Balham is a district in south London within the London Borough of Wandsworth. The settlement features in the Domesday Book as Belgeham. Bal signifies ‘rounded enclosure’ and ham a homestead, village or river enclosure. The area has been settled since Saxon times, and Balham Hill and Balham High Road follow the line of the Roman road Stane Street to Chichester.
Balham encompasses the A24 north of Tooting Bec along with the roads coming off it. The southern area of Balham which is near Tooting Bec features a block of 1930s Art Deco flats named Du Cane Court. There's also the Heaver Estate which is in Tooting, which comprises substantial homes. It was constructed in the grounds of the old Bedford Hill House by nearby Victorian builder Alfred Heaver.
Balham is positioned amongst four south London commons, namely Clapham Common to the north, Wandsworth Common towards the west, Tooting Graveney Common to the south plus the connecting Tooting Bec towards the east.
During the Second World War, on 14th October 1940, Balham tube station was badly affected by air raids on London. Families sheltered in the tube station throughout the raids, however a bomb fell in the High Road and through the top of the Underground station, bursting a water and gas mains and killing about 64 individuals. Ian McEwan describes the event as part of his novel ‘Atonement’, published in 2001.