The dual identity of Southfields
Charlie Burton - Senior Commissioning Editor at GQ
Southfields was once, as its name suggests, open green space on the outskirts of the city.
Today it retains that dual identity – firmly part of the capital but with a satisfyingly rural demeanour – and has made it a considerable virtue. You can commute from Southfields Tube station to Victoria in just over 20 minutes, say, yet nearby Wimbledon Common is the largest expanse of heathland in the whole of London.
As a neighbourhood, it has the spirit of an out-of-town community. Its tree-lined Edwardian and Victorian roads are predominantly residential, with spacious houses and gardens. There are popular residents associations and the same milkman has served the area for almost 30 years. Even during Wimbledon, when thousands flock to the All England Club – itself technically located in Southfields – the environs somehow retain their sense of calm.
Walk down to the high street, however, and you’ll find an array of much loved small businesses. Whether its coffee houses such as DropShot, restaurants such as Olive Garden or ice cream parlours such as Gelatiamo, there are plenty of options for the weekend – including more than a few first-class pubs. The Gardeners has a hidden gem of a beer garden, for instance, and the Earl Spencer was recently awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide.
It will come as no surprise, then, that the area is popular with families – not least because it has excellent schools in surplus. Sheringdale Primary School and St. Michael's C.E. Primary School are both rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, and there’s well-regarded Southfields Academy for secondary and sixth form. There are also top-tier private schools such as King's College School, Wimbledon High School and Putney High School all within about three miles of the Tube station.
Like a village, part of Southfields’ appeal is the ease with which you can get out into nature. There are enticing walking and cycling routes along the River Wandle, which cuts up through Southfields to the Thames, but there is also an abundance of greenery right on the doorstep. Yes, that includes the aforementioned Wimbledon Common – where you’ll also find Royal Wimbledon Golf Club – but also pretty Wimbledon Park plus lesser known attractions such as Cannizaro Park with its beautiful landscaped gardens or the nature trails of King George’s Park. A little further on, of course, and you’re quickly into the wilds of Richmond Park. And then you really may as well be in the countryside.
Charlie Burton is the Senior Commissioning Editor of GQ, the leading UK men’s lifestyle magazine, and also its technology columnist. He writes monthly commentary on the technology-driven trends that are changing the world and co-edits the publication’s tech reviews. Charlie Burton was formerly the Associate Editor of Wired magazine, the monthly chronicle of disruptive ideas and innovations, to which he continues to contribute articles. His first book, How To Win At Life, a collection of interviews with world experts about the things they do best, is out now. Follow him on Twitter @charlie_burton and Instagram @charlieburtongq