Family homes and good-value flats in Herne Hill are more popular than ever

With Edwardian and Victorian houses of varying sizes, as well as a bustling weekend market, the suburb of Herne Hill is more popular than ever. Dive into this family area, four miles south of central London...

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Few who live in the south London suburb of Herne Hill will forget that fateful August day during the long, hot summer of 2013 when they woke to find the centre of their pleasant neighbourhood standing in nearly five feet of water. 

The cause was a burst water main near Herne Hill station that caused damage estimated at £4 million. Most businesses in the affected area managed to reopen, but nearly two years on from the disaster, one of Herne Hill’s landmark buildings, the Victorian Grade II-listed Half Moon pub, remains closed. The flood was dramatic, but the suburb has bounced back and is more popular than ever, with hoards of visitors making the pilgrimage every Sunday morning to a street market in front of the railway station. 

Herne Hill is about four miles south of central London, with Brixton and Camberwell to the north, East Dulwich to the east, Dulwich Village and Tulse Hill to the south, and Brixton Hill and  Clapham to the west. 

The name Herne Hill first appeared in 1789. Before then, the area around what is now the station was known as Island Green. No one seems to know how the name Herne Hill arose. Did it come from the local Herne family?  It may have been previously called Heron’s Hill, as the River Effra attracted herons. In the 15th century, there was a nearby field called Le Herne, which translated from the Anglian means “an angle or corner of land”.



What there is to buy in Herne Hill
Herne Hill has mainly Victorian and Edwardian houses of varying sizes that were built following the opening of Herne Hill station in 1862. There are large semi-detached houses in Stradella Road and Winterbrook Road off Half Moon Lane that now sell for more than £2 million. 

Even though they are in Herne Hill, the roads between Herne Hill and Half Moon Lane are often referred to as the North Dulwich triangle. Victorian terrace houses in these streets sell for more than £1 million and some have topped the £1.5 million mark, a point illustrated by properties in Beckwith Road, which have sold for between £1,125,000 and £1.65 million in the past two years. 

Houses in Fawnbrake Avenue, an attractive road between Milkwood Road and Herne Hill, are selling for between £1.3 million and £1.6 million. 

Properties in the poets’ roads off Dulwich Road, close to Brockwell Park — Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton — were built as exhibition houses, so are all very different. Most have been divided into flats, with  two-bedroom flats now starting at about £400,000. Whole houses have been selling for between £725,000 and £1.3 million.



Half Moon Lane offers shops and eateries, while roads such as Rollscourt Avenue have a variety of Victorian houses

Herne Hill is not on the Underground, although it is a short bus ride to Brixton, at the end of the Victoria line. Trains from Herne Hill take  12 minutes to Victoria and on Thameslink it is 24 minutes to St Pancras and 14 minutes to Farringdon. Trains from North Dulwich take 17 minutes to  London Bridge. Both stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,284.

The area attracts: estate agent Anthony Shoring from the local branch of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says Herne Hill is for families who want to bring up their children in London and are passionate about the area. “They don’t yearn after the white picket fence gentility of Dulwich Village,” he adds.

What there is to rent in Herne Hill
Herne Hill is popular with young families. Two-bedroom garden flats are particularly popular and these range in price from £1,400 to £2,000 a month.

This flat in Romola Road is on the Tulse Hill side of Herne Hill. It is available for £1,408 a month, while this flat in Beckwith Road is available to rent from £1,995 a month. 

The rental yield for one- and two-bedroom flats is about four per cent and about 3.5 per cent for houses.

Average prices: renting houses and flats in Herne Hill
One-bedroom flat: £1,229 a month
Two-bedroom flat: £1,723 a month
Two-bedroom house: £1,898 a month
Three-bedroom house: £2,549 a month
Four-bedroom house: £3,031 a month

Where might La Roux singer Elly Jackson bump into Thomas Cromwell?

Three things about Herne Hill

The Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance, a former artistic director of the Globe Theatre who recently starred as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, rather wonderfully lives in Herne Hill’s Shakespeare Road. Other residents of this popular road include pop star Elly Jackson, aka La Roux, and restaurant critic Jay Rayner.

How did a Herne Hill hero’s head come home?
Thomas Lynn Bristowe (1833-1892), the MP for Norwood, was instrumental in creating Herne Hill’s Brockwell Park. Sadly he collapsed and died on the steps of Brockwell Hall at the opening ceremony on June 6, 1892. A bust of Bristowe was lost following a road widening scheme, but in 2010 it was found covered in brambles in Brookhampton Hall in Cambridgeshire. It has now been restored and returned to the park where it sits, pride of place, in the entrance hall of Brockwell Hall. 

Which one-time Herne Hill resident gave Hollywood bosses a headache?
Hollywood star Ida Lupino grew up in Herne Hill and, during her early years, lived in Ardbeg Road. Lupino, who hailed from a theatrical family, went to Hollywood where she starred with Humphrey Bogart in the film High Sierra. Signed to Warner Brothers then Columbia Pictures, Lupino was an early feminist who often refused roles she thought unworthy. She went on to direct and write film scripts.

Photographs by Daniel Lynch.

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