Parson’s Pightle

Parson’s Pightle, Croydon

A semi-developed corner of the extensive swathe of green belt that lies south-west of Old Coulsdon

Hidden London: Happy Valley Park, by Christine Matthews

Couls­don Par­son­age was a nine-bay, 18th-cen­tu­ry house that served as the rec­to­ry for the parish church of St John the Evan­ge­list, which stands half a mile to the north. The par­son­age was remod­elled as a pri­vate res­i­dence in 1841 and the name Parson’s Pigh­tle seems to date from this time. A ‘pigh­tle’ was a croft or small enclo­sure, but by the 19th cen­tu­ry it was an archa­ic word and there’s no evi­dence of its pre­vi­ous use at this loca­tion. Thus, right from the start, the name may have been cho­sen pure­ly for its quaint­ness.

Some of Parson’s Pightle’s grounds have been pre­served as part of Hap­py Val­ley Park (shown in the pho­to above), though only a few of the orig­i­nal trees remain here. The house itself was demol­ished in the 1960s dur­ing the con­struc­tion of a small munic­i­pal hous­ing estate. (Those were the days when coun­cils mer­ri­ly knocked down his­toric hous­es on a whim.)

One of the estate’s prin­ci­pal avenues is named after the most illus­tri­ous occu­pant of Parson’s Pigh­tle, Admi­ral Sir William Good­e­nough, who com­mand­ed the Roy­al Navy’s sec­ond light cruis­er squadron dur­ing the First World War. Good­e­nough died in 1945 and was buried at St John’s church. A foot­path at the west­ern edge of the estate is called the Admiral’s Walk.

Lacey Avenue and Lacey Green, the estate’s open space, take their names from medieval landown­ers who came from Lassy in Nor­mandy. Ellis Road is named after FHB Ellis, who was chair­man of Couls­don and Pur­ley urban dis­trict coun­cil.

Marked with a pin on the map below, the sports ground on the lit­tle lane called Par­sons Pigh­tle (spelt with­out an apos­tro­phe, regret­tably) is home to Pur­ley John Fish­er RFC. The 12th Cater­ham Scout Group has its head­quar­ters next door.

Postcode area: Coulsdon CR5
* The picture of Happy Valley Park on this page is modified from an original photograph, copyright Christine Matthews, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.