|Selsdon Park Hotel and Golf Club||Croydon|
Selsdon was within the parish of Croydon from medieval times, from at least the C16th largely divided between two farms, Selsdon Farm in the north and Allards Farm in the south. Selsdon Farm was gentrified into a mansion by 1815, with a landscaped park and home farm. The estate was purchased in 1924 and the house converted into Selsdon Park Hotel, which opened in 1926; Selsdon Golf Course was laid out on the parkland. There are many fine trees surviving from the C19th landscape and the garden area south-east of the hotel retains the bones of the original landscape design in terms of path structure, terraces and some of the planting.
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Selsdon was within the parish of Croydon from medieval times, its old boundaries little altered even now, and was part of land owned by the Archbishops of Canterbury. From at least the C16th Selsdon was largely divided between two farms, Selsdon Farm in the north, now the site of Selsdon Park Hotel, and Allards Farm in the south. Henry Ownstead, whose brother John owned Sanderstead Manor, held Selsdon Farm in 1584, and it remained in his family until c1660. It was next tenanted by Henry Bowyer whose successors held the farm into the C18th. It seems likely that Selsdon Farm was gentrified into Selsdon Park by William Coles who purchased it c1809. However, Coles was bankrupt soon after this and George Smith, banker and a director of the East India Company, purchased the property c1810. Smith completed the transformation of the house into a mansion by 1815 and made many changes to the estate, building a home farm complex, two lodges, a new farm and various cottages. He also landscaped the park and re-routed the Farleigh road to the east. The estate at that time included Selsdon Woods and it remained in the Smith family until 1890 when Mabel Greville, George Smith's great-granddaughter, finally sold the estate.
The mansion and land south of Addington Road, comprising 679 acres, were purchased by printer William Stevens, and the land to the north by Charles Goschen and incorporated into the Heathfield Estate. When Stevens died in 1900 Selsdon Park was purchased by brewer Wickham Noakes who lived here until his death in 1923. He was renowned for the annual shoot he held in Selsdon Woods in celebration of his birthday. Noakes left no successors and the sale of the estate, and also that of Heathfield due to the owner's bankruptcy, led to Selsdon being developed for housing, hitherto still isolated and rural.
In 1924 Selsdon Park was purchased by Allan Doble Sanderson, a London businessman and racing driver, who converted the mansion into a 23-bedroom hotel, which he had enlarged by architect Hugh Macintosh in neo-Jacobean style. Selsdon Park Hotel opened on 1 July 1926, and guests were offered tennis, croquet, billiards, dancing and the wireless among the amenities. The hotel was enlarged further in ensuing years and today has 200 rooms. In 1929 Sanderson had a golf course laid out by J H Taylor on the 200 acres of parkland, which has altered little since then. Taylor, who had won the Open Championship five times, had previously designed Purley Downs Golf Course. Selsdon Park Golf Club closed in 1986 at which time the course reverted to sole use by hotel guests.
Selsdon came to national attention in 1970 when the hotel was the venue for the Conservative Shadow Cabinet's pre-election 15-hour policy discussion. The Sanderson family owned the hotel until 1997, when it was purchased by Principal Hotels, since when it has been considerably refurbished. There are many fine trees surviving from the C19th such as those following the site boundary. The garden area to the south-east of the hotel retains the bones of garden layout shown on the 1890 OS map in terms of path structure, terraces and some of the planting. On the lawn is a fine Cedar and other specimen trees, and the garden has ornamental shrubs, yew and beech hedges and some flowerbeds. Stone steps lead down to level areas and a fountain marked on the 1890 OS has been replaced by a blue glass reinforced concrete 'pond' with topiary box shrub in the centre. Part of what may have been the wall to a former kitchen garden also remains.
Neals Seats of Noblemen 1821; Bourne Society, Local History Records 1980; Brayley, History of Surrey; Joy Gadsby (ed) 'Village Histories, 3: Sanderstead (including Selsdon)', The Bourne Society, 1998; M A Winterman, 'Croydon, an illustrated history', 1988; LB Croydon, 'Local List of Historic Parks & Gardens', December 2008