The Royal Bell - History and Heritage

There are a few different strands to the enormous project that is The Bromley Arts and Community Initiative, but one of the most important is preserving and conserving the Royal Bell Hotel on the High Street in Bromley. Indeed it was seeing its continued abandonment and state of disrepair that spurred us into forming our group and embarking on this project in the first place!

For over 3 years the building has stood empty with its windows boarded and has seen a succession of bids fall through from potential sub-leasers (mainly we think due to the high cost of renovation). Before its decline its was home to a number of failed pubs and bar concepts which paid little or no attention to its rich history as a coaching inn.

But it hasn't always been so, The Royal Bell used to be the very heart of Bromley, a renowned inn where travelers between Kent and London would change horses, and a coaching inn has stood on this site since the 17th Century. So good was its reputation that the pub soon began to receive Royal visitors en route to and from London and thus it earned the right to include "Royal" in its title. When the current pub was built in 1898 it was designed by the eminent architect Ernest Newton who designed many prominent dwellings in the area and was also the president of the Royal Institute of Architects for 2 years after WWI. It is now a Grade II listed building and is listed on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk Register.

We care very much that the pub is not only looked after and conserved properly but also that it houses an interest that the whole Bromley community can enjoy. To "save" a pub by turning it into a supermarket or block of flats simply doesn't give the building back the lease of life it was originally intended for, we believe that by having a strong community focus, with a range of different cultural avenues the pub will once again become a place where the people of Bromley will frequent and be proud to call their own.

A towns heritage defines its very character and should be used as a way to engage people with where they live, to inspire residents to care about their surroundings and to notice the rich history all around them. We not only want to save and celebrate Bromley's most significant historic building, we also want engage people with it, and make them love it as much as we do!

1 comment:

  1. my great grandparents both worked here after WW1 ! I assume they met here and then married .. i wonder if there are old records kept of employees? I would love to find out more.. anyone know where/who might know? C x


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