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Template:Other uses Template:Infobox UK place Bromley-by-Bow, historically and officially Bromley, is a district in East London, England, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is an inner-city district situated Template:Convert east north-east of Charing Cross.



In early records the name first appears as Brambele, Brambelegh, or Brembeley and is likely to be derived from the Saxon words Brembel – a bramble, and lege – a field. In 1967, the London Underground station at Bromley was renamed to Bromley-by-Bow to distinguish it from the stations at Bromley in the London Borough of Bromley some 8 miles (12.9 km) to the south. Over time the station's name has extended to the area and today it is nearly always known as Bromley-by-Bow. Bow itself was originally known as Stratforde, becoming Stratford-at-Bow when a medieval bridge was built, in the shape of a bow.

Local governance

File:Stepney Civil Parish Map 1870.png
A map showing the civil parish boundaries in 1870.

The area was split from the parish of Stepney to form Bromley St Leonard in 1536. From 1855, the civil duties of the Parish were taken over by the Poplar Board of Works. Between 1899 and 1965 that district formed the Metropolitan Borough of Poplar, within the County of London.


Bromley was also known as Bromley-St Leonards, after St Leonard's Priory, a Benedictine nunnery founded in the time of William the conqueror. This priory achieved notoriety in the prologue to the Prioress' tale in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Ther was also a nonne, a prioresse,
That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy;
Hire gretteste ooth was but by seinte loy;
And she was cleped madame eglentyne.
Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne,
Entuned in hir nose ful semely,
And frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
After the scole of stratford atte bowe,
For frenssh of parys was to hire unknowe.<ref>Line 125. Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales accessed on 14 Nov 2006</ref>

This was a barbed reference as it implied the Prioress had learned French from the Benedictine nuns in a distinct Anglo-Norman dialect. By this time the dialect had lost prestige and was being ridiculed as sub-standard French.

The Abbey was destroyed at the time of the Dissolution, and the manor and lands passed to Sir Ralph Sadleir, who lived at Sutton House in Homerton and was privy councillor to Henry VIII. The church was retained to become the parish church of St Leonards. This in turn was destroyed by bombing in World War II and obliterated by the building of the Blackwall Tunnel approach road, dividing the main residential body of the parish from the river front. All that remains of the grounds of the Abbey is a small neglected churchyard.

Henry Grattan Guinness founded the East London Missionary Training Institute (also called Harley College) at Harley House in Bromley-by-Bow in 1873, with Dr. Thomas Barnardo as co-director. The school outgrew the premises and relocated in 1883, eventually becoming Cliff College.

The Revd Richard Enraght, religious controversialist, was the Curate of St Michael and All Angels Church in St Leonards Road from 1884–1888 and Rector of St Gabriel Church (now demolished), Chrisp Street (Poplar), from 1888-1895.

Bromley Old Palace

In 1606 a palace was built for James I facing the line of St Leonard's Street by John Thorpe. This was principally used as a hunting lodge but was a grand residence of 24 rooms, including a State room, built along the lines of Hardwick Hall and Montacute House. Some of the stonework was quarried from the remains of the (now disused) priory. It remained in Royal use and was refurbished in the reigns of Charles II and James II and stables were added. During the 18th century the frontage of the building was renewed and the palace was converted into two merchant houses. It went through a variety of uses, including a boarding school and a colour works. The house was demolished at the end of the 19th century by the London School Board for construction of a new board school. Many of the original fittings remained in place and were said to be in fine condition. The house was sold piecemeal for £250 with the State room, panelling and an oak doorway going to the Victoria and Albert Museum.


Councillors for the Bromley-by-Bow ward, which covers the district, are:

  • Rania Khan (Independent)
  • Khales Uddin Ahmed (Labour)
  • Helal Uddin (Labour)


Bromley-by-Bow is a part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in East London. To the north is Bow, and to the south are Poplar and Blackwall. The area is bisected north to south by the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road (A12) and the boundary of the area to the east is the River Lea which forms the boundary with West Ham in the London Borough of Newham. Between the expanded tunnel approach and the river is a small light industrial area that since the 1980s has held the area's main supermarket, Tesco. Nearby is Three Mills. On the eastern side of the A12 is East London's oldest surviving building, Bromley Hall. To the west are Poplar and the former district of Mile End.

The former Bow Common now forms Tower Hamlets Cemetery and Mile End Park. Bromley-by-Bow lies within the E3 postcode district.

The London Thames Gateway Development Corporation's aims for the Lower Lea Valley include providing 3,800 new homes and about 1,000 new jobs in the Bromley by Bow area by 2016. The section of land between the River Lea and the A11, which is currently the site of a Tesco store, is currently being redeveloped. Immediately adjacent to it, in Newham, is the Template:Convert "Strand East" development, led by Ikea.

The remaining part of the Coventry Cross Estate forms the southern part of Bromley-by-Bow.


In 2001, according to the UK national census data, there were 11,581 people living in the ward in 2188 households, giving an average of 2.8 people per household. Of these 51% were female, 30% were under the age of 16 and 40% were of Bangladeshi origin.

Tenure in Bromley-by-Bow ward was predominantly rented with only 15% of households being owner-occupiers. Census data indicates that the proportion of households in rented tenure was higher than the average for the borough. 60% of males were economically active with total unemployment being around 16% compared to 11% for the borough as a whole.

Community facilities

Kingsley Hall is famous both for the visits of Mahatma Gandhi to the East End in 1931 and the therapeutic clinic run by the alternative psychologist R. D. Laing from 1965. Despite a severe fire in 1995, Kingsley Hall remains an active community centre.

The Bromley-by-Bow Centre is a radicalTemplate:Says who approach to integrated health care, with nursery care, training opportunities and a community centre. It has been cited as a model for the future development of community services and health care.

Bromley By Bow Community Organisation (BBBCO) also provides Youth Provisions and Community Engagement programmes for Bromley By Bow. Its projects and services as a voluntary organisation provide the area with five football teams, Girls Group, Youth Group and Elderly and Community Services. It empowers the local residents, one of the most deprived wards in Tower Hamlets, and its surrounding areas to improve their socio-economic and cultural well-being and be able to sustain a good quality of life.


The nearest London Underground station is Bromley-by-Bow on the District Line and the Hammersmith and City Line, and this station is served (Feb 2013) by London Buses routes 108 (Lewisham to Stratford) and 488 (From the Bromley-By-Bow Tesco store to Clapton and Dalston Junction).

Notable residents

  • Andrew Mawson OBE, founder of the Bromley by Bow Centre; entered the House of Lords as Baron Mawson, of Bromley-by-Bow in 2007
  • Mary Price, teacher at Bromley St Leonard's church school; mother of Professor Ralph Kekwick FRS (1908–2000), biochemist who did pioneering work on human blood plasma
  • Christopher Gordon,footballer and now music producer Dirrty bit who lived in the area from 1981-1997

See also

  • List of people from Tower Hamlets
  • List of schools in Tower Hamlets



External links

Template:LB Tower Hamlets