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.


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.


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

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)


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.


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. 

Thomas Langford was the tenant of Selsdon Park Farm from the mid 1870s until sometime between 1891 and 1895. 

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.)

The photos below show a slightly later date as the road is metalled. These are taken from opposite directions with Selsdon Wood to the left of the top photo in the distance and to the right of the road in the bottom photo. Note that the top photo is captioned "Selsdon Hill" and the bottom one "Farleigh Road". (Many thanks to Richard Spurring for these photos.)

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.


On 22nd September 1917 an RAF pilot, 2nd Lieut. Arthur Parry Jones was killed when his plane crashed in, or close to, Selsdon Wood. 

Local historian, Ted Frith writes:

In September 1918 a young airman was killed when his plane crashed in the grounds of Selsdon Park. Second Lieutenant Arthur Parry Jones, a former estate agent's assistant, aged 19 from Colwyn Bay, was seen circling over the park one Sunday morning and firing apparently at a target. Frederick Belcher, who lived in the village, said when the machine was rather low down, it suddenly dived to the ground, where it was all smashed to pieces in the wood with the airman mixed up with the wreckage. 

(The article below is the report of the incident from the Croydon Times, 28th September 1918.)

This photograph of him was sent to FSW in 2018 by Alex Booth who asked whether we knew any more about the story. Sadly we do not, although we do understand that the land adjoining the southern end of the wood, now Elm Farm, was, at one time an airfield, which might explain what he was doing in this area. We are investigating the story and will post more here if we discover anything further.

FSW Member Steven Budd is looking into this further and reports:

The aircraft I believe Jones was flying when he died was a French Caudron G.III, probably an E2 single seat trainer version, widely used by the RAF at that time for that purpose - it was an unarmed recon design under French manufacture but the RAF put light machine guns on theirs (likely Lewis guns) for air gunnery practice. The photo shows a generic shot of the G.III as a two seat French aircraft - quite a sizeable thing. There's a preserved G.III in the RAF Museum at Hendon. Below is a record of his death on September 22, 1918 and where Jones was lain to rest. Second Lieutenant was the entry rank for the RFC at the time.

(Ted Frith tells of another crash which occurred one Saturday morning in September 1932 when a French freight plane  flying from Paris to Croydon in fog hit the trees on the crest of the hill by the hotel and crashed near the hotel. The pilot was killed and his mechanic seriously injured, An elderly man working in the greenhouse nearby had to fling himself on the ground to avoid glass falling all around him. It was Mr Belcher again!)


Machine Falls From Great Height

A sad fatal flying accident occurred on the borders of the borough on Sunday. Sec-Lieut A Parry Jones of the RAF was piloting a machine over Addington ay a great height,  when his machine crashed to earth, causing the instant death of the occupant. The aeroplane was smashed.

The deceased officer, whose home was at Colwyn Bay, was only nineteen years of age. His body was removed to Bandon Hill Cemetery, where an inquiry was conducted on Tuesday afternoon. 


The Coroner for the Reigate District (Mr M J Nightingale) held an inquiry, without a jury, at Bandon Hill Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon. 

The deceased airman was identified by a cigarette case which was found on him after the accident. It was stated that before joining the RAF the officer was an estate agent’s assistant.

Mr Willian Weetall of the Keeper’s Lodge, Selsdon Park, Selsdon told the coroner that at eleven on Sunday morning he observed an airman manoeuvring in circles. He turned round for a short while and all of a sudden there was a terrible crash. The aeroplane had fallen in Selsdon Wood. It was smashed to pieces and the pilot was dead.

The machine was seen to nose-dive by Frederick Belcher od Selsdon Villas, Selsdon. The witness said he heard firing which attracted his attention to the aeroplane. Whilst a gun was being fired the aeroplane dived straight to the ground.

Evidence concerning deceased’s  injuries were given by Captain Iveson Russell RAMC who said the officer was out with the machine for firing practice. In the fall deceased legs were fractured and his body and head were extensively injured, the face was badly mutilated in consequence of a portion of the aeroplane having penetrated it.

