As one of the last towns before you hit the green belt and the M25, Orpington in the Borough of Bromley offers a speedy commute of about 30 minutes into central London, as well as being a more reasonably-priced suburban option for families looking to relocate from inner London zones.
So what do I need to know about Orpington?
The first record of the name Orpington occurs in 1038, when King Cnut‘s treasurer Eadsy gave land at “Orpedingetune” to the Monastery of Christ Church at Canterbury. The parish church also pre-dates the Domesday Book. On 22 July 1573, Queen Elizabeth I was entertained at Bark Hart (Orpington Priory) and her horses stabled at the Anchor and Hope Inn (Orpington High Street). On the southern edge of Orpington, Green St Green is recorded as ‘Grenstretre’, which means a road covered with grass. It is known in the 1800s as Greenstead Green.* Source, Wikipedia
Chickens and a famous Liberal by-election victory are Orpington’s historic claims to fame. In 1962 the late Eric Lubbock, who became Lord Avebury, won a by-election with a 22 per cent swing to the Liberals in what was thought to be a rock-solid Tory seat, causing huge political upset and giving rise to the term “Orpington Man” — used to indicate a floating voter.
When it comes to the chickens, the Orpington Buff, the Orpington Black and the Orpington Jubilee were all bred in the area by Victorian farmer William Cook. In 1897, Farmer Cook gave Queen Victoria an Orpington Jubilee, a beautiful speckled hen bred specially to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.
Orpington is highly prized by commuting folk for its excellent, fast transport links into central London and the M25.
Orpington is close to the A21, the London to Hastings Road, and the M25. Orpington station is in Zone 6, with trains to London Bridge and Cannon Street taking around 15 minutes, and services to Charing Cross, Victoria and Blackfriars slightly longer. Outside Greater London, services call at Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells and Hastings.
The High Street and adjacent Walnuts Shopping Centre contain a variety of high-street shops. There is a general market three days a week in front of Orpington College. A large Tesco supermarket opened in 2009 on the site of a former multi-storey car park. Much of the town’s retailers reside at the Nugent Shopping Park. This retail park is located to the north of High Street, in the St Mary Cray area.
When it comes to leisure, The Walnuts Leisure Centre, just east of the High Street, has a six-lane, 33.3-metre indoor swimming pool, squash courts and a gym with sauna and steam room, as well as a sports hall used for activities such as badminton, basketball, trampolining and fitness classes. The sports hall is also used for Women’s Artistic Gymnastics, and the leisure centre has been the main training venue for Orpington Gymnastic Club since the opening of the centre. The Walnuts has been home to the Orpington Ojays swimming club for nearly 40 years. The club caters for those learning to swim right through to elite swimmers who wish to swim competitively at county and national level.
There is also now a 7 screen Odeon cinema that was built in 2016, as well as various restaurants in the surrounding area.
The town contains a full range of mostly decent primary and secondary schools. The state secondary schools include the popular Darrick Wood in the Locksbottom area of the town, as well as St. Olave’s Grammar School and Newstead Wood School, which both select students on the basis of their performance in a highly competitive entrance examination.
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