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COULSDON
Colesdone (x cent.); Culesdon (xiii cent.); Cowlesdon (xvi cent.).
Coulsdon is a parish on the Chalk Downs 6 miles south of Croydon and 16 miles by road from London. It contains 4,313 acres. The subsoil is all chalk, but clay, brick-earth and gravel occur on the surface. The soil is dry, and water is obtained by deep wells in the chalk; but the curious dry depression in the chalk, called Smitham Bottom, once no doubt the bed of a stream, the water of which now breaks out, as the Bourne, only at the foot of the chalk in Croydon and Beddington, runs through it. This depression has been made use of for the joint the two Brighton railway lines, the Brighton road, and formerly the horse railway from Croydon to Merstham. The Caterham Valley, another depression, joins Smitham Bottom from the south-east, and in wet seasons water used to break out near Caterham and run down to Croydon. It is possible that the water was on the surface when a prehistoric population inhabited the Chalk Downs. Neolithic implements and flakes occur very frequently. On Farthing Down are a large number of barrows, which from the remains found indicate Anglo-Saxon interments; but it is not impossible that the same spot may have been the site of British interments.It is about 400 ft. above the sea level, and stands up abruptly from the depression in the chalk just mentioned. On Riddlesdown are the remains of three parallel banks with two ditches dividing them, crossing the downs from north-east to south-west. An old history account speaks of a double bank and ditch coming down the hill from a little wood on the left (east) to the road in Hooley Lane, and says that the banks on Riddlesdown point in the same direction, as if the former were a continuation of these. These Hooley Lane banks seem to be now obliterated. They seem to be referred to in a survey of the manor in the Chertsey Ledger as Newedich or Widedich. On Riddlesdown there appears to be a trace of an old trackway rather below the crest of the down crossing these banks, and coming from the south-east. The Riddlesdown banks have now been partly destroyed by the building of houses.
The village of Coulsdon consisted of little more than a few groups of old cottages, and farm buildings, clustered round a green and duckpond, on one side of which was a circular brick and flint lodge, leading to The Grange, an old-fashioned house on an ancient site, set in beautiful park-like grounds now a recreation ground adjoining the church. The situation of the village is unusual, being at the summit of a somewhat steep rise, on a long ridge or elevated plateau, as in the case of the neighbouring villages of Sanderstead, Farley and Warlingham. Coulsdon Court Golf Club lies to the north.
The court rolls show common fields to have existed in the parish, but the date of inclosure is not known. The whole aspect of the parish has been completely transformed during the last sixty years by building. It was entirely rural with a few new houses scattered along the line of the railway and up the valley towards Caterham, whence another deep depression in the chalk runs down to Smitham Bottom. Now the area is built up Croydon to south of Coulsdon station. Near Purley station housing spread up the down on the west into Beddington parish and up Riddlesdown and on both sides of the Caterham Valley, and now form a town. At Kenley, higher up the Caterham Valley, a great number of larger houses have been built, and many houses, some of a considerable size, have sprung up elsewhere in the parish. Riddlesdown, Farthing Down, Kenley Common and Coulsdon Common are still, however, open spaces. The lines originally used by the London, Brighton and South Coast railway and the South-Eastern and Chatham railway, now British Rail run though Smitham Bottom with Purley, formerly called Caterham Junction, and Coulsdon stations on them. The Caterham Valley line has Kenley station in this parish and the Brighton line to East Grinstead tunnels under the parish and runs above ground in it for a short distance. Near Coulsdon and Purley stations are the remains of some very extensive lime works. The then and now dererlict London County Asylum at Cane's Hill was opened in 1883. The Reedham Orphanage, founded by the Rev. Andrew Reed in 1844, was established here in 1856, and the district is called Reedham from the founder's name. The Commemoration Hall at Kenley was built in 1897 as a public hall.
 




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