The Coroner returned a verdict of Accidental Death.

(Croydon Times, 28th September 1918)

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. In return for their wartime work these veterans, who had served King and Country, were entitled to a plot where they could make a living off the land. In practise the plots were too small, and the land unsuitable for growing crops.

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.

In 1925 it was reported that "All principal timber, both in Lady Grove and Court Wood, had been removed...". Therefore moves were quickly made to protect the remaining area before the whole area was developed. It was not easy to raise the interest and funds needed and a lot of publicity was necessary to promote the campaign. Letters were sent to the local and national press and an appeal brochure was produced, enclosing a donation slip. Organised guided tours of the Wood were advertised and donations came in from all sources.

Although originally aimed at preserving 16 acres, the success of the original appeal quickly raised the ambitions of the committee, to a total of just under the 200 acres held today. Having raised enough support to buy the land the committee then had to consider its future survival as an open space and its maintenance. One obvious custodian was "The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty". However, being voluntarily supported, The National Trust was unwilling to accept further responsibilities without appropriate endowment funds to cater for future maintenance.

The dilemma was resolved by the maintenance becoming the joint responsibility of the Croydon Corporation and the Urban District Council of Coulsdon and Purley, with ownership being vested in The National Trust. 

Second Subscription List.pdf Second Subscription List.pdf
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The initial 1925 appeal aimed to raise £3210 to purchase Selsdon Wood as a “Proposed Bird Sanctuary and Nature Reserve'. The map and appeal form are shown to the right. The list above shows the second tranche of subscribers - the initial list cannot be found.

The appeal attracted much interest as this collection of press reports and letters show.

The photograph below - showing Steven's Larch see from the Langford's Way edge of the Great Field - was published in The Times on Tuesday April 28th 1925. My scanner will not handle the full width so some text has been lost. The heading is BIRD SANCTUARY FOR SURREY: THE SELSDON WOOD SCHEME. and the full caption reads:

VIEW IN SELSDON WOOD NEAR CROYDON, where it is proposed to establish a nature reserve and bird sanctuary. An appeal is being made for funds to purchase 107 acres of land at a cost of a little over £3,000. The estate is 12 miles from London, close to a rapidly-developing urban district. A special article discussing the project appears on another page of The Times today. (I am trying to get hold of this article.)

The photograph below shows the same scene today (November 2017). The tallest larches can still be seen but those in the perimeter are now masked by broad-leaved trees (mostly Oak) that have grown up in the intervening 93 years. The scrubby nature of the grassland also makes a contrast with the fields today which are cut annually.

Saving Selsdon Wood - MG sharpe.pdf Saving Selsdon Wood - MG sharpe.pdf
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Under the terms of the appeal, 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 5 philanthropists, calling themselves the Selsdon Wood Preservation Society, contracted to buy 126 acres of the most heavily wooded section on the north east of the site. These were 

Sir Lawrence Wensley Chubb

Miss Alice Mabel Bonus

Miss Winfred Mary Hudson, 

Mr Ernest Alfred Earl and Mr Malcolm Grahame Sharpe. 

All their names are on the lease of 1935 - see below. 

Another character associated with the purchase was Arthur Beadell - as this extract from the Bourne Society (see right) shows. See the link below it for his articles about wildlife in the woods. This series of 3 articles was published in the Croydon Advertiser in 1927. The first one, Wild Flowers of the Woods, cites many species which have not been seen in the wood in recent years, although the Herb Paris is still to be found close to the old Yews in Court Wood.

In 2022 Janet Sharp did some research into these individuals to whom we owe so much. Her findings were published in the Selsdon Gazette and are linked to the names above. A full list of all the Saviours of Selsdon Wood (and their famous relatives) and also the dates of the recent Selsdon Gazette Articles that give more details is given here.

