Brixton is mainly residential with a prominent street market and substantial retail sector. It is a multiethnic community, with a large percentage of its population being of African and Caribbean descent. It lies within Innersouth London and is bordered by Stockwell, Clapham, Streatham, Camberwell, Tulse Hill and Herne Hill. The district houses the main offices of the London Borough of Lambeth.
The name Brixton is thought to originate from Brixistane, meaning the stone of Brixi, a Saxon lord. Brixi is thought to have erected a boundary stone to mark the meeting place of the ancient hundred court of Surrey. The location is unknown but is thought to be at the top of Brixton Hill, at a road known at the time as Bristow or Brixton Causeway, long before any settlement in the area. Brixton marks the rise from the marshes of North Lambeth up to the hills of Upper Norwood and Streatham. At the time the River Effra flowed from its source in Upper Norwood through Herne Hill to Brixton. At Brixton the river was crossed by low bridges for Roman roads to the south coast of Britain, now Brixton Road and Clapham Road. The main roads were connected through a network of medieval country lanes, such as Acre Lane, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton Water Lane and Lyham Road, formerly Black Lane. It was only at the end of the 18th century that villages and settlements formed around Brixton, as the original woodland was gradually reduced until the area was covered in farmland and market gardens known for game and strawberries.
The name is first recorded as Brixiges stan in 1062, meaning stone of a man called Beorhtsige. The stone may have been the location that early hundred meetings took place. Gower suggests that the stone was located at the boundary of Streatham, Clapham and Lambeth parishes. A nearby location on Brixton Hill became the location for the hundred gallows. Brixton Hill had been known as Bristowe Causeway long before the modern Brixton area was developed. The Surrey House of Correction, now known as Brixton Prison, was opened there in 1820.
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