Clapham Common is one of London’s largest green spaces, a place renowned as much for its moments of madness as well as its capacity to refresh the South London atmosphere. But first, a little history lesson is needed here…
Common Land is one of those unusual relics of Medieval law still (broadly) in use today. Basically, the locals adjoining the common have a right to graze their animals, collect wood or dig peat. Back ‘in the day’, when men were serfs, women were no bette than slaves and the vast amount of property in the country was owned by a handful of despots, people were tossed aside a piece of common land so they could eke out an existence.
But back to Clapham. A seemingly ordinary South London suburb, but thanks to the Common, it is now an area of high house prices, young hip things and Saturday Night bar brawls (which are actually quite amusing to watch as us Londoners fight like pussies). But yet, the people still come, attracted (mainly) by a triangular wedge of green surrounded by the A3 and the South Circular roads. And you know what, despite the toffs that surround this park, Clapham Common is a really nice place to venture, especially now as none of the locals are attempting to get a tan under the feeble British sunlight.
You can cycle across, ride a horse in piece or walk your dog. Go for a jog or stop off for the (obligatory) cup off coffee at the park’s cafe. But more importantly you can soak up the relative tranquility available in this part of South London. This is a busy part of the world. The main aim in this part of South London is to get from A to B as quickly as possible, without getting penalised by the speed/red route cameras (ah – the joys of big brother!) While walking on Clapham Common you almost forget that you are surrounded by maniac drivers who have not yet realised the futility that is driving in South London.
(The A3 – Britain’s third most important Trunk Route in a moment of relative calm)
One of the greatest attractions of Clapham Common is the bandstand. A tradition in many of Britain’s open spaces, this one was built in 1890 and is the largest such structure in London. At one point it nearly disintegrated due to the ‘competence’ of Lambeth Council, but happily, this relic of Victorian London is back in swing.
Getting there and away:
Two tube stations serve the common, Clapham Common and Clapham South, both on the Northern Line. Bus routes 35, 37, 50, 88, 137, 155, 249, 322, 345, 355, 417, N35, N137, N155 and the G1 serve all parts of Clapham Common too.