Crooked Billet

Crooked Billet, Merton

The southernmost tip of Wimbledon Common has a distinct – if little known – identity, taking its name from a popular Young’s pub that faces onto a triangular green

Crooked Billet greyscale green

Despite claims of a Cromwellian connec­tion, the eponymous property (on the left in the photo­graph above) probably dates from the early 18th century and became the Crooked Billet in the 1750s. However, the building has been so greatly altered that it is not deemed worthy of statutory listing.

Around 1770 Cinque Cottages were built on the green, possibly as an illegal encroach­ment. The cottages were later divided into eight dwellings. Piecemeal rede­vel­op­ment of the locality over more than two centuries has peri­od­i­cally altered the arrange­ment of the buildings, but several other prop­er­ties survive from the 18th and early 19th centuries. The Hand in Hand public house had become the Crooked Billet’s neighbour by 1890.

Southside House, on nearby Woodhayes Road, was built by Robert Pennington, a friend of the future Charles II, as a safe haven for his family after his son died in the Great Plague. Pennington’s descen­dants still live here to this day. Its neighbour is King’s College school, which took over a Georgian house in 1897 and had progres­sively expanded its premises since then.

Both pubs on the green are said to be haunted. The Crooked Billet’s ghost is an Irishwoman who confines her wanderings to the cellars.

Postal district: SW19


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