This was 2023

28 December 2023

It’s that time of year again, when we like to look back at some of our favourite features from the last 12 months. So here’s our review of 2023 with our top 10, in date order, naturally…


In early February we headed to the edge of Shirley to visit Bethlem gallery and museum for the very first time. The listed deco building that the two organisations share sits within the sizable grounds of Bethlem Royal Hospital – the grounds are directly adjacent to Croydon’s border but are nestled in our neighbouring borough of Bromley. Although we’ve passed the hospital many many times and had been aware of a gallery space and art programme there for a few years, 2023 was our first visit. And what a cultural gem it is.

Read here.


On International Women’s Day in March the Croydon-based (and female-led) music platform Femme Fatale TV relaunched their organisation. Run by sisters Sancha Currie and Rochelle Blackwood, they empower female and non-binary creatives working in grass-roots music to develop their careers. They do this by giving them the resources to help commercialise their talent and establish their own successful businesses. We chatted with the sisters to find out more.

Read here.


We have long been fans of the fantastic Mr Fox on Surrey Street. Therefore we were eagerly anticipating the opening of their sister restaurant Fern opposite East Croydon Station earlier this year. In April we sampled their very fine cocktail and tapas-style menus for the first time.

Read here.


OK, this is a bit of a bitter sweet one from early June, as we reviewed our first visit to Birch Selsdon (which was the organisation that took on Selsdon Park Hotel earlier this year, but sadly is now no more). We loved what Birch were aiming to do with the location, from the rewilding of the golf course, and revamping of the lido, to the exquisite restaurants run by Michelin-starred chef, Lee Westcott. Croydon (in my opinion at least) is now poorer from their exit.

Read here.


Also in early June, we headed to the David Lean Cinema, in the Clocktower complex to meet some of their volunteers, as well as to see local actor (and not to mention acclaimed BAFTA winner) Joanna Scanlan officially accept her invitation to become the cinema’s Patron. The cinema has really upped their offer in 2023 with a regular programme showing up to 6 films each week, ranging from world cinema and art house films to blockbusters, classics and pretty much everything in between. With Q&As a great addition to a selection of screenings, they have some fantastic content already planned for 2024.

Read here.


We can’t look back at 2023 without having at least one feature connected to the London Borough of Culture This Is Croydon programme which started in April this year.

In June we went to see Talawa’s new production, Recognition, which parallelled the stories of two classical musicians from different times – the Croydon-raised black composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor back in the Victorian/Edwardian era, and Song, a young black woman who’s studying for a music degree in recent years (2017-2020). It was a truly beautiful production which took the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions – and we’re so glad we got the chance to see it.

Read here.


June was evidently the golden month of 2023 for Croydonist features, as it was also in June that we first visited art gallery Croydon Art Space which is just a short walk from East Croydon Station, on Lower Addiscombe Road. When we visited there was a group portrait exhibition in the gallery, where we discovered a whole host of new artists from Croydon and beyond.

Read here.


In July we headed to Thornton Heath Library for the launch of the Rural Croydon exhibition by artist, photographer and writer Ameena Rojee. Commissioned by This Is Croydon in partnership with The National Gallery, Ameena documented the wilder parts of Croydon in the first half of 2023, from roaming sheep and cattle, to charming meadows, and rare wildflowers in green spaces across our borough. Ameena’s Rural Croydon commission was timed to coincide with the Croydon leg of a national tour of the famous Constable painting, The Cornfield, which usually resides in The National Gallery but was displayed in Thornton Heath for a short period of July.

Read here.


In early October I reviewed my first experience of gliding when I took to the skies over Kenley and crossed off an activity that’s long been on my bucket list.

Growing up very near Kenley aerodrome and seeing gliders whirring above our house as a child I’d never plucked up the courage to give gliding a try, until Croydon-based photographer Christopher Hope-Fitch mentioned that his dad Richard was an instructor at the Surrey Hills Gliding Club and that he would take me up on a trial flight.

Read here.


In November Creative Croydon 2 hit our streets. We were delighted when Croydon BID asked us to curate a second season of the Creative Croydon exhibition, after we brought the work of five celebrated local artists to the town centre this time last year.

This year there is an exciting new group of artists exhibiting on our lamppost banners across 40+ sites around Central Croydon which you can still see about town now. We chatted with the artists, Divya Sharma, Matt Bannister, Skye Baker, Miguel Sopena and Melanie Russell to hear their thoughts about the exhibition.

Read here.

So this was 2023. We’d like to say a massive thank you to our readers, contributors and collaborators from this year, and we hope you’re all enjoying a relaxing festive season. See you in 2024 for more.

Posted by Julia. See original features for full photo credits.

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