Broomfield Road, TW9

Place Name

Originally a continuation of Sandycombe Road, which itself was variously called Sand Lane, Blind Lane and Sandy Lane. The present name recalls a piece of land in Kew Gardens known as Broome Close since at least 1664, and which gave the name to Broomfield House School, Kew’s oldest private school, which was first mentioned in 1876, some 19 years before it was adopted by Richmond Council. Common broom bushes (Cytisus scoparius) were a widespread shrub with golden yellow flowers and a useful commodity up until the invention of the modern broom in the 1800s. The sticks could be fashioned together to make a broom. Other types of bush were also used for the purpose. 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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