Selsdon Park, Addington Road, Sanderstead, Croydon, Surrey, CR2 8YA
This imposing Jacobean mansion stands in over two hundred acres of ground and has its own eighteen hole golf course and is only thirteen miles from Central London. In the grounds are several notable trees – including a Cedar from Lebanon planted by Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). The core of the house is very old and, though there have been extensions to it, the décor is all in keeping with an atmosphere of period luxury. There are records of a building on the site going back to Anglo-Saxon times at it is mentioned in the Domesday Book. In the Middle Ages the house was linked to the sinister Order of the Knights Templar;it was given to them by the Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of King Richard I in the mid 1100s. The core of the present building dates from about 1670 and was built by a man called Christopher Bowyer. He is buried in the graveyard of the nearby Sanderstead Church.
Towards the end of the 18th Century the house was largely demolished but then rebuilt in a gothic style for the Smith family in about 1809. After the Smiths left, Selsdon became the residence of Bishop Thorold and there is a walk in the grounds called the Bishop’s Walk.
Another interesting feature of the grounds is Blackfriars Arch, which was once part of the Blackfriars Monestary in London. The Blackfriars were the Dominican Order so called because of their black habits. The oldest part of the hotel is on the second floor – the so called Tudor Corridor. The corridor has its original dark wood and something about it makes you feel that there maybe somebody there with you. In fact it is here that the Grey Lady is mostly seen. She has been seen on occasion carrying a candle and there is a story that she is a servant woman who killed herself in the 1930s. However, I spoke to Stephanie Williams, the Executive Housekeeper who has been at Selsdon quite a time and who has seen the Grey Lady herself. She told me that the ghost is nearly always seen in the Tudor Corridor, though she has wandered through to the Phoenix Bar and occasionally into the Cambridge Bar. She was seen by more than one member of the bar staff in the Phoenix Bar in 1989. Stephanie says that she saw a tiny little lady all in grey but that her clothes were old fashioned – much older than the 1930s and more reminiscent of Tudor or Elizabethan dress. One particular day, Stephanie and another of the housekeepers were walking near the Tudor Corridor when the doors at the other end opened apparently on their own. They both instantly thought that something very odd was happening and they turned and ran down to see what had gone through the doors. They caught a glimpse of the back of this tiny little woman but when they got to the doors themselves she had vanished. When Stephanie first came to the Selsdon she was completely unaware that it was haunted. One night she walked down the Tudor Corridor without switching the lights on – relying on the light coming from either end. She hadn’t got half way along when she felt the most extraordinary cold sensation. She described it as a cold sweat. She ran down the corridor and back into the light and she hasn’t been back down there on her own in the dark since.
On one occasion there was a football team staying in the hotel. At that time Room 235 was a twin room, it’s now a double, and two of them were staying there. They were watching television and one of them had fallen asleep. The man still awake was horrified to see a woman in grey walk through the bed and through his sleeping companion. He ran out of the room and couldn’t be persuaded to go into it again. The manger told me that the Grey Lady has been reported as having her feet below the level of the modern floor and he accounts for this because the ancient floor level has been raised by the installation of central heating.