Balham is a district in south London inside the London Borough of Wandsworth. The settlement appears inside the Domesday Book as Belgeham. Bal signifies ‘rounded enclosure’ and ham a homestead, village or river enclosure. The location 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 as well as the roads coming off it. The southern part of Balham which is near Tooting Bec includes a block of 1930s Art Deco flats called Du Cane Court. There is also the Heaver Estate which can be found in Tooting, which comprises substantial homes. It was built within the grounds of the old Bedford Hill House by local Victorian builder Alfred Heaver.
Balham is located amongst four south London commons, namely Clapham Common to the north, Wandsworth Common to the west, Tooting Graveney Common towards the south along with the connecting Tooting Bec to the east.
In the Second World War, on 14th October 1940, Balham tube station was badly affected by air raids on London. People sheltered inside the tube station during the raids, however a bomb fell in the High Road and through the rooftop of the Underground station, bursting a water and gas mains and killing around 64 individuals. Ian McEwan describes the event in the novel ‘Atonement’, published in 2001.