The focal point of Barnes village is the Green and Pond, the Green connecting to Barnes Common across Beverley Brook. Barnes Pond attracts large numbers of water birds and other waterside wildlife. Re-landscaped a few years ago, it remains a popular attraction for children who love feeding the ducks. The grass is kept mown, making it a favourite area for informal games of football, cricket etc, as well as picnics in the summer.
Managed jointly by the Council and the Barnes Community Association, Barnes Green hosts a variety of activities including a monthly Saturday Collectors' Market, the recently established Barnes Food Fair in September and, of course, Barnes Fair, the BCA's biggest annual event, held on the second Saturday of July. It is also the starting point for the annual Duck Race on Beverley Brook at noon on Easter Saturday.
The Common Keeper's role consists essentially of carrying out and organising works on and around the Green (but, confusingly, not on the Common) whilst liaising with the Council, services, and contractors. There is a particular focus on managing Barnes Pond for wildlife and as a local amenity. The post is funded jointly by the BCA, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, and by generous sponsorship from the Harrodian School, on Lonsdale Road.
The Friends of Barnes Common www.barnescommon.org.uk is a not-for-profit organisation affiliated to the Barnes Community Association and associated with the South West London Environment Network. It organises volunteer work on the Common, campaigns on issues which affect it and seeks to enhance the biodiversity and amenity value for everyone's benefit. Membership is open to all.
The next Oar is some two-thirds of a mile away. Turn right 50 metres onto Barnes Green (or, if the grass is dry, cut across the corner of Barnes Green) and cross the little footbridge across Beverley Brook onto the Common. Turn left across the meadow and follow the tarmac path for 600 metres, bearing left about half-way along (the silver trail disc has an indicator arrow).
The section of the Trail across Barnes Common coincides with part of the longer Beverley Brook Walk http://www.merton.gov.uk/leisure/visiting/attractions/beverleybrookwalk.htm. This is a walk of 6.5 miles, closely following Beverley Brook through Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park and Barnes Common to the River Thames upstream of Putney. The walk goes through some of South London's most varied and beautiful countryside, and takes about three hours at a gentle pace.
When you reach Rocks Lane, cross this busy road at the traffic lights. The Trail heads up Rocks Lane to the left. If instead you go straight ahead for a short distance, past the small car park is the overgrown Old Barnes Cemetery. This has the dubious distinction of being the only London cemetery falling into the 'completely derelict' category, according to this site, although another site notes that 'there is something rather hauntingly beautiful about this area'.
Probably the best-known grave is that of Ebenezer Cobb Morley (1831 - 1924), regarded as the father of The Football Association. He moved to Barnes in 1858, forming the Barnes Club, a founding member of the FA, in 1862. He was the FA's first secretary (1863 - 66) and its second president (1867 - 74) and drafted the first Laws of the Game at his home in Barnes, 26 The Terrace. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnes_Cemetery also notes that eight Commonwealth service personnel, whose graves are registered and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, are buried at the cemetery, five from World War I and three from World War II. There are several ghostly tales associated with the place.
Returning to Rocks Lane, head north alongside Barn Elms recreation and sports field. After 400 metres, you will be at the Red Lion pub, outside which is Oar 1: Barnes and Mortlake Villages.
On the sign:
The Grange is an 18th century house opposite Barnes Green with attractive early 19th century railings. The School next door has existed since 1900 when a community of French Nuns took on the adjoining houses which date from the 18th and 19th century.
In the middle of the Green is the former village school which has pretty bargeboards. It was founded in 1775 and was the size of a small cottage but as the demand for education increased it was added to substantially. Elm Cottage was built for the village schoolmaster. Bowls was played on the village green at the site of the school in Tudor times but when the school was built on the site, this ancient club was moved to the rear of the Sun Inn, where its Green has been in constant use ever since.
The pond (first mentioned in a manorial survey of 1649 but most probably older than the village itself) reminds us that Barnes is on a flood plain and within a meander loop with much surface water. Indeed there were also a series of small ponds and streams on the Green until the 19th century.