Norwood Park represents the last evidence of the wooded common lands of medieval Norwood.

The name Norwood derives from the Great North Wood of Surrey, 1,400 acres of wooded lands, which in the 18th Century extended from Croydon to Camberwell.

The cultural heritage of the park is largely derived from its history as rural common land.


In 1911 the park celebrated it's centenary. Over a hundred year's ago the park was handed over to the community as a common, under the stewardship
of the Council.

A number of fantastic events took place to commemorate the 100th anniversary, so watch this space.






A bit more about the history of the park

The Norwood area has a long association with gypsies who lived in the immediate area known as Gypsy (sic) Hill. Gypsies are believed to have originated in India and to have gradually migrated to the near west and Western Europe, reaching Scotland in the early 16th century.

By the 18th century, London hosted a reasonably large gypsy population during the winter months, the largest of which lived in the Norwood area.

A pantomime called 'The Norwood Gypsies' was staged in Covent Garden in 1777. The most famous of the gypsies was Margaret Finch, Queen of the Gypsies, whose fortune telling drew vast crowds from the rich and influential including literary greats Dr Johnson and Samuel Pepys .

Pepys recorded in his diary for the 11 August 1688 that his wife went 'to see the Gypsies at Lambeth and had their fortunes told'.

Queen of the Gypsies Margaret Finch


Margaret Finch (left) lived in a conical hut built of branches, at the base of an ancient tree, and it was there that great numbers of people visited her.

She died aged 108 and her memory continues with Finch Avenue by the park being named after her. It also explains where the names Gipsy Hill, Gipsy Road and Romany Road came from.

The park has always been a popular meeting place for local residents.

During the war pre fabricated homes were built on the edge of the park, and a portion of land was given over to barrage balloons.

A permanent stage near the then Park Keeper's cottage provided entertainment for blitz weary Norwood folk. The park was also a popular venue for local schools sports days.

The park keeper, Mr Cheek, an ex soldier, tall, broad with a military ginger moustache put the fear of God in to every visiting child. Vandalism and misbehaviour was unheard of during his reign overseeing the park.

It was a great place for families to gather and large crowds would watch local children involved in ceremonial marching and Maypole dancing.

About the Park

In 1911 the park was handed over to the community as a common, under the stewardship
of the Council.

A number of fantastic events were held to commemorate the 100th anniversary, including a picnic and music in the park. See News and Photos for more information.