West Face of the Church of Saint George, Beckenham (01).jpg

The west face of St George's Church, Beckenham
Beckenham is located in Greater London
Location within Greater London
Area13.22 km2 (5.10 sq mi)
Population46,844 (2011 Census[1]
• Density3,543/km2 (9,180/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTQ3769
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtBR3
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtSE20
Dialling code020
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°24′29″N 0°01′19″W / 51.408°N 0.022°W / 51.408; -0.022Coordinates: 51°24′29″N 0°01′19″W / 51.408°N 0.022°W / 51.408; -0.022

Beckenham (/ˈbɛkənəm/) is a town in Greater London, England, within the London Borough of Bromley, in Greater London. Until 1965 it was part of the historic county of Kent. It is located 8.4 miles (13.5 km) south-east of Charing Cross, situated north of Elmers End and Eden Park, east of Penge, south of Lower Sydenham and Bellingham, and west of Bromley and Shortlands. Its population at the 2011 census counted 46,844 inhabitants.[2]

Beckenham was, until the coming of the railway in 1857, a small village, with most of its land being rural and private parkland. John Barwell Cator and his family began the leasing and selling of land for the building of villas which led to a rapid increase in population, between 1850 and 1900, from 2,000 to 26,000. Housing and population growth has continued at a lesser pace since 1900.

The town, directly west of Bromley, has areas of commerce and industry, principally around the curved network of streets featuring its high street and is served in transport by three main railway stations — nine within the post town — plus towards its western periphery two Tramlink stations. In common with the rest of Bromley, the largest borough of London by area, Beckenham has several pockets of recreational land which are a mixture of sports grounds, fishing ponds and parks.


The place-name 'Beckenham' is first attested in a Saxon charter of 862 as Biohhahema mearc.[3] The settlement is referred to as Bacheham in the Domesday Book of 1086, and in the Textus Roffensis as Becceham.[4] The name is thought to derive from Beohha's homestead (Beohha + ham in Old English).[5] The name of the small stream here – the River Beck – is most likely to have been named after the village.[6]


Central Beckenham, flooded in 1878.
Central Beckenham, flooded in 1878.

Although early written history tells little of the area, archaeological evidence at Holwood Park, where Stone Age and Bronze Age artefacts have been found, reveals some evidence of early settlers.[citation needed] A Roman camp was sited here, and a Roman road, the London to Lewes Way passed through the district.[7][8]

With the arrival of the Normans, the Manor of Beckenham took on added importance, controlling much of what is modern Beckenham, with other areas covered by the estates of Foxgrove Manor, Kelsey and Langley.[citation needed] Beckenham remained a small village until well into the 19th century. The beginning of its growth began after 1825 when the estates of John Cator and Peter Burrell, Baron Gwydir began to be developed.[citation needed] In 1760 Cator built Beckenham Place and became Lord of the Manor in 1773 after purchasing the Manor of Beckenham from Frederick St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke.[9] After Cator died in 1806, his heirs became aware that an area in such relative close proximity to London was ripe for development, especially once the railway had arrived in 1857, and large villas began to be built around the new station.[6] Wide roads and large gardens epitomised these properties, often built by developers who acquired land from the Cators. Peter Burrell, Baron Gwydir died in 1820 and his estates were purchased by the Hoare banking family and the Goodharts who purchased Langley.[citation needed] These estates were subsequently split up and developed.[citation needed] The Manor of Foxgrove was also broken up at some point; its name is commemorated in a local road.

The Kelsey Estate contained a mansion, built in 1835 to replace an earlier Medieval structure, though it was itself demolished in 1921 and the grounds turned into Kelsey Park.[10][11] The only surviving buildings are the two Grade II listed lodge cottages at the entrance, which are over 200 years old.[12]

In 1876 Beckenham Cemetery opened (originally Crystal Palace District Cemetery), located south of the town in Elmers End.[13]

Modern Beckenham

The late nineteenth-century Kelsey Lodge in Beckenham, now a Grade II listed building
The late nineteenth-century Kelsey Lodge in Beckenham, now a Grade II listed building

Today Beckenham is an outer London suburb, though it has maintained its own identity and forms a town in its own right. It is centred on its non-pedestrianised curving high street. Further rows of shops run east from the town centre along Bromley Road, south along Croydon Road, and west along Beckenham Road around Clock House station, where the town's library can be found.[14] To the north lies the New Beckenham area, essentially a residential suburb of Beckenham proper.


