History of the area

The history of the area surrounding Selsdon Woods can be traced back hundreds of years. In the 1950s Mr. R.I. Little excavated a Romano-British settlement in nearby Kings Wood, half a mile to the south-west. A small farmstead and cemetery were discovered which had been undisturbed for 2000 years. Pottery found there indicated occupation from the middle of the first century to the middle of the second century A.D.

The section of Old Farleigh Road on the south west border of Selsdon Woods is an Iron Age track way to the Sussex ironfields via Farleigh, Titsey and Limpsfield Common, and in Kings Wood Mr. Little discovered 46 dene holes or depressions, thought to be marl pits. One 10 foot shaft contained Iron Age pottery. There are many lineal earthworks, which may be ancient field boundaries, similar to the mound and ditch which forms the Addington Boundary in Selsdon Woods.

The name of Selsdon means Seli's Hill. This is confirmed in 'The Place Names Of Surrey ' (1934) and endorsed by place name authority Dr Margaret Gelling in her 'Place Names in the Landscape ' (1984). We do not know who Seli was or when he lived, but possibly he may have been a Jute, as in the very earliest days Selsdon was part of Kent. In those days Kent was divided in to Lathes or districts, running east to west and each roughly of the same size. The easternmost lathe is only half the size of the others and originally was based on a vill at Wallington. However, sometime in the seventh or eighth centuries, the eastern half of this lathe was either conquered or purchased by Surrey, and this included Selsdon.

c870

Sometime in the eighth century the See of Canterbury acquired two Surrey manors, one of which was Croydon. Croydon must have become important as a minster church was established . About this time the manor was leased to Ealdorman Alfred for life. He was probably the local governor but he made a will, which is still held in the British Library and has at times been on display.  In his will he gave some of his property to his wife Waerburh - 32 hides in Sanderstead  and Selsdon, as well as other property. This is the first recorded mention of Selsdon.

1086/7

The Croydon entry in the Domesday Book states that Archbishop Lanfranc holds Croydon in lordship. It also states that Restald hold 7 hides of this manor from the Archbishop. This probably relates to the detached part of Croydon we know as Selsdon. 

There are one or two references to Selsdon in a few medieval documents. In 1193 there is a reference to a parcel of land known as Wodesmannewood. There are also references to some owners of land in Selsdon such as Robert de Sanford, a Knight Templar in 1247  and in 1395 William Doo and his wife Matilda acquired some land in Selsdon.

A Surrey taxation returm of 1332 survives and has been transcribed and printed. It is a complete roll of taxation of personal property for Surrey. There were 12 taxpayers in Selsdon. and they are listed together on how much tax they had to pay.  The total tax due from Selsdon was 17s 3d ( Sanderstead was 53s. 9d, Warlingham 51s)  Reginald Aleyn paid the most in Selsdon  - 3.s 4d, but  we are not told which pieces of land each person leased or owned.  There is a hint that the population of Selsdon might have been affected by the Black Death, which occurred 17 years later
 
1492

This is the year Christopher Columbus set sail across the Atlantic to 'discover' the New World. It is also the year that Archbishop Morton of Canterbury instituted a terrier or survey to be carried out to ascertain those people in the parish of Croydon  who paid quitrent to the Lord of the Manor  - himself. It wasn't the first such survey in Croydon, but it is the earliest still in existence. It disappeared  for many years but  came on to the antiquarian book market in 1923 for £52 10s, and Croydon Library were able to purchase it. Clarence Paget transcribed the document shortly afterwards and so any  references are taken from his transcription.

After walking or riding round Croydon the surveyor crossed over into Selsdon, travelling down almost to Hamsey Green, before turning  back to Old Town, He seems to have looked at each field on his left, in turn. As far as Selsdon was concerned there were still four common fields _ Northfield, East Field, Grotten Field and West Field. These were still divided into long parallel strips each cultivated by different tenants with crops but after each harvest the fields would have been in common use as pasture, subject to customs laid down by the manor.  By this time some consolidation of the strips had  been going on and some areas, not owned by the archbishop were excluded, such as the fields close to Selsdon Farm (now the hotel). For each field the surveyor noted the total acreage, the number of strips, the acreage of each, the name of the copyholder or lessee, and how much quitrent was due. Strips could be sold.  As far as Selsdon Wood is concerned this is the earliest record:-
SPICERS WOOD - 62 acres - Geoffrey Ownstead owned 48 acres and there were only two other tenants.
GROTTEN FIELD - 110 acres - Geoffrey Ownstead 67 acres Thos Wodden 27 acres.    This field contained SOUTHEDEN and means the Great Field. A Mr Burstow of Horley had a 2 acre strip.
 
