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    • Qype User marie_…
    • London
    • 2 friends
    • 50 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    22/11/2008

    It's astonishing how many people must walk past the almshouses every day without giving a second thought to what they are and why there are there.

    This beautiful building is just one of the legacies which John Whitgift left to Croydon about 500 years ago. That it still survives when so much of the town has been replaced with concrete and glass is a small miracle. Opposite the almshouses, you used to able to sit in a small raised area (dubbed locally 'pigeon s**t square' until it was demolished to make way for the tram), but now the corner is very much busier, and it is increasingly difficult to stop and take in the Tudor brickwork, the tiny windows and over-sized chimneys. If you turn your back to Primark, and claim one of the benches for 5 minutes, you might start to imagine what Croydon was like before the advent of the high street.

  • 5.0 star rating
    27/4/2007
    First to Review

    An astonishing survivor in central Croydon is this lovely complex of almshouses. Located right in the heart of the shopping district, and surrounded by bars and clubs, it seems oblivious of the world beyond.

    The building was the brainchild of Archbishop Whitgift (c. 1530-1604) who, resident in the nearby Archbishop's Palace, sought permission from Elizabeth I to build some almshouses for the poor of the parish. Begun in 1596, and built in brick with stone detailing, it survives essentially unaltered; a quadrangle of individual houses, each with their own entrance and porch, surrounds a delightful courtyard of pretty gardens. The chapel contains a memorial to Whitgift himself, and other Tudor fittings, including the original benches.

    There are two entrance porches, sensibly gated off, but the one at North End allows passers-by a glimpse into this secluded world. It still fulfils its original purpose, providing sheltered accommodation for the elderly. The present Queen Elizabeth described it as 'An oasis of peace and tranquility'. It's hard to disagree.

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    Photographs added 01-12-2007

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