The house on the corner of Harold road and Beulah Hill bore on its walls the date 1875. The houses to replace it are now going up and to be occupied this year, 1975. What happened to Harold Road in the century between those two dates?
In the 1880’s and 1890’s there was great development in Harold Road carried out by that Victorian developer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. His estate kept the freeholds and the houses in the road were let on leases, all of which terminated in 1981, regardless of the date when the house was built. The first house in the road was built in 1882 on a 99-lease: my house, built in 1899, was given an 82-year lease.
The Christmas season programme would not be the great attraction that it is without the fun of the Pantomime and the flutter of excitement aroused by the various sights to be seen in the Circus. As last year, Mr. Humphrey E. Brammall is responsible for both productions and it is not too much to say they both exceed in all-round attractiveness the similar entertainments of last Christmas.
While you are looking around for a pantomime for your children or grandchildren this coming Christmas it is at least of interest to recall what the lucky children of Norwood in 1903 could look forward to, once they had persuaded their elders to take them to the Crystal Palace. One suspects that very little persuasion was needed because there would have been plenty of entertainment for grown-ups too.
On a beautiful day in last July I had the pleasure of making an excursion from London to Norwood, for the purpose of inspecting a very remarkable public institution which has for some years been established there. A coach started from Charing Cross and soon whirled me a few miles down into the county of Surrey, and in little more than an hour I was at the end of my journey. The district in which I now found myself is, unlike most English ground, agreeably varied by gentle eminences presenting slopes in all directions, plenteously ornamented with copses, tufts of forest trees and hedgerows, while in very part we discover villages and Gentlemen’s seats nestling in hollows or scattered over the rising ground.
In 1980 I purchased part of 15 Fox Hill. Much has been written about its history but perhaps nothing about a major focal point in its garden: an oak tree. But not any old oak tree. In the Pissarro painting of Fox Hill now in the National Gallery, it is the same height as the 4-storey house, tho much lower in gradient. Now one cannot see its tip from the uppermost window.
The South London suburbs as they appeared to a writer of a hundred years ago, are found in Percy Fitzgerald’s “London City Suburbs” Volume 2 in a kind of travelogue. This how he sees the Crystal Palace area:
“The various ascents from Dulwich onwards to ‘the Palace’ have special attraction. The roads are ‘grass lanes’ and in spite of innumerable villas, never seem to lose their sylvan character. The foliage of the laurels and shrubberies are luxuriant and the grass abounds; and with it all there is a certain sense of dreamy solitude – an air of contented happiness and tranquillity.
Reading, in the March issue of the Norwood Review, John Medhurst’s delightful idea for keeping the memory of the Vicar’s Oak green, I was reminded of a scheme I thought up some years ago for doing the same kind of thing in our little neck of the Great North Wood.
You can go from Selhurst to South Norwood on a country path by walking through Heaver’s Meadow and then the Recreation Ground, When my grandchildren were small it was an ideal way to go on to the swings or the library, with pram, pushchair, tricycle, or bicycle and the only glimpse one had of a car was when crossing Tennison Road.
One of the delightful by-products of the various local history books I have written and published on Streatham, Norwood and the surrounding area is the fascinating letters I receive from readers. Many come from foreign parts and my brother’s stamp collection has benefited greatly from my correspondence with family historians from around the world whose forebears once dwelt in our locality.
Some time ago I received an enquiry from the great-granddaughter of William Redpath, who established the chemist’s business which still trades today at 377 Norwood Road, SE27.
William was born in 1843 in Rothbury, Northumberland. He came from a humble background, his father, James, being the groom to the local parish priest, the Rev. Charles Harcourt.
Richard Jefferies (1848-87), the author and naturalist was born in Wiltshire and specialized in rural subjects. His work included ‘The Amateur Poacher’, ‘A Shepherd’s Life’ and ‘After London or Wild England’.
Richard Jefferies lived about 12 miles from London and studying nature in the vicinity of town, found a greater variety of wild life existed than he thought there would be. He wrote a number of sketches which were published in ‘The Standard’. With permission from the newspaper, a book was published in 1889, entitled ‘Nature Near London’. He rarely mentions places but did mention the Crystal Palace, although this is seen from a distance.