Two later terriers survive; in the second one of 1543 Spicers Wood appears as Roberts Brome. But this does indicate that the area in Selsdon Wood where the wood anemones proliferate is an indication of ancient woodland

Origins of Selsdon Wood

Selsdon Wood was once part of the Selsdon Park estate. Selsdon was within the parish of Croydon from medieval times and was part of land owned by the Archbishops of Canterbury. From at least the 16th century Selsdon was largely divided between two farms, Selsdon Farm in the north (now Selsdon Park Hotel) and Ballards Farm in the south. Henry Ownstead, whose brother John owned Sanderstead Manor, held Selsdon Farm in 1584, and it remained in his family until 1660. It was then sold to Henry Bowyer, whose family held the land until the 18th century.

(Source - http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.asp?ID=CRO077)

1762

Rocque’s map of Surrey shows Selsdon Farm. The triangle in the centre of the map encloses our Wood. The buildings are situated where the Selsdon Park Hotel and Croydon High School currently stand and the adjacent triangle of land is predominantly woodland with fields to the southern tip and northern edge. There does not appear to be any settlement in Selsdon at this time apart from the farm although ‘hamlets’ are shown at Sanderstead, Addington and Farley.

1800

The Bainbridge map of 1800 (see extract right) shows ‘Croydon Crook’ including an area marked as Selsdon Wood and several other recognisable place names such as David’s Crook, Green Hill and Ashen Grove. One of the most notable differences from the present map is the absence of the plantation, Steven’s Larch (see 1890 below) and the other wooded strips that now break up what was Great Field Hill.

The area marked as Broad Field is now The Gorses and it is clear that this area was not wooded at that time.

Around this time there was a local naturalist living in the area called James Dickson. He was a bryophyte specialist and many of his drawings of mosses may have been based on specimens collected in our wood. See  this linked page for more information about him.

1800 - 1890

The estate comprising Selsdon Park, Selsdon Farm and Selsdon Woods was purchased by William Coles in 1809 but when he became bankrupt a year later it was sold to George Smith*, an MP, banker and director of the East India Company. The land was owned by the Smith family for most of the 19th century. 

Smith transformed the farm house into a mansion (later to become the Selsdon Park Hotel) 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. 

There is little information about how the estate was managed but the woods would have been used for shooting and the fields probably as meadow or pasture as there is no indication that the land has been ploughed and the soil quality is too poor to support crops. 

In 1883 the Corporation of Croydon was created as part of Local Government changes and “Croydon Crook’ became part of the Urban District of Coulsdon and Purley.

* George Smith (30 April 1765 – 26 December 1836) was a British Member of Parliament, banker and director of the East India Company. He was the fifth son of Abel Smith, a wealthy Nottingham banker, also an MP, and four of his brothers were also MPs. Smith entered Parliament in 1791 as member for Lostwithiel, and also represented Midhurst and Wendover in a parliamentary career spread over forty years. He was married to Frances Mary Mosley, daughter of Sir John Parker Mosley, 1st Baronet and they had 9 sons and 6 daughters. His memorial is in All Saints Church, Sanderstead.

see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Smith_%281765%E2%80%931836%29


The photo above shows Old Farleigh Road (then called Selsdon Hill) - looking towards Selsdon. The cottage, Cosy Cottage, is still there at the junction of Kingswood Way and the white gate on the right is where the entrance to the Selsdon Wood car park now is. The exact date of the photograph is not known but the lack of development of smallholdings in what is now Selsdon Vale means that it is pre 1918. (Many thanks to Dick Adamson for this photograph.)

1890 - 1923

In 1890 Selsdon Park and farmlands (679 acres) was sold by Mabel Greville (George Smith's great-granddaughter) to  William Stevens, a printer and publisher of a popular magazine The Family Herald. He is remembered for creating the plantation of conifers, Steven's Larch. On his death, nine years later the estate was sold to Wickham Noakes, a brewer, under a mortgage that remained until his death in 1923. During this period there was a grand shoot each year in November to mark Noakes’ birthday and a gamekeeper, William Westall, was employed to manage the land for shooting. Around this time Ordnance Survey maps show a ‘Pheasantry’ (where the young birds were raised) on the estate, situated on the western side of Old Farleigh Road, probably close to where Ravenshead Close now lies.

