Nestled in a little-explored part of Streatham Common, it’s unlikely that you’d stumble across The Rookery unless you went looking for it.
Look for it you should – this quiet oasis of peace and floral blooms is one of South London’s hidden gems.
What’s So Special about Streatham’s Rookery?
What if I told you you could find the vestiges of a private garden that used to belong to a fashionable 18th century spa escape in Streatham of all places, would you be curious? You should be.
That’s exactly what you get at Streatham’s secret rookery – situated on the remains of one of South London’s most fashionable mineral springs.
The manor house is long gone, but the garden was replanted in the early 20th century as an Old English Garden, complete with a woodland walk, white garden and grass terraces – all of which survive today.
Make your way to the top of Streatham Common, leaving behind the rather bland expanse of grass of the lower common. You’re aiming for the top right of the common, past the point where the common proper turns into woodland, turning the corner to reveal what you’re here for – Streatham Rookery.
History of The Rookery
Now, beautiful as Streatham Rookery is, it’s also got a lot of history to it.
As I mentioned, it was the former site of a fashionable spa, Streatham Spa – built in the 18th century to accommodate the large number of visitors who came to take the waters.
Though it’s difficult to believe it today, there were a number of spas in London, fed by mineral springs discovered in different parts of the city.
When the Rookery was put up for sale in 1910, a local committee raised the money to purchase the property and gifted it to the London County Council in 1912 who made it a part of Streatham Common. They demolished the house and relandscaped the gardens, laying out the Old English Garden in the former kitchen garden before opening the site to the public in 1913.
It’s remained largely unchanged ever since. The gardens may cover a relatively small space but what they lack in size, they make up for in variety – alongside the Old English Garden, there’s a rock garden and White Garden that is said to have inspired the one at Sissinghurst.
In fact, the White Garden (which was originally laid out for a Victorian wedding) was so popular that it was often visited by Queen Mary, consort of George V.
The Rookery Cafe
There’s a small but well-received cafe just inside the entrance to The Rookery serving tasty breakfasts, coffees and lunches. It’s a lovely local spot that has become a real neighbourhood hub.
Planning Your Visit
Covington Way, Streatham, London SW16 3BX
Vary depending on the season. 10am – 9pm weekdays and 7.30am – 9pm weekends during the summer months.
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