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 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 and also the roads coming off it. The southern part 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 can be found in Tooting, which comprises substantial homes. It was constructed inside the grounds of the old Bedford Hill House by nearby Victorian builder Alfred Heaver.
Balham is located among four south London commons, namely Clapham Common to the north, Wandsworth Common to the west, Tooting Graveney Common to the south plus the connecting Tooting Bec to the east.
During the Second World War, on 14th October 1940, Balham tube station was badly damaged by air raids on London. Men and women sheltered inside the tube station during 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 people. Ian McEwan describes the event in the novel ‘Atonement’, published in 2001.