The Manor of Battersea and Wandsworth, which included what we now call Wandsworth Common, dates back to the 11th century.
It was once all one piece, contained within an area comprising Battersea West Heath and Wandsworth East Heath, not then called Wandsworth Common. It was owned by the Earls Spencer and called ‘waste’ land because it was not suitable for agriculture, but people were allowed to collect wood, graze cattle and dig gravel.
Wandsworth Common today
The Common we see today is a haphazard collection of no fewer than twelve pieces of varying size, some of which are not thought of as Wandsworth Common even by many locals.
Take a look at our map, which is on sale for just £2 in the Skylark and Toast Rack Cafés, to familiarise yourself with its 177 acres.
The present common is roughly the same overall shape as the original but its acreage is less than half the original, with chunks cut out due mainly to building, including Wandsworth prison, Emmanuel School and the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building. The rest of the reduction and fragmentation was caused by the construction of the railways from Clapham Junction in the mid 1800s and the construction of roads.