Tooting Graveney

Tooting Graveney, Wandsworth/Merton

The more southerly of the two manors into which Tooting was divided at the time of Domesday Book

Hidden London: Longley Road by Mike Faherty

The manor was owned by Chert­sey Abbey and was leased in the twelfth and thir­teenth cen­turies to the Graveney (or Gravenel) fam­i­ly, who may have tak­en their name from the vil­lage of Graveney in north Kent. Toot­ing Com­mon was also split into two parts, along the bor­der between the parish­es of Streatham and Toot­ing Graveney; an avenue of trees was lat­er plant­ed to mark the bound­ary. The Riv­er Graveney, which flows across the south of the local­i­ty, takes its name from the manor, rather than the oth­er way around.

In 1803 Ben­jamin Oak­ley built Toot­ing Lodge, which he soon sold to Rees Gor­ing Thomas. When Thomas acquired the lord­ship of the manor of Toot­ing Graveney in 1811, he renamed the lodge the Manor House. The medieval parish church of St Nicholas, which was dis­tin­guished by a cir­cu­lar tow­er, was demol­ished in the 1830s and replaced by the present struc­ture with a ‘vast barn’ of a nave, which has since been sub­di­vid­ed into more man­age­able parts.

By the 1860s sev­er­al vil­las had been built among the mar­ket gar­dens and the new lord of the manor applied to enclose Toot­ing Graveney Com­mon. Fol­low­ing a com­mon­ers’ court vic­to­ry the com­mon remained free of spec­u­la­tive build­ing and, under the terms of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Com­mons Act, it was trans­ferred to pub­lic own­er­ship in 1875. In his Hand­book to the Envi­rons of Lon­don, pub­lished in the fol­low­ing year, James Thorne described Toot­ing Graveney as “very pleas­ant and, apart from the com­mon, very com­mon­place.”

Until this time the vil­lages of Toot­ing Bec and Toot­ing Graveney (also known as Upper and Low­er Toot­ing) had remained sep­a­rate, but they were linked by sub­ur­ban hous­ing over the lat­ter years of the 19th cen­tu­ry.

In a his­to­ry of Toot­ing Graveney pub­lished in 1897, William Mor­den observed that “the Manor House, which stood on the very bor­der of the manor, and yet not in the parish [of St Nicholas], has been pulled down, and its grounds are now pro­duc­ing a crop of mod­ern res­i­dences.”

Shown in the pic­ture at the top of the page,* Lon­g­ley Road gospel hall opened in 1884 and Hen­ri­et­ta Greas­by estab­lished an auc­tion house in sta­bles on the same road in 1919. Both insti­tu­tions remain in exis­tence though the lat­ter oper­ates from rebuilt premis­es.

West of the com­mon, the Lon­don Coun­ty Coun­cil acquired Tot­ter­down Fields and in 1901 began to lay out its first cot­tage estate here. By 1911 the estate had 1,229 hous­es but only four shops. All Saints’ church was built as the cen­tre­piece of the new estate, in impos­ing Goth­ic style.

From 1931 St Bene­dic­t’s hos­pi­tal (for­mer­ly a Roman Catholic col­lege, then a home for the aged and infirm) occu­pied a swathe of land between Church Lane and Rec­to­ry Lane. St Bene­dic­t’s closed in 1981 and Laing Homes built a hous­ing estate in its stead. The hos­pi­tal’s por­ti­co and clock tow­er were pre­served to adorn the estate.

Toot­ing Graveney nowa­days has a mul­tira­cial com­mu­ni­ty and Merton’s Graveney ward (which strad­dles the rail­way line east of Toot­ing sta­tion) is the most eth­ni­cal­ly diverse in the bor­ough. As the local­i­ty’s demo­graph­ic pro­file has evolved, old build­ings have been put to new uses and St Nicholas’s parochial hall has been con­vert­ed into the Idara-e-Jaáferiya mosque and com­mu­ni­ty cen­tre for Shia Mus­lims. Up towards Toot­ing Bec, the for­mer May­fair cin­e­ma is now a Sun­ni Islam­ic cen­tre.

Postal district: SW17 (Mitcham CR4 south-east of Tooting station: see Gorringe Park)
Population: 25,014 (Wandsworth and Merton’s Graveney wards, 2011 census)
Further reading: William Edward Morden, The History of Tooting-Graveney, Surrey, British Library Historical Print Editions, 2011 (first published 1897)
See also: Tooting Broadway and Furzedown
* The picture of Longley Road gospel hall on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Mike Faherty, and the picture of the Cycle and pedestrian path on Tooting Graveney Common, is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Marathon, both at Geograph Britain and Ireland, and made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse of either image is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.