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. Amongst the donors were Sir Julian Huxley, a local resident after whom the Selsdon Wetherspoons is named - see https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pub-histories/england/london/the-sir-julian-huxley-selsdon

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 file below is a an obituary for Malcolm Sharpe published in the Selsdon Gazette in June 1948. This fulsome tribute shows his involvement in the protection of many other green spaces in the Selsdon & Sanderstead area in addition to his work for Selsdon Wood.  (Thanks to Ted Frith for supplying this.) The summary of his work in Selsdon is given with his photograph in this briefer obituary - below.

Mr Malcolm G Sharpe tribute.pdf Mr Malcolm G Sharpe tribute.pdf
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Beadell Wild Life Articles b&w.pdf Beadell Wild Life Articles b&w.pdf
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This boundary marker (left) - 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)
. This follows the current Addington Border path. On the Croydon website it is noted that Croydon "... was enlarged by taking in the parish of Addington in 1928" - see here - this is presumably the significance of the date on the markers which denote the new Croydon boundary. Two similar markers are to be found in Littleheath Wood.

Clearly this style of boundary marker was in use well before ours was posted to mark the merging of Addington & Croydon. A FSW Newsletter item in June 2020 prompted a member. Mike Griffiths to send us the photos of the two markers shown to the right of ours. The one dated 1888 is in Park Hill but a nearby plaque points out that this is not the original site. That dated 1901 is in Croham Hurst near the entrance to Croham Valley Road.

One visitor to the woods recalled 'beating the bounds' as a choirboy 50+ years ago. We would be interested to  hear more about this.


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.)

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This article (right) in the Scotsman Of Tuesday June 4 1935 reports on the completion of the project. The full page is available below - the article is at the bottom of column 4.

 It is not known why such a far-off publication should have an interest in Selsdon Wood.

The Scotsman Tuesday June 4 1935 p11.pdf The Scotsman Tuesday June 4 1935 p11.pdf
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On 5th July 1935 a lease was drawn up between the owners of the land (Sir Lawrence W Chubb and others - see 1925 above) and the Corporation of Croydon and the Coulsdon and Purley Urban District Council. This sold the leasehold of the wood to these two local councils on a 999 year lease at the yearly rate of one pound. Under the lease the councils agreed to appoint a management committee and undertake to:
(1) pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the land
(2) not build any roads or fell timber except such as consistent with good forestry
(3) not to make excavations or erect buildings except for the convenience of the public
(4) to keep the land as a nature reserve
(5) to keep the land open with public access
(6) to keep the woods properly coppiced in rotation
(7) to make bye-laws for the land in consultation with the National Trust.

(We only have up to p5 of this lease - if anyone knows of the whereabouts of the original - especially the additional pages, do please get in touch.)

1935 Lease 1.pdf 1935 Lease 1.pdf
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1935 Lease 2.pdf 1935 Lease 2.pdf
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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. On 5th June 1936 Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve and Bird sanctuary was offically opened by The Lord Mayor of London, Sir Percy Vincent, (who lived in Purley). Unfortunately the planned opening in the wood was cancelled as the paths were too muddy so the main event took pace at the Town Hall where 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. Later The Lord Mayor visited the wood and planted a tree as showing in the above photograph.

One of the major paths, Vincent Avenue, was named in honour of Sir Percy Vincent.

See the contemporary press report (right) for a full account.

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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. 

A sandstone rock was placed in front of the pool with a dedication and a poem but the years have eroded the surface so that it is barely readable  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 (chapter 6) 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 below left shows the pool in the 1950s when it was fenced and had an adjacent bird table. The fencing was stolen and later the replacement wood fencing knocked down by dog walkers who thought the dogs should have some water source.

(Thanks to Pete and Denise Newbold - via John Zareba - for this photo.) 

