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Take a peek inside two of the Foundation’s most historic buildings for Open House London 2015.

The Whitgift Foundation is pleased to announce that it will once again be taking part in the ever popular Open House London, with two of the Foundation’s oldest and most historic properties open to the public on Saturday 19 September.  The Whitgift Almshouses, on North End, and Old Palace of John Whitgift School, in Croydon’s Old Town, will both be welcoming visitors for free guided tours.

Volunteer tour guides will lead guests through idyllic and peaceful courtyards, medieval wood-panelled rooms filled with an array of fascinating artefacts, as well as quaint chapels that date as far back as the 15th century.  The tours also provide an opportunity for the public to find out more about Archbishop John Whitgift, the historical figure that Croydon is so famously linked to, and named after, from its shopping centre to street names and schools.     

Places for the Whitgift Almshouses are limited and always in high demand so early booking is advised to avoid disappointment. Tours take place at 10:30am, 11:45am, 2pm and 3:15pm. To book, call 020 8649 8499 or email Tours of Old Palace School are taking place at 11am and booking is not necessary but on a first come basis.  

With both buildings currently in full time use, tours throughout the year are limited to Open House London and the Croydon Heritage Festival with tours of Old Palace also taking place at certain times during the school holidays.

Martin Corney, Chief Executive, The Whitgift Foundation, said:  “We are delighted to take part in Open House London and join a host of other buildings that showcase Croydon’s rich architecture and diverse heritage. I urge all in the community to take a tour of our Grade I listed properties, the Whitgift Almshouses and Old Palace School, where our guides take you on a fascinating journey through history to explore every nook and cranny of these important Croydon landmarks.”

  • The Whitgift Almshouses

An icon of Croydon, the Whitgift Almshouses sit surrounded by the trappings of a modern town centre, beset but unperturbed by 1960s structures and turn-of-the-century tramlines, the building and its near-silent courtyard are an oasis of calm in the bustling heart of Croydon.

Those lucky enough to grab tickets for Open House London will be taken on a tour through the long and illustrious history of the Almshouses, from its inception as the ‘Hospital of the Holy Trinity’ to the present day and its continued use as a home for older people, in line with the Archbishop’s wishes.

The tour takes in the Almshouses impeccable central courtyard that benefits greatly from the work of The Whitgift Foundation’s full-time gardener; the history of the chapel featuring artworks of Whitgift’s favourite quotes and niece, Jane Bradbury; and the ornate audience chamber, complete with the ‘Treacle Bible’, portraits of Archbishop John Whitgift, an Armada chest and a letter from Queen Elizabeth I. The of tours are conducted by volunteer guides who are either residents, former staff or longstanding friends of the Foundation, meaning visitors gain an insight not only into the history of the Almshouses but also their present and future.

  • Old Palace

The land upon which the Old Palace of John Whitgift Independent Girls’ School sits has played host to a manor or palace across three millennia, with its first known use being prior to 960AD

The oldest part of Old Palace that currently exists dates back to the 12th century and ‘The Manor House’ as it was then known, was used as a resting place for important guests and royalty, including Queen Elizabeth I, on the road to and from London.   As visits became more regular The Manor House grew in size and by the end of the 16th century it was called a ‘palace’ by Archbishop John Whitgift.

A tour of Old Palace takes in ancient relics found during excavation, the sleeping quarters used by the afore mentioned queen, the ornate Chapel,  Guard Room (now the school’s library) and the wood panelled Banqueting Hall, where the Princess Royal recently helped the Foundation celebrate the 400th Founder’s Day Service, in honour of Archbishop John Whitgift.

For a full listing of Croydon’s open buildings and more information about Open House London, visit their website. 


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