The Rookery, Streatham 2839

Lambeth, England, Greater London

Brief Description

Tge Rookery is an early-20th-century public garden, purchased by public subscription and developed in the grounds of an early-18th-century spa house.

History

The Well House was built in the early-18th century to house visitors to the spa which developed around the mineral springs. The adjacent house, The Rookery, was rebuilt and enlarged to accommodate the numerous visitors, then demolished in 1912. The Rookery was presented to London County Council in 1912. It was then added to Streatham Common and opened as a public park in July 1913.

Visitor Facilities

This is a municipal space, open daily from 7.30 am.

Terrain

The ground falls away to the south-east where there is a grassed area, shown as an orchard in 1864.

Detailed Description

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

An early C20 public garden of c 1ha, purchased by public subscription and developed in the grounds of an early C18 spa house.

DESCRIPTION

LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING

The Rookery, which is fenced in, lies to the south of Streatham Common and to the north-west of Norwood Grove (qv); the boundary to the west lies adjacent to Covington Way from which the gardens are screened by a belt of trees and shrubs. The ground falls away to the south-east where there is a grassed area, shown as an orchard on the OS 1st edition map of 1864; a number of old fruit trees still survive. To the north-east is a yard now used for storage.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES

The principal entrance to the site is from Streatham Common North, through high wooden gates. A second entrance is provided from the north-east and there are small gates leading from Norwood Grove and Covington Way.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS

The grounds slope from the north-west to the south-east, and from the principal entrance the visitor can walk along tarmac paths laid between lawns planted with shrubs and specimen trees, with views to the south-east over the gardens to Norwood Grove.

A C19 terrace runs from north-east to south-west with seats along the length and a wooden shelter, dedicated to Mr Covington, the chairman of the acquisition committee, at the south-west end.

A flight of stone steps descends down a second grassed terrace where, to the west, one mature cedar of Lebanon survives. Additional steps give access to a lower terrace which is decorated with a pergola. The paved path of the third terrace continues to the south-west and then north, where it joins the upper terrace near the shelter, and to the east where it leads to the water garden and a rockery planted with varied rhododendrons, heather, and spring bulbs. To the south-east, the former kitchen garden of The Rookery has paved geometric paths, a sundial, and a central pool with formal beds around it as well as the site of the 1659 mineral well.

Steps lead through the southern wall of the old kitchen garden to the white garden, where, as the name suggests, only white flowers are grown. This was described in London Parks and Open Spaces published by London County Council in 1924 as a unique feature in London parks; it is still (1997) a popular place for people to sit quietly.

REFERENCES

J J Sexby, The Municipal Parks, Gardens and Open Spaces of London (1898), pp 230-1

Sir W Besant, London South of the Thames (1912), pp 264-5

S Sunderland, Old London Spas (1915), pp 127-30

LCC, London Parks and Open Spaces (1924), pp 80-2

The Streatham Society, Pictures From The Past (1983), pp 14-15

M Brace, London Parks and Gardens (1986), pp 98-9

Maps

J Rocque, Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster and Borough of Southwark, published 1746

OS 25" to 1 mile:

1st edition published 1864

2nd edition published 1893

3rd edition published 1913

Description written: April 1997

Register Inspector: LCH

Edited: July 2001

Features
  • Planting
  • Description: Rock garden.
Pond, Herbaceous Border, Stream
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

This is a municipal space, open daily from 7.30 am.

Directions

The site is accessible from Streatham Common North (the A214), east of Streatham Common. Rail: Streatham Common, Streatham. Bus: 50, 60, 109, 118, 159, 249, 255
History

Detailed History

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT

The Well House (or Streatham Wells as it is referred to on John Rocque's map of 1746) was built in the early C18 to house visitors to the spa which developed around the mineral springs discovered at Streatham in 1659. The adjacent house, The Rookery, was rebuilt and enlarged to accommodate the numerous visitors; it was demolished in 1912.

In 1911 the 3 acre (1.25ha) site was threatened with redevelopment and was purchased for £3,075, raised by public subscription. The Rookery was presented to London County Council in 1912; it was then added to Streatham Common and opened as a public park in July 1913.

In 1923 the London County Council published a description of The Rookery which included an Old English Garden, a wild garden, a white garden, and two 'majestic' cedars on the lawns.

Period

  • Early 20th Century
Contact
References

References

Contributors

  • London Parks and Gardens Trust