It is with great sadness that we report that Ted Frith died in July 2018. 
Glimpses of Old Selsdon 37 and 38 are extracts from Ted's book submitted by his son Mathew Frith.


The Saga of the Selsdon Wine Stores

(published in the Gazette December 2018)

Early in 1927 the Purley & Coulsdon UDC had amended the Town Plan to have two shopping centres in Selsdon on either side of Addington Road, and permission had been given for ten shops to be built on the south side of the road, but the existing cottages were not to be converted. At the same time agreement was reached on the widening of Old Farleigh Road on the east side as it was wished to retain the especially fine flint wall bordering the Selsdon Park Hotel.

The shop on the corner of Old Farleigh Road and Addington Road was the first built, but information on this is a little sketchy. I have been unable to trace a planning application, but a photograph of the Triangle on March 10th 1927, shows not only one block of the Costain built shops but also  the shop on the corner, almost completely built. The building was owned by Barclay Perkins, the brewers, and was tenanted by J Haggar Moore as the Selsdon Wine Stores. As he appears in a local directory for 1928, he must have been in business in the autumn of 1927.

Shops that sold alcoholic drinks in those days had to be licensed and were known as off-licences, as they could only sell beer and spirits to be consumed off the premises (a pub would have an on-licence.) At the Selsdon Residents’ Association meeting in November 1927 it was stated that Moore had a wholesale licence but that he wanted to sell spirits and bottled beer in small quantities. He made an application for an off-licence at the appropriate court in February 1928, saying there were 427 houses in Selsdon and around 2,000 inhabitants and there was no other off-licence. He produced 200 signatures in his support, but a Mr Whyatt had a petition with 250 names, opposing the application, stating “Many residents were definitely attracted to Selsdon by the undertaking that there should be no licensed premises there.”  The SRA had decided not to get involved and the application was turned down by the bench. There was during the period before the Second World War a strong total abstinence lobby in Selsdon, that was supported by the Baptist Church. Haggar Moore seems to have obtained his licence in 1929, but he was not permitted to sell less than three bottles of beer at a time.

In August 1929 the South Suburban Co-Operative Society’s proposals to build a store in Addington Road were approved. This remained a Co-Operative store for fifty or so years; the building is now occupied by the Sir Julian Huxley public house.



Sainsbury’s open their store

(published in the Gazette September 2018)

On Monday February 27th 1950 Selsdon briefly entered into the annals of retail shopping when J. Sainsbury Ltd opened their new store at 208 Addington Road. The site had been selected before 1935 and the building had been started just before the Second World War and the shell completed in 1940. A branch was to have been opened in Selsdon that year, but as the war came and because of building restrictions and other reasons, planning permission for the new shop wasn’t eventually granted until 1948. First of all Sainsbury’s had to repair and rebuild existing stores that had been badly damaged or destroyed during the war and several years had to elapse before consent was given to open new stores. Further it was not for another four years that Sainsbury’s sales would reach pre-war figures, so expansion was limited, but as a store had been planned for Selsdon they were now able to open one.

Concurrently there had been changing patterns in the retail sector, particularly in the United States, where self-service stores and supermarkets had appeared in the years before the war; over there vacant warehouses could be readily converted into supermarkets, land was much cheaper and labour costs were higher, therefore making the incentive for self-service stores, as fewer staff would be needed. In 1949 two of Sainsbury’s directors were allowed to visit the States to look at contemporary developments, particularly the display and sale of frozen foods. They came back full of enthusiasm and were convinced of the potential of self-service stores. The government were also encouraging and offered special building licences to convert stores into self-service stores. One such was Sainsbury store in London Road, Croydon, which was one of their larger stores and this was completely refurbished and was opened as Sainsbury’s first self-service store on June 26th 1950.

So where did the Selsdon store fit into this? It served as a testing ground for the features incorporated in Croydon. It was radically different in design from their pre-war shops; the old open windows were replaced with single sheets of armoured plated glass and there were permanent doors instead of the old central shutters. Prior to 1940 every Sainsbury shop front used Burmese teak wood but as this was now unobtainable the entire front was now constructed of granite. A less elaborate floor mosaic was used and the old wall and counter tiles of green, cream and brown gave way to lighter shades. The old black on gold fascia was replaced with J. SAINSBURY in gold on a blue pearl granite with a red granite surround. The office screen again was no longer of teak but of walnut and was now an ‘island’ with a service entry on either side. For the first time fluorescent lighting was used; stainless steel had taken the place of softwood for table tops and the cutting room had tiles and fluorescent lighting as well.

Only a few Sainsbury stores had refrigerated bins for the small range of frozen foods such as ice cream and peas. Prior to the opening of the Selsdon store it was used as a laboratory for developing not only larger, more efficient frozen food units, but also special air cooled counters which were patented by Sainsbury’s, and which allowed perishable foods to be kept chilled under a simple Perspex curved canopy. This had been developed from using tough, unbreakable Perspex left over from the construction of wartime bombers.

The opening of the Selsdon Sainsbury’s was recorded in a very short paragraph in the Croydon Advertiser, which added that in the week before prospective customers had been invited to inspect the storage accommodation. In fact the doors opened on election day, the 23rd February, and some 2,000 visitors accepted the invitation.  Although Sainsbury’s advertised for a few months in the Selsdon Gazette, no specific mention of the new store appeared therein. This, therefore, is a late announcement.


Early enthusiasm for a Community Centre

(published in the Gazette July 2018 - the first article this year)

Moves to find a suitable venue for meetings, plays and social and possibly sporting activities in Selsdon had come to nothing by the outbreak of WWII. By the beginning of 1943, however, people were beginning to think about what they wanted in a better Britain when victory came. It was at a Brains Trust in April that the unanimous reply to a question about what did Selsdon want most in its post war reconstruction was a Community Centre. This prompted Mr W P Watkins, who had just joined the Selsdon Residents Association (SRA) Committee, to say he would carry out some research on the matter and report back. At a committee meeting on July 5th the first moves in the campaign for a community centre were made. Mr Watkins said it was hoped to visit a community centre in Reading. Mrs Alefounder, who had won third prize in a Wings For Victory competition, said she would use this prize to start off a new bank account for a Community Centre Fund. Reference was also made to the £100 that the Rev Drew Roberts had bequeathed some ten years earlier and this was the start of long negotiations before that money, with interest, was actually paid.

The main item on the Agenda for the SRA monthly general meeting on November 15th was the Community Centre scheme. A detailed statement on the subject was  read out by Mr Alefounder and the pertinent aspects were as follows,

The lack of  a public hall had been felt from the earliest days of the SRA and in 1938 the matter was seriously considered by the Coulsdon & Purley Urban District Council (UDC). Costains had built a hall in their first development in Surrey, at Kingswood, but had not done so in Selsdon.

Under the Physical Training and Recreation Act of 1937 local authorities had been given powers to provide buildings and lands for recreational, social and educational use. These could be let to organisations. The SRA and other organisations in Selsdon were asked to submit their views. The UDC proposed a bowling green in Sanderstead, open air swimming pools in Sanderstead parish and at Old Coulsdon, community centres in Kenley and Selsdon, and £2000 towards facilities in Hooley.

The focal point of a Community Centre should be a large hall suitable for badminton with a stage adjoining and rooms in which local groups could meet.

The estimated cost for the Selsdon centre was £6,000. However the War broke out and no further grants could be made. Nevertheless until we are able to raise the matter further with the Council, we think no time should be lost in preparing a scheme showing what the people of Selsdon have in mind as an  adequate Community centre.

The problems are site, cost and how the money is to be obtained.