The one below right 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/)

It is not known what happened to the original cairn, perhaps it was damaged. The cairn behind the pool today was constructed in 1991 (probably from many of the same stones). It was built by Bob Sales and Roger Courtman by order of Richard Edwards from the Council. Their names are on a small etching at the back of the cairn - see photo right.
The original water supply to the pool used lead pipe which also supplied the, now defunct, drinking fountain and dog trough in David's Crook. By 1991 the use of lead had long been banned for drinking water and most plumbing purposes, hence the copper pipe extension in the cairn.

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.


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.


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.


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 photograph above shows Steve Glover on the land in the late 50s. It was supplied by Steve in 2020.
In 2023 I heard from Steve again:
I have just come across Angela’s - my late elder sister - poem which she wrote in 1976 (having emigrated to America in the mid ‘60s), 5 years after the passing of my mother and 17 years after my father died. It’s her reminiscences of our family pig and poultry farm called Ilfra-tors in Selsdon Vale, where we happily lived together from 1952 when my father retired from The Royal Marines up until his sudden death at the farm in 1959. I remember the valley in which it was set and the glorious surrounding countryside which formed part of the ‘Green Belt’ at the time (meaning the land was protected and could never be built upon - somewhat ironic as things subsequently turned out). Not long afterwards, the farm and land were sold and all of it disappeared under the present day ‘Bird Housing Estate’ off Old Farleigh Road by Selsdon Wood.”
The lovely poem, so powerfully evocative of the life they knew, is included below.
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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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 timber 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.(See 1925 above for more about Malcolm Sharpe.)

The photograph above is believed to be the original shelter. It was supplied by Clive Ford who told us it was taken by his father in the 1960s.  A caption on the back reads: 'Advertiser Centenary Photographic Competition. Photo entitled "Selsdon Bird Sanctuary" Submitted by Mr R W Ford, 55 Queenhill Road, Selsdon Near South Croydon Surrey'. The competition was held to mark the centenary year of the Croydon Advertiser.

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

IN 1957 BY 

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.
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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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. On the North-East edge of the wood the a 200ft strip of woodland beside the bridleway is owned by Brookscroft Woodlands Ltd (a consortium of Brookscroft residents) and the adjacent section, owned by Cascades Management, is mostly lawn.

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".


A brick shelter was built in the south eastern corner of David's Crook to replace the rustic thatched shelter that was burnt down (see 1957 above). 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)

The file below is a report by Tom Price of the on site meeting of the Selsdon Wood Management Committee. It was published in the Selsdon Gazette in August 1973. (Thanks to Ted Frith for supplying this.)


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.


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.


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)


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).


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 - see below.

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

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.


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 its 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 decided that there should be no further shows after 2002. (The photos in the gallery below were all taken by Selsdon resident Ray Rowsell at the final show in August 2002 and indicate what a massive event it had become.)
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 right 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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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.

Constitution of SWAG.pdf Constitution of SWAG.pdf
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2007 - FSW Founded

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.

The picture below shows the cover of the Selsdon Gazette of April 2008 with photos of the spring anemones in Selsdon Wood and the bluebells in King's Wood. The painting on the right is by Len Hazell.


In the summer of 2008 the FSW published our first newsletter - the Leaf Letter. It tells of the formation of the group and the first guided walk at bluebell time, led by Ernie Thomason who was the Park Ranger for the wood. An amazing 70 people attended the walk! The newsletter also provides dates for the diary including the first Open Day on 7th September.


Despite a very soggy start to the day, the Friends held a very successful first Open Afternoon in Selsdon Wood on Sunday 7th September. The event was visited and enjoyed by about 150 people - not only 'locals" but some visitors and helpers from outside the area too. The stalls set up by the library (story-time for the under 10s, badge making and Breathing Places) RSPB and the Badger Protection Society were well supported and the S Croydon Scouts kept everyone well provided with tea and scrumptious cakes. The Park ranger led two walks for those who wanted to find out more about the flora and fauna of the wood.

