Song to the Wolf Moon
It’s as if the word ‘enclave’ had been invented just for Crescent Grove. So near the madding crowd yet a world away from it all. The pairs of houses marking the entrance to this exclusive residential area may be visible from the Bedlamic High Street but the only nightlife you’ll find in Crescent Grove is the odd owl in the trees. Today, as the Wolf Moon waits for twilight, the winter sun casts long shadows darkening leafy foregrounds and sharpening stuccoed corners.
Clapham street names like to state the obvious: Long Road, bisecting the Common, isn’t short; The Pavement is pedestrian friendly; The Polygon is an irregular five sided block; and Crescent Grove – guess what? – is a curved terrace opposite a group of trees. Although the latter also has a straight row of attached houses on the opposite side of the miniature woods. The enclave radiates old money: gentlemen here are more likely to drive their convertible than board the omnibus. Crescent Grove is a reminder of Clapham’s historic origins: sects in the city began in SW4.
Gillian Clegg records in Clapham Past, 1998, “Between 1800 and 1860 Clapham’s reputation as a place of wealth and comfort at first attracted speculative developers with an eye to richer clients. The most prestigious new development was Clapham Park laid out by Thomas Cubitt. Two smaller but stylish developments were Crescent Grove and Grafton Square.” A new world of Londonisation descended on semirural Surrey.
The author continues, “Crescent Grove, comprising an elegant curved terrace on one side and semidetached houses linked by coach houses on the other was laid out in 1824 by Francis Child. The entrance to the estate was through ornamental gates flanking the two larger houses facing South Side. Child was concerned to keep his estate exclusive and all but four of the houses were conveyed to other members of his family.”