Riddlesdown is first recorded in 1331, at that time called 'Ridelsdoune' meaning 'cleared woodland on a hill' and there is evidence of early human activity. In medieval times Kenley Common and Riddlesdown formed part of the waste land of the Manor of Watendone. In 1883, to prevent the Lord of the Manor from enclosing the commonland further, the Corporation of London acquired most of Riddlesdown 'for public recreation and enjoyment' and 'to preserve the natural aspect'. The Gardener's Pleasure Resort established nearby in 1892 was popular with Victorian day trippers.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2008
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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.
Riddlesdown is within the West Wickham and Coulsdon Commons group of 6 areas managed by Corporation of London, 3 others of which are in Croydon: Farthing Downs, Kenley Common and Coulsdon Common. Riddlesdown is first recorded in 1331, at that time called Ridelsdoune and meaning 'cleared woodland on a hill'. Evidence of early human activity has been found here, such as Neolithic or New Stone Age axes, possible traces of Iron Age fields and Riddlesdown Road was a Roman trade route. 1962 3 graves were excavated possibly connected with a Saxon cemetery found at the junction of Riddlesdown Avenue and Mitchley Avenue. In medieval times Kenley Common and Riddlesdown formed part of the waste land of the Manor of Watendone; the lord of the manor did not have exclusive use of this commonland, the Statute of Merton having guaranteed the rights of commoners in 1235 to the products of the soil, pasture for livestock, and gathering material for fuel, livestock bedding and roofing. However when the value of the land increased following the coming of the railways in C19th, the then Lord of the Manor of Coulsdon, Edmund Byron, began enclosing and appropriating some 150 acres of land at Hartley Down. One neighbouring landowner, William Hall, refused to sell his land to Byron and eventually approached the Corporation of London with an offer to sell his land and commoners rights in the hopes that the Corporation would protect the land from further encroachment as it had done in Epping. As a result the Corporation negotiated with Byron for ownership of Kenley Common and in 1883 347 acres were purchased, which excluded the commonland already enclosed and sold to others.
Riddlesdown and Kenley Common were acquired under the powers of the Corporation of London (Open Spaces) Act 1878 'for public recreation and enjoyment' and 'to preserve the natural aspect'. In 1884, the Croydon to Oxted railway line was completed and at the foot of Riddlesdown the Gardener's Pleasure Resort was established here in 1892, popular with Victorian day trippers. A small area is managed by LB Croydon
Winterman, M A, Croydon's parks: an illustrated history (LB Croydon, 1988) p78; Kenley Aerodrome Conservation Area Proposals Statement (draft), 2005