Bromley Road, BR3

Place Name

The name Bromley was first recorded in AD862 as Bromleag or Brom-leag in AD973. It featured in the Domesday Book of 1066 as Bronlei and Bromlega in 1178.  It comes from the Anglo-Saxon words brōm and lēah meaning the open field or clearings, usually on dry, sandy soils, where the broom bushes grow. Common broom bushes (Cytisus scoparius) were a widespread shrub with golden yellow flowers that grew all over the south east. They continued to be a useful commodity up until the invention of the modern broom in the 1800s. J Bryan Lowder in Slate gives a short history of the broom, writing: “Before the 19th century, broom-making was an idiosyncratic art; most were fashioned at home from whatever materials were at hand. The basic design involved binding the sweeping bundle to a wooden stick with rope or linen twine. However, these homespun brooms had short lives and had to be replaced often. The professionalization of broom-making appears to have begun in Anglo-Saxon England, where artisans known as ‘besom squires’ in the southeastern region would take twigs from the many birch trees in the area, trim and then lash them to poles of chestnut and other woods. A bawdy 18th-century folk song called ‘The Besom Maker’ makes fun of a female besom maker’s need to search the local woods for materials, and, along the way, other pleasures.”

 

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