Croydon Palace

Last updated

Old Palace School Old Palace School - - 1215017.jpg
Old Palace School

Croydon Palace, in Croydon, now part of south London, was the summer residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury for over 500 years. Regular visitors included Henry III and Queen Elizabeth I. Now known as "Old Palace", the buildings are still in use as the Old Palace School, an independent girls' school of the Whitgift Foundation.



Engraving of Croydon Palace circa 1785, from The Antiquities of England and Wales by Francis Grose Croydon Palace c.1785.jpg
Engraving of Croydon Palace circa 1785, from The Antiquities of England and Wales by Francis Grose

The Manor of Croydon was connected with the Archbishop of Canterbury from at least the late Saxon period, and records of buildings date back to before 960. The Palace as it now exists is a group of largely 15th and 16th century buildings, "an aggregate of buildings of different castes and ages", as Archbishop Herring found it in 1754. [1] The 15th-century Great Hall is thought to have been installed by Archbishop Stafford (d. 1452), with a late-14th-century two-storey porch and a vaulted ceiling to the lower chamber. The hall interior has a rich 16th-century timber roof and windows with interesting features such as the late Gothic interior porch. The Great Hall was partially remodelled in the 17th century by archbishops Laud and Juxon, who also rebuilt the chapel.

West of the Hall are the state apartments including the first-floor Guard Room, now the school library. The room is ascribed to Archbishop Arundel (Archbishop 13961414), and has an arch-braced roof with carved stone supports and an oriel window. Other rooms have later panelling and fireplaces. The chapel has fine 17th-century stalls and an elaborate corner gallery. The fine altar rails are now in the Guard Room. The exterior of the whole palace is of stone or red brick, with early stone windows or Georgian sash windows.

The connection of the Archbishops with Croydon was of great importance, with several being important local benefactors. Six are buried in Croydon Minster, neighbouring the Palace: in date order they were Edmund Grindal, John Whitgift, Gilbert Sheldon, William Wake, John Potter and Thomas Herring. Archbishop Whitgift, who first called it a "palace", liked Croydon for "the sweetness of the place", though not all admired it, in the low-lying site which Henry VIII found "rheumatick", a place where he could not stay "without sickness". Sir Francis Bacon found it "an obscure and darke place" surrounded by its dense woodland. [2]

By the late 18th century, the Palace had become dilapidated and uncomfortable and the local area was squalid. An Act of Parliament enabled Croydon Palace to be sold and Addington Palace on the outskirts of Croydon to be bought in 1807. This became the new episcopal summer residence for much of the rest of the 19th century.


The historic connection between Croydon and the archbishops is recognised in the modern coat of arms of the London Borough of Croydon. Several streets in Croydon are named after the archbishops, including Whitgift Street, Grindall Close, Sheldon Street, Laud Street, Cranmer Road and Parker Road.


  1. Quoted in Charles Nicholl A Cup of News: the life of Thomas Nashe, 1984, p. 136.
  2. Quotes in Nicholl 1984, p. 136; in the Great Hall at Croydon Nashe's masque Summer's Last Will and Testament was performed, in October 1592.

Further reading

Coordinates: 51°22′21.94″N00°06′17.89″W / 51.3727611°N 0.1049694°W / 51.3727611; -0.1049694

Related Research Articles

Archbishop of Canterbury Senior bishop of the Church of England

The archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Justin Welby, who was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. Welby is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, the "Apostle to the English", sent from Rome in the year 597. Welby succeeded Rowan Williams.

London Borough of Croydon Borough in United Kingdom

The London Borough of Croydon is a London borough in south London, part of Outer London. It covers an area of 87 km2 (33.6 sq mi). It is the southernmost borough of London. At its centre is the historic town of Croydon from which the borough takes its name; while other urban centres include Coulsdon, Purley, South Norwood, Norbury, New Addington and Thornton Heath. Croydon is mentioned in Domesday Book, and from a small market town has expanded into one of the most populous areas on the fringe of London. The borough is now one of London's leading business, financial and cultural centres, and its influence in entertainment and the arts contribute to its status as a major metropolitan centre. Its population is 386,710, making it the second largest London borough and fifteenth largest English district.

Addington, London Human settlement in England

Addington is a village and area in south London, England, within the London Borough of Croydon. It is south of Spring Park, west of Coney Hall, north of New Addington and east of Forestdale and Selsdon, and is 11.1 miles (18 km) south of Charing Cross and 4 miles (6.4 km) south-east of the centre of Croydon.