The Friends stall had a display of what they had achieved so far, copies of the newsletter (which has also been displayed on SRA notice boards) and a prize draw. The prizes had been donated by some Friends and a few Selsdon businesses (JS Sainsbury, J D Wetherspoon, Gardencraft, Barclays Bank, Touche, Tudor Library and Aphrodite) for which support we are very grateful. Likewise, we thanks all those who purchased the draw tickets - we raised over £100 from this venture which we ill now decide how to spend to improve the Selsdon Wood environment.

We also recruited some new members to the group and we hope that others will join us as a result of seeing what we are doing. We welcome any new Friends to our monthly meetings or the work sessions in the Wood. The meetings are held on the last Monday of the month from 8-10 pm in the Forestdale Forum and the work sessions so far planned are to be held on the first Sunday of the next 3 months. If you would like to join us for these than please pay your subscription (£5 per family) so that you are covered by our insurance and then meet us in the main Selsdon Wood car park at 10.30 on Sunday 5th October, 2nd November and 7th December. We provide the basic tools but you need to bring your own protective clothing and shoes and some sandwiches and a flask to keep you going. We hope to work until about 2-2.30pm - more or less, rain or shine!! Latecomers will find us in the wood by listening for the sound of our activity!! First work targets are to clear areas around the benches - the Friends' efforts to draw attention to the state of the wood have now been recognised as the Council have offered some new benches so we need spaces for those.

If you need any more information please leave a message on 020-8405-1850 and someone will call you back or have a look at www.createforum.com/selsdonwoods or email selsdonwood@blueyonder.co.uk . You can alos make contact via the Breathing Places representative, Dawn Gibbons (who is also Chairman of the Friends group) at Selsdon Library.

2009 - The Work of FSW to 2009 

Work of FSW to 2009.pdf Work of FSW to 2009.pdf
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2010 - September 10th 

The Croydon Advertiser published a report of the FSW 2010 Open Day - the third held by the group.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 Summer - QR Codes Project

FSW set up two trails in Selsdon Wood which are accessible on a mobile phone by way of QR codes. These codes are square patterns of dots which work in much the same way as the barcodes used for stock control in shops. For many years there have been two trails (red and green) both marked by wooden posts and starting at the car park. The numbered posts on each route now have QR codes attached and if these are scanned with a smartphone they display pages of seasonal information about the trail and an accompanying map. The original paper guide and the QR trails may also be accessed from the Walks page. If you use the QR trails we would be very interested in your feedback - do please get in touch via phone, email or website.

To access the pages revealed by the codes click these links.

QR Green Trail

QR Red Trail

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. Unfortunately the pool sprung a leak in the following year which we were unable to cure. Full details of this work with photographs can be found on the Projects page.

2016/2017 - FSW Muddy Puddles Project

Over the period of 2016-17 the FSW laid woodchip and gravel to improve 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.

2017 - 6th November - We received nationwide notoriety by being mentioned in The Times Daily Quiz:-)

2017 - 28th November - A group of FSW committee members past and present repaired to the Sir Julian Huxley Wethespoons in Selsdon to celebrate 10 years of the existance of the Friends of Selsdon Wood. An enjoyable meal and a good time was had by all. This venue was especailly apposite in light of the fact the Sir Julian Huxley was a donor to the fund to purchase the wood for the National Trust in 1930 - see above and https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pub-histories/england/london/the-sir-julian-huxley-selsdon

Present were:- John & Linda Zareba, Lee Lee (past treasurer), Linda Morris (current secretary), Karen and Neale Fox, Ted Forsyth (current vice-chair), John Bickerstaff, Christian Kuepers, Dawn Gibbons (founding chair), Heatehr Govier (current chair) and Ernie Thomason (former park ranger for Selsdon Wood).

2018 - 3rd January

Storm Eleanor blew down a huge Oak tree on Farleigh Border. The tree was entirely blocking the path and was much too big for the FSW to deal with so we reported it to the Council who had it cleared the very next day. Measurements of the girth of the trunk suggest that the tree was around 120 years old. 