1923 - 1925

On the death of Noakes, in 1923, the estate was broken up with A. E. Cresswell purchasing the land that makes up most of the present Selsdon Wood. The map (above) extracted from the conveyance document is strikingly similar to the current map (although the orientation is different) and includes Selsdon Wood, Greenhill Shaw, Hillocks Wood, Broom Wood, Broom Shaw, The Gorses, Stevens Larch and four fields. However, Broom Shaw and Puplet Wood which are outside the boundaries of the present Nature reserve were also included at that time.

Of the remainder of the original estate, 200 acres of parkland and the Selsdon Park buildings were sold to A D Sanderson and became a hotel, and the Surrey Garden Village Trust (founded in 1920) purchased 300 acres including Ashen Vale and Selsdon Vale. This land was to be divided into smallholdings for sale to ex-servicemen from WW1. Although only one house was to be built on each plot the destruction of the original woodland had begun and in 1926 the Trust began a movement to protect and preserve the Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve before it was all given over to building land.

1925

An Appeal was launched in 1925 to raise £3210 to purchase Selsdon Wood as a “Proposed Nature Reserve and Bird Sanctuary’. Ownership of the land was to be vested in the National Trust (founded in 1895) with the Corporation of Croydon and the Urban District Council of Coulsdon and Purley jointly holding the wood on a 999 year lease and undertaking responsibility for its maintenance. In order to prevent the land being sold before the money could be raised a group of philanthropists contracted to buy 126 acres of the most heavily wooded section on the north east of the site. These were Sir Lawrence Wonsloy Chubb, Miss Alice Mabel Bonus, Miss Winfred Mary Hudson, Mr Ernest Alfred Earl and Mr Malcolm Grahame Sharpe.

In 1930 there was a further appeal - see the leaflet below - to raise £3000 to purchase the remaining part of the current reserve - a further 73 acres. A map was produced as part of this, which is remarkably similar to the present Selsdon Wood 1930 (right). This shows the land on option, Sections III and IV, which include most of the fields, Greenhill Shaw, Hillocks Wood and Broom Wood. The map bears the initials MGS and was thus presumably produced by Malcolm Grahame Sharpe.


(A shelter dedicated to the memory of Malcolm Sharpe - see 1973 below - stood in David's Crook until 2008 when it was burnt down by vandals. The wreck was cleared by LB Croydon the following year. The Friends are trying to find out more about Malcolm Sharpe. Watch this space for further information.)

1928

This boundary marker - which reads 'Croydon Borough 1928' can still be seen in the wood. It is set into a bank of flint marking the borough boundary which appears as a dashed line on the Appeal map on the south eastern side of Court Wood (Section 1)
. One visitor to the woods recalled 'beating the bounds' as a choirboy 50+ years ago. We would be interested to  hear more about this and about the significance of the date 1928 on the marker.

1935

As the appeal of 1930 had still not reached it's target, a group of local residents came up with a novel idea to raise further funds. They produced the Selsdon Wood Quotation Calendar. Residents paid 1/- to have their favourite quotations included and these were set out week by week on a separate page. Mr Hector Hutt prefaced each month with a brief paragraph of nature notes in italics.

The front cover is shown here and the 1930 appeal map (shown above) was used for the back inside cover.

The Calendar was priced at one shilling and 750 copies were sold raising £24.

One copy of the Calendar still exists and the owner, Ted Frith, has generously allowed it to be scanned for inclusion here. The high definition file is very large (40MB) but a 1.7MB version, which is still readable, is available from the link below. If you would like a high definition copy please get in touch with the Friends and we will be glad to supply it.

1935 Selsdon Wood Quotation Calendar



Another leading light in the campaign to purchase the wood for posterity was local self-taught naturalist, Arthur Beadell. He corresponded regularly with Malcolm Sharpe in the course of the project. Amongst this correspondence was his recommendation of a Chelsham man, Robert Barnes, for the post of Senior Keeper of Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve and Bird Sanctuary. He was appointed on 27th April 1936 on a weekly wage of £3. (This information comes from Brian Thomas and is given in his Chapter 18 in The Bourne Society Village Histories 8 - see the link for an extract.)


