Open House Festival

HG Wells' Bromley - in his own words


Ernest Newton, Berner & son, 1898

Primark , 162 High St, Bromley , BR1 1HE

A walk around the streets that the young Herbert George Wells knew when he was growing up and wrote about in his autobiography. You will get a flavour of Bromley in its Victorian heyday - all in the words of the author of the 'Time Machine'

Getting there


Bromley North, Bromley South


119, 208, 358, 227, 320, 354, 269, 162

Additional travel info

Nearby car parking at the Bromley Town Centre Hill Car Park 9 Beckenham Ln, Bromley BR2 0DA




HG Wells Birthplace

HG Wells, or Bertie, as he was known, was born on 21st September 1866 at No 47 High Street Bromley – now Primark. It was called Atlas House – “one of a row of badly built houses ...” with a shop on the ground floor selling china crockery and a special line of cricket goods. He says “We lived mostly downstairs and underground, more particularly in the winter”. He spent the first 13 years of his life there and the house is described in vivid detail in his Autobiography. Many of the buildings he would have known are still standing – including several in the 'Arts and Crafts' style popular in the Victorian era.

Mrs Knott's Dame School

Bertie's first school was Mrs Knott's 'Dame School' at No 8 East Street. Still standing today relatively unaltered, it was where he first learnt to read and do 'summing'.

Morley's Academy

At the age of 7, Bertie was sent to Morley's Academy, (230 High Street, now 'Mixta') where he received a private education up until the age of 13. His mother, Sarah, had chosen it as an alternative to the National School that had just become established in Bromley.

Martin's Hill

Young Bertie was free to roam out on to Martin’s Hill where he imagined soldiers charging across the slopes sending a defeated army off towards Croydon! Martin’s Hill was also the scene of real battles between the boys of Morley’s Academy (Morley's Bull Dogs) which Bertie attended and the boys of the National School (Bromley Water Rats).

Queen's Gardens

The tour will finish in Queen's Gardens where Bertie's father played professional cricket. Bertie himself broke his leg here in a bit of horseplay with the son of the landlord of The Bell, an event that Bertie says 'saved him from a life of drudgery...' because whilst bedridden he was provided with a lot of books which inspired him to become a writer rather than just a shop assistant. Later, his father also broke his leg cultivating a vine in their back yard. The income from cricket dried up and Bertie had to leave Bromley aged 13 in 1879.

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