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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