George and Dragon public house, Downe
Downe is located in Greater London
Location within Greater London
OS grid referenceTQ435615
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtBR6
Dialling code01689
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°20′09″N 0°03′13″E / 51.3359°N 0.0535°E / 51.3359; 0.0535
The medieval Church of Saint Mary in Downe

Downe, formerly Down, (/daʊn/) is a village in Greater London, England, located within the London Borough of Bromley but beyond London's contiguous urban area. Downe is 3.4 miles (5.5 km) south west of Orpington and 14.2 miles (22.9 km) south east of Charing Cross. Downe lies on a hill, and much of the centre of the village is unchanged; the former village school now acts as the village hall. The word Downe originates from the Anglo Saxon word dūn, latterly down, hence the South and North Downs. In April 1965, Downe and the remaining part of Orpington Urban District Council, was abolished, and transferred from the historic county of Kent and placed within the newly created London Borough of Bromley.

Partial History

Lord Simon de Manning, a former Lord of the Manor for Kevington, London, and holder of the land which now includes Downe, was a Grandson of Rudolph de Manning, Count Palatine, (who married Elgida, aunt to King Harold I, of England); he was the royal Standard Bearer to King Richard the Lionheart, who carried the royal Standard to Jerusalem in 1190, during the First Crusade. In England, the forms Earl Palatine and Palatine Earldom are preferred. As well as Downe, the Manning's Kevington Manor included the areas which later became Berry's Green, Luxted, Single Street, Westerham Hill, and Leaves Green, which form, collectively, (excluding Kelvington), the Darwin (ward), Greater London's largest electoral Ward.

When Charles Darwin moved there in 1842, the village was still known as Down. Its name was changed later in the 1940s to Downe, to avoid confusion with County Down in Ireland.


Charles Darwin lived in Down House for 40 years, from 1842 until he died there in 1882. He became a close friend of Sir John Lubbock, 3rd Baronet, who lived nearby at the Lubbock's High Elms estate on the other side of the village. A favourite place of Darwin's was Downe Bank, now a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest, and several members of his family are buried in the graveyard of St Mary's Church.

Down House and the surrounding area has been nominated by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to become a World Heritage Site. However, this decision has been deferred.

Local politics

Since 2019, the local Member of Parliament has been Gareth Bacon of the Conservative Party. By a numerical majority of 19,453 votes (38.5%), Orpington is the safest Conservative Parliamentary seat in London.

One councillor is elected every four years to Bromley London Borough Council. To date, the Darwin ward has only been represented by representatives from the Conservative Party. It is the largest Greater London Ward, and includes Berry's Green, Single Street, Luxted, Leaves Green, and Cudham.

Darwin ward 2018
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Richard Scoates 1,201 72.8
Labour Frank Evans 185 11.2
Liberal Democrats Millicent Scott Brooks 133 8.1
Green Jan Wilson 130 7.9
Turnout 1,649 40.0
Conservative hold Swing
Darwin ward 2014 (1)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Richard Scoates 987 51.2
UKIP Eric Hayward 681 35.3
Labour John Evans 105 5.4
Green Eileen Galloway 89 4.6
Liberal Democrats William Ritchie 45 2.3
Majority 306
Turnout 1,927
Conservative hold Swing

Buckston Browne Farm

Buckston Browne Farm

Downe is the location of Buckston Browne Farm, built in 1931 as a surgical research centre by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS). In the 1980s, the farm caused controversy because of its use of vivisection techniques, and in August 1984 it was raided by anti-vivisection activists.

The farm has now been made into four houses.


There are two scout campsites in the Downe area:


Bus route 146 outside St Mary's Church

Despite the village's separation from the capital's built-up area, Downe is still under Transport for London because of its location within the Greater London administrative area. It is served by several London bus services but overall has limited connections further into London. There are no rail links to the village (the nearest stations are Orpington, Bromley South, Bromley North and Hayes), but it is served by two hourly bus routes:

146 - Bromley North to Downe via Old Hayes and Keston

R8 – Biggin Hill to Orpington via Downe and Green Street Green

Notable people

Nearest places

This page was last updated at 2024-02-16 07:15 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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