I was dipping into my Bradshaw’s Guide to the Victorian railways, as featured in Michael Portillo’s excellent Great British Railway Journeys on BBC2, when I got to a section on the London, Brighton & South Coast line where it describes passing the Crystal Palace. What a fantastic sight is must have been as you approached it – especially on a glorious sunny day! But I digress. That journey includes Croydon, and here Bradshaw’s discusses the origin of the name and says the ‘don’ part comes from Downs, meaning a range of hills (as in the South Downs). This has always puzzled me, because surely if anything a range of hills should be called ‘Ups’?!
The answer is apparently that the word ‘Downs’ comes from the old English word Dune/Dun meaning hill. Problem solved.
Good old Bradshaw!