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Crystal Palace, London

Crystal Palace or Upper Norwood is an area in south London, England within the postcode SE19. It is a residential district that straddles the border between the boroughs of Croydon and Lambeth, Bromley and Southwark and is situated along the London clay ridge known as Beulah Hill. Housing dates from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with large detached properties on the peak of the ridge and smaller semi-detached and terraced dwelling on its flanks. The hill offers panoramic views northward to central London and southward to Croydon and the North Downs.

The area is one of the highest in the London area and for centuries was occupied by the Great North Wood, an extensive area of natural oak forest which formed a wilderness close to the southern edge of the ever expanding city of London. Local legend has it that Sir Francis Drake's ship, The Golden Hind, had its timbers cut from trees in this area. The forest was a popular area for Londoners' recreation right up to the nineteenth century when it began to be built over. It was also a haunt of Gypsies with many local street names and pubs recording the link. The area still retains large amounts of woodland for an urban situation.

You can get to Crystal Palace by rail via Crystal Palace railway station where you can get trains to and from Victoria and London Bridge railway stations. There are also plentiful local bus routes. The disconnection from the capital's tube network has led to it having lower house prices than other areas possessing scenic views of London.

The Crystal Palace was reconstructed here in 1852 - 1854 following its success at the great exhibition in Hyde Park. It was destroyed in a spectacular fire in 1936. Its extensive grounds now house the National Sports Centre. A long fought over local issue is whether to build on the site of the original palace or leave it as an open space.

Two giant TV transmitter towers stand on the hill at Upper Norwood , making the district a landmark location, visible from any part of the London area.


Alan R. Warwick with Owen Luder (Authors); The Phoenix Suburb: A South London Social History; Publisher: Crystal Palace Foundation; ISBN: 0-904034-01-1 / 0904034011

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