Streatham Things to Do
As the name suggests Streatham Common is an ancient area of common land which were areas where local people had certain rights to graze beasts, gather firewood and suchlike. Early records show that in 1362 the Black Prince granted the Manor of South Streatham, which included the Common, to the Prior and Convent of Christ Church, Canterbury. It is amazing how much land the Church owned, and indeed still does, in the United Kingdom. Of course much of this changed during the reign of Henry VIII with the dissolution of the monasteries when the Common passed to the Dean and Chapter and eventually the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
In 1884, the Metropolitan Board of Works paid £5 to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in order to preserve the 66 acres of common land to them in order to preserve it for all time as a public open space to be administered by a Committee of local residents. This arrangement was in place until 1896 when they passed control to the Greater London Council (GLC).
In the early 20th century the Common was threatened with the huge residential development then taking place due to the coming of the railways making areas such as this very desirable "commuter" locations. Fortunately for us today, a local man named Stenton Covington was on hand to gather public funds, organise a committee and retain the Common for the original purpose of public usage.
The "jewel in the crown" of the site is undoubtedly the Rookery which features in many publications and websites of the best gardens in London. As far back as 1659 a mineral well had been found here which led to Streatham becoming a fashionable spa town. By 1786 a large house called the Rookery had been build on the site in three acres of it's own gardens. After Covington's successful rescue operation the house was demolished but the gardens happily remain and include a display from the Capel Manor College which deals with animal husbandry and agricultural subjects and whose other premises are nearby in Crystal Palace Park (see separate tip on my London page).
I should explain that by this stage in my day's walk my already troublesome camera had just about given up the ghost and time was beginning to press a bit so I determined to return "fully-charged" another day for a good look round with a good photo session. I carried on over the main portion of the park which is designated a Local Nature Reserve until I came to Streatham High Road which forms one of the boundaries of the Common. My camera woes explain the paucity of images accompanying this tip for which I apologise.
As well as the Rookery the Common also boasts several viewpoints, a Nature trail , a cafe, dog free children's play area and a paddling pool. Much of the site is wheelchair accessible. The Friends of Streatham Common (website attached) also organise various activities throughout the year.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
The Rookery is a Victorian Garden in Streatham, South London. Wildlife are here all years round from the cold of winter to the glorious warm summer. Once through the main gate at the top of the Common you can easily forget that you are on London. The occasional siren of an emergency vehicle can bring you back to reality sometimes.
Children love the wide grassy areas to play on, older couple sit and watch the world go slowly by and people like me come and photography the flowers and wildlife.
In summer the Rookery really comes to life with splendid floral displays and eye catching water cascades. With squirrels scurrying around in the search for Nuts (bring a bag of monkey nuts and the squirrels will be a little more inclined to pose for the camera). Robins, Great ***, Blackbirds and the odd Crow make a welcome sight as the fly around.
The winter time can also be interesting. The waterfalls and ponds look amazing with ice on them.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Opposite St Leonards Church stands the English Martyrs Catholic Church, with it's perhaps slightly more impressive spire (sadly not shown in my photo!)
This is one of my favourite restaurants in Streatham. You are treated like an old friend when you walk in the door, the decor is lovely and transports you away to the markets of Morroco. The food is not only authentic and amazing (albeit if you have to wait a little while), its BYO (so take two bottles) and you cannot spend £20 in there if you try. I love it.
Favorite Dish: I particularly love the tagines but everything we have eaten there has been amazing, the cous cous is so soft and the hummous and babbaganoush is so authentice. MMMM.Related to:
- Budget Travel
A nice relaxed pub, with friendly staff and a friendly atmosphere. Tucked away on a side street just off Streatham High Road, near the common.
Dress Code: NoneRelated to:
- Beer Tasting
Although lacking a tube line, Streatham is well served by National Rail links, with no fewer than 3 stations - Streatham Hill, Streatham and Streatham Common.
You can get the train to Victoria, London Bridge, Clapham Junction, Croydon, and several other stations in South London.
Trains are run by Southern.Related to: