The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 36 Lambeth and Battersea


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From Vauxhall Station the long WANDSWORTH ROAD runs south-west to Clapham Junction, an important station, and to Wandsworth, a wide-spreading industrial borough (328,656 inhabitants) traversed by the river Wandle. On Wandsworth Common (180 acres) is the Royal Victoria Patriotic Asylum (for soldiers' and sailors' daughters). A little to the south-west is Wandsworth Prison. Wandsworth Park (20 acres) lies on the river, not far from East Putney Station. HARLEYFORD ROAD (tramway) leads to the south-east from Vauxhall Station to Kennington, once a royal manor with a palace, granted to the Black Prince by Edward III., and still in part the property of the Duchy of Cornwall. On the way we pass (+ mile) Kennington Oval, the ground of the famous Surrey Cricket Club. Kennington Park, a little to the east, now represents Kennington Common, where the Wesleys and Whitefield preached in 1739 and where the Chartists made their ineffective demonstration in 1848. The terracotta fountain ('Pilgrimage of Life') is by G. Tinworth. St. Mark's Church, at the beginning of the long and respectable Clapham Road (followed by the City and South London tube), is one of the churches built as a thank offering for the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars. These were known as 'half-price' churches, a condition of their building being that the parishioners should provide half the cost. From Kennington BRIXTON ROAD (tramway) leads due south to Brixton, beyond which lies Streatham. Streatham Park (pulled down in 1863, on the south side of Tooting Bec Common, was the country residence of Henry Thrale, at which Dr. Johnson (died 1784) was a frequent guest during the last twenty years of his life. Adjoining Streatham Common (fine views), at the top of the hill, is the Rookery, a beautiful old-world garden, now public property. To the south of Streatham (10+ miles by railway from Victoria to East or West Croydon) is Croydon (hotels), a large residential borough (191,500 inhabitants), now virtually absorbed in Greater London. At the corner of North End and George St. is the brick quadrangle of Whitgift Hospital, founded by Archbishop Whitgift in 1596; just north of it is his Grammar School, now a large modern building. Church St. leads downhill to the church of St. John the Baptist (rebuilt 1867), which contains the tombs of Archbishop Whitgift (died 1604), Archbishop Sheldon (died 1677), and John S. Copley (1737-1815), the painter. Behind the church is the Old Palace of the Archbishops of Canterbury (now a school), believed to have been founded by Archbishop Lanfranc in the 11th century. On Wednesday (2.30-5) and Saturday (10-12) visitors are shown the Hall (late 15th century), the Guard Chamber (early 15th century), the Chapel (fine 17th century roof), and other ancient rooms.