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Inventory Site Record

The Lawns (Croydon)

Brief Description

Beulah Spa developed in the early C19th from a spa where people came to take the waters. On 1 August 1831 the 30-acre site, owned by Mr J D Smith, was opened as a place of entertainment with gardens laid out by Decimus Burton. A wide range of attractions were provided but its popularity began to decline when the Crystal Palace moved to nearby Sydenham in 1854. In May 1858 the Beulah Spa estate was sold by auction and a large mansion called The Lawns was built. In 1939 The Lawns estate was conveyed to Croydon Corporation, NT and the MPGA, covenanted to remain as public open space. The mansion was demolished in the mid-1960s after a fire. The lawn today marks the site of the ornamentat gardens, and the hanging woodland remains through which ornamental walks were laid out.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Beulah Spa
Site location:
Beulah Hill/Spa Hill/The Lawns, Upper Norwood
Postcode:
SE19 3TR
Type of site:
Public Park
Borough:
Croydon
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Children’s playground, multi-games court
Events:
Public transport:
Rail/London Overground: Norwood Junction then bus. Bus: 196, 468, 249, 450
Research updated:
01/10/2018
Last minor changes:
19/07/2023

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.croydon.gov.uk

Full Site Description

Beulah Spa developed in the early part of the C19th from a spa where people came to take the waters for the benefit of their health. Eminent physicians such as Sir Benjamin Brodie and Sir Astley Cooper praised its qualities and during a Court case it was established that the water contained more salts than the water at the Cheltenham. On 1 August 1831 the 30-acre site was opened by Lady Essex as a place of entertainment. It was owned by Mr J D Smith, and the gardens were laid out by Decimus Burton, who also designed the Spa House and The Lodge. The visiting public were offered numerous entertainments, including concerts, theatre and fetes, and there were fine views from the grounds in which a number of 'rustic edifices' had been constructed. Other amenities included a circus ring, a rose garden, an upper and lower lake with water fowl, a maze or wilderness and an 'orchestra'. There was also a camera obscura with a telescope powerful enough to see Windsor Castle. Visitors were encouraged to bring picnics, which they could eat on certain of the lawns or in tents and marquees. The spring was within a circular rockwork structure under a thatched wigwam-shaped roof. The water, which rose up some 14 feet was drawn up in a glass urn-shaped pail. It was bottled as Beulah Saline Water and sold at 2 shillings a gallon. It was also sent frozen in bottles by Masters Freezing Apparatus and in blocks.

Beulah Spa’s popularity began to decline when the Crystal Palace moved from Hyde Park to nearby Sydenham where it reopened in 1854. In May 1858 the Beulah Spa estate was sold by auction and a large mansion called The Lawns was subsequently built. In 1939 The Lawns estate was conveyed to Croydon Corporation, the National Trust and the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association by All Saints Missionary Union Incorporated and in 1940 a Deed of Covenant was made between the 'Mayor Alderman and Burgesses of the Borough of Croydon of the first part The Metropolitan Public Gardens Association of the second part and The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty of the third part'. This Covenant ensured that the area would remain as open space under the Open Spaces Act 1906 and that it would not be built upon, ensuring it would remain public open space in perpetuity. Decimus Burton’s Lodge survives as Tivoli Lodge, a private house on Beulah Hill. The lake was filled in after 1954. The Lawns mansion was demolished after a fire in the mid-1960s. The lawn and the hanging woodland remain, the latter predominantly oak, beech with holly understorey through which ornamental walks were laid out.

Sources consulted:

M A Winterman, Croydon's parks: an illustrated history (LB Croydon,1988.) p99, The Phoenix Suburb, Alan Warwick pp58-71; B Cherry and N Pevsner, The Buildings of England London 2: South (1983) p234; Stanford 6" map of London, 1862; LB Croydon, 'Local List of Historic Parks & Gardens', December 2008

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ328697 (532857,169801)
Size in hectares:
6.27
Site ownership:
LB Croydon
Site management:
Parks and Open Spaces. North Croydon Landwatch maintains Beulah Hill pond
Date(s):
1831; 1939
Designer(s):
Decimus Burton
Listed structures:
LBII: Tivoli Lodge
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
Yes
In Conservation Area:
No
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance II
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
No
Other LA designation:
Local Open Land

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.