Esoteric London

No. 1006: Green Lanes, N15

Posted in Parks, Political London, Wildlife by esotericlondon on January 6, 2014

©RogerDean_RED_6164 copy

Ducketts Common, Green Lanes, London, N15. Photo © Roger Dean 2013

London Parks and Gardens – The Honble Mrs. Evelyn Cecil, 1907:

Due west of Peckham lies Clapham, the largest of the South London Commons, 220 acres in extent; although, being flat and compact in shape, it does not appear larger than Tooting, which is really only 10 acres less, but of more rambling shape. The Common has suffered much less than most of its neighbours from enclosures. It was shared between two manors, Battersea and Clapham, and the rival lords and commonalities, each jealous of their own special rights, were more careful to prevent encroachments than was often the case. At one time Battersea went so far as to dig a great ditch to prevent the cattle of the Clapham people coming into its part of the ground. The other parish resisted and filled up the ditch, and was sued for trespass by Battersea, which, however, lost its case – this ended in 1718. The Common has an air of dignified respectability, and is still surrounded with some solid old-fashioned houses, although modern innovations have destroyed a great number of them. A nice old buttressed wall, over which ilex trees show their heads, and suggest possibilities of a shady lawn, carries one back to the time when Pepys retired to Clapham to “a very noble house and sweete place, where he enjoyed the fruite of his labour in great prosperity”; or to the days when Wilberforce lived there, and he, together with the other workers in the same cause, Clarkson, Granville Sharp, and Zachary Macaulay, used to meet at the house of John Thornton by the Common.

There is nothing wild now about the Common, and the numbers of paths which intersect it are edged by high iron railings, to prevent the entire wearing away of the grass. The beauty of the ground is its trees. They proclaim it to be an old and honoured open space, and not a modern creation. Only one tree has any pretentions to historical interest, having been planted by the eldest son of Captain Cook the explorer, but only a stump remains.

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