CROYDON, a parish and market town in the first division of the hundred of Wallington, in the county of Surrey. It is situated in the eastern part of the county, under Banstead Downs, 10 miles to the S. of London. The parish is large and populous, containing 30,229 inhabitants, and comprises a large part of Norwood, as also the hamlets of Bensham, Shirley, Addiscombe, Croham, Haling, Coombe, Selsdon, Norbury, Woodside, and Wadden. It is bounded on the N. by Lambeth and Streatham; on the E. by Beckenham, Addington, and Wickham; on the S. by Sanderstead and Coulsdon; and on the W. by Mitcham and Beddington.
The little river Wandle, which discharges itself into the Thames at Wandsworth, takes its rise in this parish; and the old Roman road called Ermine Street, which passed from Arundel to London, can still be traced. There are three railway stations-East, West, and New Croydon. The East Croydon station belongs jointly to the South-Eastern, and the Brighton and South Coast railway companies. The West Croydon station is chiefly for the accommodation of traffic from London to Wimbledon, the Crystal Palace, and neighbouring places; and New Croydon, from which trains run direct both to London Bridge and the Victoria stations.
This town, which is supposed to be the Noviomagus of Antonine, is called by Camden Cradeden, a corruption of its ancient name Croiden, from croie, "chalk," and dune, "a hill," referring to its situation on the edge of the large chalk basin of the Thames. It is by some supposed to have been a royal residence in the Saxon times, and at the Conquest was given to Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose successors in that see have ever since been lords of the manor, and formerly resided at the old palace, which stands at the E. end, near the parish church. During the baronial wars in the reign of Henry III, the Londoners defeated the king here, with great slaughter, in 1264. In 1573 Queen Elizabeth was entertained here by Archbishop Parker. The palace, having at length become dilapidated, was sold in 1780 by Act of Parliament, to Sir Abraham Pitches, for £2,520. It is now occupied as a bleaching establishment, and the chapel which was attached to it is converted into an industrial school. With the funds realised by the sale of the old palace the estate and mansion of Addington Park, 3½ miles S.E. of Croydon, were purchased, and the house rebuilt, by the late Dr. Howley.
The town consists chiefly of one main street more than a mile in length, running nearly N. and S., through which the turnpike road to Brighton and other parts of Sussex passes. There are, besides, many smaller streets, which also contain good shops; but these are generally in the older parts of the town. There are a great number of mansions and, handsome villas in the suburbs. The town of Croydon is well, paved and drained, and lighted with gas, with a plentiful supply of water, and its sanitary condition is well looked to by a local Board of Health.
The townhall, situated in the High-street, is a handsome atone building, with clock, erected in 1809. The market-house is close by it. The new public hall and rooms of the Croydon Literary and Scientific Institution, established in 1838, are in George-street. The Union workhouse is on Duppas Hill, where the Board of Guardians meet weekly. The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, founded in 1850 for Freemasons or their widows, is a handsome Elizabethan building of brick and stone, situated in St. James's-road. There are also a gaol, barracks for 200 men, forming a depot for recruits of the three regiments of foot-guards, a police station, and a branch of the London and County Bank.
Croydon is the polling place for the election of members of parliament for the eastern division of the county. A County Court is held at the townhall, and within its jurisdiction are Croydon, Addington, Farleigh, Anerley, Merton, Mitcham, Beddington, Chaldon, Norwood, Mordon, Chelsham, Coulsdon, Penge, Woodmansterne, Wallingdon, Warlingham, Sanderstead, Selsdon, Shirley, and Tatsfield. Croydon is likewise a summer assize town, and petty sessions are held by the magistrates of the district every Saturday at the townhall.
The living is a vicarage,* value £725, in the patronage of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The parish church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, situated in Church-street, is a noble structure in the Gothic style of architecture, built of stone and flint. The interior was restored in 1844. It has a lofty tower, with embattled parapet and pinnacles, and a peal of eight bells. The church consists of a spacious nave, N. and S. aisles, and chancel, 130 feet in length. The tower at the W. end and the adjacent portions are supposed to have been erected by Archbishop Chicheley, by reason of shields bearing his arms occupying the spandrils of the entrance arch. The entrance porch on the N. side bears the arms of Archbishop Courtenay, who is supposed to have erected a portion of the church in the reign of Richard II. The chantry, dedicated to St. Nicholas, now called the Bishop's chapel, was founded in 1450 by Richard Weldon and his wife. The splendid monument to Archbishop Grindall stands on the S. side of the altar; he was born in 1519, and died at Croydon Palace in 1583. There is also a monument to Archbishop Whitgift, an exact counterpart of that of his predecessor, Archbishop Grindall; he died at Lambeth Palace in 1604. There are also monuments to archbishops Sheldo, Wake, Potter, and Herring.
Besides the mother church there are seven district churches: St. James's, erected in 1829, is situated in St. James's road, and is built of brick; it has a tower and clock.
The living is a perpetual curacy, value £300, in the gift of the Vicar of Croydon. St. Peter's, situated in St. Peter's road, South End, was erected in 1851. It is built chiefly of flint, and has a square tower.
The living is a perpetual curacy, value £300, in the gift of the Vicar of Croydon. Christ Church, Broad Green, was erected in 1852, of atone and flint.
The living is a perpetual curacy,* value £400, in the patronage of trustees. The church of St. Andrew, erected for the poor in 1857, is a atone building.
The living is a perpetual curacy, value £153, in the patronage of the Rev. J. Randolph. At Norwood, in this parish, is the church of All Saints, a stone edifice, erected in 1827, standing on Beulah-hill. It has a beautiful spire, which may be seen from a very great distance.
The living is a perpetual curacy* with the curacy of St. Mark's, value £350, in the patronage of the vicar. St. Mark's church, likewise at Norwood, was built in 1852.
The living is a curacy annexed to All Saints.
At Shirley is the church of St. John the Evangelist, situated about 2 miles to the E. of the town of Croydon.
The living is a perpetual curacy,* value £70, in the patronage of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Baptists, Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists, and Independents have chapels. The Roman Catholics have a church and schools at Broad Green, and the Society of Friends have a meeting-house and large schools in Park-lane.
The chief schools are, Archbishop Tenison's free school, a collegiate school, and Friends' school. The charities amount to about £2,800. The hospital of the Holy Trinity, founded by Archbishop Whitgift in 1596, constructed to accommodate 39 persons, is at North End. The little almshouses, situated in Pitlake, are for 24 persons; and there are others for 7 poor persons, founded by Elys Davy in 1447, situated in Church-street.
Howard of Effingham resided here, and Barclay, who wrote the "Ship of Fools," is buried here. Gurney, the lord mayor, was a native. Roman coins of Domitian and Valentinian have been found. Market day is Saturday; the chief trade is in corn and butter. The cattle market is held on Thursdays at the S. end of the town. A fair is held on the 5th July for cattle, and a pleasure fair on the 2nd October.