Bromley Hall | One of the Oldest Houses in London
Along a particularly dreary stretch of the Blackwall Tunnel Approach is the remarkable Bromley Hall. A 15th century survivor.
Arriving out of Bromley-by-Bow Tube Station, you’re met with a pretty uninspiring vista, Pevsner describes it aptly as a “bleak introductory panorama”.
But walking beneath the underpass towards Gillender Street and you’ll find – opposite the roaring A12 – Bromley Hall.
HOW OLD IS BROMLEY HALL?
From the outside it looks Georgian, a townhouse dating from the early 1700s.
However, renovations in 2003-4 by Leaside Regeneration Limited discovered it was far older. In fact, it’s one of the oldest houses in London!
Inside they found carved doorways and the timbers were dated to around 1485. To put that into perspective that is the same year as the Battle of Bosworth, when King Richard III is defeated by King Henry VII, starting the Tudor dynasty.
This was formerly a Manor House, part of South Bromley and shown on John Rocque’s Map.
Image from layersoflondon.org © OpenStreetMap contributors
Above where I’ve ringed Bromley Hall, you can also see Three Mills, another historic survivor.
Ok, yes, it was largely remodelled c.1700. But the Grade II* listing notes that the octagonal corner turrets and brick string courses (the horizontal line of brick that juts out above the ground floor) are part of the 16th century building.
HISTORY OF BROMLEY HALL
The building we see today was first constructed on top of the walls of Holy Trinity Priory. The Museum of London Archeology team confirmed that remains found below the ground floor dates from c.1255.
In 1509 the monastery granted a 30-year lease to John Blount, a bodyguard of King Henry VIII. John’s daughter, Elizabeth, caught Henry’s ever-wandering eye and the pair had an son; Henry Fitzroy.
To be home to the son of the King, despite being illegitimate, gives you an idea of how lavish this house might have appeared and there’s a great reconstruction of what the house might’ve looked like from Paul Latham here.
After the reformation, the crown seized the land in 1531-2 and held it until 1606. It was bought as a country lodge by Sir Arthur Ingram, MP for York and buried in Westminster Abbey.
Image from Wikimedia – Public Domain – George Geldrop – c.1641
Ingram partly rebuilt the house in 1625 and during the 17th and 18th century it was bought, sold and lived in by various City merchants.
Throughout its long history it’s been a residence, a printing works, a missionary HQ, a hospital and a warehouse.
You can also read the original article from Institute of Historic Building Conservation here. It includes pictures of the wooden Tudor doorways from page 17.
Oldest House in London?
So, it begs the question, what is the oldest house in London?
Well, by most accounts the oldest inhabited house in London is 41-42 Cloth Fair – which we see on my Guts & Glory Walking Tour.
It was built in 1614 and is still lived in today. It’s also the subject of Fiona Rule’s book; The Oldest House in London.