This is the area of south-west London that lies on the outskirts of the city, to the south of Brixton and Lambeth. The name dates from Saxon times and means "the dwellings by the street", although the area has been settled since at least Roman times.
For much of its history the district remained remote, rural and sparsely populated. However in the 17th century, after the plague and the Great Fire forced London residents to flee from The City, the area's population steadily began to increase.
Streatham was a well-travelled area, and easily accessible to The City, and so many of London's wealthy merchants and traders chose to settle here. As a result several large mansions were built in the district.
Then in the late 17th century a medicinal spring was discovered in the district and so Streatham Spa was founded. The Spa soon became popular and visitors flocked to the district.
Over the next 100 years or so the district continued to attract wealthy residents and the architecture of the area reflected this. Houses tended to be elegant villas and mansions, and the district gained an air of wealth and exclusivity.
The railway first reached Streatham in the 1850s and the population soon expanded. Some of the mansions were replaced with large residential estates, but until the early 20th century the district remained relatively elegant.
But in the early 20th century development of the area saw many of the remaining mansions demolished to be replaced with rows of terraced houses and council estates. Streatham soon lost its exclusive atmosphere and became the typical south London suburb of today.
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