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Norwood, Surrey

Historical Description

Norwood (Surrey), a large sub-metropolitan district in Battersea, Lambeth, and Croydon parishes, extending along the NE border of the county, from the outskirts of the metropolis in the vicinity of Brixton and Dulwich, 4½ miles south-south-eastward to the vicinity of Croydon. Its name must have been derived from the wood to the north of Croydon, for it lies to the south of the city of London, and it is an historical fact that some two centuries ago the place was a great wood and nothing more. It is divided into Norwood proper (usually called Upper Norwood), SOUTH and WEST NORWOOD. It includes on the E border the Crystal Palace and park; it is traversed by the L.B. & S.C.R. and the L.C. & D.R., and has stations at West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, the Crystal Palace, and South Norwood-the last of which bears the name of Norwood Junction, and is a place of meeting for the L.B. & S.C.R., the S.E.R., and the L.C. & D.R. It is in the S.E. suburban postal district, and contains several large hotels, many well-built detached houses, numerous villas, and not a few mansions. It was from an early period a favourite haunt of gipsies, who infested it on account of its woody retreats and of its vicinity to London, and the name Gipsy Hill commemorates the famous Norwood gipsy, Margaret Finch, who formerly inhabited a. hut there and lived for over half a century by pretending to tell the fortunes of those who resorted thither. She died in 1760 at a great age, and was buried in a square box, her body having become fixed in a squatting posture for some years before her death. The district continues still to be finely wooded, not in the forest manner, but ornately and picturesquely; it has a tumulated and hilly surface, rising in some oarts to a height of more than 300 feet; it abounds in beautiful scenes, and includes stand-points commanding extensive and charming prospects; it enjoys a healthy climate, and is altogether an attractive suburban region. Three chapelries, called Norwood St Luke, Norwood All Saints, and Norwood St Mark, were formed respectively in 1824 in Lower (now West) Norwood, in 1828 in Upper Norwood, and in 1859 in South Norwood. The Church of All Saints is situated on Beulah Hill, and is a brick building in the Early English style, with several stained glass windows. The living is a vicarage; net value, £350, in the gift of the Vicar of Croydon. Population of the ecclesiastical parish, 6523. St John's is situated in the Auckland Road, and is a very handsome building, having cost upwards of £20,000. The living is a perpetual curacy; net value, £200. Population of the ecclesiastical parish, 4957. Christ Church, Gipsy Hill, is in the Early French style, and is a vicarage; gross value, £800. Population of the ecclesiastical parish, 5023. There are also in Norwood Baptist, Congregational, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Swedenborgian, and Roman Catholic chapels, and a convent and orphanage. The Royal Normal College and Academy of Music for the Blind is a splendid institution, in which about 150 blind pupils of both sexes receive a thorough musical education, and are also taught to row, swim, skate, &c. For parliamentary purposes Norwood was taken from the old borough of Lambeth and formed with a portion of Brixton into a separate constituency in 1885, returning one member to the House of Commons. The population of the parliamentary division is 68,411. Part of Upper Norwood and the whole of South Norwood are in the borough of Croydon.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySurrey 
Civil parishLambeth 
Poor Law unionLambeth 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records, in association with Surrey History Centre, have images of the Parish Registers for Surrey online.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Norwood from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Surrey is available to browse.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Surrey papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Surrey, 1662-1668 is available on the Heraldry page.