The Garden Guide

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

Wormwood Scrubs

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The only other large space of common land, north of the river within the London area, is Wormwood Scrubs, of very different appearance and associations from Hampstead. The manorial and common rights were purchased by the War Office, and the ground made over to the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1879, with reservations for the rifle range and military exercises. The space is altogether over 200 acres. The ground in ancient times was a wood, adjoining "Old Oak Common," just beyond the London boundary, which was covered with patriarchal oaks. The last was felled in 1830. The ground, being flat, is admirably suited for the War Office purposes; it has gone through a process of draining, and the only part not downtrodden by soldiers has been "improved" by the London County Council, so there is little wildness or attraction in the place. The presence of a prison, erected in 1874, still further diminishes its charm as an open space. This completes the open large spaces on the north; the south of the river is even richer in commons.