Grinling Gibbons and saxifrage: hidden secrets of Lloyd Park

CROYDON COMMENTARY: The moving of sites between two Croydon private schools will create a misnomer for the building being used in Lloyd Park, according to ANTHONY MILLS, who provides some history and background to the site

The Lloyd Park Grade II-listed building is full of Georgian architectural detail

The transfer of the Oakwood name from a Purley prep school to the Georgian building in Lloyd Park that has until now been used by the Cedars School will create a bit of a misnomer.

The only oaks there are on the north and west boundaries with the park, and they are no more than 100 years old or so. There is a much older, huge and magnificent Lebanon cedar and two atlas cedars nearly as large, together with a Wellingtonia and several massive beeches elsewhere in the grounds of the house (hence the school’s name), plus a number of smaller trees which I planted.

Why can’t they keep the site-appropriate name instead?

The building is Grade II-listed and includes some Grinling Gibbons carvings, a facade of several layers in front of each other, the most recent being bricks and pointing most expensively painted on to different sized bricks below, a mysterious bricked-in arch in the basement – rumoured to be the start of a tunnel leading to Addington Palace – and an even more mysterious underground cubical cell separate from anything in the grounds.

The buiding enjoys a grand entrance hall

There is also an icehouse under a conical mound.

The building was owned briefly by an NHS Trust in the 1990s and 2000s, when it was used as a therapy centre, known then as Geoffrey Harris House.

In the sward to the north-west of the cedar are areas of an inconspicuous little flower, meadow saxifrage, Saxifraga granulata, flowering from April to June.

Meadow saxifrage is increasingy rare, even threatened, as its unimproved meadow habitats disappear. I hope that it is being actively conserved by the new owners.

Access to the site used to be open in the days of NHS ownership, but, unsurprisingly for a school, is no longer.

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