Bedford Hill, Tooting, Surrey

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – TQ 288 726

Archaeology & History

This long lost prehistoric tomb is one of many that has fallen under the destructive hammer of the christian Industrialists in this part of the country.  Located somewhere in the parkland grounds of Bedfordhill House (also destroyed), its memory was thankfully preserved by the renowned folklorist and historian Walter Johnson (1903) who wrote of it in his work on prehistoric Surrey, where he told:

“A few years ago a supposed barrow was levelled in Bedford Park, Bedford Hill, Tooting, and no record taken of the results. The mound was enclosed in the Park for several  centuries, but when the grounds were laid out for building purposes ten or a dozen years since, it suffered rough usage, and was finally destroyed. It was nearly 100 yards long, and about 20 feet in breadth in its highest part.  It ran East and West, and had several trees growing on it before its desecration….  A moat had been made round the mound for about two-thirds of its circuit.  This moat was supplied with water by the Ritherdon, a small stream rising in Streatham.  The name is preserved in the adjacent Ritherdon Road.  The material of the mound was gravel and gravelly loam, which, in the neighbourhood, occurred only in a thin layer, thus forbidding the conclusion that the structure was merely composed of the soil dug out in making the moat. The excavated material would largely be London Clay.  As the genuineness of this barrow was, we believe, called in question after its demolition, when the subject was beyond reconsideration, we mention two shreds of collateral evidence. The ground on which the tumulus stood was about the highest in the district. The name Tooting may also have some bearing, for Mr. Clinch thinks that it was a Celtic settlement where was worshipped the deity known as Taith. (Compare also toot-hill, as exemplified in Tot Hill, Headley, Tothill Fields, Westminster, famous for fairs and tournaments, also Tutt Hill, near Thetford.)”

The ‘toot’ in Toothill however, is ascribed by Gover, Mawer & Stenton (1934) as being the usual “look-out hill”.  Although they do make note of the fact “that there is no hill in Tooting which would make a good look-out place.”  But if this was a large barrow of some type, it would explain the etymological oddity.  Any further information on this site would be welcome.

References:

  1. Gover, J.E.B., Mawer, A. & Stenton, F.M., The Place-Names of Surrey, Cambridge Univserity Press 1934.
  2. Johnson, Walter, Neolithic Man in North-East Surrey, Elliot Stock: London 1903.
  3. Smith, A.H., English Place-Name Elements – volume 2, Cambridge University Press 1954.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  51.438102, -0.148399 Bedford Hill tumulus

Vauxhall Well, Lambeth, London, Surrey

Healing Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference — TQ 3006 7734

Archaeology & History

Position of Vauxhall Well on 1824 map

In Thomas Allen’s (1827) huge survey of Lambeth parish, he told that there was little of any interest along Wandsworth Road, apart from a good orchard, “and a fine spring called Vauxhall Well.”  According to Daniel Lysons (1792), it was located “not far from the turnpike”; and according to Mr Sunderland’s (1915), was to be found “on the right-hand side of the Wandsworth Road” as you walked down it to the south.  Thankfully its position was highlighted on the 1824 map of the parish (right) that accompanied Mr Allen’s work.

It appears to have been built over in the latter-half of the 19th century, soon after William Thornbury (1878) wrote that he thought the well was still visible, but vanished soon after.

The waters were universally ascribed by all historians, from Mr Allen onwards, as being,

“esteemed highly serviceable in many disorders of the eyes, and in the hardest winter it is never known to freeze.”

The name ‘Vauxhall’ derives from that brilliantly famous family name of ‘Fawkes’ (as in Guy Fawkes), being the ‘hall of Fawkes’.  The name was first recorded here as early as 1241. (Gover et al, 1934)

References:

  1. Allen, Thomas, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth, J. Allen: London 1827.
  2. Foord, Alfred Stanley, Springs, Streams and Spas of London: History and Association, T. Fisher Unwin: London 1910.
  3. Gover, J.E.B., Mawer, A. & Stenton, F.M., The Place-Names of Surrey, Cambridge University Press 1934.
  4. Lysons, Daniel, The Environs of London – volume 1,  T. Cadell & W. Davies: London 1792.
  5. Sunderland, Septimus, Old London Spas, Baths and Wells, John Bale: London 1915.
  6. Thornbury, William, History of Old and New London – volume 6, Cassell, Petter & Galpin: London 1878.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Vauxhall Well

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Vauxhall Well 51.480198, -0.128334 Vauxhall Well