The Rookery is an area of public gardens adjoining Streatham Common in South West London. The gardens were first opened to the public in 1913, and were once part of the grounds of a large house that was demolished in the early 1900s.
The Rookery marks the spot of Streatham's original mineral wells for which Streatham was famous in the 17th and 18th centuries. The healing qualities of the waters were first discovered in 1659 when agricultural labourers refreshed themselves from the spring here and experienced the purging effects of the water. Great claims were made for the beneficial effects of the Streatham waters, which were said to cure all manner of ills including rheumatism, gout, jaundice, bilious attacks and even blindness.
On the strength of such claims the site was developed as a medicinal spa and huge crowds flocked to take the waters. In the 18th century it was not uncommon for coaches to queue for a mile along Streatham High Road while they waited to gain access to the grounds. Queen Mary made a number of visits to the Rookery. One of her favourite places was the White Garden, which is featured in the panorama. This garden only has flowers with white blooms and even the benches are painted white.
Today, Streatham is part of the London Borough of Lambeth, a bustling, cosmopolitan and multicultural area with more than it's fair share of noise, pollution and traffic congestion. The Rookery is still an ideal sanctuary for those wishing temporary escape from the noise and bustle of urban life in South West London.