Park Langley, Bromley
A select residential estate in south Beckenham, augmented by some slightly less grandiose early 21st century development
It is likely but not certain that the ‘langan leage’ recorded in a charter of 862 can be identified with this place, although the next mention of Langley does not come until the 13th century, when the Langley (or de Langele) family were in possession of the estate, and had probably taken their name from it.
The Langley estate passed through a succession of eminent hands until it was acquired in the 1820s by Emmanuel Goodhart, whose family retained it into the 20th century.
In 1908 the Lewisham building firm H&G Taylor bought 700 acres of the estate, intending to create a garden suburb of the highest quality, with a golf course, substantial detached and semi-detached houses, curving avenues and a circular amenity building, with shops and a church. One of the houses was built as the centrepiece of the 1910 Ideal Home Exhibition at Kensington Olympia and reassembled here after the show.
Henry Wellcome bought Langley Court and 105 acres of land in 1918 to set up research laboratories for his pharmaceutical company. At the same time, Taylor’s resumed work on its ‘garden city’. Although the company considered the golf course to be the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Park Langley, its architectural highlight was the petrol station built at Looking Glass Corner in 1928. Designed in what Pevsner called “a rampant Road to Mandalay style,” it later became known as the Chinese garage and was grade II listed in 1994.
Parts of Park Langley were not fully developed until after the Second World War, while the amenity centre failed to materialise and its site was used for Langley Park schools for boys and girls.
Wellcome ended research at Langley Court in 1995 and the grounds saw extensive housebuilding at the turn of the 21st century, including the Langley Park and Langley Waterside estates. The much tighter network of streets makes the newer estates readily identifiable on the map below. The purpose-built Unicorn primary school opened in September 2003.