Croydon in 1837
CROYDON, a market-town m the hundred of Wallington, county of Surrey ; nine and a half miles south of London : population in 1831, 12,447. The parish is very extensive, being thirty-six miles in circumference, and containing about 10,000 acres. In the survey of 1646, it is described as consisting of 836 acres, ‘having herbage for all manner of cattle, and mastage for swine without stint.’
The name, which in Domesday Book is Croinedone (croie, chalk, and dune, hill), appears to be derived from the locality of the town on the edge of the chalk.
The situation, from its contiguity to the Bansted Downs, is pleasant and very healthy. The houses form one principal street, about a mile in length ; of neat appearance and tolerably well paved and lighted.
Some antiquarians (Dr. Stukeley’s Itinerary) identify Croydon with the Noviomagus of Antoninus, there being still, on Broad Green, in the neighbourhood, some traces of the Roman road from London to Arundel.
At the Norman Conquest, the manor, with a royal palace, was given to Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury. This palace, during a long period, was a chief residence of the succeeding primates. It was built of timber, and was in 1278 in its original state. No part of the present structure is older than the fourteenth century ; and large portions of it were rebuilt by archbishops Wake and Herring.
Here queen Elizabeth and her court were sumptuously entertained by archbishops Parker and Whitgift. In 1780 it was sold, and became a calico manufactory, and the gardens were used for bleaching grounds. The present summer residence of the archbishop of Canterbury is three and a half miles from Croydon, at the mansion in Addington Park, which stands on the site of a hunting seat of Henry VIII.
During the wars of the barons with Henry III in 1264, the citizens of London retreated to Croydon, and were there defeated by the royal troops with great slaughter. Croydon Park, in the time of Richard II was kept by the mayor of London, Sir William Walworth, who stabbed Wat Tyler.
Antiquities worthy of notice are a cluster of twenty-five tumuli and barrows on a hill towards Addington ; and on Thunderfield common, a circular encampment enclosing with a double moat an area of two acres. Gold coins have been found of Domitian, Valentinian, and other Roman emperors.
There are several ancient charitable foundations, the principal of which are the hospital or almshouse of the Holy Trinity, built by archbishop Whitgift in 1596, and well endowed for the maintenance of thirty-four decayed housekeepers ; and a school for girls, founded by archbishop Tennison.
A school for 150 children is supported by the society of friends. The East India Company’s College of Cadets at Addiscombe House near Croydon, has fourteen professors and masters, and about 140 students.
The parish church of St. John’s is the largest and finest in the county. It is built of freestone and flint, with a lofty embattled tower surmounted with pinnacles. The interior contains several magnificent monuments of the archbishops there interred ; Drs. Herring, Potter, Wake, Abbot ; and especially those of Sheldon and Whitgift. The windows were formerly remarkable for much beautiful painted glass ; but in Cromwell’s time the Puritans completely destroyed it.
Near the church is the source of the Wandle, a small stream which flows into the Thames and abounds in excellent trout. A new church has been erected by the parliamentary commission.
The town hall, in which the assizes are held, and the gaol, are commodious and substantial stone buildings. There are barracks with extensive accommodation for artillery ; and a theatre.
The Croydon canal communicates with the grand Surrey canal at Deptford. A railroad runs from Wandsworth to Croydon, and thence to Merstham near Reigate.
A new rail-road to London is about to be constructed. Croydon is the election town for the eastern division of the county.
The market on Wednesday is well supplied with corn, especially oats, and the fair on October the second is noted for the sale of walnuts.
An elaborate account of the town, church, and archiepiscopal palace, is given in Dr. Ducarel’s history of Croydon (inserted in the Bibliotheca Topographica Brit. Vol. ii). See also Lysons’ Environs of London, vol. i. p. 170, and Britton’s Beauties of England, vol. xiv. p. 122.