Croham Hurst is an extensive woodland area with historical and natural interest. The bare summit at c.477 ft above sea level meant it was a safe place for early settlement, but it was later used for farming. The manor of Cronham (Croham) became the property of Archbishop Whitgift in the C18th but in the late C19th when Croham Hurst was a popular place to visit, few people realised it was private. In 1898 the Whitgift Governors planned to sell the lower slopes for development, and offered the higher part to Croydon Corporation. A spirited campaign against any development resulted in the whole of Croham Hurst being purchased by the Corporation in February 1901, and it continues to be a popular local beauty spot.
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Croham Hurst is an extensive woodland area with both historical and natural interest. The bare top of the Hurst is some 477 feet above sea level, thus rendering it a safe place for early human settlement from the Stone Age. Evidence that there was a late Mesolithic settlement c.5-3000BC was uncovered in 1968 when the sites of two huts were discovered as well as flint tools of the New Stone Age. A Bronze Age round barrow has also been found at the top of Croham Hurst. The lack of evidence of later occupation suggests that once farming took over from hunting, the settlers moved to more fertile land below.
The manor of Cronham (Croham) was in the Parish of Sanderstead, and became the property of Archbishop Whitgift in the C18th who purchased it from Sir Olliphe Leigh of Addington. At that time the area was covered in woodland, as shown in Rocque’s Map of Surrey of 1765. Croham Hurst became a popular place to visit in the late C19th although few visitors realised they were on private property. When in 1898 the Whitgift Governors planned to sell the lower slopes for development, they offered the higher part to Croydon Corporation. Local people were vociferously against the idea of the Hurst being developed and, following a spirited campaign, on 8 February 1901 the Whitgift Foundation sold the whole of Croham Hurst to the Corporation, since when it has continued to be one of the most popular local beauty spots. In the 1930s it was a popular place to watch planes arriving at Croydon Airport (q.v.). A Friends group was formed recently and continues to help manage the woodland to encourage the diversity of flora and fauna.
Winterman, M A, Croydon's parks: an illustrated history (LB Croydon, 1988) pp28/29; 'Celebrating a century of public ownership', Croydon Reports, March 2001; LB Croydon, 'Local List of Historic Parks & Gardens', December 2008