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Beckenham has a fascinating past, which is rather surprising considering the area was pretty much made up of a few small hamlets for much of the history of England. Yet, it has lived through the Roman invasion, seen Druid worship and relics from the Bronze and Stone ages have even been found in Beckenham.
Sadly, there isn’t a lot of information about the Beckenham area before the Roman arrived in Britain. We do know that the Druids had open air temples in the area, and many historians believe some of these to have been near the oak groves on Wickham Common.
During the invasion of the Romans, though, the area likely changed quite a lot. There are traces of a Roman camp in Beckenham on Toots Wood Road. Interestingly, “toots” is a Saxon word meaning a look-out hill/ beacon, so perhaps the Saxons also used this area as a lookout post just like the Romans.
Despite the history of Beckenham being mostly lost, historians are working on piecing the history together as we speak, we can tell you what the area used to look like. For much of its life, Beckenham was full of open spaces, woodland and stunning landscapes. Wild animals would have roamed the area including wolves, bears, deer and even wild cats. It may have been a dangerous area to live, but there is evidence of small settlements around the Beckenham area.
These small settlements would have been made up of families living off of the land, perhaps they took goods into London on market days to sell them. They would hunt and fish for food and may have sold their fresh catches to wealthy Londoners.
While the past of Beckenham is somewhat mysterious, the area has certainly seen a lot over the years, and the more the historians undercover, the more interesting Beckenham becomes to many!