Open house at Heathfield, Croydon’s secret garden

It’s Open Garden Squares weekend across London tomorrow and Sunday.

The elegant Georgian Heathfield House, owned by Croydon Council, is in need of some urgent care and attention

Squares, being enclosed places, offer some protection from the elements, so if you want to enjoy the inclement summer, this might be the chance to do so.

There is something reassuring and comforting about the privacy and peace of a walled garden.

The annual London event has been growing since its start in 1998 with 40 private squares taking part.

Now, in conjunction with the National Trust, more than 200 gardens in Greater London throw open their gates, hopefully to welcome sunshine to brighten the blooms and drive away the playful shadows seen so often in walled gardens.

South London’s Liberal Democrat-controlled green borough, Sutton, has three venues joining the weekend’s fun – Carshalton House Landscape Garden, Sutton Community Farm and Sutton Ecology Centre.

Croydon Council has abolished “culture” and the “big society” as roles for their ruling cabinet executive.  And there are no entries for Croydon on the weekend festival’s website, either.

However Inside Croydon still carries the diminished flame for Croydon’s cultural heritage and can report that the extensive walled garden at Heathfield House will be participating in this weekend’s celebration of communal gardens.

Inside Croydon appears now to have more than one loyal reader, because both of them have recommended Heathfield House recently, one of them saying, “It is Croydon’s best-kept secret, a wonderful place. I almost hope that after you publicise it, it doesn’t become too busy.”

Malcolm Wicks, MP for Croydon North, at a tree-planting event for Greenpeace at Heathfield House

Let’s hope that the weather this weekend will be better than when Malcolm Wicks MP visited to plant a tree for Greenpeace at the neighbouring Heathfield ecology centre.

The ecology centre will be open to tours of the wildlife and old varieties’ conservation orchard, which is managed sustainably using organic methods including ovine lawnmowers, Jack and Wilf, the centre’s sheep. It’s a paradise for newts thriving in this year’s awful wet weather and butterflies to observe if any rays of sunshine deign to show themselves.

Giving you a warm welcome away from the elements, in the pantry of the early 19th century “Ferme Ornée” style Heatfield House, will be committed ecologist, Lorraine Chatfield.

Baked potatoes, fresh homemade soup and buttered rolls at lunchtime and traditional English cream teas in the afternoon should bring a warm glow.

Open from 10.30am to 5pm each day there will be various displays and a sale of second-hand books to raise funds for Croydon Animal Samaritans.

If our local councillors attend, perhaps they will see that the Croydon-owned house needs some urgent attention, though it would probably not cost as much as a month’s pay to one of the council’s £750-a-pay consultants, or even the annual “allowance” collected by one of the leading members of the ruling Conservative group.

Click here for directions to Heathfield House, Coombe Lane, at the top of Gravel Hill.

  • Inside Croydon: A news source about Croydon that is not based in Redhill. Post your comments on this article below. If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, email us at

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Activities, Charity, Environment, Gardening, History, Malcolm Wicks MP, Outside Croydon, Walks, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Open house at Heathfield, Croydon’s secret garden

  1. Anne Giles says:

    Thank you so much for this, Steven. It wasn’t advertised anywhere else. We went on the Sunday and had a great time. Excellent food in the cafe as well. We both took loads of photographs. Thanks again.

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