I have just rediscovered an old treasure - the basic Ordnance Survey Map of the Croydon part of Upper Norwood. It was drawn up in 1910 and was a revision of the original survey of 1861. It is on the scale of 25in:1mile. Among the fascinating features of the Map are the Bench Marks, which give the altitude of all corners and important points. Thus, the Bench Mark opposite my house is given as 294.2 ft above sea level.
In those days, it was said that Upper Norwood was a pleasant, half-rural suburb, combining the healthful fragrance and freshness of the country with the convenience of the town. But it was growing rapidly; everywhere, bricks and mortar were flowing like the tide, and as irresistibly. So people living here were anxious to have their own recreation ground, and for two years before 1890 much pioneer work had gone into meetings of various societies, churches and so on, each of which petitioned Croydon for an open space.
This Convent, after well over 100 years, still looks to the needs and attends to the well-being of children of all nationalities. The story of the foundation of the first Roman Catholic Orphanage in Great Britain since the Reformation is an interesting one. At first, it was not liked at all by the local residents, the nuns were regarded as ‘dangerous’, stones thrown at the windows, flower gardens trampled and stories told of poisonous cake being left in the woods where the orphans played. But all this did not discourage the nuns and now they staff one of the district’s leading independent schools for girls (Fidelis) including boarders from many parts of the world.
Knights Hill is one of the oldest and best-known thoroughfares in Norwood, stretching from Mrs. Fawcett’s fountain in Norwood Road to the Croydon boundary at Crown Point. It may be helpful to those trying to accustom themselves to metric measure to know that its length is almost exactly 1km. St. Luke’s (1825) is its most impressive and ancient building. The churchyard in front is laid out as a pleasant public garden, well-used by the elderly on fine days, and on the Knights Hill frontage the grounds are now a private car park.
In the last Review (March) Leo Held asked who owns the South Norwood Hill drinking fountain. The drinking fountain inserted into the cartilage wall of 25 South Norwood High Street belongs to us as residents and in particular is in the possession of Croydon Council who is responsible for its upkeep.
It was erected in 1887 in honour of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, the money being collected by Mr. A.P.C Coote of 12 Lancaster Road. The cost was £32 plus £10 for erection.
The year 1894 was a happy one for Sir Charles Stanford, Director of the Royal College of Music, for that year’s intake of students included Vaughan Williams, Thomas Dunhill, Coleridge-Taylor, Frank Bridge, John Ireland and Haydon Wood, all obviously extremely talented. These went on to make their names and so, at the time, did William Hurlstone, whom Sir Charles considered the brightest of all these stars.
We here in Norwood are accustomed to think of William Stanley as scientific instrument-maker, architect, educationalist and public benefactor, but the book in which he expresses his philosophical ideas is hard to come by and not well-known. Published in 1903, it has the idiosyncratic title of “The case of The. Fox. Being his Prophecies under Hypnosis of the Period Ending A.D. 1950”, alternatively titled simply “Utopia” (Truslove and Hanson, 1903).
From 1949 until 1961, my father, mother and I lived in a rented flat on the first floor of Windermere House, 110 Church Road. It was rather a strange experience, but one which I would not have missed for anything. During the war, many parts of Upper Norwood were severely damaged by the V1 Flying Bombs that, if they fell short of their targets in central London, hit the slopes of Sydenham Hill. When we moved there, the area around Windermere House still had a sense of dereliction.
A conducted walk through remnants of the Great North Wood, arranged by the Trees Section of the Norwood Society, in conjunction with David Holmes of Croydon Parks Department.
Sketch maps of the route planned were made available. Several members of the public from Croydon and Coulsdon joined us, and a group of 20 met at the entrance to the Lawns, site of the Royal Beulah Spa and Gardens. Mr. Holmes produced a beautiful Ordnance Survey map of the area and typed notes for all of us on the Lawns - formerly Beulah Spa.