The Studio, a Grade II listed building in Beckenham
The Studio, a Grade II listed building in Beckenham

The Municipal Borough of Beckenham came into being in 1935.[15] It took over from what had been, since 1894, Beckenham Urban District Council and included parts of Hayes and West Wickham, previously part of Bromley Rural District Council. The new Borough status reflected the growth of Beckenham in less than fifty years.[16]

Prior to 1965, Beckenham was part of the administrative county of Kent.[17][dead link] In 1965, as part of the creation of the Greater London Council, the Borough council was disbanded and Beckenham came under control of the newly constituted London Borough of Bromley. Councillors represent various parts of the Borough of Beckenham. Beckenham Town Centre Management coordinates business interests in the town.[18]


The "Bowie Bandstand" in Croydon Road Recreation Ground, site of one of musician David Bowie's earliest public performances; it is now Grade II listed.
The "Bowie Bandstand" in Croydon Road Recreation Ground, site of one of musician David Bowie's earliest public performances; it is now Grade II listed.

Beckenham lies 1.7 miles (2.7 km) west of Bromley and 3.8 miles (6.1 km) north-east of Croydon.

The original village of Beckenham was a cluster of development in its own fields, surrounded by a series of manorial estates: Beckenham, Foxgrove, Kelsey and Langley Halls and Parks.

The River Ravensbourne flows northwards at the eastern side of the town, towards its confluence with the River Thames. A small stream, the River Beck (sometimes referred to as the Hawkesbrook), passes through the town before joining the Ravensbourne via the Pool River further north.[19]

The area is part of an outcrop of London Clay and consists of many small hills.[20]


Victorian commercial buildings along Beckenham Road
Victorian commercial buildings along Beckenham Road

Beckenham is the headquarters to Capita Registrars Limited who provide share registration services for more than half of the UK's quoted companies. Proper Records, the UK's biggest independent music distributor, was originally based in Beckenham[21] but relocated to Surrey Quays in 2017.[22]



Beckenham town centre is served by Beckenham Junction station, with further stations (Clock House, New Beckenham, Ravensbourne, Beckenham Hill and Kent House) serving the surrounding area.

Beckenham Junction and Kent House have services into central London every 15 minutes, taking 13 minutes to Brixton and 21 minutes to London Victoria.

Beckenham Junction main entrance
Beckenham Junction main entrance

Beckenham Junction also provides services into London Bridge every 30 minutes, taking 35 minutes, and to Orpington every 15 minutes, taking 7 minutes to Bromley South and 17 minutes to Orpington.

Ravensbourne and Beckenham Hill stations provide direct access to central London and the City every 30 minutes - Peckham Rye in 12 minutes, Elephant & Castle in 23 minutes, London Blackfriars in 27 minutes, City Thameslink in 29 minutes, Farringdon in 33 minutes and London St Pancras in 37 minutes.

New Beckenham and Clock House have services to London Charing Cross, London Bridge, Waterloo East, London Cannon Street and Hayes.


Tramlink serves Beckenham with services from Beckenham Junction and Beckenham Road to Wimbledon via East Croydon.


Beckenham is served by several Transport for London buses that link the town with other areas including Bromley, Catford, Chislehurst, Croydon, Crystal Palace, Eltham, Lewisham, Orpington, Penge, West Wickham and Woolwich.

Religious sites

Christ Church, Beckenham
Christ Church, Beckenham

The town has a number of places of worship.[23] St. George's Church is the principal parish church, and is in the centre of Beckenham.[24] It was extensively rebuilt, at the end of the 19th century, but an earlier building dates back to 1100. It has a 13th-century lych gate that is thought to be one of the oldest in England.[5][25] The almshouses next to the church go back to 1694. There are also three other Anglican churches in the town: All Saints Church; Holy Trinity Church; and St James at Elmers End. In addition, there are Methodist and Baptist churches; and the Roman Catholic church dedicated to St Edmund of Canterbury.[26]

Town churches include: St. George's Church (W. Gibbs Bartleet, 1885–1887), St. Barnabas on Oakhill Road (A. Stenning & H. Hall, 1878 or 1884), Christ Church, Fairfield Road (Blashill & Hayward, 1876), St. Edmund's Catholic Church, Village Way (J. P’Hanlon Hughes, 1937), St. James, St. James’ Avenue (A.R. Stenning, 1879–1898), St. Michael and All Angels, Ravenscroft Road (W. H. Hobday & F. H. Maynard, 1955–1956), St. Paul, Brackley Road (Smith & Williams, 1872), Holy Trinity, Lennard Road (E.F. Clarke, 1878), Baptist Church, Elm Road (Appleton & E. W. Mountford, 1889), Congregational Church, Crescent Road (J. W. & R. F. Beaumont, 1887–8), Methodist Church (James Weir, 1887).[27]

Close to the [[Cinema] a Christian Science Reading Room existed close to the site occupied by the postal sorting site in the 1980s. The site is now occupied by Kingsway church at 18 Rectory Rd. While the postal office site is now occupied by Citygate Church.


