The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 8 Commons and Open Spaces

Tooting Common.

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Away to the south-west of Clapham lies Tooting (why does the very name sound comic, and invariably produce a laugh ?), another Common, nearly as large, and much more wild and picturesque. Clapham is essentially a town open space, like an overgrown village green; but on Tooting Common one can successfully play at being in the country. The trees are quite patriarchal, and have nothing suburban about them, except their blackened stems. There are good spreading oaks and grand old elms, gnarled thorns, tangles of brambles, and golden gorse. The grass grows long, with stretches of mossy turf, and has not the melancholy, down-trodden appearance of Clapham or Peckham Rye. Fine elm avenues overshadow the main roads, and no stiff paths with iron rails, take away from the rural effect. Even the railway, which cuts across it in two directions, has only disfigured and not completely spoilt the park-like appearance. The disused gravel-pits, now filled with water, have been enlarged since the London County Council had possession; and if only the banks could be left as wild and natural, as nature is willing to make them, they may be preserved from the inevitable stamp which marks every municipal park. The smaller holes, excavated by virtue of the former rights of digging gravel, and already overgrown, assist rather than take away from the charms of the Common.