Stockwell was originally a manor house and its surrounding lands which was granted by the crown in the thirteenth century. It remained in private hands until the very beginning of the 1800’s when it was sold off in parcels of land for development. As London’s population increased from 1 million in 1801 to 7 million a century later, Stockwell was one the rural areas into which people flooded. To the north of Stockwell was Vauxhall and its naughty pleasure gardens. To the east the village of Brixton, to the west, Clapham.
Stockwell Park Crescent is a lovely street of pretty houses. It was laid out in the 1830’s and the houses were built around 1840, right at the very start of the Victorian era. It was aimed at the upper end of the property market. Many of the houses have three stories and were intended to house a family and their several servants. Theirs would have been a very middle class life. The man of the house would likely have travelled across the recently opened Vauxhall Bridge to Westminster or across London Bridge to the City. Entertainment was available in the increasingly fashionable West End.
Stockwell’s fortunes have ebbed and flowed since those days. It is currently on the up and the Crescent reflects that. The houses in this street are all in good nick, nicely restored and freshly painted. Middle class sturdiness radiates from them. And a certain self-satisfaction. As I walked along it, the autumn leaves that had fallen from the many trees that edge the street were being swept up by red faced ladies readying their gardens for winter. Bulbs were being planted. Each house had a neat row of recycling bins. Everything in its place in the lovely houses of Stockwell Park Crescent.