The Gravel Thieves

Tooting Graveney Common is full of hollows and ditches and even a lake: but these aren't natural. They're there because for a long time, the parishioners of Tooting Graveney had the right to gather gravel from the common; and they gathered so much gravel that they pitted the common with hollows.

The problem came when inhabitants of nearby Streatham started to sneak into Tooting Graveney to take gravel for themselves. Over the course of the sixteenth century, there were many arrests for Streathamite gravel-stealing - and a few for illicit sheep-grazing and goose-keeping.

This went on for decades, until finally, in 1709, even inhabitants of Tooting Graveney were told their gravel-digging days were over: "No gravel was to be taken off the common, except such as be laid on the Queen's highway, on forfeit of a penny for every load".

Read more stories about parks and commons.

Read more stories about the eighteenth century.

Read more stories about crime.

Read more stories about the law.

Read more stories about Streatham.

Read more stories about royalty.

Read more stories about Tooting.

Picture by Leo Reynolds under a by-nc-sa CC licence, under which this version of the picture is also released.
Story source: W.E. Morden,