Strictly defined to its historic parish area translated to today's modern wards of the United Kingdom, Beckenham covers four such wards, however as a post town it contains more than 82,000 people as at the 2011 census.[28]

2011 Published Statistics: Population[29]
Ward Usual residents km2
Clock House 15,560 2.27
Copers Cope 15,392 3.29
Kelsey and Eden Park 15,892 5.20
Shortlands 9,824 2.46

Culture and leisure

The George Inn, an 18th-century listed pub on the High Street[30]
The George Inn, an 18th-century listed pub on the High Street[30]

Like most towns of its size, Beckenham has several leisure organisations and societies.[31] The local Odeon cinema has six screens and is a grade II listed building.[32] The Beckenham Festival of Music and Dancing takes place every November.[33] Beckenham Theatre puts on amateur productions.[34] The Beckenham Concert Band is a community wind band which has, over the last 35 years, raised thousands of pounds for local and national charities.[35] It caters for amateur wind and brass musicians and performs locally during the winter months and across London and the South East during the summer.[35]

The South East London Green Chain, a long-distance footpath, crosses through Beckenham. Both Cator Park and Beckenham Place Park form part of the Chain. There are other open spaces in the town, including Croydon Road Recreation Ground and Kelsey Park. There is also a walk starting in Cator Park, going down the High Street, through Kelsey Park, then Croydon Road Recreation Ground and back to Cator Park. Beckenham Green, in the town centre, hosts regular markets and activities throughout the year.


Main article: List of schools in the London Borough of Bromley

The principal secondary schools in Beckenham are Harris Academy Beckenham (formerly Kelsey Park Sports College), Harris Academy Bromley (formerly Cator Park School),[36] the two Langley Park schools, for boys[37] and for girls,[38] and Eden Park High School.[39][40] There are also a large number of schools catering for primary education, including the independent Roman Catholic school, Bishop Challoner,[41] St Mary's Catholic Primary School,[42] Marian Vian Primary School, Balgowan Primary School,[43] Worsley Bridge Primary School, Harris Primary Academy Beckenham (formerly Bromley Road Infants School), Clare House Primary School and Churchfields Primary School.[44]


Beckenham Hospital, now called Beckenham Beacon,[45] following redevelopment in 2009, is a minor treatment centre and an outstation to Princess Royal Hospital in Farnborough for outpatient services. It has GP, dental and other services available.


The HSBC Sports Pavilion in New Beckenham
The HSBC Sports Pavilion in New Beckenham

Beckenham has a non-League football club Beckenham Town F.C., which plays at Eden Park Avenue, and a Sunday league team, Beckenham Manor Football Club, which plays at Langley Sports Club.

The war memorial and Odeon cinema, both Grade II listed
The war memorial and Odeon cinema, both Grade II listed

Beckenham Cricket Club plays at Foxgrove Road, a former first-class cricket ground. It has been the breeding ground of England internationals Derek Underwood and Richard Ellison, and most recently Kent County captain Robert Key.

From 1886 to 1996, the club also staged the Kent Championships, an international tennis tournament, which featured many of the world's top players because it opened the grass-court season building up to The Championships at Wimbledon. In June 1968, the club held the world's first "open" grass-court tournament - one month after the sport became open to amateur and professional players - with Australians Fred Stolle and Margaret Court winning the singles titles.[citation needed] Beckenham Cricket Club is also the home to Bromley and Beckenham Hockey Club.[citation needed]

Beckenham Rugby Football Club is a rugby union club formed originally in 1894. It fields six senior men's teams a successful women's team, and also has one of the largest youth sections in the South East.[46]

Beccehamians RFC, a rugby union club founded in 1933, plays competitive rugby at Sparrows Den, at the bottom of Corkscrew Hill near West Wickham.[47]

Swimmers from Beckenham Swimming Club, established in 1893, have gained medals in the 21st century at national and international levels.[48]

The training ground for Premier League club Crystal Palace is located on Copers Cope Road.[citation needed]


In Simon Brett's long-running BBC Radio 4 comedy drama, No Commitments (1992–2007), Beckenham is the home of the wildly snobbish, socially aspirational and insecure sister Victoria; the town is frequently mocked by association.[49] Beckenham is also one of the main locations of the novel The Buddha of Suburbia (1990), by Hanif Kureishi.[50]

Notable people

Main article: List of people from Beckenham

Zizzi pizza restaurant
Close-up of plaque
The former Three Tuns pub (now a restaurant), with David Bowie plaque