Village Histories extract.pdf Village Histories extract.pdf
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1936

A Deed of Gift (right) was made in November 1935 in which the owners (see 1925 above) formally handed the land over to the National Trust. An official opening took place on 5th June 1936. The Lord Mayor of London, Sir Percy Vincent, (who lived in Purley)  planted a tree and over 250 guests attended the ceremony. Local Guides and Scouts provide a Guard of Honour and the Band of the 3rd King’s Own Hussars sounded a fanfare of trumpets.

A Management Committee was established with 3 members from each of the local authorities and 3 from the National Trust and 2 new keepers were appointed. Increased regulation included the closure of private gates from smallholdings and bylaws banning horse-riding and an ongoing programme of maintenance work was begun, including repairs to fencing and paths and coppicing.

At the official opening visitors were invited to inspect the Memorial Bird Pool “kindly presented by Col. H.S. Wood, I.M.S.and Mrs Wood, of Kensington”. It appears that Lieutenant-Colonel Wood first suggested putting up a Bird Bath and Drinking Fountain as a Memorial to himself and Mrs Wood in correspondence with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in 1930.

In the summer of 2015 the commemmorative plaque shown to the right was placed in Linden Glade by the FSW. The text engraved reads:

Lt. Colonel & Mrs H S Wood, who died in 1956, were major contributors to the purchase of Selsdon Wood.

They asked that this quotation from Henry Van Dyke’s poem ‘God of the Open Air’ be engraved on this rock:

These are the things we prize and hold of dearest worth:

The light of the sapphire skies, Peace of the silent hills,

Shelter of the forests, comfort of the grass,

Music of birds, murmur of little rills.

Henry Van Dyke

They also asked for this inscription to be added:

We dearly loved the birds  

Be kind to them


The sandstone rock shows severe signs of wear. Please do not attempt to clean its surface. 

One of the Friends, Cecile Griggs has researched the life of Colonel HS Wood and the background to this donation. A pdf of her account can be downloaded from here. Lt Col H Wood and Selsdon Wood

The photograph shows the bird bath and pool in Linden Glade as it was in winter 1986 when it froze. The bath was originally fed by mains water but this was cut off some years ago as it was considered too expensive to maintain.

(Thanks to Adrian Steel for permission to use this image from his Flikr collection - see http://www.flickr.com/photos/ade46/3854915841/)

The War Years

During 1939-45 the Woods played their part in the War effort in several ways. In the spring of 1942 the Great Field was ploughed by the Surrey War Agricultural Committee, with the help of Italian prisoners of war. That area also served as a decoy for Biggin Hill airfield and dummy tanks were placed with their guns protruding from the trees.

Much heavy timber was taken during the War and in the summer of 1944 many of the trees in Stevens' Larch were cut for pit-props by the Ministry of Supply. Some replanting took place in 1948 and 1952.

1940

On 15th August 1940 bombs were jettisoned into the Wood  leaving craters. Several of these can still be seen throughout the Wood, the largest of which is probably the one in Steven's Larch near to the Centenary Plantation. The link below is to an eye witness account of this event by Andrew Harris.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/57/a4678257.shtml


All the bombs that fell in London between 7/10/1940 and 06/06/1941 have now been mapped and this map includes our wood see http://bombsight.org/?#14/51.3299/-0.0428.
  However, this period does not include August 1940 which may explain why the many hollows toward the centre of the wood (that I have always assumed to be bomb craters) are not marked on this map.

1950s

In 2015 the FSW received a communication from Chris Jennings who was a  child in the 1950s living in a road called Selsdon Vale which flanked Vale Border. This was before the Selsdon Vale estate was built.

He recalled playing in Selsdon Wood and escaping from the two keepers (who carried shotguns) through a hole he had dug under the fence.

Click here to read the full memoir.

A further memoir was sent in by Steve Glover in 2016. He too had lived in Selsdon vale in the 50's where his father kept pigs and chickens on a smallholding called Ifra Tors. This provides another snapshot of a life very different from that of children today. Steve obtained a 1956 OS map of the area showing Ilfra Tors (grid ref 623/361). He estimates that the present day Goldfinch Road, Peacock Gardens and Lapwing Close now border the land. 

Click here for Steve's memoir.

The map is attached below in two formats. The first is the full map and the second shows it as two separate pages but is a little sharper.Depending on your browser you may need to download the first map to rotate it to the correct orientation.

