Earlsfield’s yummy mummies can thank the novelist Louis de Bernières for putting their corner of south-west London on the capital’s literary map.
Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World is the author’s ode to Earlsfield, where he lived for 10 years, and where he wrote Captain Corelli’s Mandolin in the local library.
Earlsfield and adjoining Southfields sit in the valley of the River Wandle between Wandsworth and Wimbledon commons. The area has a good supply of Victorian and Edwardian family houses, with most in the catchment area of good state primary schools.
'Some families stop off here on a journey which eventually takes them to the country. Others stay to enjoy the strong community spirit'
Estate agent Maddie Miller, of Douglas & Gordon, says that such is the popularity of houses in what is known locally as the Southfields Grid — the streets between Replingham and Revelstoke roads south of Southfields station — that sales are now going to sealed bids. The price per square foot for the area is now between £525 and £575, with some flats going for £600 a square foot.
Property for sale in Southfields and Earlsfield
As well as Victorian and Edwardian terraces there are larger detached and semi-detached Twenties houses in Skeena Hill and Combemartin Road. These sell for between £1 million and £1.25 million compared to around £800,000 for four- or five-bedroom houses in the Southfields Grid. There are purpose-built flats in Swaby and Tranmere Roads, close to Earlsfield station, which sell for between £425,000 and £475,000.
The area attracts: couples with flats in more expensive areas look here as they make the leap up to a house.
Staying power: some families stop off here on a journey which eventually takes them to the country. Others stay to enjoy the strong community spirit.
Best roads: Skeena Hill and Combemartin Road, the Southfields Grid roads, and any near Wandsworth Common such as Routh Road, Lyford Road and Magdalen Road (pictured left), where detached houses go for up to £3 million.
Up and coming: Miller tips the pocket of smaller Victorian houses around The Baulk, off Merton Road, which are in the Sheringdale Primary School catchment area. Three-bedroom houses here sell for £625,000. Also the Pulborough Triangle between Pulborough Road and Wimbledon Park Road is worth a look. Edwardian houses with lots of period features here sell for around £750,000 and are in the equally popular St Michael’s CofE Primary School catchment area.
Schools: successful state primaries include two judged “outstanding” by Ofsted — Allfarthing in St Ann’s Crescent and St Michael’s CofE in Granville Road. The following primary schools are judged to be “good” — Earlsfield in Tranmere Road, Beatrix Potter in Magdalen Road, Wimbledon Park in Havana Road, Riversdale in Merton Road, Swaffield in St Ann’s Hill and Sheringdale in Standen Road.
There are three local comprehensive schools: Southfields (co-ed, 11 to 18) and Ernest Bevin (boys, 11 to 18, with girls in the sixth form) are judged “outstanding”; Burntwood (girls, 11 to 18, with boys in the sixth form) is “good”.
Finton House is a private primary (co-ed, four to 11). Wimbledon has two high-achieving private schools: King’s College School (boys, seven to 18 with girls in the sixth form) and Wimbledon High (girls, four to 18).
Shops and restaurants: Southfields’ life centres around the shops at the junction of Replingham Road and Wimbledon Park Road. Children are well catered for with The Golden Treasury, a specialist bookshop with a tea shop, while Cakes by Robin can supply a Buzz Lightyear birthday cake. Decorative Antiques is good for the shabby-chic look and Chanteroy is a tiny French deli and sandwich bar with long queues at lunchtime.
The Villeroy & Boch and Choumette factory shops on Merton Road are good for tableware bargains. Also on Merton Road, the Earl Spencer is the best local gastropub and Le P’tit Normand is a French bistro. There are shops and restaurants all along Garratt Lane, with a concentration of restaurants and gastropubs around Earlsfield station.
There is a branch of Carluccio’s, Hannah’s is a popular bistro, Cah Chi is a renowned Korean restaurant, Amaranth is a busy Thai restaurant, and the Leather Bottle pub and restaurant is one of Wandsworth’s oldest buildings and has a large garden at the rear.
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Open space: Wimbledon Park overlooks the All England Lawn Tennis Club and is much-loved locally for its café, tennis courts, cricket club, 18-hole private golf club and sailing club. The wild acres of Wimbledon Common are close by.
The River Wandle, however, is a sad affair, mostly running through concrete channels with no riverside walks until St George’s Park, close to Wandsworth town centre.
Leisure and the arts: Tara Arts is an established Asian theatre company with its own premises. It recently staged an experimental production (half the audience were blindfolded) of de Bernières’s play, Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World.
Southfields residents are running a spirited campaign, supported by local MP Justine Greening, to get the old Rileys snooker hall converted back into a cinema. The Tooting Leisure Centre on Greaves Road is the nearest council-owned swimming pool. Virgin Active has a swimming pool at its gym at the Southside shopping centre.
Travel: Southfields is on the Tube District line and Earlsfield is on the train line to Waterloo, a journey of around 15 minutes. Both stations are in Zone 3 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,368.
Council: Wandsworth (Conservative-controlled); Band D council tax for the 2012/2013 year is £678.54.
Pictures by Graham Hussey