One of the real cutlural jewels in Croydon’s crown, the Whitgift Almshouses and the Old Palace, will be throwing open their doors next month as part of Open House London weekend, which this year is on September 16-17.
The Whitgift Almshouses, right in the centre of Croydon, date from 1596, built by Archbishop John Whitgift to house the elderly, poor and those who had been in his service in their old age. The Almshouses are an oasis of peace and tranquillity, with calm and colourful gardens so close to the High Street. The building is still used for its original purpose and today is one of Whitgift Care’s three care homes.
The Old Palace is a Grade I-listed building dating back to the 9th Century and was formally the summer residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury, between the 13th and 18th centuries. It has a fascinating history and was visited by monarchs since Elizabeth I. Today the Palace is one of the Whitgift Foundation’s three fee-paying schools – it was where one of the borough’s MPs was educated. It has kept many of its original features, including the Great Hall dating to the 1400s, and the Guardroom, which is one of the earliest examples of the use of brick in Britain.
Tours of the Whitgift Almshouses, on September 16, have to be booked by phoning 020 8680 8499 in office hours. Tours are running at 10.30am, 11.45am, 2pm and 3.15pm.
The Old Palace tour is already fully booked.
Other Croydon buildings taking part in Open House weekend include Saffron Square with what is currently the tallest residential block in the borough, the Town Hall and Fisher’s Folly (offering a rare insight in where £150million of your money has been spent), there’s St Mary’s in Addington Village, which was built in 1080, and also the Fairfield Halls, in the midst of the £30million refurbishment works.
There are hidden gems, not usually open to the public, across the capital. Find out more about Open House London on their website.
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