Ilfra Tors 1956 OS Map.pdf Ilfra Tors 1956 OS Map.pdf
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1958 Map.pdf 1958 Map.pdf
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1957

A shelter hut was erected in David's Crook in 1957. It had a thatched roof and rustic looking external walls of split larch, boarded internally to cover the timer framing. The north west side of the shelter was open and along the other 3 sides fixed seating was provided . The cost was met from moneys held by the National Trust for the Malcolm Sharpe Memorial Fund. 

The shelter bore a small plaque on the inside back wall bearing the following inscription:

THIS SHELTER WAS BUILT
IN 1957 BY 
THE NATIONAL TRUST
IN MEMORY OF
MALCOLM SHARPE
1869-1948

The shelter burned down some time in the next 15 years and was replaced in 1973 by a brick structure - see below.

This information comes from an article in the Selsdon Gazette, September 1962, written by Douglas Thornton. (The full article is available from the link below.) The same article reports that there were 2 drinking fountains in the wood at that time, one near the hut in David's Crook and the other near the Yew Tree Way gate. The remains of the David's Crook fountain are still there and the plinth that held the Yew Tree Way fountain is still there beside the gate.

In May 2017 I received the following responses to requests for more information about the fountains:

from Alan Underwood:

The fountain that was once inside Yew Tree Gate was installed on 25th March 1957. It was one of several thousand installed by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough Association with contributions from the Addington Smallholders during 1956. It would have looked like one of these: http://www.mdfcta.co.uk/fountains_156.html

from Richard Thomas:

With reference to the May 2017 newsletter article:-The History of Selsdon Wood, I lived close to Selsdon Wood and approached it from Selsdon Park Road via ‘Pigs Alley’ for a number of years entering via the Yew Tree Way gate which overnight was locked. The drinking fountain was an elaborate stone structure that you stood up to and caught the spout of water in your mouth. It was positioned a few feet to the left close to the sign board as you entered the gate. I was 14 years of age in 1957 and lived weekends and holidays in a part of the Sanctuary our group regarded as their own. The water provision was very useful for us but failed to provide water for very long. It suffered worsening vandalism and was removed at some point.

My connections with Selsdon Wood came when we moved from wartime accommodation in the Black Mountains of Herefordshire to our new home on Monks Hill Estate. My father was born and brought up in Shirley and came to know these woodland areas well as a youth and older. I have always retained a great admiration for woodlands and whilst living in the area used the Sanctuary and Littleheath Woods as my play/exploration area and as a sanctuary for my thoughts since then.
A point of potential interest told to me by my father was that the first live radio broadcast of a nightingale singing was recorded from Selsdon Woods. I wonder if this is correct?

However, the link below seems to suggest that it wasn’t actually our wood - although it was pretty close in Oxted.
https://blog.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/from-nightingale-to-narcissus/ 
Of course I don’t know how reliable this is but it does seem pretty detailed and if they really did need all that setting up it would have been easier in a garden than in a wood.


Gazette September 1962.pdf Gazette September 1962.pdf
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1962

The same article from the Selsdon Gazette reports that:

"During the nesting and flowering season it is not feasible to allow unrestricted access but at other times the public are free to roam at will. There are several miles of sheltered footpaths, most of which are always open to the public."

The article also gives this report of the management carried out in 1961/2.

"The Management Committee have met on two occasions during the past year, one of these being their annual visit to the wood in May.

Two full time keepers are employed; in addition to normal patrolling they control the number of pests, and during the past year the following have been destroyed:-
Foxes, 43; Grey Squirrels, 101; Jays, 43; Magpies, 37; Crows, 6; Pigeons, 41; Stoats, 2; Weasels, 6; Rabbits, 137.

The Wood is well used by the public, organised bodies and parties of school children in the charge of school teachers. Assistance and encouragement is given to organised parties to visit the Wood, and keepers are notified of any such visits.

A car park for use by visitors to the Wood is being constructed near the 'Greenhill' gate entrance on the Old Fareligh Road frontage."


1960 - 1972

Selsdon Vale and Forestdale estates were built. Town Planning regulations stipulated that a buffer of open space should be left to protect the woods. The area on the Selsdon Vale side, Fox Shaw, (see map below) is 150 feet wide and has been acquired by the local authority although it is outside the boundary fence of the wood and is not part of the National Trust property. On the Forestdale side the ‘open space’ is now mainly formed by the gardens of the adjoining properties although a strip of woodland beside the bridleway to the north has been purchased by local residents but left as unfenced woodland.

