The hustle and bustle of Streatham today is far removed from the peace and tranquillity of the small country village described in a new book by local historian, John W Brown, Streatham Village.
The ancient parish church of St. Leonard's is the sole survivor from that time and is the oldest building on the A23 with the tower dating back to 1350. The book describes some of the long-lost buildings in the village, from the large homes of the rich and famous to humble farm labourers’ cottages – and there was a village lock-up by Streatham Green, where drunks were confined overnight!
Streatham and Tooting Bec Commons provided pasture for livestock and recreation, and in 1771, Tooting Bec Common was the site of much excitement when King George III came to Streatham to witness army manoeuvres. The Streatham Workhouse was on Tooting Bec Common and the poor of the parish were housed – there until 1836.
The Rector of Streatham lived in a grand house called the Rectory, visited several times by Jane Austen who came to see her friend, the Rector’s wife, Catherine Bigg-Wither. Another visitor was his nephew, Robert Southey, the Poet Laureate, who wrote Goldilocks and the Three Bears to entertain his uncle's children.
John Brown will be launching Streatham Village at the Streatham Society meeting at Woodlawns Centre, 16 Leigham Court Road at 8 pm on Monday 3rd June, when he will give an illustrated talk on the local history of the area as part of the Wandsworth Heritage Festival.
Streatham Village is £5.99 from The Streatham Society bookstall or £7.50 by post (cheques payable to The Streatham Society) from 125 Thornlaw Road, West Norwood, London SE27 OSQ