03 December, 2007

10 Miles from London Bridge - Penge and Beckenham

A visit to Penge and Beckenham on a fine winters morning.
The best thing about Penge is the Watermen's almshouses, private as are all these places so no opportunity to get good pictures, but quite an extensive complex. The library has a rather good ironwork sign outside it on top of an old lamp post. It shows a woman reading a book standing near a book case (see picture). Penge shopping centre is rather dreary with nothing much there. A short bus ride away is Beckenham, with the Church of St George standing in proud isolation on Beckenham Green. Beckenham Green is the result of V2 rockets during the second world war and has been left as a much needed open space in this land of dormitory suburbs. The church (Victorian) was proudly flying the flag of its saint and was open when I called. The bombing at Beckenham Green had taken out the former windows which have since been filled with modern stained glass including some that looks like a celebration of technology, with pictures of calculators etc. Very striking. The older windows on the other side were typical representational stained glass of the period of the church. Some antiquities from a 13th century church on the site had been preserved including a piscina. There was a funeral bier in the church stencilled 'Beckenham'.

The font was in the Liturgical North Transept, a good move as it allows many more people to see the baptism which of course is a public ceremony.

The Lych Gate was 13th century and is thought to be the oldest in London. It has had the tiles replaced 3 times and the timbers replaced 5 times. Restored in the 1920s according to a plaque on it the timbers looked extremely new.
The village sign is usual to all villages in Bromley Borough and Beckenham has one, bearing the coat of arms of the former Beckenham Borough.
Beckenham is ten miles and 2 furlongs to London Bridge as marked by a stone on Beckenham Green.
The afternoon was not so nice as the morning and I went home via Chislehurst which was pleasant and very villagey.

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