The 2020 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2021 programme mid August 2021
Croydon Town Hall
Itinerary created by Open House Volunteer, Ulla Kite
Fairfield Halls, Park Lane, CR9
After an extensive refurbishment, The Fairfield Halls has been returned to its original mid-century architectural magnificence, retaining the renowned Concert Hall and theatre whilst creating new performance spaces for the 21C.
As the name might suggest, Fairfield stands on the site of a field that was used for a fair for five and a half centuries. It was a very famous fair. In fact it was so famous that it attracted every ne’er-do-well from miles around! The sober Victorian burghers of Croydon eventually decided to ban the fair in 1866. This was because they thought the fair had become far too troublesome.
A £30 million makeover has transformed Croydon's Fairfield Halls into a state of the art performance venue at the heart of a stunning new cultural quarter in Croydon.
Walk north towards Park Ln > Turn right onto Park Ln > Turn right towards Katharine St > Take the pedestrian tunnel > Turn left towards Katharine St > Take the stairs > Turn right towards Katharine St > Turn left towards Katharine St > Turn right onto Katharine St, destination will be on the left
Croydon Town Hall, Katharine Street, CRO1NX,
The present Town Hall designed by local architect Charles Henman was officially opened by TRH the Prince and Princess of Wales on 19th May 1896. Constructed in red bricks from Wrotham in Kent, with Portland Stone dressings and green Westmoreland slates for the roof the building underwent many design changes throughout construction, including the widening of the main staircase to be of “adequate size and importance”.
Parts, including the former court rooms, have been converted for the Lifetimes Museum and exhibition galleries. The original public library, which for some years was used as the local studies library, is now the David Lean cinema, and the whole complex is known as Croydon Clocktower. After 100 years, a brand new public library occupies the area shown on Charles Henman's original plans as "space available for future extension".
Since the mid-1980s the Town Hall has been completely renovated and restored, and the Mayor's Parlour and the committee rooms have reverted to their original purpose.
Walk west on Katharine St towards High St > Turn right onto High St > Turn left onto Church St > Turn left onto Old Palace Rd > Turn left onto Church Rd > Turn right onto Old Palace Rd
Old Palace, CRO 1AX
The Old Palace is a former residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury, who have had connections with Croydon since at least the 9th century. In the time of William the Conquerer Archbishop Lanfranc was lord of the manor, and the entry in the Domesday Book for Croydon (then known as Croindene) records that he held the manor for his own use. In the 12th century the archbishops acquired Lambeth Palace, and from then on until the 18th century often stayed at Croydon as they journeyed between Canterbury and London and around their archdiocese. They also used the house, then surrounded by streams and set in unspoiled woodland, as a retreat. Many archbishops restored, adapted, and extended their house at Croydon. What remains today is therefore an intriguing patchwork of Norman, medieval, Tudor, Stuart and more recent architecture, forming a building that has played an important role in the ecclesiastical and political history of our country.
Walk north-east on Old Palace Rd towards Church Rd > Turn left onto Church Rd > Turn left towards Church St > Take the stairs > Turn left onto Church St, destination will be on the left
Croydon Minster, Church Street, CRO 1RN
Medieval style church rebuilt by Sir George Gilbert Scott after 1867 fire. Tower & south porch are 15C. Large nave with open timber-work roof leads to chancel dominated by superb stained glass window & rich alabaster reredos. There has been a church on this site since Saxon times, positioned on the banks of the River Wandle. Now the river flows underground and comes to the surface in nearby Wandle Park. In its medieval form, the church was mainly a Perpendicular structure, and because it was sited next to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Palace, the building was made impressive through the money and influence of Archbishops Chichele and Courtney. The church was severely damaged by fire in 1867, following which only the tower, south porch and outer walls remained. It was rebuilt, incorporating the existing remains and essentially to the same design as the old church, under the direction of Sir George Gilbert Scott, and was re-consecrated in 1870. There is a brass plaque just inside the entrance which lists the vicars through the years, the earliest being Elfsie in 960 AD.
Walk south-west on Church St towards Old Town > Turn left onto Old Town > Turn right onto St John's Rd > Continue straight onto Waddon Rd > Slight left onto Epsom Rd > Continue onto Duppas Hill Rd > Slight left onto Stafford Rd > Turn left onto Purley Way > Slight right to stay on Purley Way > Turn right, Destination will be on the right - 33 min
Airport House, 265 Purley Way, CRO OXZ
Unique Grade II* listed 1928 Government building in restrained neoclassical style. Britain's first intercontinental airport terminal. Landmark building featuring the world's oldest Air Traffic Control Tower. Upgraded to Grade II* in 2017.
Airport House, Purley Way was built in 1926-1928. London Croydon Airport was Britain's primary Customs airport during the 1920's and 1930's and the new terminal was the world's biggest when opened. It's beginnings go back to 1915 in World War One to support Britain's air defences and post-War it became Britain's major airport, finally closing in 1959. A landmark building it was designed to efficiently flow passengers and cargo through the airport and sequentially integrated airport handling processes. It was from here that Amy Johnson made her famous solo flight to Darwin, Australia in 1930. On her return to Croydon tens of thousands of people lined Purley Way to welcome her back home. At the outbreak of World War II the airport closed to commercial traffic and it became a designated RAF airfield, RAF Croydon.