No one can watch Streatham Redskins play hockey all day, not least because a hockey match – even with the two intervals – only lasts an hour and a half. Streatham Common is a very short walk away, and well worth the visit.
Like any English common, it’s an area going back in time a very long way over which people of the parish had certain rights. They might have been granted the right to graze their beasts, gather firewood, hunt rabbits. In the 14th century, the Black Prince gave the land to the Prior and Convent of Christ Church, Canterbury. It changed hands with the dissolution of the monasteries in the time of Henry VIII and, in 1884, the Metropolitan Board of Works paid five pounds for the right to preserve the land for all time as a public open space. The intention was that it should be administered by a committee formed from local residents, but in 1896 the formation of the Greater London Council changed that.
One thing that should really be seen is the Rookery. It’s difficult to believe now, but Streatham was once a fashionable spa town, thanks to a mineral well and, in 1786, a large house with three acres of gardens stood there. The house was called the Rookery. The house is gone now but the gardens remain and can be a great visit for both adults and children.
Apart from the Rookery, there’s a nature trail, a café, a paddling pool for children and a play area for children, from which dogs are banned. A lot of the area is accessible by wheelchair and activities organised throughout the year by the Friends of Streatham Common are advertised on their website. Barn dances, a Kite Day, a bat walk, a dog show, bands and Shakespeare – there’s an awful lot going on.