the Bromley Common Infant School.

Photo of the Parish Cottages circa 1893
The Parish Cottages c1893.

A report in The Bromley Record, dated Feb 1st 1893, tells us that “The Sanitary Inspector also reported that he had visited the Parish Cottages, Oakley Road, and found that they were in an insanitary state, there being only two w.c.’s (sic) for the six houses and both were in a filthy condition.  There was only sufficient air-space in the sleeping rooms for one adult and one child, whereas in some of the houses there were four or five inmates which was over crowding.” 

The Cottages were demolished and replaced by two, semi-detached houses named Glebe Field Villas.  They are still standing.  (A glebe was land used to provide income for a vicar; the Glebe Field was next to the old vicarage which was built on the workhouse field.)

Photo of Glebe Field Villas
Glebe Field Villas, built on the site of the Parish Cottages.