In 1965 the reorganisation of Local Government amalgamated the two councils into the London Borough of Croydon. Demand for timber in wartime and post war building had resulted in many areas of the wood being reduced to a scrubby thicket with poor tree coverage and consequent limited wildlife. A complete survey was undertaken by the new authority and replanting was recommended.

The first section was replanted in 1969. Over the next 25+ years beech, oak, sweet chestnut, larch and Norway spruce were planted throughout the wood with the coniferous planting mainly in the early years.

To maintain the flower rich chalk grasslands, the five meadows were cut annually by a local farmer who was paid for the work by keeping the hay for his animals. This photograph entitled 'Taking a Hay Crop from One of the Meadows' comes from a book called "Croydon Parks - an Illustrated History".

1973

A brick shelter was built in the south eastern corner of David's Crook to replace a rustic thatched shelter that was burnt down. Like it's predecessor, the shelter was  dedicated to the memory of Malcolm Sharpe (see 1925 and 1957 above). It stood until 2008 when it too was burnt down by vandals. The wreck was cleared by LB Croydon the following year.


Illustration by David E Holmes originally published in LB Croydon Parks Department Woodland Ramble (1980 Revised Edition)

1974

The LB Croydon Parks Department published a map in 1974 showing the areas newly planted since 1968. These included Steven's Larch, Greenhill Shaw, the Gorse area and the region near the Gorses on the other side of The Wend. The map also shows 3 Special Sanctuaries and the new housing developments surrounding the wood with the Fox Shaw buffer zone marked.

1977

The Jubilee Plantation was created to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. This includes oak and beech and was funded and planted by the Croydon Girl Guides.

(See Areas of Special Interest page for photographs and more information about the Jubilee, Maruje Dale, and Centenary Plantations.)

In the same year LB Croydon Parks Department published a pamphlet 'Woodland Ramble' describing a walk through a number of the local parks and woods including a section on Selsdon Wood.

1979

The Maruje Dale Plantation was created by a group of young people on a Youth Opportunities Scheme organised by Gordon Alexander of Croydon Council Parks Department. The name of the plantation was made up from the names of those who took part. During their training they covered coppicing and maintenance work and they were taught how to make benches and bird boxes with the wood. New trees were also planted - mainly beech.

The plantation was protected by rabbit-proof fencing but a gateway was made for badgers to allow access along their well used tracks between the set and feeding grounds. This had a sprung gate, heavy enough to prevent the entry of rabbits but allow the larger, stronger badgers to pass freely.

Badger Gateway Illustration by M.J Currie originally published in LB Croydon Parks Department Woodland Ramble (1980 Revised Edition)

1983

The Centenary Plantation was created to commemorate the centenary of Croydon Council. One hundred English Oaks and Birch trees were planted with the intention that the Birch would be felled when the Oak had matured.

The scheme was originated by Croydon Councillor, Dudley Mead and was paid for by public subscription by Selsdon residents. In Selsdon library there is a book containing the names of all who subscribed (£5 per tree - quite a lot in 1983).

There was a planting ceremony attended by the then Mayor, Councillor Peggy Campbell, and the member of Parliament for Croydon South, the Rt Hon Sir William Clark (both now deceased).

1986

Three oaks were planted by the Mayor of Croydon in the Southern corner of David's Crook to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Official Opening. A plaque marks the site.

This photograph of the event (right) was originally published in the Croydon Advertiser. Many thanks to them for permission to use this image.

1987

This piece from the Croydon Advertiser of January 1987 highlights another contribution from a volunteer group - The National Trust Activities Group. It is not known for how long this continued but there was no long term voluntary activity in the wood in 1987.

At this time two keepers were employed and their duties included patrolling, pest control, care of toilets and car park, as well as forestry.

1988 - 2002 Croydon Country Show

The first Forestry Show, as it was then called, was held in The Great Field. The purpose was to show off the Council's new equipment and to explain what actions the Council were taking after the storm of 1987 that had brought down so many trees
The show continued as an annual event, later called the Country Show, until 2002. Over the years it grew enormously with even fairground rides in the later years. However it  became product of it’s own success, growing too big for the site. There were safety concerns over access for emergency services, traffic and parking problems, the risk of damage to the environment from so much heavy equipment and escalating costs so it was decedied that there should be no further shows after 2002.
 
