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Bromley-by-Bow, historically and officially Bromley, is a place in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is an inner-city district situated east north-east of Charing Cross.

Geography and administration


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 is 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 Lee and the London Borough of Newham. Between the expanded tunnel approach and the river is a small light industrial area, and has the area's main supermarket. Nearby is Three Mills. On the eastern side of the road is East London's oldest surviving building, Bromley Hall. To the west is 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.


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

  • Rania Khan (Respect)
  • Mohammed Abdul Munim (Respect)
  • Abdul Aziz Sardar (Labour)

On 29 March 2007, Andrew Mawson OBE was gazetted as Baron Mawson, of Bromley-by-Bow. He was introduced as a peer on 30 April 2007.



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. The area became known as Bromley and 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 London County Council. 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.


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.
This was a barbed reference, as it implied the Prioress had learned French, from the Benedictine nuns, in a distinct Anglo-Norman dialect, that by this time 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.

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.

Community facilities

Kingsley Hall is famous both for the visits of Mahatma Gandhi to the East End in 1931, and also for 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 radical approach to integrate 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 healthcare.


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.


For details of education in Bromley-by-Bow see the List of schools in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Transport and locale

Nearest places


External links

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