2018 - 5 new Seats and Benches

Five new seats, purchased in early 2018 were set in place in late spring once ground conditions were suitable for their transport to the sites. Our workdays team, assisted by others, had prepared all the holes and added soil to secure the benches once they were in place. One of the old replaced seats was deemed repairable and taken away for repair. A full list of all the dedicated seats and benches in the wood can be found on the Seats & Benches page of this website.

2019 - Bench Strategy & Poo Bins

A memorial seat was installed in Bluebell Grove and the seat which we had taken for repair last year was also installed in this area. A further memorial seat was installed in Courtwood Grove. Local farmer, David Marsden helped move the seats and our workdays team, assisted by others, had prepared all the holes and added soil to secure the benches once they were in place. 
A policy for installation of future seats and benches was agreed. In the main body of the wood and fields there will normally be no new benches or seats - only replacements for any rotted or damaged ones. The installation of any new benches and seats must be justified to the FSW Committee and Croydon Council. New dedicated benches, if and when more are offered, could usefully be placed along the London Loop and at the North East end of the wood.
We met with Council representatives in September to discuss the role of the FSW and our relationship with the Council. Our policy for seat/bench installation and a strategy for our coppicing work were agreed. 

Tired of finding of dog poo bags hanging on trees or thrown into bushes the FSW started a campaign in the spring of 2019 to persuade the Council to install more poo bins. This was supported by many users of the wood who lobbied the local Councillors. They were persuaded and the Council installed new bins at 4 key sites - the gates at Yew Tree Way, Cascades, and Vincent Avenue and also at the exit from the car park field on Vale Border. We have also put up many posters encouraging dog owners to “bin it or flick it”. 

The FSW Facebook site and newsletter have encouraged more people to help with litter picking in the wood. A number of Friends now do this on a regular basis as part of their daily walks 

2020 -  Coronavirus Pandemic

Although some early workday activity was carried out, the majority of workdays and all guided walks and meetings were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Photo Competition was conducted online.

However, our Workdays Team continued to work in small, Covid-safe groups at times convenient to them - see the Workdays page for details.

2021 -  Coronavirus Pandemic

No walks or workdays took place in the early part of the year because of the coronavirus lockdown. During the summer things gradually got back to normal and reports of walks and workdays are on the appropriate pages of this website.

2021 - Butterfly Bank

The Brilliant Butterflies Project was set up in 2021 and worked with Croydon Council and local communities to create more wildflower areas for butterflies and other insects. They selected a site in our car park field on which to build a Butterfly Bank. The intention was that when the Project ended in 2022 the maintenance of the BB would be taken on by FSW.

They created a chalk bund in our car park field on 19th  April 2021Low nutrient chalk provides excellent conditions for wild flowers. On Sunday 25th April this was sown, by FSW volunteers, with butterfly friendly seeds and planted with 250 small plug plants of various wildflower species (Birds-foot Trefoil, Cowslip, Knapweed (greater & lesser), Ox-eye Daisy, Rock-rose, Scabious, Thyme and Yarrow) to supplement the chalk grassland seed mix. This will help support many species including the Small Blue Butterfly. See the Butterfly Bank page of the website for further details of the establishment and maintenance of the BB.

2022 - David Malins Memorial Bird Feeding Station

After the death of FSW stalwart, David Malins, we decided, with his family’s approval, to set up a memorial bird feeding station beside the Jubilee Pond in the wood. David was an avid birder so this seemed a suitable tribute. An information board at the site shows pictures of many of the species to be seen and the Bird Feeding Station page of this website provides a diary of events.

2023 - Restoration of the Linden Glade Pool

The Linden Glade Pool  had been  in a poor condition for some years and the previous attempts by FSW to  restore it had not been successful. In late 2022 the FSW were approached by a family who were interested in supporting us to undertake a restoration in memorial of family members who had loved the area. Initial work commenced on 23rd April 2023. See the Projects page for further details.

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 kindly gave 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: