Streatham: The Hamlet On The Street History (Part 1)

Streatham is a district in south London, in England, mostly in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is centred 5 miles south of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.

I have to say that Streatham’s always had plenty to appeal.

The high road is flanked by /some of the nicest Art Deco buildings you’ll find/ in the south-west of London, and the spacious pavements mean that the trendy independent cafes / can offer places for people to sit outside. , It’s also very well connected: as well as three overground stations/ many busses are taking you anywhere in London you like.
Many excellent independent food stores are in Streatham– from Polish delicatessens to Halal butchers – besides a fresh crop of trendy restaurants and bars that are popping up to serve the area’s current generation of residents.
Streatham was the home of Sir Henry Tate for many years, The legendary Naomi Campbell was born and grew up here. This was just before making her way onto every catwalk in the world. But this vast swathe of South West London is regularly overlooked in favour of neighbouring trendy Balham, Clapham and Brixton and the very long high road has been the target of many a joke. However, things have changed and still changing, so much and SW16 is now the place to be.

This video aims to tell the rich history of this Neighborhood in suburban London where we live. It made me understand the reasons why those born and been living in Streatham for a long time, are so proud of it.

Streatham means “the hamlet on the street”. The street in question, the London to Brighton Way, was the Roman road from the capital Londinium to the south coast near Portslade, today within Brighton and Hove.

It is likely that the destination was a Roman port now lost to coastal erosion, which has been tentatively identified with ‘Novus Portus’ mentioned in Ptolemy’s Geographia. The road is confusingly referred to as Stane Street (Stone Street) in some sources and diverges from the main London-Chichester road at Kennington.

After the departure of the Romans, the main road through Streatham remained an important trackway. From the 17th century, it was adopted as the primary coach road to Croydon and East Grinstead, and then on to Newhaven and Lewes. In 1780 it then became the route of the turnpike road from London to Brighton, and subsequently became the basis for the modern A23. This road (and its traffic) have shaped Streatham’s development.

Streatham’s first parish church, St Leonard’s Streatham early Tudor tower, was founded in Saxon times/ but an early Tudor tower/ is the only remaining structure pre-dating 1831/when the body of the church was rebuilt. The mediaeval parish covered /a more extensive area including Balham and Tooting Bec.

Streatham appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Estreham. It was held by Bec-Hellouin Abbey (in Normandy) from Richard de Tonbridge. Annually it was assessed to render £4 5s 0d to its overlords.

Streatham Village remained largely unchanged until the 18th century, when the village’s natural springs, known as Streatham Wells, were first celebrated for their health-giving properties. The reputation of the spa, and improved turnpike roads, attracted wealthy City of London merchants and others to build their country residences in Streatham.

In spite of London’s expansion around the village, a limited number of developments took place in the village in the second half of the nineteenth century, most notably on Wellfield Road and Sunnyhill Road. These roads are today considered an important part of what remains of the historic Streatham Village as they found little or no influence from the growth of metropolitan London.

Wellfield Road, which had previously been known as Leigham Lane, was renamed to reflect its role as the main route from the village centre to one of the good locations.

Another mineral well was located on the south side of Streatham Common, in an area that now forms part of The Rookery.

In the 1730s, Streatham Park, a Georgian country mansion, was built by the brewer Ralph Thrale on land he bought from the Lord of the Manor – the fourth Duke of Bedford. Streatham Park later passed to Ralph’s son Henry Thrale, who with his wife Hester Thrale entertained many of the leading literary and artistic characters of the day, most notably the lexicographer Samuel Johnson. The dining room contained 12 portraits of Henry’s guests painted by his friend Joshua Reynolds. These pictures were labelled the Streatham Worthies.

Streatham Park was later leased to Prime Minister Lord Shelburne and was the venue for early negotiations with France that led to the Peace Treaty of 1783. Streatham Park was demolished in 1863.

One large house that survives is Park Hill, on the north side of Streatham Common, rebuilt in the early 19th century for the Leaf family.

It was latterly the home of Sir Henry Tate, sugar refiner, benefactor of local libraries across south London, including Streatham Library, and founder of the Tate Gallery at Millbank.

Development accelerated after the opening of Streatham Hill railway station on the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway in 1856. The other two railway stations followed within fifteen years. Some estates, such as Telford Park to the west of Streatham Hill, were spaciously planned with facilities like tennis clubs.[7] Despite the local connections to the Dukes of Bedford, there is no link to the contemporary Bedford Park in west London. Another generously sized development was Roupell Park, the area near Christchurch Road promoted by the Roupell family. Other streets adopted more conventional suburban layouts. Three more parish churches were built to serve the growing area, including Immanuel and St Andrew’s (1854), St Peter’s (1870) and St Margaret the Queen’s (1889).

There is now a mixture of buildings from all architectural eras of the past 200 years.

We reached the end of part 1, In the next video will look at The inter-war period when Streatham was a location for entertainment, sport and culture. The Second World War period, its decline and recovery.

Thank you very much for now. I look forward to seeing you next time.

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