Balham is a district in south London inside the London Borough of Wandsworth. The settlement appears within 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 part of Balham which is near Tooting Bec features 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 houses. It was constructed within the grounds of the old Bedford Hill House by nearby Victorian builder Alfred Heaver.
Balham lies amongst 4 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 to the east.
In WW2, on 14th October 1940, Balham tube station was badly affected by air raids on London. Individuals sheltered in the tube station through the raids, but a bomb fell in the High Road and through the roof of the Underground station, bursting a water and gas mains and killing about 64 people today. Ian McEwan describes the event in the novel ‘Atonement’, published in 2001.