The site was part of the large Coombe estate, including woods and commonland, privately owned until the mid C20th. Croydon Corporation then purchased Coombe Wood and Coombe Wood House, and 14 acres of woodland and ornamentatl garden were opened to the public in 1948. The gardens were laid out as a series of 'garden rooms', with a rock garden by an existing pond, and a terrace garden that was once a Fernery. Over the years the gardens have evolved, to include a rose garden, mixed borders and a winter garden of heathers, conifers and shrubs. Coombe Wood House, built in 1898, had a number of public uses, including a convalescent home for Croydon Hospital, a Children's Home, and is now a restaurant. The stableyard, built in a gravel pit and hidden from view of the house, is now the park café.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2008
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.croydon.gov.uk
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
The park was once the site of a late C19th house with a contemporary garden and woodland, and was originally part of a large area of common land known as Coombe Field, which ran from Coombe Road to Park Hill. Most of this part of the common was acquired in 1801 after enclosure by James Bourdieu Senior, who already owned the Coombe Estate, which comprised some 251 acres and included Coombe Lodge, Coombe House (now Geoffrey Harris House q.v.) and Coombe Farm. Coombe is first recorded in 1221 when the land belonged to Richard of Coombe; in the C15th it was called the Borough of Coombe and by Elizabeth I's reign it was known as Broad Coombe. In the C17th the estate was owned by Matthew and Daniel Harvey, brothers of William Harvey who demonstrated the circulation of blood. William frequently stayed at Coombe and had caves made in the grounds in order to gratify his habit of meditating in the dark,
In 1842 the parcel that was to become Coombe Wood was owned by J W Sutherland; the wood supplied water to the Coombe Estate via three conduits, giving rise to the name Conduit Lane. The pond by the entrance was dug in 1845 replacing an earlier one in front of Coombe Lodge, and was known as Barons Pond. A short track led to a gravel pit on the site where the stables and stableyard were built out of sight of Coombe Wood House. In the early 1890s, the yellow brick Pond Cottage was built in the gravel pit, preceding the main 20-room house built in 1898 for Arthur Lloyd, on whose death a few years later it was purchased by W Cash Esq., Chairman of the Croydon Gas Co. Arthur Lloyd was brother of newspaper magnate Frank Lloyd, who lived at Coombe House, after whom Lloyd Park (q.v.) is named.
Cash lived here for the next 37 years before selling the house and 14 acres to Croydon Corporation in 1948 with a grant from LCC. Coombe Wood House had a number of public uses, including a convalescent home for Croydon Hospital, a Children's Home, and is now a restaurant. The stableyard is now used as the park café. The layout of the garden takes advantage of the site’s unusual topography - it is a spring-sapped hollow on the margins of an outlier of Blackheath pebble beds, on the dip slope of the North Downs. Southward from the house, which is in the north part of the estate, a level garden area gives way to rising ground, the slopes densely planted with trees and merging into the extensive Ballards Plantation. The woods comprise chiefly of Scots pine interspersed with areas of beech. Elaborately serpentine walks and glades are laid out in the woodland, which is thickly underplanted with flowering shrubs dominated by rhododendrons and azaleas. The woodland walks were extended south and west along Conduit Lane between 1912 - 1934.
The garden contains a series of discrete character areas; original features include the water garden formed around the old pond, with artificial stone (Pulhamite?) rockwork around it, planted up with Alpine plants: the Alpine ravine and the structure of the former fernery is now used for bedding displays. Later additions by the Council include a rose garden and winter garden, as well as herbaceous borders in a hedged enclosure on the site of the former kitchen garden. The garden is relatively unscathed by storm, and well-maintained. Ornamental features in the gardens include a sundial, a small summerhouse that at one time rotated to follow the sun; gardener's bothy and pond cottage. An ornamental concrete seat made by Mono Concrete Company that was once in Wettern Tree Garden (q.v.) was moved here to Coombe Wood near the archway in the gardens.
J Bellamy, York Form I, 1984; M A Winterman, Croydon's parks: an illustrated history (LB Croydon, 1988) pp24-25; LB Croydon, 'Local List of Historic Parks & Gardens', December 2008