Putney was probably settled during the Roman occupation. Lower Richmond Road was probably a Roman Road, and the Lower Common was probably an open pasture and farmland.
Land was apparently lost in the 19th century when Elm Lodge was built.
Putney Hospital was closed in 1998 and has remained vacant. Wandsworth council has now purchased the hospital and its Children's Services department has intended to build a new primary school on the site since July 2010. 24 flats are being built at the northern end of the site (the nurse's quarters were demolished) to help fund the project.
Planning permission for the development of the proposed school and flats was overturned by the High Court in early 2013 over a technicality. Planning permission was subsequently re-granted.
The access to the hospital site is proving to be problematic, and an application by a local resident for a judicial review of the sale of the access by the Commons Conservators took place in the High Court in early October, 2013. The Conservators of the Common agreed to sell the access to Wandsworth Council by way of an easement, which, under the 1871 Act that created the Common's legal framework, the resident felt was not legal. The resident lost his case but has appealed. Following the grant of the easement, a strip of common land is to be tarmacked with a new private road to provide access to the school and the luxury flats. In addition, new footpaths, bollards, a remotely controlled barrier and street lighting will be installed, effectively suburbanising the common. As part of the same development, a more substantial portion of common land, currently tarmacked to provide parking for the old hospital, will be returned to grass.
Wandsworth Council confirmed to the Commons Conservators that they intended to compulsorily purchase the Common in the event that the Conservators lost the case. The community group Friends of Putney Common continues to oppose the actions of Wandsworth Council, which are opposed by some local residents.
On April 3, 2014 Lord Justice Rimer granted an application for the case to proceed to the Court of Appeal; the date for the hearing was set for 30 June 2014. The case raises important points of principle; the protection by an Act of Parliament of Metropolitan Open Land, whether the Conservators may permit the effective appropriation and urbanisation of part of Putney Common and the Conservators duties to preserve the common in its "natural state".
In August 2016 the Charity Commission opened a Statutory Inquiry in the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators, citing mismanagement, misconduct and the undersale of land. A valuation of the access indicated a £1,550,000 loss on the sale which completed in August 2014. As at the end of April 2017, the Statutory Inquiry was ongoing. 
The common also includes Putney Lower Common Cemetery which was established in 1858.
In 1871 the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act was passed which prevented further building. The Common still provides traditional activities associated with commons before they were overtaken by urbanisation and enclosure - cricket is played in the summer and there is a fairground on bank holidays. In the south-east corner lies All Saints' Church, built in 1874. The number 22 bus route begins at the Spencer Arms, at the North East corner of the common.
- "Hospitals". Derelict London.
- "Putney Hospital site - new primary school". UK www.wandsworth.gov.uk. Retrieved 2 May 2013.