Numerous prominent personages were born or have lived in Beckenham. In the world of politics and governance, these include the colonial administrator George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland (1784–1849),[citation needed] politician and diplomat William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland (1745–1814),[citation needed] Admiral of the Royal Navy Sir Peircy Brett (1709–1781),[citation needed] CSgt Frank Bourne of Rorke's Drift (who lived at 16 King's Hall Road, Beckenham and is buried in Beckenham Cemetery),[citation needed] eminent judge Wilfred Greene, 1st Baron Greene (1883–1952 – born at 8 Fox Grove Road)[citation needed] and Fr. Thomas Pelham Dale SSC, an Anglo-Catholic clergyman prosecuted for Ritualist practices in the 1870s.[citation needed] Former British Prime Minister John Major lived at West Oak in Beckenham with his wife Norma from 1974 to 1978.[51]

Writers include Enid Blyton who lived at 95 Chaffinch Road from 1897 to 1903,[52] Walter de la Mare, who lived at 195 Mackenzie Road,[53] and A.L. Barker (1918–2002).

Show business people include Bob Monkhouse (1928–2003),[6] Julie Andrews, who lived on Cromwell Road,[54] Floella Benjamin (now Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham), who grew up on Mackenzie Road,[55] Maurice Denham (1909–2002),[56] Simon Ward (1941–2012).[57] and Betty Box (1915–1999)[58] and her brother Sydney (1907–1983),[59] both film producers.

A noteworthy musician associated with the area was David Bowie (1947–2016), who lived at 42 Southend Road from 1969 to 1973.[60] Others from the area include Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, who went to school in Beckenham, Peter Frampton, who was born in Beckenham,[61] the Dutch singer Wende Snijders;[62] the pop/rock musician David Sylvian, who was born in the town but raised in nearby Catford,[63][64] Status Quo keyboardist Andy Bown who was born in Beckenham,[citation needed] and musician Anne Dudley of the band Art of Noise who is from the town.[citation needed]

There are many sports personalities, especially cricketers, plus Tom Pettitt (1859–1956), real tennis world champion 1885–90.[65] Boxer David Haye, WBA champion, moved to Beckenham in 2010.[citation needed]



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  14. ^ "Beckenham Library". Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  15. ^ Kelly's Directory of Kent 1903, p.48 (Historical Directories), accessed January 31, 2008
  16. ^ In 1861 its population was 2,100; by 1921 this had increased to 33,300, and to 77,300 by 1961. Kent History Illustrated Frank W Jessup, 1966 Kent County Council
  17. ^ Admin, Bromley. "History of the Bromley area". Retrieved 7 March 2021.
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  21. ^ Plummer, Robert (29 April 2010). "How to sell music the Proper way". BBC News. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  22. ^ Paine, Andre (6 December 2017). "Proper Music Group quadruples capacity at new warehouse". Music Week. Retrieved 6 December 2022.
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  24. ^ "St George's Church | At The Heart Of The Beckenham Community". St George's Church. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Business Category -Beckenham Community". Archived from the original on 10 October 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2008.
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  31. ^ "Business Category -Beckenham Community". Archived from the original on 28 January 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
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  33. ^ "Home".
  34. ^ "Beckenham Theatre Centre - home page".
  35. ^ a b "Home".
  36. ^ "Harris Academy Bromley - Harris Girls' Academy Bromley".
  37. ^ "Langley Park School For Boys - Home". Archived from the original on 24 September 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2008.
  38. ^ "Home - Langley Park School for Girls".
  39. ^ "Eden Park High School".
  40. ^ "Eden Park High School". ((cite web)): |first= missing |last= (help)
  41. ^ "Bishop Challoner School". Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  42. ^ "Default - St. Mary's Catholic Primary School".
  43. ^ "Balgowan Primary School - Primary School". Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
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  50. ^ "Hanif Kureishi - The Buddha of Suburbia". Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  51. ^ John Major (1999). John Major: The Autobiography. Harper Collins. p. 56.
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  53. ^ "Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)".
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  57. ^ "Simon ward".
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  62. ^ "Wende Snijders". IMDb. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  63. ^ "David Sylvian: "I'm not too good at small talk but love to get straight to what's real" - Interview | Interviews". musicOMH. 5 March 2005. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  64. ^ O’Connell, Alex. "5 minutes with David Sylvian". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  65. ^ "International Tennis Hall of Fame". Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  66. ^ Historic England. "THE STUDIO INCLUDING ATTACHED RAILINGS, 28, BECKENHAM ROAD (1390855)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  67. ^ Historic England. "Beckenham War Memorial (1406218)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  68. ^ Historic England. "Odeon Cinema (1031565)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  69. ^ Historic England. "Kelsey Lodge (1186808)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 August 2020.