No matter how comfortable your surroundings, sometimes you just need to get away and immerse yourself in a green oasis.
Such a place exists, no more than a 10 minute drive from the Vale. Tucked away at the higher end of Streatham Common, ‘The Rookery’ feels a world away and will transport you to a bygone era.
It often takes a bit of hard work to gain rewards in life – and so it is here. The beautifully landscaped park, whose origins lie in a spa created in 1659, is accessed via many flights of stone steps that follow the line of a steep valley.
Thousands of visitors flocked here in the 16th and 17th centuries to avail themselves of the waters of Well House and indeed, bottles of the mineral water were still being delivered with the milk in the 19th century. The present gardens were laid out by later owners of the property and officially opened to the public in 1913. Wander here and you will walk in the footsteps of Queen Mary who was a regular guest.
Begin in the White Garden, a perfumed joy on a summer’s day. Meander along rose covered walkways, around the walled garden, past formal beds and herbaceous borders. Take a while to rest on one of the benches to quietly contemplate this peaceful corner of an otherwise busy London.
On past soothing ponds, a tinkling fountain, a disused well.
Next is a wilder, woodland area. Stop, look and listen for the birds and insects. Move through to the rock garden with its running streams and finally, a waterfall complete with stepping stones to cross – thence to a lawn and back to where you started.
And when you are ready to re-join the social whirl, there is a café, run by the Streatham Common Co-operative, serving drinks and delicious snacks.
Once Covid-19 is firmly behind us, keep an eye out for the many and varied events that take place here including guided walks, concerts, plays and other community celebrations (www.therookerycafe.co.uk)
The Rookery is at the higher end of Streatham Common, beside Streatham Common South.