architecture / history / Outdoors

Croydon is open

7 September 2023

September, the start of autumn and the last of those glorious warm evenings before the weather turns and the darker evenings set in… it’s one of my favourite months of the year, but not just because of the aforementioned, but because September also means the return of Open House. This year’s collection does not disappoint. With so much to see and do I’ve boiled it down to my top 5 that I’ll certainly be visiting this year.

1: Peter Cushing House

Sat 16 – Sun 17 Sep 2023 – 32 St. James Road, Purley, CR8 2DL

More details here

Yep, absolute legend, Peter Cushing OBE lived in Croydon. He was born in Kenley waaay back in 1913 and went on to be one of the UK’s most celebrated actors with over 100 films under his belt spanning 6 decades. 22 of his films were with Hammer Studios which propelled him to stardom – Films such as Frankenstein and Dracula. He also played Sherlock Holmes on a number of Occasions, Dr Who, and was also in Star Wars.

As part of Open House you can visit where he used to live – it is a beautifully restored Art Deco House dating back to 1926 and only available to view on the 16 & 17 September so you’ll need to secure your tickets pretty quickly or miss out.

2: Bethlem Royal Hospital

Sat 9 – Sat 16 Sep 2023 – Bethlem Museum of The Mind, Beckenham, BR3 3BX

More details here

Did you know that Bethlem Royal Hospital is the oldest psychiatric institution dating back to 1247. It’s also known as Bethlehem as well as Bedlam. One of the most notorious aspects from its history, outside of the treatments, was that wealthy patrons could pay a shilling to visit the asylum and gawp at the patients for fun. It’s name was shortened to the nickname Bedlam and soon came to enter the British language as word that would signify madness and chaos.

Today it is still a hospital, but Open House does not mean you get to hang out with the patients, but you do get to go on a guided walking tour to hear more details about the history of the hospital as well as explore the beautiful grounds, visit the historic chapel, the museum of the mind and the Bethlem Gallery.

3: Polaroids of Croydon

Sun 17 Sep 2023 – Meeting point is One Croydon, 12–16 Addiscombe Rd, Croydon CR0 6SD.

More details here

If architecture and/or history is your thing, then this is certainly one not to be missed. Join author, John Grindrod, on a journey round Croydon as the story of our borough unfolds; from urban design, pop culture and social history with stops along the way that celebrate our long disappeared theatres, Art Deco buildings as well our beloved Fairfield Halls and Threepenny Bit Building (aka 50 Pence Building). It isn’t just about the past though, John also explores new landmarks and pop-ups along the way.

4: South Norwood Library

Sat 16 Sep 2023 , 10:00am – Lawrence Road, South Norwood , SE25 5AA.
Workshop takes place 10.30am-11.30am

More details here

A fine example of brutalist architecture resides in South Norwood. If you’ve never been to South Norwood Library, there’s no better time than now, especially as there is a fun family friendly workshop where you’ll help design an art installation reflecting Croydon’s Skyline, run by local artist Becci Kenning (Art inTransit).

In recent times the library has been under threat of closure and redevelopment, but thankfully local residents and supporters have managed to keep the doors open and the developers at bay. May that always be the case for this beautiful building.

5: Croydon Minster

Sat 9 – Sun 10 Sep 2023 – Church Street, Croydon CR0 1RN

More details here

There has been a church on this site since Saxon times. There are 6 archbishops of Canterbury buried here as well as several military memorials from the Boer War and the Two World Wars. The Minster is stunning both inside and out, but be sure to take a moment to appreciate the Victorian stained glass and a guided tour of the church and bell tower (10.30 – 15:00 drop in 9 September, 11.30 – 15:00 on 10 September). The history of the Minster is fascinating – from fire and destruction to royal visitors, you’ll be able to soak it all in as part of this year’s open house.

This is only 5 of the Croydon events as part of Open House. For more information about my top 5 as well as the full programme, visit the This Is Croydon website Open House section.

Photos courtesy of This Is Croydon

Posted by Angela

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