Regarding site, there are two considerations – central position and whether playing fields should adjoin. In Selsdon possible sites are:

  • Addington Road, opposite the Parade; central position but no other space. (not all of the shops had been built by then)

  • Site in grounds of Selsdon Park Hotel; whether obtainable not known.

  • Old Farleigh Recreation Ground; room for hall and space but not central.

  • Ground behind the library at Langley Oaks; only room for a hall.

As for cost - current centres have been built for between £1000 and £25,000.

How to raise the money? By donations, subscriptions, dances and other fund raising activities. Unlikely any large donations. Loan scheme?  In Selsdon local groups could raise funds from their activities.

SRA propose to call meeting of all local groups to form a joint committee to prosecute the  scheme.

After Miss Keeling from the National Council of Social Service had spoken about community centres and a short discussion, a motion proposed by Douglas Thornton and seconded by Mr Chisham, that a Community Centre should be provided in Selsdon and a Joint Committee be set up, was carried by an overwhelming majority.

A meeting was held in the Baptist Hall on 13th December to discuss the setting up of a committee to undertake the task of  working out the means whereby a Community Centre might be established. Twenty one local organisations were represented and an Executive Committee of  ten gentlemen was elected – Messrs Watkins (Chairman of the SRA), Hands (a local bank manager and Vice Chairman of the SRA), Revett, Page (who had just resigned as Treasurer of the SRA), Alefounder (Secretary of the SRA), Goddard, James, Higgs, E Clark and Spurway (a local builder). Two committees were to be formed – one for Cultural, Educational and Welfare (SRA rep - Mrs Alefounder) and one for Social and Recreational (SRA rep - Douglas Thornton).

At the SRA Committee on 13th March 1944 an oral report was given on the work of the Community Centre committees and delegates to a conference in April were selected. An SRA letter calling for a Community Centre was discussed by the UDC at their March meeting and councillors were impressed by the careful and statesmanlike way in which the Association had framed their letter. A special subcommittee was set up to look at the post war needs of the whole of the urban district, but it was noted that Selsdon had set the ball rolling. At an SRA Committee meeting on 17th April a suggestion that the Sanctuary Tearooms, which it was understood was on the market, might be purchased was felt not possible as there was unlikely to be sufficient income to meet expenses.

Selsdon got its first Selsdon Hall in 1965 at the time that the area was incorporated into the London Borough of Croydon. However, Croydon Council placed the hall under control at Fairfield Halls and the Selsdon community was not involved in its management. This led for a number of years to a virtual boycott of Selsdon Hall by local organisations and the £700 that had been raised was returned to the donors. A second Selsdon Hall was later incorporated within the Sainsbury’s complex when it opened in 2003


A Bishop is living in Selsdon House

(published in the Gazette December 2017 - there was no Glimpses article in the November issue)

The first squire of Selsdon House, George Smith, had only two grandsons, both of whom died in their thirties. The elder, Ernald, died in 1872, leaving a widow and a five year old daughter, Mabel. His brother, Walter, died aged 35, unmarried, in Paris in 1876, leaving most of his money to his little niece.

And so, until she became of age at 21, the management of Selsdon House, passed into the hands of her trustees. The trustees decided to let the house in order to generate some income until her majority. The tenant was the newly appointed Bishop of Rochester.

Anthony Thorold was born in Lincolnshire in 1825, his father being the fourth son of a  baronet. He married Henrietta Green, the daughter of an M.P. (probably John Green, the member for Kilkenny County) in 1850 and they had three children, all of whom died young, and Henrietta herself died in 1859. Thorold had been ordained in 1850 and served in Lancashire before spending some years at Holy Trinity, Marylebone. Whilst there in 1857 he obtained, through friends, the living of St Giles-in-the-Fields, where he became well known as a preacher and an organiser. In 1865, when 40, he remarried - his bride being Emily Labouchere, the  daughter of John Labouchere of Dorking and probably the sister of Henry Labouchere, the well known  M.P. for Northampton for over 25 years.

Anthony and Emily had three children, a son and two daughters. After a period of ill-health he became the vicar of St Pancras, where he displayed organisational ability in improving schools and setting up parochial missions and he sat on the first school board in London. In 1874 he was made a canon at York Cathedral on a stipend of £700 a year. In 1877 Lord Beaconsfield appointed him Bishop of Rochester at a salary of £3,100.

But why should a newly appointed Bishop of Rochester wish to live in Selsdon?  The answer lies in mid Victorian rearrangements of dioceses. Until 1845 the diocese of Rochester only covered west Kent. As it was a small diocese Essex and Hertfordshire were added to it to make it larger, but this was found to be unworkable and these two counties were taken from it to form the new diocese of St Albans. In compensation, Rochester was given eastern and mid Surrey from the diocese of Winchester in 1877.

Presumably his organisational abilities had earned him his promotion and he was then looking for a suitable residence in the centre of the new diocese and Selsdon House became available, although we do not know the rental. With the big leap in salary, no doubt Selsdon House offered a prestigious address for a new bishop. Sadly his second wife died shortly after his appointment.

Thorold virtually reorganised the diocese and encouraged public schools and colleges to establish missions in south London. He was also involved in the initial moves to convert St Saviours in Southwark into a cathedral. He travelled to America and Australia and was described as a saintly Low Churchman. He had a good grasp of detail but his strong mannerisms repelled many and these are hinted at in a cartoon portrait of him by 'Spy' in Vanity Fair in 1878. He was said to be a genial and considerate host who entertained frequently at Selsdon. Black's Guide to Surrey in 1884 said of Selsdon House "with its well timbered gardens arranged in natural terraces it is a fitting abode of episcopal dignity." 

He also arranged for curates and young clergy  in the poorer parts of London to spend breaks at Selsdon House and to enjoy the gardens and woods, One year a party went to the Derby and whilst there bought a caravan from a gipsy and brought it back to Selsdon where it remained in Selsdon Wood for a number of years.

From the 1881 Census return we find he was then 55 and two daughters, Dorothy Margaret and Sybil Emma, 8 and 6 respectively, were living with him, both having been born in Middlesex. Their governess, a Scottish lady, Jessie Stark, was visiting them. The bishop's sister, Mary Hustwick, 71 and a widow, was living with him, and Dr Thorold was now entertaining the Bishop of St David's, William Jones and his wife and who had brought their lady's maid with them. The bishop’s household, all unmarried, comprised: a butler, William Wiles (37); a footman; a housekeeper, Eliza Cottis (3); a lady's maid; three housemaids and two young kitchen maids.

A carved Elizabethan fireplace was removed to Selsdon House in 1878 from Purley Bury House. It is said that it was given to him by John Henry Smith, the third son of George Smith who lived at Purley Bury, just after Thorold had officially opened the new Christ Church in Purley, the erection of which had been generously supported by Smith.

On Monday July 30th 1888 Mabel Smith came of age and her 21st birthday was celebrated at Selsdon House. The main junketing was during a very wet day. Thorold was not present but was at a tea in the late afternoon. Mabel married the Hon. Alwyn Greville the following week in London (it appears the bishop officiated) and spent her honeymoon at Selsdon House.

Shortly afterwards Thorold was promoted to become the Bishop of Winchester and no longer need to live in Selsdon and Mabel decided to sell most of her Selsdon estate. Thorold died in 1895.


Selsdon's Part in the Festival of Britain 1951

(published in the Gazette October 2017)

The major national event of 1951 was the Festival of Britain, and besides the main Exhibition on the South Bank in London events were held throughout the country during the summer to mark the occasion. Coulsdon and Purley council organised a full programme of 50 events in the district from May until October and Lady Baden-Powell, the Chief Girl Guide, visited Purley Guides in July. A special Festival Committee was set up in Selsdon to co-ordinate local events and amongst local organisations involved was the active Chamber of Commerce.

King George VI opened the Festival on May 3rd and the secondary school listened to his broadcast. On Sunday May 6th the Selsdon Festival of Britain Committee organised a Drumhead Service on the School playing fields; the service commenced at 3.15pm. The address was given by the Rev H G Tyler, Senior Chaplain at the Guards’ Depot at Caterham and he was supported by the Anglican and Baptist ministers of Selsdon. The combined choirs of Selsdon were involved, as was the Caterham Silver Band and the service was attended by Selsdon Councillor Sutherland, as Chairman of the UDC and other councillors. Starting from Queenhill Recreation Ground, the parade, comprising large detachments of the local youth organisations, as well as the British Legion and the Red Cross and led by the silver band, marched to the school playing fields, where they formed a large square lined with fluttering standards.

On May 10-12th the Selsdon players presented "He Was Born Gay " by Emlyn Williams. The Croydon Advertiser critic was convinced he was witnessing something high above the average from the points of view of production and performance. "No wonder the hall was packed." The ladies in the cast - Doris Cooper, Edna Ballard and Floss Moseley all sparkled. 'Leslie Stevens was more convincing in his emotional scenes than he was in repose' - not only did he act in the play, but also produced it. Incidentally Williams wrote the play in 1938 -it was set in Napoleonic times and the title then didn't have the connotations it has now (but see editor’s note below).

On May 19th the Selsdon Community Association held another Arts, Crafts and Hobbies exhibition at the Selsdon schools. "Here, in the home-made furniture, the needlework, paintings, photographs and models, was revealed a pattern of behind-the-scenes life in the district, of leisure hours busily spent in local halls, spare rooms, garages and sheds in the prosecution of the hundred and one individual interests of a small community."

There were also displays by the Girl Guides, the Red Cross, the Guild of Social Service, the Selsdon Photographic Society, the local Over Sixties Club, the local library and the scholars of both of the two Selsdon schools. Among exhibits mentioned in the local paper were two working models of British tanks, finished in chrome, by Mr J H Withall; 85 year old Mrs A Billings' finely crocheted shawl; and Mr F L Harewood's lamp standard made from wild cherry, oak and hawthorn from King's Wood.

The Selsdon Festival Committee organised the Grand Combined Dog Show and Demonstrations held in the Rotary Field in Purley on June 2nd

On the evening of June 16th a Grand Festival Display of Period Dancing in Costume was held in Old Farleigh Rec. The first part of the programme comprised a gavotte and a hop-scotch polka performed by the Audrey School of Dancing. Then the Sanderstead School of Dancing performed a Minuet Ballet, a Ballet 1951 and the Sailor's Hornpipe with Miss Jennifer Simpson dancing as a solo an early Victorian Gavotte and a Coranto. The Selsdon Cotillon Dance Club - grown-ups, not children - danced quadrilles and finally there were three dances by Kay's School of Dancing. After the interval, the Selsdon Cotillons danced a country cotillon. The Morris Players then presented excerpts  from 'As You Like It.'  After a further interval there was dancing on the lawn in front of the pavilion. Most of the programme was repeated on the Sunday afternoon in the grounds of Selsdon Park Hotel in front of their American and overseas visitors. A photograph of the children dressed in the 'silks and satins of a bygone age' appeared in the Croydon Advertiser. There were some changes - six-year-old Linda Gerry danced a Swedish dance in national costume and five-year-old Merle Frost received special applause for her solo 'Little Bo-Peep'. Godfrey Talbot compèred this show and special mention was made of seven-year-old Eileen Kent's Highland Fling in full Highland regalia.

The Selsdon & District Horticultural Society's Summer Show was as usual held in the schools on July 7th. Cllr Page opened the show and paid tribute to the high standard of horticulture in the Selsdon area. A feature was the 10ft by 4ft display of fuchsias and begonias cultivated by Mr A Dawson and which although not entered into the competition earned the owner a special bronze medal.

Summer weather returned on September 22nd for a Grand Gala Day organised by the Selsdon C D Sports Association as a finale for the Festival of Britain celebrations. The highlight was a cricket match on the Old Farleigh Rec when a Combined Selsdon Cricket Clubs XI entertained the West Indies Wanderers, a team comprised mainly of students but including three West Indian test players. Selsdon batted first and against some spirited fielding scored 138. When stumps were drawn, the Wanderers' score stood at 140 for 7 wickets.

Other events included a knockout tournament for local mixed doubles, run by the Tennis Club, a boxing display by diminutive members of Jack Solomon's nursery, a pony gymkhana, a cycling gymkhana and floodlit displays of gymnastics, physical training and folk dancing. Led by the Caterham Silver Band, riders in fancy dress, headed by Mr Sheldrake, dressed as a Cossack, came into the Rec after parading through Selsdon - 12-year-old Jill Coleman was awarded first prize as a highwayman. Open air dancing for all, under coloured lighting and held on the grass space in front of the pavilion, ended the day.

The overkill resulting from a plethora of Festival events may have been partly the cause when a variety concert held in nearby Sanderstead to raise funds for the Battle of Britain Week resulted in not a single member of the public turning up!

Editor’s Note – Although the word 'gay' meant 'happy' to the great majority of people in Britain in 1950, those in the illegal and hidden homosexual community would have been fully aware of its other meaning. As the writer, Emlyn Williams and the star of the show when it first opened in London. John Gielgud, were both homosexual, they would have appreciated the double entendre.


Low Flying Aircraft, Loudspeakers, Bonfires and Pylons

(published in the Gazette September 2017)

The two nuisances of the early thirties were low flying aircraft using Croydon airport and wireless loudspeakers.

Sometime in September 1930 a block of frozen urine fell into a garden in Littleheath Road from a Belgian Airlines aircraft and the matter was pursued with the authorities. Selsdon also joined in with other local associations to provide evidence of aeroplanes flying low over residential areas. In September 1931, a meadow at the rear of Selsdon Park Farm was used for an emergency landing for a Croydon bound plane lost in the mist. A more serious incident occurred in September 1932 when a French freight plane, flying to Croydon, hit a belt of trees one Saturday morning in the mist and crashed in the grounds of the hotel. The pilot, Gustave Demeuldre, was killed and Raymond Freval, the mechanic, was seriously injured. The pilot had been warned of ground mist and had been circling round Selsdon for some time. The plane came down near the crest of the hill and narrowly missed old Selsdon resident, James Belcher, who was working in the greenhouse and who flung himself on the ground with glass falling all around him. The tail of the plane flew upwards and turned turtle, but luckily the plane did not catch fire. The plane was five years old; the log book recorded fog all the way and no mention of any mechanical trouble. Hotel guests helped in the rescue.

This was not the first crash here. In September 1918, a young airman was killed when his plane crashed in the grounds of Selsdon Park. Second Lieutenant Arthur Parry Jones, a former estate agent's assistant, aged 19 from Colwyn Bay, was seen circling over the park one Sunday morning and firing apparently at a target. Frederick Belcher, who lived in the village reported that, when the machine was rather low down, it suddenly dived to the ground, where it was all smashed to pieces in the wood with the airman mixed up with the wreckage.

Complaints about the noise from neighbours' wireless loudspeakers and later radio gramophones appeared regularly and the Residents' Association pressed the authorities to bring in appropriate bye-laws One complainant in 1932 was told one summer evening 'if you want to live in the suburbs, then you must put up with the noises of suburbia!'  These complaints continued but a new nuisance was added - that of bonfires. Appropriately worded notice boards were suggested to be added at suitable points and a number of catchy slogans were volunteered:

  'Please leave it to the BBC to broadcast'

  'Let your bonfire out sometimes'

   'You want the bonfire, we have the smoke'

  'A little smoke goes a long way'   

Somebody thought the front gardens of known offenders would be good sites for the notice boards!

In 1928, the Central Electricity Board embarked upon their scheme to construct the National Grid around the country with miles of high voltage transmission lines carried on tall pylons. By 1931 work had started on the Grid from Croydon power station to Swanscombe in Kent. In a built-up area, the cables were normally carried underground, but this was costly and the Board decided that the section from South Croydon to Courtwood Lane would be overhead on pylons. The westernmost pylon was to be just within the Croydon boundary at the end of Crest Road and the lines would run over the part of Littleheath Woods within Croydon to Selsdon Park Road and then down to Selsdon Wood, but two pylons would be in the UDC's area. Croydon Corporation raised no objection and the UDC agreed, after it had been stressed that the overhead way, however unsightly, was twelve times cheaper than putting cables underground. Croydon agreed to the lopping of a small number of trees in Littleheath Wood, which at the time had not been officially opened. Naturally the residents at the lower end of Littleheath Road objected strongly to a 70ft or so pylon at the back of their houses. A deputation from the SRA saw the CEB in February 1932 and objected strongly over the position of the first pylon - it depreciated the surrounding property and injured aesthetically local amenities. The Board said they were obliged to put up the cable as cheaply as possible. Only 35 signed a petition and so this was dropped as it was said that in another part of the country a 5,000 name petition had no effect whatsoever. In September, legal opinion was sought and in May 1933 an appeal for money was launched with a view to bringing proceedings against the CEB. But nothing happened, so it is assumed that it was thought pointless to continue to object and, of course, the pylons are still there.


Catering for the spiritual needs of the new Selsdon Garden Village - Anglican, Baptist and Roman Catholic

(published in the Gazette July 2017)

In December 1925, a letter in the church magazine of St. Peter's, South Croydon, by the vicar, the Rev C B Deane, reminded parishioners that Croydon Crook, the detached part of Croydon, was in their parish. The small church in Sanderstead was not in their diocese and their rector had regarded Selsdon Park and the villagers as his parishioners as an act of courtesy. Sanderstead was within Southwark, while, South Croydon, at that time, was part of the diocese of Canterbury. Eventually Croydon Crook had to be a new parish. "I need another curate as the Rev Strand was finding when visiting the new residents that many of them were Church people. They are anxious to have a Sunday school and to have services locally. The Church Extension Committee had already secured a site on hilly ground opposite Selsdon Village and the first tasks were to send a circular to the residents and to erect a hall."

In his February 1926 parish magazine, he reported that they had been to look at the site of the new church, but the field was under cultivation and ploughed up. The land was to be bought by the Croydon Church Extension Committee and they were anxious to start erecting a hall. With all the blossoming new suburbs around London the church authorities were well aware of the need to provide places of worship for their members and money in the way of grants was being provided. An offer of alternative land was made by Costains, who owned the land, but this was not accepted. In May it was stated that £550 was needed for the new site and most of this had already been raised, but in June another site, this time at the top of Upper Selsdon Road, had become available and could be bought at the same price. By August the Archdeacon of Maidstone had inspected the sites and the latter was preferred and that is how St John's came to be there and not where the Baptist church is now. In December it was reported that the site had been secured for a permanent church and vicarage and a small committee was formed to revise the parish boundaries. The land was purchased for £540 and the cost of building the mission hall would be £1400. Taking into account a grant, another £500 was required. On January 10th 1927 planning permission was granted to Boulton and Paul to erect a church hall - a five year temporary building permission - but because of the illness of the contractor concerned there was some delay in the construction of the building.

In May 1927 a new church hall. a rectangular building with a pointed roof and constructed of timber and asbestos panelling, held together with a network of struts, was dedicated by the Bishop of Dover, who was then in charge of the Archdeaconry of Croydon. The ceremony was attended by 340 people and 52 communicants were at the first Sunday service. The chancel at the east end was separated from the rear of the hall by folding doors that could be shut off when the hall was used for meetings or social functions. The Rev A H Strand, the curate of St Peter's, took charge of Selsdon for the first few years.

Now that the new hall, soon often called Selsdon Hall, was built and in use, the priorities were to raise funds to pay off the debt and to start a building fund for a permanent church. Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Brown donated a small portable organ with pedal operated bellows, whilst St Mary's Addington had given some choir stalls, a small font, altar hangings, a cross and a pair of candlesticks. The hall was now available for hire and the Residents' Association had their first monthly meeting actually in Selsdon on May 27th. Shortly afterwards the first entertainment in the new hall, a children's concert was given to raise money for a platform. On June 18th a Church Fete, raising £160, was held in the garden of Langley Oaks, which included a display of ju-jitsu by the Police and some striking posters by Mr Hodges, a local artist. In July it was reported that the average congregation was around 60, that the collections amounted to £2-£3 and that Mr Cousins had been appointed verger and caretaker.

In January 1928, 150 attended the first church social, although the parishioners on one side of Farley Road failed to get invitations. The June fete, held in glorious weather at Langley Oaks, with the Caterham Prize Silver Band providing the music, raised £155. But was some of the initial enthusiasm wearing thin? The June magazine noted the seductive temptations of gardening were affecting morning attendance and that the curate cycled up from South Croydon for the 8am service, then had breakfast with the Hoopers at Langley Oaks, before taking the 11 am service. It was also felt that by now Selsdon ought to be providing at least a portion of the curate's stipend. Harvest Festival attracted 250 to the church hall and the Armistice Day broadcast was used as part of the service in the hall. Mr Strand, an inspirational. competent and respected clergyman left in October 1928 to become the Rector of Aldbury in Buckinghamshire. Strand was sorely missed as his replacement, The Rev Eric  Anderson, suffered from ill health and consequently was unable to throw himself into parish work. He resigned in September 1929 on the advice of his doctor and went to a parish in Galway. His successor was found immediately, the curate of Bexley Heath, the Rev Cyril Waynforth. A small house was found for him in Selsdon and there was an anonymous donation of £250 towards the purchase.

In February 1926 a number of residents from the nonconformist denominations met in the house of Mr J W K Nichols, the recently elected Chairman of the new Residents' Association, at Newlands, Byron Road, where they held their first service. When it was decided to open a church in a new community only one denomination would proceed. Mr Nichols was a Baptist and after discussion it was agreed that a Free Baptist church would be built in Selsdon, although other nonconformists would be welcome to worship there. The site chosen was the one the Anglicans had given up. Costains, who owned the land had wanted to continue Littleheath Road down to Addington Road, but the Council, a number of residents and The London Baptist Church wanted that portion of the old bridle path to remain as such.

In September 1927 planning permission was granted to erect a church/church hall in Addington Road. The foundations were blessed later that month. The Rev H F Cross, of the Brighton Road Baptist Church oversaw the establishment of the hall, which was going to cost £1800, the site having been given by the London Baptist Association. It was opened on November 5th 1927 by Mrs. Cecil Colman from Sutton and Dr J W Ewing, Secretary of the LBA led the dedication prayers. The Hall would seat 200 and included a beautiful baptistery with an organ and piano. The sum of £919 needed to be raised and the Rev Cross would supervise the new church. By January 1929 it was reported that their membership had increased, that a Sunday school had been established as well as a Missionary Society branch and that clothing had been collected to send to distressed miners in South Wales. By the end of 1930 their numbers had risen to 61, average collections on Sundays were £2 10s and there were100 children attending the Sunday School

Roman Catholics living in Selsdon came within the care of St Gertrude's, off the Brighton Road in South Croydon. In March1926 it had been stressed at the 11am Mass that the provision of churches at Selsdon Park and Purley had become a matter of urgency owing to the rapid growth of housing.  "The Bishop of Southwark, seeing the need, is giving a site at Selsdon Park and is willing to lend the money required for a beginning of the Church, free of interest, for five years." Every member of the congregation was then asked to participate in a regular donation scheme. In May 1926 a planning application in the name of Father Larkin, the priest at St. Gertrude's, was agreed for a church in Queenhill Road. Unfortunately there appears to be virtually nothing recorded about the early days of the Roman Catholic church in Queenhill Road, other than a report in July 1927 that St Columba' s, as it was dedicated, was finished and open. There were complaints in 1930 about the state of the garden surrounding the church.


The Sadlers and the Lovers

(published in the Gazette June 2017)

Selsdon Park Farm, which stood where the Aldi supermarket is now, appears to have been built in 1809. We do not know who built it but it may have been erected as a new model farm to demonstrate that poor chalkland might be transformed into a profitable farm. The farmhouse soon became part of the Selsdon Park estate but the land to the east of Old Farleigh Road was farmed as a separate entity under the management of the tenant. The main lessees of Selsdon Park Farm were William Gutteridge (c 1835-1871) and Thomas Langford (c1875 - 1893).

At the same time as the farmhouse was built, six pairs of cottages were built along the lane to Addington. Three pairs, one facing the lane and two, either side, at right angles to the lane, were erected to the east of the farmhouse, and a similar three pairs were erected to the west of the farm towards the present crossroads. The cottages to the east were occupied by workers on the farm, those to the west were occupied by employees of the big house, i.e. Selsdon Park, now the hotel. The two cottages (the middle pair of the eastern set) which still remain, are now known as 240 and 242 Addington Road.

The photograph is from Dendy's unpublished History of Sanderstead dated c 1907 and is reproduced courtesy of the Museum of Croydon. The cottages shown are possibly 240 and 242 Addington Road.

Around 1850 a further pair of cottages were built in a similar style, to the east of the eastern set, and one of these, Holly Cottage, was always tenanted by a police constable. The last of the policemen in the period just after the first world war, rejoiced in the name of Sheldrake Hotching.

Later, in the 1890s, four further cottages, then in modern style, were built closer to the crossroads.

Available are the census returns, every ten years, from 1851 until 1911. Examining these for Selsdon is helped by the fact that only around 30-40 entries relate to our area. The population was around 100, but the data is complicated in that for the earlier years the cottages were not numbered and the enumerators did not always record each cottage 'in line', so it is not easy to say in which cottage a particular family lived. Looking at the returns, for each individual the census recorded their name, relationship to the head of the household. their age, where they were born and their occupation. Most had large families and so it is possible to trace, from the birthplaces of their children, where a particular family had lived before coming to Selsdon. For example, in the 1881 census, James Moody was a labourer living in one of the cottages. He was 34 and born in Salisbury. His wife, Jane, 33, was born in Brown Candover in Hampshire. Their three eldest children, aged 11 to 14 were born in Chichester (the two boys were working on the farm as labourers), the next two, aged 4 and 3, were born in Hastings, while one year old Jane, was born in Warlingham. They had moved on again by 1891.

Two labourers, however, stayed in Selsdon, for most of their lives.

Christopher Sadler was a groom. He was born in Mansfield, Notts, in about 1812 and his wife, Charlotte, came from nearby Sutton-on-Trent. They probably moved to Selsdon about 1839, as he is listed in the rate book for 1840 and their eldest son, George, who was 11 in 1851, was born in Selsdon. They seem to have had seven children. In 1861 Christopher Sadler was called a stableman and his second boy, James, then 16, was the gardener's boy. All the children seemed to have left home by 1871 and in 1881 he was shown as a retired groom, still living with his wife. He was still there in 1891 - his wife had died. He was 75 and was being looked after by Lucy Cooper, his housekeeper, but he is not shown in an 1893 directory.

Our Editor has discovered that Christopher married Charlotte Stokes in Marylebone in 1838. He was living in London but her address was shown as Croydon. So that was probably how they came to Selsdon with the chance of a new job and a cottage. Our Editor has also found that he died in 1892 aged 79.

My subsequent researches found that from the street directories of the first decade of the last century a Sadler was living at No 3 High Road, Selsdon - this would have been one of the cottages nearer the crossroads. Looking at my copy of the 1911 census I find he was Herbert John Sadler, a carter on the farm, aged 50 and born in Croydon. His wife, Agnes, and a daughter aged 17 were laundresses, working from home. Herbert John may or may not have been a relative of Christopher, but, if so, I don't think he was a close one.

James Lover first appears in 1851, when he was 35, born in Farleigh, with Sophia, his wife, 28, born in Warlingham. William, 7, James, 5, and Thomas, 2, were all born in Warlingham, so he had only recently moved to Selsdon, where he was employed as a garden labourer. By 1861, his son, James, had joined him in the garden and Thomas, now 12, was a carter. Henry Richard, 6, Walter, 3, and Emily,1, had appeared. In 1871 James was described as an under gardener, whilst William, now 26, unmarried and still living at home, was a farm labourer and brothers George (19), Henry and Walter, were all employed in the mansion garden. Charles, 8, had since appeared. Here we had three adults, three teenagers and two children living in one cottage, the size of which can still be seen today! By1881 only Emily, unmarried, and Charles, 18, a farm labourer, were still at home with their parents. In 1891 James was 77 and was still a garden labourer, but two sons were living with them - Charles, still a bachelor and George, 35, described as married. A young boy of 9 was boarding with them. James was still alive in 1898, but his widow is listed in the 1900 directory. No Lovers appear in the Selsdon 1901 census return.

It is sad, however, that whilst we can extract this detail about a garden labourer and his family. we have no idea what he and his wife looked like. We do not know how they lived or what they wore or what their children were like. We know James would have been paid but a pittance and that to bring up a family must have been a struggle, even allowing for the children bringing in wages as soon as they were in their early teens. What did they eat? Where did they buy their food and clothes? There was no shop, no church, no school and no pub in Selsdon, and although Addington was not too far away, they would have had to walk into Croydon and back. They would have been able to grow foodstuffs in their garden and there may have been perquisites and presumably suitable benevolence from the Smiths and their successors. But what did they do in the evenings and on Sundays? What was life like for the young men living at home?  Did they frequent the pub in Addington (Sanderstead was dry)? Could they afford to enjoy the night spots of Croydon occasionally?

And what was it like for Emily Lover, 21 and unmarried, living with her parents in a small, country hamlet?

I would be interested to learn if there are any present-day descendants of the Sadlers or Lovers around. Contact me on

Editor's Note: Further information about the Saddlers and Lovers can be found in the file below.

Saddlers and Lovers.pdf Saddlers and Lovers.pdf
Size : 850.659 Kb
Type : pdf


Reevewicks and Beadlewicks

(published in the Gazette May 2017)

You will not find these words in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Selsdon originally was a detached part of the parish of Croydon. It also formed part of the Manor of Croydon, and all of it except for a couple of hundred acres, around the original Selsdon farmhouse (now part of the Selsdon Park Hotel) which was freehold, belonged to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The minutes for the manor of Croydon, known as the Homage Jury, are held at Lambeth Palace, but were transcribed in the 1920s by Clarence Paget. This transcription is kept in the Local Studies Library in Croydon and is what I used in my researches.

The Homage Jury covers the period from 1582 until the early 19th Century and from this we are able to trace the owners of the leases in Selsdon. The people concerned were called copyholders and a copyhold was a form of lease which in practice meant that the tenant or lessee was given a copy of the manorial deeds relating to his particular land. Further during this period Selsdon was divided into only two farms - the larger one covering the land around Selsdon Farm and the smaller one nearer the borders with Farleigh and Warlingham, astride the present Kingswood Way, then known as Allards.

The Jury applied to the whole of the manor of Croydon, but I have only recorded the transactions relating to the detached part of Selsdon. The Jury met usually once a year, by the 18th Century often in the Greyhound Inn in Croydon. The officers of the Manor would be present as would a small number of copyholders as a jury. The main business would be to affirm transfers of the copyholds and to report on any transgressions regarding the customs of the manor. When a copyholder died or had sold his lease a fee, known as a heriot had to be paid to the manor - originally this would have been the best beast, but later the fee was 3s 6d known as a dead heriot. Also at the Jury two officials would be appointed for each year - the Reeve, who collected any fines for transgressions and the fees charged on the transfer of a copyhold, and the Beadle, who acted as the manor's policeman.

Who would be reeve or beadle for the coming year depended upon the ownership or tenancy of certain small parcels of land, known as reevewicks and beadlewicks. It appears to have been a somewhat unusual method of choice, but probably not unique to Croydon. There seem to have been about eight of each within the manor, so every eight years or so the owner of a reevewick would have to serve as Reeve, and similarly the owner of a beadlewick as Beadle. In Selsdon there were four of the reevewicks and three of the beadlewicks. Why these parcels of land were so chosen is not known and only one of the reevewicks in Selsdon is clearly identifiable today. This was held in 1582 in respect of Thomas Ownstead for lands called Stuarde, also called Jacobs Hawe. It is around the small chalk pit at the southern end of Old Farleigh Road recreation ground. A possible explanation for why such land was deemed to be a reevewick might be because if worked as a chalk pit (for lime) was capable of providing income, and thus it was felt that there should be some obligation upon the owner to provide an unpaid service to the manor. (This is my theory.)

The other Selsdon reevewicks besides Jacobs Hawe were Angherst or Angost, Culpepers and Legatts. The beadlewicks were lands called Shurley in Selsdon, Ledgers and Woodens. The lands were often called under the names of former owners. In practice the copyholder of Selsdon farm owned all four reevewicks and two of the beadlewicks, so he could be both reeve and beadle in the same year or hold either office for several years running. It has to be said that as the years passed the duties of both offices became virtually nominal.

As said the court dealt with misdemeanours:

In 1584 John Woodstock of Sanderstead was fined 2d if he "doth not make his fence betwixt his orchard and his yard in Selsdon and the garden of Henrie Ownstaed there called Pollards Field and Woddens Close". If it were not repaired by March 1st next, he would be fined 2s.

In 1595 Thomas Stinte, who was a Sanderstead churchwarden, was fined 2d for a similar insufficent fence on his land in the Northfield, Selsdon and a common field in Sanderstead called Langley.

In 1627 three men were fined 2d a piece for "laying soyle and dung" on the land of HenryOwnstead.

In 1632 Robert Lucas of Sellesden was accused of surcharging the lord's common with his sheep and herding them with a shepherd, contrary to the custom of the manor and the jury did "amerce him 12d and payne him 40s if he continue to do the same again."

The Homage Jury continued throughout the 18th Century but a special court baron of the manor of Croydon was held in Croydon on April 1st 1813 when the title of the Selsdon estate and Kingswood Lodge were examined in detail. The details are complicated, but by then George Smith, the banker, had purchased both the Selsdon estate and Kingswood. It was stated that he paid £40,657 for the Selsdon estate and this was in respect of both the freehold and copyhold, and included both trees and crops. The court was only interested in the copyhold and it was agreed that only £203 was in respect of Selsdon Farm - the remainder would relate to the freehold. This does appear to confirm that as opposed to the acreage deemed to be copyhold in the 16th Century, by the 18th century. as far as Selsdon Farm was concerned, the copyhold acreage was only about 150 acres and comprised mostly the reevewick and beadlewick land.


The War Effort of The Selsdon Players

(published in the Gazette April 2017)

The Selsdon Players, a local amateur dramatic society, was founded in 1929, mainly due to the enthusiasm of Len Jones. In the years before the War in 1939 it had gained an excellent reputation in the district and had won several awards in local amateur dramatic festivals. In the immediate years after the War, this reputation continued and by then Len had become their main producer, whose speciality was in producing the first amateur performances of new plays. However, the society suffered a great loss when all their scenery and props were destroyed in a fire in early 1940.

In a programme note for their first post-war production (their 20th), the first amateur performance of "Happy New Year"" by John Sand and Fanny Jocelyn at the Selsdon Hall on May 17/18th 1946, Len recalled how the society fared during the war years:-

"In 1940, having lost all our scenery and props by fire *, we gave our first Revue in Selsdon. It was a jolly, unpretentious affair - the outcome of a previous Social. But soon the quicker call up, evacuation and the Blitz made themselves felt and with downcast hearts we packed up, as we then thought, for the duration or even longer."

"Then came the appeal from the War Office for troop entertainment and I was approached by the Y.M.C.A. for assistance. There were still a few of the old Players left in Selsdon, so I gathered these together and badgered others to join us. Thanks to the unfailing kindness and generosity of Mrs Tulett, we commenced rehearsals at the Sanctuary Tea Rooms. Soon I enlisted the interest and generosity of certain professional script writers, Robert Rutherford, Nina Warner-Hooke, Audrey Hyslop (who actually took a rehearsal for us at the Sanctuary) and later Tolly Rothwell*, and before long we were using first class material, often in advance of the West End and the BBC. It didn't take us long to find out what the troops wanted and, rightly or wrongly, all the numbers chosen had the primary aim - troop entertainment.”

* Talbot Rothwell later wrote the scripts for several Carry On films.

Photo of the Sanctuary Tea Rooms, taken from the back of 26 Foxearth Road in 1926/27. Thanks to June Carmichael.  The Tea Rooms were where the Village Club now is.

"Off we went then to perform in camps, huts and converted houses, playing under all conditions (sometimes no dressing rooms!) and in all weathers.”

"A wonderful spirit of friendship and comradeship developed among the Players and it became evident in their work. They were a jolly crowd, grand to work for and to work with. It wasn't all beer and skittles to do a day's work, go straight off to do a show, arrive home in the early hours, often in the middle of a blitz and then to crown it all - to have to go on Civil Defence Duty.”

"There was the night the lorry (ten seats - 15 in the party) broke down and we walked the last few miles to Aldersley Heath. That bitterly cold night, too, when the snow was so deep we lost the road on Limpsfield Common and ended up in a snow drift on Crockham Hill. But the troops had their show, even though Edna Medrow**, our excellent pianist, opened up just over an hour late. And the night we met at London Bridge Station when Jean (our Treasurer) arrived to tell us she'd lost her handbag and with it the Society's balance in hand (just over £3!!)”

** Edna Medrow was the mother of our late Selsdon Gazette editor Pam Moore

"Yes, there are memories – plenty - the steak and chips supper after a Canadian show at Brasted. To Gondal Camp, only to find that Leslie Henson and Company had been there three days previously! To Redhill aerodrome a few hours after it had been blitzed and two of their pilots shot down and killed. To Marden, just after the Normandy landings to give 700 R.A's their last show in England as they crossed two days later. Here we performed in the open air, changing behind a couple of blankets strung up between two trees.”

"By common consent we defrayed all the expenses incurred on the shows given to the troops. And always our reward was the appreciation shown by the troops - grand audiences …”

"Five times to Redhill. four to Limpsfield, six to Shirley … here was the proof! Charity shows at Ashtead, Warlingham, Bough Beech. Savings week at Selsdon, Holidays at Home at Addington ... and so it went on, once a week, twice a week, and even three times …”

"Six minutes at the most for change of costume! 'You'll have to reduce that to five minutes' ('Yes, Len') 'to four' ('Yes? Len') 'to two and a half ' (Blimey -YES LEN!) What a team!”

"And now it's Adieu Revue" Thanks then, Revue Party God bless you all, Carry on Selsdon Players!”

All quotes are from Len Jones’ programme notes.

 * I have since ascertained that the fire that destroyed their scenery and props occurred at a store they hired at Ballards Farm in the summer of 1939, just before the War broke out. Further, another incident they remembered during the war was when performing at a local camp Edna Medrow only learned at the end of the show that the box she had been sitting on while playing the piano had actually contained many rounds of live ammunition!


The Early Days of the Selsdon Park Hotel

(published in the Gazette March 2017)

Wickham Noakes, the last squire of Selsdon died, aged 82, on September 6th 1923. Shortly after, the Selsdon Park estate was put up for sale in 15 lots, Lot No 1 being the mansion, home farm and pleasure grounds. Coincidentally, on November 6th, John D Wood advertised in The Times that they had been instructed to buy a country house with 200-300 acres of parkland within 50miles of London and they could pay up to £50,000.

However, the outcome of the Selsdon sale was that the mansion and most of the parkland, was eventually purchased by Allan Doble Sanderson. Whether he was the client of J.D. Wood is not known, but the coincidence is interesting. He completed the purchase in 1924. Allan Sanderson was a London businessman, who owned London Lubricants. He was a well-known racing driver, who often competed at Brooklands and other continental venues in the early twenties. He was also an inventive motor engineer, but by 1924 he had decided upon a new direction in his business career - to transform an Edwardian mansion into a high-class hotel - in the country but within easy reach of London. His initial aim appears to have been to attract colonial officers and their families when they were on leave in England and tourists from the United States and Canada. He then sold London Lubricants.

After an initial refusal, Sanderson obtained consent to convert Selsdon Park into an hotel in February 1925. Duly the new hotel opened on July 1st 1925. An advertisement in the Croydon Advertiser announced the opening. Golf, tennis, croquet, billiards, dancing, bridge and the wireless were on offer and, a little untruthfully, it said this magnificent Elizabethan mansion had been reconstructed into an up-to -date hotel, with telephones and hot and cold water in all bedrooms and central-heating throughout. There was a free and frequent service of Rolls Royce cars between the hotel and East Croydon station and terms (inclusive of full en pension) were two persons from 8 guineas (with private bathroom 11 guineas). A later advertisement said non-residents could have luncheon for 4/-, afternoon tea for 2/- and dinner for 6/6d. A special dinner dance was held on November 28th with a cabaret of acrobatic dances. In March 1926 Sanderson applied for full licence for the hotel. It was stated that so far the hotel had been a great success, thousands had been spent in the conversion - they had 10 staff and on average 50 guests. £8.300 had been taken in turnover in the first six months. The UK Temperance Association and several local residents objected and the application for a full licence was turned down. The hotel advertised a Grand Carnival Dinner and Dance for Saturday April 3rd at 12/6d and a Fancy-Dress Carnival Dinner and Dance on Easter Monday for 15/6d.

The hotel quickly began to expand. I should mention that the hotel was then much smaller and started being the size of the original mansion. (It was during the 1930s that the hotel was almost continuously extended so that by 1935 it was virtually its present size.) Sanderson had purchased Sanderstead Court, which had been on the market following the break up of the Sanderstead estate. By May 1928 he had converted the Court, then often referred to as Selsdon Court, into an hotel, but it was mainly used as an annexe to the main hotel. He had employed J H Taylor to lay out the new golf course, which ran between the two hotels and later the Court was used as the golf clubhouse. In April 1929, an article appeared in 'The Motor Owner' by Victor Parnell extolling the virtues of the new course, which was about to be officially opened. "Welcome to Selsdon Park. If you are interested in historic mansions, you can explore two stately residences named Selsdon Park and Selsdon Court, and you will find sufficient historical interest to satisfy any of America's forty thousand millionaires". It was an 18-hole course "with glorious springy turf, natural hazards and 6,300 yards of golfing paradise". The article was illustrated with several photographs of Selsdon Court and the various greens. The Selsdon Park golf course was officially opened in June 1929. There was an invitation professional tournament over 36 holes. Abe Mitchell of St Albans was the winner with 74 and 71 and JJ Farrell, the US open champion, was third. H D Lorimer, who for a short time a Conservative MP and who was residing at the hotel, made a speech.

An interesting photograph exists, taken on October 8th 1927, showing the Meet of the Worcester Park Beagles at the back of the hotel - the cloche hats and short skirts of the ladies present are all very much of the Twenties!  In September 1929, General Dawes (of the Dawes Plan fame) was on a peacewill visit from the United States to meet the Prime Minister. He visited the hotel to meet some personal friends and had tea with them on the lawn and he said he had enjoyed his acquaintance with a typical English park in Surrey. On December 16th 1929 the Croydon Advertiser carried an advertisement listing the hotel's Christmas festivities. These included a Cinderella dance, at 7.30 on Christmas Day, a Xmas Feast for 15/- and on New Year's Eve a gala dinner and carnival dance for 30/-. Music was to be provided by Jack Hylton and his Rythmagicians.

In January 1929 there was a jewel robbery at the hotel, when an intruder used a ladder from a nearby building in course of erection to enter through the window of a first floor room occupied by Mrs Lorimer. She was in the next room at the time and didn't hear him, but she lost a watch and two rings. Next month Edward Butler, a well-dressed refined looking man was committed to Surrey Quarter Sessions for embezzling the Selsdon Park Golf Club of £17 by not giving receipts; he had been engaged when the club opened in May 1928 and had been dismissed 'for riding in business cars without permission'.


The First Steps in saving Selsdon Wood

(published in the Gazette February 2017)

Immediately after the First World War the Surrey Garden Village Trust was set up. Some 200 acres were purchased in Addington, between Selsdon Park Road and Featherbed Lane, to establish a garden village, settling ex-servicemen into smallholdings for dairying, pigs and poultry keeping, market gardening, and fruit and flower growing. It was to be a cooperative enterprise. By the end of 1926 all the land had been or was about to be taken up and ten houses had been built and inhabited.

The Trust's annual report for1926 stated that all the principal timber, both in Lady Grove and Court Wood had been removed. This alarmed a group of local conservationists, including Malcolm Sharpe, a local architect, who had been involved in saving Croham Hurst in 1901 and they took immediate steps to secure 16 acres of Court Wood, all in Addington parish, as a nature reserve, the SGVT donating 5 acres. In the previous year, the first moves to set up a bird sanctuary south of London had been mooted and Selsdon Wood was considered an ideal place for such a site. On May 9th, the Croydon Advertiser reported:

“No part of Surrey has undergone such rapid changes during the last 20 years as the chalk country through which the Brighton Road passes beyond Croydon. As far as Purley and for some distance beyond the Downs have been absorbed for building and the only barriers that have arrested the process of developments are provided by a few open spaces. Fortunately, the country to the east of Sanderstead has, so far escaped disfiguring changes. It is somewhat inaccessible and was largely owned by the late Mr Noakes of Selsdon Park: circumstances that have hitherto sufficed to keep it out of the market. The death of the owner, however, has led to the splitting up of the property and all the frontages are now being taken up for building.”

"Steps have been taken to enter into a contract for the purchase of 107 acres at the low price of £30 an acre, subject to the condition that the purchase money of £3,210 is provided by public subscription before the end of July. It is intended to vest the land either in the National Trust or the Nature Reserve Society, in order that it may be permanently preserved as a public possession."

On May 30th the Advertiser reported a visit that had been recently arranged and the following acts as a reminder of what the woods were like 90 years ago:

"The wood clings to a hillside 500 ft above sea level, with gloriously expansive views all round. No public road is nearer than a quarter of a mile. Only rough bridle ways lead through this paradise of sylvan charms. It consists of groves of oak. birch, pine, beech, chestnut and yew rising above tangled coppices of holly, gorse and the myriad charms of prolific undergrowth. On Saturday bluebells were seen in glorious plenty, rivalled in the more open spots by bugle. Other seasons are marked by all the flowers characteristic of chalk soil - the honeysuckle, enchanter's nightshade, musk mallow, mullein, several of the orchis family, the rosy berries of the spindle tree and even the Paris herb and autumn crocus, the exact haunts of which are not disclosed because they might be 'collected' out of existence.

So much for the flowers. Of animals, the rabbit heads the list, despite its many enemies. Thousands are killed every year and plenty remain. The thinning is absolutely essential or the wood would deteriorate. As for foxes they have been more numerous  than hunters cared to tackle. Hence in a recent winter 32 were killed otherwise than by organised sport.

Coming to birds, people who came on Saturday saw or heard about 30 varieties. In the days when Mr Noakes was 'squire' 72 varieties of birds' eggs were collected. Of course, the nightingale is found. Even the hoopoe has been observed this year......”

"In the wood are several decayed huts built when the Bishop of Rochester lived at Selsdon House and used by tired East End curates and other church workers for drives. One was originally a caravan and was bought from a gipsy on Epsom Downs, when a Selsdon party attended the Derby. One novelty is a beech tree 'tapped' to keep a cistern full of water  - probably for use in other days in the game rearing seasons."    

In April 1926 the Croydon Advertiser reported on a joint ramble, organised by the Federation of Rambling Clubs when the 80 participants explored the wood's romantic beauty.

“The leader, Mr A L Simpson. or 'Pathfinder', a writer on rambling matters, said with a twinkle in his eye 'this has specially been arranged for our visit' when the cuckoo was heard as they reached Court Wood. The woods were richly clothed in bluebells, violets and primroses and fragrance was shed around. Further on were found wood anemones peeping shyly through the undergrowth. These were pounced upon by many members of the party."

It was stated that month that £2,000 was needed to complete the purchase of 110 acres, which would include legal fees and the cost of fencing. Mr Noakes' gamekeeper, Mr Westall, was appointed Watcher. Later in the year, A Beadall, who contributed nature notes to the Advertiser at the time, devoted several articles to the wildlife in Selsdon Woods.

Editor’s Note – There is much more about the history of Selsdon Wood on the History page of the FSW website


Selsdon in January 1935

(published in the Gazette January 2017)

As mentioned last month I have acquired a pristine copy of a prewar Selsdon Gazette which was published by the Manor Press of Ashford in Middlesex. This was issue no 48 for January 15th 1935. You have to remember that Selsdon was much smaller than now and that it was about halfway in its prewar development. The Costain housing had been completed as far as the Upper Selsdon, Farley and Foxearth Roads areas were concerned; houses had been built down Old Farleigh Road, including the council houses in Hawthorne Crescent and of course there was a mixture of houses and bungalows around Kingswood Way. As far as Addington Road there were a number of houses and bungalows, including the newly erected International houses on the north side of the road before you came to the new Selsdon School. What was about to be developed was Costain's fourth estate - the Selsdon Farm estate around Sundale and Benhurst, although another developer had started on York Road and what was originally Sundridge Road - later called Greville Avenue.

Addington Road showing Selsdon Primary School c 1935. Thanks to Dick Adamson for this photograph.

As far as the shops were concerned, on the north of Addington Road, there were the two blocks of the Broadway, then the asbestos single storeyed Selsdon Garage and then two new shops - one of which was Hubbard and Nash and then the Sanctuary Tea Rooms, now the Village Club. On the south side, there were shops down as far as Barclays Bank and then no shops until three new shops where Tudor Library now is. At 230 Addington Road was the Selsdon Park Social Club and then the old Selsdon Park Farmhouse at 232 and then King's famous. shop in front of his cottage.

In this 1935 Selsdon Gazette there was a front-page advert for Worth's the tobacconists and confectioners at 4, The Broadway (where The Selsdon Nail Saloon now is). Worth's claimed they were the oldest established shop to sell cigarettes in Selsdon and elsewhere in the Gazette it was pointed out that Worth's had just been appointed sole agents for a Scottish biscuit manufacturer, Messrs Wyllie, Barr and Ross Ltd - the Sunshine Biscuit Bakery. This was quite a usual feature of prewar shops, to obtain agencies for national or local firms - Butchers the newsagents had an agency for Hall & Co in Croydon. Another feature of 1935 life was that both Forbes & Co, radio & electrical engineers of Addington Road, and Hubbard and Nash, the ironmongers that many will remember, would charge your accumulator. Electric radios were coming in, but many people still had a radio that needed to have the accumulator charged regularly. This was like a nine inch glass box full of acid with a handle, which acted the same as a car battery.

Other advertisers included: Marion England, ladies and children's hairdresser, above the Co-op; Arthur R Wilberforce, an optician at Tudor House, Addington Road (near the Social Club); and Tudor House - homemade bread, cakes etc. The latter was there prior to Tudor Library appearing on the scene and was the cake shop - a precursor to Monty's the bakers that many will recall. A number of advertisers were in Croydon - such as Grants and Batchelars in North End.

The text pages begin with an announcement from the Residents' Association that the Annual General Meeting would be held in the Church Hall on Wednesday January 30th at 8 pm. A brief report for the year 1934 follows, stating: "From its inception the Association has grown from relative obscurity to a position from which it commands the attentions and respect of those numerous bodies with which it is brought into contact."

Next comes a report from the Selsdon Girl Guides. The Company held the Silver District Challenge Cup from July 1933 to July 1934 and the Christmas Good Turn included among other things 21cwt of coal which was sent to 21 terribly needy aged people in Croydon.

Next came a report from the Selsdon Labour Party. In his annual report the Hon. Secretary, Max Davison (whose son, Francis, still lives in Sanderstead) described the past year as one of "steadily growing response to the efforts of the Party to make Labour a force in Selsdon." 

The Lawn Tennis Club were having a dance at St Peter's Hall, South Croydon on 9th February and the NSPCC Selsdon Branch a Whist Drive at the Church Hall on February 13th (tickets 1/3d). The Selsdon and District Horticultural Society were having their AGM at the Sanctuary Tea Rooms on January 23rd and hoped members would get their friends to join, the committee desiring to see the “200 mark passed this year”.

There were brief reports from the Selsdon Nursing Association and the Selsdon Choral Society and details of the next four home games by Selsdon Association Football on the Old Farleigh Rec.

The Selsdon Players, the original amateur dramatic society in Selsdon, were presenting "The Middle Watch" - a Romance of the Navy by Ian Hay and Stephen King Hall at the end of February at the Church Hall.

Besides the first and last bus timetables for the 54, and 64 routes and Green Line coaches, we learnt that Conrad Veidt is appearing in “Jew Suss” at the Davis Theatre and in a fortnight's time Anna Neagle and Cedric Hardwicke in “Nell Gwyn”.

Finally, there were reports from the Churches. All three gave details of their services. The Baptist Free Church (Minister Rev H F Cross) supplied a list of Preachers for the next month and notes on the Ladies Bright Hour and a forthcoming Children's Concert. Worth noting is "the usual collection of clothing for South Wales is now being made". St John the Divine reported: “We have now £5,570 towards the £11,000 required for our new church”. Coming events included an entertainment by the St John's Dramatic Club, the Scouts Annual display "Pamado" and on 14th February a St Valentine's Dance - Tickets 2/- with the Harlem Aces dance band. The Curate in Charge then was the Rev C E Waynforth of 19, Brent Road.