The name Kings Wood was originally given to a small area of woodland north of Kings Wood Lodge, but on maps of 1823 the area is called Sanderstead Wood. There is evidence of human activity here from the Iron Age on, including a Romano British settlement and C1st cemetery. Up until C19th the woodland was managed as a coppice with standards to provide timber for the community. It later became a game reserve, when the Keeper's Cottage was built, the woodland laid out for shooting. Wide rides dissected the site, each path crossing once marked by four tall conifers. In 1937 the land was purchased under the Green Belt Act for public open space, but many trees were removed by the army in WWII.
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The name Kings Wood was originally given to a small area of woodland north of Kings Wood Lodge, and on maps of 1823 this area was known as Sanderstead Wood, so the current appellation may have been a mapping error. Kings Wood lies on relatively flat ground and comprises ancient oak woodland on clay overlying chalk. In the Domesday Book of 1086, Sanderstead is recorded as having 'woodland at 30 pigs' and Kings Wood, being on the parish boundary, is the most likely candidate for this. There is evidence that it has been here since Tudor times and that its size, stated in old wills as '150 acres be it more or less' has changed little over the centuries: it currently measures 147 acres. Along with Happy Valley and Coulsdon Court in Old Coulsdon, and Foxley Wood in Purley, the land was purchased in 1937 under the Green Belt Act for public open space.
It was originally laid out for shooting, with wide rides dissecting the woodland and beaters used to systematically work through each section. At one time each path crossing was marked by four tall conifers but few remain. During WWII most of the best trees were removed by the army, and during the war a flying bomb landed in the woods.
The site of a Romano British settlement was discovered on the northern boundary, and partial excavations were undertaken in 1955 and 1959. During the latter dig a small C1st children's cemetery was discovered. The wood contains ancient roads and Iron Age trackways connecting the woods to old trade routes, and there was almost certainly an Iron Age settlement here. Other discoveries in Kings Wood include over 40 'Dean Holes', shafts sunk to obtain chalk to spread on the fields.
Up until the C19th the woodland was managed as a coppice with standards to provide timber for the community. However, once the railways came and imported timber became cheaper and more easily distributed, most of the local woods including Kings Wood were converted into game reserves and Keeper’s Cottage was built. This cottage is a good example of a Victorian game keeper’s property and has a well in the garden. Behind the cottage is the site of the village brickyard where bricks used in the local cottages and the Smithy, still lived in, were made. The Keeper’s Cottage is now used as kennels for the Council's security section. Woodland trees include silver birch, downy birch, ash, yew and hornbeam and it is a good habitat for birds and other fauna. The western part has rich ground flora which includes dog's mercury, wood sorrel, sanicle, wood anemone, early-purple orchid and yellow archangel. In the spring are good displays of bluebells.
MA Winterman, Croydon's parks: an illustrated history (LB Croydon, 1988) p50; Wildweb; LB Croydon, 'Local List of Historic Parks & Gardens', December 2008