This website forms part of Project Albion, which aims to collate all the mysteries of Britain in a 'Domesday Book of the Paranormal'. This herculean task may eventually help us to find common denominators between, say, ghost stories, sightings of strange creatures, holy wells and winter customs around the country. Project Albion is just one of the activities of ASSAP, a voluntary body and educational charity formed in 1981 to investigate and research the paranormal and related fields. There’s also a helpful glossary on the ASSAP website that explains some of the more unusual terms used in Strange Croydon.
Few people looking at Croydon today would suspect it had a long and fascinating history. But Romans bathed in Beddington, Anglo-Saxons buried their dead under mounds on Riddlesdown, Elizabethans danced round the maypole on Crown Hill and Victorian mummers traipsed through the wintry streets of Thornton Heath.
So where is the evidence for all this? The remnants of Croydon's medieval centre were largely demolished during slum clearance in the 19th century. The ancient parish church burned down one snowy evening in 1867 and had to be rebuilt. Some walls were saved and these, together with the Whitgift Almshouses and the Archbishop's Palace, are the most ancient remains visible in central Croydon.
The town has spawned a great many amateur historians over the years, and their records contain a wealth of information about Croydon's past. These and other gems, such as newspaper archives, can be found in Croydon's Local Studies Library in the Clocktower on Katharine Street. Such sources have proved invaluable in the preparation of this book, as have field trips and open days.