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George and Dragon public house, Downe - - 1718861.jpg
George and Dragon public house, Downe
Downe is located in Greater London
OS grid reference TQ435615
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BR6
Dialling code 01689
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Orpington
London Assembly
  • Bexley and Bromley
List of places
51°20′09″N 0°03′13″E / 51.3359°N 0.0535°E / 51.3359; 0.0535

Downe, formerly Down, is a village in Greater London, England, located within the London Borough of Bromley but beyond the London urban sprawl. 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 Anglosaxon word dūn, latterly down, hence the South and North Downs. In April 1965, it (and the remaining part of Orpington Urban District Council), which was abolished, were transferred from Kent and placed within the newly created London Borough of Bromley. The village is in the historic county of Kent.

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. A favourite place of his 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.

Buckston Browne Farm

Buckston Browne Farm, Downe Kent
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:

  • The Downe Scout Activity Centre consisting of 86 acres (350,000 m2) of woodland and open fields is just outside the village.
  • The Greenwich (one of the Districts of the Greater London South Scout county) District campsite is also nearby.


Bus 146 in Downe 2
Bus route 146 outside St Mary's Church

Downe, being in the county of Greater London, is still under Transport for London remit despite being outside the metropolis. It is served by several London Buses bus services from London but overall has limited connections into London. There are no rail links to the village (nearest stations: Orpington, Bromley 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;

Nearest places

Notable people

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