THE 17TH CENTURY
Until the 17th century the house was hidden by trees, but archbishop Abbot had them removed. It was during Abbot's time that an ordination service, taking place in the chapel was interrupted by a messanger bringing the news of the death of the Duke of Buckingham to the presiding bishop, William Laud. When Laud succeeded Abbot in 1633 he restored his chapels to their pre-Reformation glory, adding at Croydon altar rails (to emphasise the role of the priest in the Mass), desks, a raised pew and an organ. Considered a traitor by his enemies, Laud was arrested and tried, some of the evidence at his trial being work he had done at Croydon.
During the Commonwealth the palace was owned by Sir William Brereton, a colonel in the parliamentary forces. A pamphlet, published the year monarchy was restored, claimed Brereton had turned the chapel at Croydon into a kitchen, though it is not known which chapel, or whether the report is truthful. Interestingly, Croydon was the one archiepiscopal residence to survive the Commonwealth intact. The archbishop appointed in 1660, William Juxon , restored the roof of the chapel and added some pews. His successor Sheldon spent the latter part of his life at Croydon, dying there in 1677.
THE END OF AN ERA The 18th century was the last to see archbishops residing at Croydon and carrying out work there. William Wake spent several summers there between 1716 and 1737, overseeing the reconstruction of the gallery, and Thomas Herring added supporting beams to the roof in the Great Hall and laid out the garden. By the latter part of the century, however, Croydon had changed from quiet country town to industrial centre and in 1780, the archbishops having ceased using their house there, the See of Canterbury obtained a private Act of Parliament enabling it to be sold.
For the next hundred years the building and its grounds were used for calico printing and bleaching, as a school for Anglo-Indian children, and as lodgings for judges at Croydon Assizes. In 1887, following an unsuccessful attempt to convert it into a public library, the palace was bought by the 7th Duke of Newcastle and given to the Sisters of the Church to use for religious purposes. Two years later, the buildings having been repaired, the sisters opened a school, and from these humble beginnings has grown the Old Palace School of John Whitgift, which still occupies the building. The archbishops did not abandon Croydon altogether, however, and in 1807 bought Addington Park, then a 1200-acre estate. This remained their second home throughout the 19th century.
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