Duppas Hill was a major cricket venue in the 18th century and is believed to have been used for major matches by the Croydon
Cricket Club as early as 1707 when Croydon played the London
Club.Its use in 1731 is mentioned in H T Waghorn's Cricket Scores 1730-1773, and in two subsequent matches between Croydon and London.The last mention as a major venue is in 1767 when the nearby Caterham club, managed by Henry Rowett,played against Hambledon.
There has been a public park at Duppas Hill since 1865, when the Croydon Board of Health bought land from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for £2,000 to create Croydon's first Recreation Ground
. It was laid out with paths, a bandstand, pavilion and an ornate drinking fountain. The Board of Health had to Deal
with cattle trespassing, drinking booths and other problems.
The Board had proposed enclosing it with iron posts and railings intending to turn the area into a park rather than a recreation ground for all to enjoy sports and games freely, and in particular aimed to restrict horse-riding. Some of the Board wanted to ban horse-riding completely on the public open space, others to ban grooms exercising horses but not the general public riding for pleasure.
Sir Francis Head, a famous soldier who lived at Duppas Hall overlooking The Park
, chaired a large public meeting to prevent the enclosure, wrote letters and memoranda to the press and headed a memorial of 3,500 people protesting against enclosure. He argued that the horse riders protected defenceless ladies, but he was eventually satisfied with notices forbidding people from exercising their horses, with Duppas Hill becoming The Space
for recreation it still is today.
The ground was used for public celebrations and firework displays. On the eve of the 1926 General Strike, it was the venue of a mass rally of trade unionists and workers. In World
War II it hosted a baseball match between American and Canadian soldiers.Today the park is still a recreation ground and cricket is still played there. Part of the site was used as the Heath Clark school, later part of Croydon College, which has now been developed into housing.