Waddon Human settlement in England

Waddon is a neighbourhood in the London Borough of Croydon, at the western end of the town of Croydon. The area borders the London Borough of Sutton.

Addington Palace Mansion in Addington in Greater London, England

Addington Palace is an 18th-century mansion in Addington near Croydon in south London, within the historic county of Surrey. It was built on the site of a 16th-century manor house. It is particularly known for having been, between 1807 and 1897, the summer residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury. Between 1953 and 1996 it was occupied by the Royal School of Church Music. It is now a conference and wedding venue and country club, while the grounds are occupied by a golf course.

Gilbert Sheldon

Gilbert Sheldon was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1663 until his death.

John Whitgift

John Whitgift was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583 to his death. Noted for his hospitality, he was somewhat ostentatious in his habits, sometimes visiting Canterbury and other towns attended by a retinue of 800 horses. Whitgift's theological views were often controversial.

Lambeth Palace Official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury

Lambeth Palace is the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is situated in north Lambeth, London, on the south bank of the River Thames, 400 yards south-east of the Palace of Westminster, which houses the Houses of Parliament, on the opposite bank.

Croydon Town in South London, England

Croydon is a large town in South London, England that gives its name to the London Borough of Croydon. It is one of the largest commercial districts in Greater London, with an extensive shopping district and night-time economy. The entire town had a population of 192,064 as of 2011, whilst the wider borough had a population of 384,837. It is 9.4 miles (15.1 km) south of Charing Cross.

Trinity School of John Whitgift Independent school in Croydon, Greater London

The Trinity School of John Whitgift, usually referred to as Trinity School, is a British independent boys' day school with a co-educational Sixth Form, located in Shirley Park, Croydon. Part of the Whitgift Foundation, it was established in 1882 as Whitgift Middle School and was a direct grant grammar school from 1945 until 1968, when it left the scheme. The present name was adopted in 1954. The school's head is now a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC).

Old Palace School Independent school in Croydon, Greater London, England

The Old Palace of John Whitgift School is a selective independent school for girls in Croydon, London. The Old Palace is protected as a Grade I listed building.

The Whitgift Foundation is a charity based in Croydon, South London, England. The purpose of the charity is to provide education for the young and care for the elderly.

Whitgift School Independent school near Croydon, Greater London

Whitgift School is an independent day school with limited boarding in South Croydon, London. Along with Trinity School of John Whitgift and Old Palace School it is owned by the Whitgift Foundation, a charitable trust. The school was previously a grammar school and direct grant grammar school, but the school's headmaster is now a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

Summer's Last Will and Testament is an Elizabethan stage play, a comedy written by Thomas Nashe. The play is notable for breaking new ground in the development of English Renaissance drama: "No earlier English comedy has anything like the intellectual content or the social relevance that it has."

Croydon Minster Church in Croydon, United Kingdom

Croydon Minster is the parish and civic church of the London Borough of Croydon. There are currently more than 35 churches in the borough, with Croydon Minster being the most prominent. It is Grade I listed.

Croham Hurst School was a day independent school for junior and senior girls located in South Croydon, England. It was established in 1899, and closed in 2008 when it was absorbed into Old Palace School, Croydon.

Archbishops Palace, Maidstone

The Archbishop's Palace is a Grade I listed historic 14th-century and 16th-century building on the east bank of the River Medway in Maidstone, Kent. Originally a home from home for travelling archbishops from Canterbury, the building is today principally used as a venue for wedding services. The former tithe barn for the palace, now serves as the Tyrwhitt-Drake Museum of Carriages.

Old Palace, Canterbury

The Old Palace, also referred to as the Archbishop's Palace, is a historic building situated within the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral. It is the main residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury when in Canterbury.

Ford Palace was a residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury at Ford, about 6.6 miles (10.6 km) north-east of Canterbury and 2.6 miles (4.2 km) south-east of Herne Bay, in the parish of Hoath in the county of Kent in south-eastern England. The earliest structural evidence for the palace dates it to about 1300, and the earliest written references to it date to the 14th century. However, its site may have been in use for similar purposes since the Anglo-Saxon period, and it may have been the earliest such residence outside Canterbury.

Archiepiscopal Palace, Rouen

The Archiepiscopal Palace of Rouen is the official residence of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Rouen, Primate of Normandy. Designated a Monument Historique for the first time in 1862, it is notably the only archiepiscopal palace in France that is adjoining a cathedral while retaining its original function as official residence of the archbishop.