An occasional feature about the places in the John H Watson Canon

My friend had no breakfast himself, for it was one of his peculiarities that in his more intense moments he would permit himself no food, and I have known him presume upon his iron strength until he has fainted from pure inanition. ‘At present I cannot spare energy and nerve force for digestion,’ he would say, in answer to my medical remonstrances. I was not surprised, therefore, when this morning he left his untouched meal behind him and started with me for Norwood.

“The Adventure of the Norwood Builder”

The formerly wild and desolate area of Norwood, named after the extensive North Wood that once covered the area, is where two counties, Surrey and Kent, and five modern London boroughs meet–Croydon, Bromley, Lambeth, Lewisham, and Southwark. Until the mid nineteenth century, when rapid development transformed the area, it contained not only extensive woods but also acres of open wasteland, and had a reputation of danger and mystery. For centuries it was famous for the Gypsies who lived there, and gave rise to numerous rumours and stories among the settled populations of the surrounding areas.

From London Lore: The Legends and Traditions of the World’s Most Vibrant City, Steve Roud, Arrow Books, 2010, p. 405