Do you explore your local London neighbourhood enough? Until recently I thought I had. But I was WRONG. One Sunday, we decided to have a picnic and a ramble on Streatham Common. And it revealed a whole leafier side of my neighbourhood I knew nothing about.
South London Parks
My usual go-to places when I need to breathe clean(er) air and see some actual living trees and grass are Tooting Common, Clapham Common, Brockwell Park, Battersea Park and – every now and then – Hyde Park. I always knew Streatham Common existed, but I didn’t realise just how mahoosive and sprawling this park was.
What to See at Streatham Common
Although it’s a little exposed (and therefore can get a bit windy), the huge expanse of grass you pass from Streatham High Road is great for picnics and gets loads of sun mid afternoon. So after a feast on the grass under one of the lovely trees, we walked up the hill and discovered a large wooded area. In fact, it’s the largest wood in Lambeth, apparently.
The quaint park cafe was teeming with families and Sunday brunchers. It was then we stumbled across the curious Rookery – a walled area of the park that we discovered, is over 100 years old.
A read of the various park notice boards revealed that this public garden was originally developed as long ago as the 1600s on the grounds of a spa house, because the area was home to natural mineral springs.
It was demolished and rebuilt in the early 1900s and and its historic importance is now recognised by the Register of Historic Parks.
As we delved further into the Rookery, the most striking part was this smaller walled garden filled with perfectly manicured hedgerows, flower beds, beautiful roses and a well at the centre.
The Community Garden
On the other side of the Rookery is a lovely community garden where volunteers were busy tending to all sorts of legumes and herbs in their various vegetable plots.
This part of the Rookery has been used for food growing since the late 18th Century and it was only in fairly recent years that it was given a new lease of life. From what I can see, they are open to new volunteers, so if you’re interested, read about The Streatham Common Friends and joining the community here.
On the other side of here, you eventually get to a path which I think might lead you to Norwood (and perhaps as far as Croydon) if you keep going.
We didn’t cover the whole area but we did stumble upon this rather grand looking property and enjoyed the fantastic views over South West London.
There’s even an outdoor sofa if you fancy a sit down to admire the view.
It sounds crazy that I hadn’t ventured to this side of Streatham sooner. And while this isn’t my usual kind of post, this little weekend jaunt inspired me to give a bit of a shout out to this corner of South West London. It also inspired me to share the fact that we should all walk beyond our habitual routes a little bit more, and really discover our local London neighbourhoods.
Until next time x