The bear that stands beside the car park was carved in the first year (1988) as a spectator event during the show. It was carved by a local tree surgeon, Selwyn Smith who now lives in Wales.

The link below is to an article by Roger Yates, the Show Organiser, which gives much more detail. This was published in the September  2016 issue of The Selsdon Gazette.
The Croydon Country Show.pdf The Croydon Country Show.pdf
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1996

A booklet, ‘Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve - An Illustrated History’ was published to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Opening of Selsdon Woods in 1936. Most of the maps and other illustrations on this page are taken from this booklet.

2003 - Founding of SWAG

A support group, SWAG, the Selsdon Wood Action Group, was set up. The constitution was drafted at meeting on 8th November 2003 following an inaugural meeting held possibly in September/ October that year.

SWAG notice boards were put up at Kingfisher Gardens and Quail Gardens gates. (These had rotted and fallen off by 2015 when they were replaced by new FSW boards.)

It is not known for how long SWAG was in action. Please get in touch if you can tell us more.

SWAG Constitution.pdf SWAG Constitution.pdf
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2007 - FSW

The Friends of Selsdon Wood was founded by Dawn Gibbons (who had also been involved with SWAG, which had folded. The inaugural meeting was held on 12th November at the Julian Huxley, Selsdon. The event was attended by 12 people including Ernie Thomason, the Park Ranger, Meike Weiser, the Community Partnership Officer and Sara Bashford, the Selsdon Councillor responsible for Woods. There was also a representative of Selsdon Residents Association attending. At this meeting it was agreed to set up a Friends group to maintain and promote the wood.

2010

The Friends of Selsdon Wood obtained grants to purchase name boards for the woodland paths - £500 from the London Tree & Woodland Grant Scheme and £500 from the Selsdon Residents Association. The Friends added £75 to allow the first two phases of the project to get under way. For more information and photos see the Projects page.

The FSW also did some clearance work in the Jubilee Plantation and planted 250 mixed whips. For a full account see the Areas of Interest page.

2011

The 75th Anniversary of the opening of Selsdon Wood as a National Trust Nature Reserve was celebrated with a charcoal burn over the weekend of June 3rd, 4th and 5th. A similar event was held in May 2012. Details of these charcoal burns can be found on the Events page.

2012

On 3rd March groups of Brownies and Rainbows planted 60 trees in the Jubilee Plantation to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. See Areas of Interest page for photographs and more information about this event.

2013

On 7th August the Friends of Selsdon Wood installed a new seat at the top of Green Hill, donated to commemorate the establishment of the FSW in 2007. We also attached a lost property box to the notice board
in the car park.

A dedicated bench was also installed this summer in Field 2 in memory of Heather Creamer, a lover of Selsdon Wood, who died in December 2012.
 

2014

In the summer of 2014 Croydon Council installed raised banks around the car park area. These are called soil bunds and replace the wooden posts that had largely rotted away. Their purpose is to prevent the possibility of invasion of the woods by travellers or other vehicles. They are better deterrents than posts (which can fairly easily be knocked down by a determined intruder) and are also a more permanent solution to the problem. They looked a bit messy when first built but they soon grassed over and in future years will be mown at the same time as the field paths to keep them neat.

The photograph shows the soil bund on 16/8/14 - only 2 weeks after completion and seeding.

2015 February

The Council installed two new bins in the car park - part of a programme of renewal of 130 bins borough wide. These have no separate slot for dog poo - it all goes in together - and there is a cigarette stubber on the top. It is hoped that the slot is narrow enough to prevent the dumping of household waste and to stop foxes raiding the bins and spreading mess. So far this has proved to be the case.

2014 - 2015

In 2014/15 FSW undertook the renovation of the notice boards at the 6 entrances to Selsdon Wood. They had been up for 20 years or so and contained out-of-date information and had also been damaged by graffiti. Although the boards were Council owned they were unable to fund any work on them in the current financial climate. The FSW were able to obtain grants to cover most of the cost and in February 2015 the first completed new board was erected in the car park. The  project had taken 18 months. For a full report see the Projects page.

