The borough was formed on 1 April 1965 by the London Government Act 1963. In addition to Bromley and Beckenham, it also included Penge, Orpington, and Chislehurst parts of Chislehurst and Sidcup urban districts. In tandem with the London Government Act, the local government authorities responsible for administering those other areas were abolished on April 1, 1965.
As a result of a local campaign, Knockholt was transferred to the Sevenoaks Rural District in 1969. Knockholt had previously been a part of the Orpington Urban District until 1965.
Districts of Bromley
In terms of population, the borough is equally rural and urban, with the former lying north of London's suburban built-up areas.
From west to east, the northern section consists of Beckenham, with Eden Park and Elmers End; Bromley, with Bickley, Bromley Park and Bromley Common; Park Langley, Plaistow, Shortlands and Southborough; and Chislehurst, with Elmstead and Sundridge.
The built-up area around Orpington includes not only its direct outskirts of Chelsfield, Crofton, Derry Downs, Goddington, Kevingtown, and Petts Wood; it also includes the former separate settlements of Farnborough, Green Street Green, Pratt's Bottom, St Mary Cray and St Paul's Cray. Also included within the borough boundaries are parts of Mottingham, Sydenham, Swanley, and Ruxley, as well as parts of Crystal Palace and its park.
The southern part of the borough has two major built-up areas: Hayes and West Wickham. Biggin Hill, Downe and Keston with Leaves Green and Nash are smaller, rural settlements.
Among the local attractions are Down House (the home of Charles Darwin), Chislehurst Caves, Holwood House (the home of William Pitt the Younger), Crofton Roman Villa, and The Crystal Palace.
With 59 square miles (153 km2) of land, the borough is the largest in Greater London. Most of the borough is Metropolitan Green Belt, including almost all of the land south of the A232-A21 route between West Wickham and Pratt's Bottom. Because that escarpment is wide between Bromley and Banstead, it contains more of the North Downs than any other borough, making it perhaps the most rural borough in the region. This is also reflected in its low population density, which is the lowest in London.
The borough's population mainly lives in the north and west, with Biggin Hill in the south being the only outlier. Lewisham and Greenwich border the borough in the north, Bexley borders it in the north-east, Southwark and Lambeth border it in the north-west, and Croydon borders it in the west. In addition to being bordered by Kent to the east and south, Tandridge is bordered by Surrey to the south.
London's southern boundary is marked by the Westerham Heights, the highest point in London and Kent at 804 feet (245 metres).
In addition, Bromley has the highest percentage of farmland of any London borough at 30%.
In 1801, the civil parishes that formed the modern borough had a total population of 8,944. As the district developed, the population grew slowly; by the mid-19th century, it had reached 17,192 people. In the 1970s, when industry moved from London, the population peaked, and population grew rapidly as the railways arrived.
In the 2011 UK Census, the borough had a population of 309,392. All major religions are represented, but 60.07% identified themselves as Christian. The 2001 Census found that 43.47% of the population were employed full-time and 11.06% were employed part-time – compared to a London average of 42.64 percent and 8.62 percent, respectively. Approximately 32.53% of residents owned their homes outright, followed by 42.73% owning their home with a mortgage.