2015 March

On 25th March we had some unwelcome visitors - 3 travellers' caravans in the car park, It was reported to the police and Council who were aware of them as they had previously been in Selsdon rec. then Selsdon Park Hotel staff car park. They were moved on by bailiffs on 27th March. They had made a bit of a mess but it was  cleared by the following day by Council contractors and the FSW.

2015 April 28th

A height barrier was installed at the entrance to the car park by Croydon Council to try to prevent any further invasion by travellers. This was part of a programme of similar installations throughout the borough.


2015 Eight New Benches

During the month of April five new benches were installed in the wood by the FSW. Two were to replace old benches that were rotten and three were dedicated benches in new locations. The latter comprised benches dedicated to the memory of woodsman Rob Sowter and to Janet Bickerstaff (a founder member of the FSW), both presented by the FSW, and a bench for G G Lewis presented by his friends and family. For more details and photographs see the Projects page.

A further 3 dedicated benches were installed in the autumn of 2015 to commemorate the lives of  Michael Boyd, Vera May Cannon and Jan Stupes Martin. All were presented by the families of the deceased. Full details can be found on the Seats page.

2015 June

In June 2015 new nesting boxes and plaques were installed by FSW. These included bird and bat boxes made by Jim Dunning and plaques in Linden Glade (see 1936 above) and The Gorses.

The old SWAG (Selsdon Wood Appreciation Group) notice board at the Kingfisher Gardens gate was replaced with a new board for the FSW notices and a similar board was sited at the Quail Gardens gate. (See 2003 above for more about SWAG.)

2015 August - Redecoration of the Toilet Block

Contractors for the Council started work on this on Saturday 22nd August 2015 and by Tuesday 1st September the internal work was completed. All internal walls were painted white, the floors resurfaced in grey and external doors painted green. The door to the Ladies was replaced as it was very rotten at the base. FSW had to move out of our store to allow it to be painted and all our resources were relocated temporarily to the garage. They were returned to the store on 3rd September.

On completion of the work the FSW applied to Croydon Council for a licence to make use of the "mess room" which had been largely unused since there ceased to be a full time warden. Thanks to funding from the local Councillors' Ward Budget we purchased a display board which is installed in the mess room and bears a series of displays linked to events and walks. These displays also include a "museum" of items found in the wood such a the skulls of various mammals.

2016 May - FSW win Community Woodland Award 

The Friends of Selsdon Wood were delighted to receive an award from the Forestry Commission for being a community group that works effectively to protect and develop London's trees and woodland. The group was nominated by Mathew Frith of London Wildlife Trust and attended an event at London City Hall on 26th May 2016 to receive the award.

Click this link for full details of the nomination and an account of the ceremony.  

2016 - FSW Restoration of Linden Glade 

In 2016 the FSW held several additional workdays to clear and restore the pond in Linden Glade and to create a wooden henge to replace the broken down fence. Full details of this work with photographs can be found on the Projects page.

2016/2017 - FSW Muddy Puddles Project

In the autumn/winter of 2016-17 the FSW laid woodchip and gravel to impprove the quality of many paths and get rid of the worst muddy puddles. Full details of this work with photographs can be seen on the Projects page.

2016/2017 - Council Woodland Management Work

In the autumn-winter of 2016-17 Council Contractors undertook a substantial amount of felling and clearing in The Wend, Leafy Grove and West Gorse. See the Management page for further details.

This attracted much negative comment from users of the wood at the time - and indeed the state of the paths was grim after contractors vehicles had ploughed them up.

However the following spring the newly opened up rides were resplendent with bluebells and very pleasant places to walk in the spring sunshine - see photograph.

2017 Toilet Block Repair

In the winter of 2016-17 a burst pipe in the roof of the toilet block brought down the ceilings in the Ladies and Gents and damp cause substantial peeling of paint and growth of mould. This was repaired in the summer of 2017.

Ted Frith has written an article, The History of Selsdon Wood Up to 1945, which gives more detail than we have provided on this page. He has generously made it available to us and a copy may be downloaded from here.

The History of Selsdon Wood Up to 1945 by Ted Frith

Janet Bickerstaff wrote a Project in 1986 for the Open University Changing Countryside Course on the History and Management of Selsdon Woods. She has kindly given permission for us to publish this and a copy may be downloaded from here.

History and Management of Selsdon Woods

See also the page on Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve History from the LB Croydon Leisure and Culture website:

http://www.croydon.gov.uk/leisure/parksandopenspaces/parksatoz/selsdonwood/swnrhistory