Living in Nunhead: area guide to homes, schools and transport links

The south-east London district of Nunhead has good-value homes near popular schools - and fast Overground trains to Shoreditch and the City.
Squeezed between the yummy mummies of East Dulwich and the hipsters of Peckham, it is now time for the south-east London neighbourhood of Nunhead to have its day in the sun. There is a story, totally unproven, that Nunhead got its name from a feisty abbess who refused to agree to the disbandment of her nunnery by Henry VIII’s authority and was beheaded for her insubordination.

Today, Nunhead life revolves around its tucked-away high street, Evelina Road, where there is a fishmonger, a baker and a butcher. There are  almshouses and pubs overlooking the  village green, where the local council and the Mayor of London have spent £1.2 million on regeneration over the last couple of years. The green has been transformed with new planting and seating, while shop fronts have been improved and new artworks, including a mosaic and a mural, have been commissioned. 

Festivals keep Nunhead’s new-found energy going. This year there have been pop-up cocktail bars, “happenings” in the shops, film screenings, food events and more. Atmospheric Nunhead Cemetery, a favourite with dog walkers, is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries the Victorians built in a ring around London, and home to romantic, crumbling tombs and monuments. For two nights in September, as darkness descended, Arbonauts, a local immersive theatre group, brought their new show to the ruined Gothic chapel at the centre of the cemetery.

All this activity has had a positive  impact on Nunhead house prices which at one point this year, according to Jane Robathan from local estate agent Roy Brooks, drew level with those in traditionally more expensive East Dulwich. “There was a mini-boom in Nunhead in the run-up to the Mortgage Market Review, but this has calmed down since.”

IMAGE GALLERY: BROWSE HOMES FOR SALE IN NUNHEAD

 


What there is to buy
Nunhead has mainly Victorian terrace  houses but there are also a few blocks of new-build flats and post-war estates of social housing. Price per square foot ranges between £400 and £500, with very special homes fetching £550.

The most expensive house currently for sale is a four-bedroom semi-detached Victorian villa in St Mary’s Road, conveniently close to the Overground at Queens Road Peckham station, with trains to Shoreditch High Street. The asking price is £1.35 million.

Nunhead’s three-bedroom Victorian houses sell for between £650,000 and £800,000. One in Cheltenham Road,  halfway between Honor Oak and Nunhead stations, is on the market for £770,000. Nunhead has been a fast-improving area over the last five years and it is now hard to find houses to do up. However, in Ivydale Road, a three-bedroom house in need of complete renovation is for sale for £600,000.

One of the most architecturally interesting buildings in Nunhead is Pioneer Centre in Frobisher Place. This Modern Movement building was home to the Peckham Experiment, a health centre which blazed a trail in the concept of preventative medicine among local people. It has now been converted into flats, one of which, with two bedrooms, is on the market for £525,000.

Two-bedroom garden flats range in price from about £230,000 to  £430,000. One with a particularly lovely garden in Rye Hill Park, close to Peckham Rye, is for sale for £425,000.

One-bedroom flats start at around £225,000. A one-bedroom flat in a modern block in Gautrey Road that could do with a lick of paint and a new kitchen and bathroom is for sale for £230,000.

Average prices: buying flats and houses in Nunhead
One-bedroom flat: £286,000
Two-bedroom flat: £398,000
Two-bedroom house: £495,000
Three-bedroom house: £593,000
Four-bedroom house: £648,000
Source:  zoopla.co.uk
 
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Nunhead attracts: young people who rent with a view to eventually buying and families who can't afford East Dulwich

Renting: the Overground from Queens Road Peckham attracts renters working in Old Street and Shoreditch, and many young people moving to the area will rent with a view to eventually buying. A two-bedroom garden flat close to the station in Queens Road that would suit sharers is available for £1,495 a month.

Tenants expect to pay around £900 for a studio, £1,500 for a two-bedroom flat and from £1,900 to £2,300 for a three-bedroom house. In Howbury Road , a three-bedroom house is for rent at £1,900 a month. Landlords can expect a rental yield of between four and five per cent. 

Average prices: renting flats and houses in Nunhead
One bedroom flat: £1,190 a month
Two bedroom flat: £1,443 a month
Two bedroom house: £1,499 a month
Three bedroom house: £2,078 a month
Source:  zoopla.co.uk
 


Postcode: Nunhead falls within the SE15 Peckham postcode that stretches as far as parts of South Bermondsey and Old Kent Road. 

What’s new: as part of the regeneration of Nunhead Green, a new community centre, a terrace of townhouses and a block of flats are being built on two sites overlooking the green and in Nunhead Lane. 

Laundry Houses in Albert Way, between Queens Road and Old Kent Road, are two new-build, timber-clad four-bedroom houses on the site of a former laundry. Designed by architects Quay2c, the houses have innovative wildflower roofs and are for sale for £875,000. See homesandproperty.co.uk/laundry.

Travel: trains from Nunhead station to Victoria take 18 minutes, the journey to St Pancras takes 30 minutes, with stops along the way at Blackfriars, City Thameslink and Farringdon. From Queens Road Peckham station, trains to London Bridge take eight minutes and there are Overground trains to Clapham Junction, taking 18 minutes, and to Canary Wharf, changing at Canada Water, taking 14 minutes, with  the journey to Shoreditch High Street taking 17 minutes. The two stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,256.

The area attracts: local agent Jane Robathan says that Nunhead has traditionally been a magnet for families who couldn’t afford East Dulwich. Recently though, Nunhead is drawing younger buyers from the East End who come for the Peckham nightlife and the  Overground to Shoreditch.
 
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One of Nunhead's best roads: St Mary's Road

Best roads: Tresco Road has some double-fronted houses. St Mary’s Road has fine flat-fronted early Victorian villas. The roads close to Ivydale Primary School, such as Limesford Road, Hichisson Road, Cheltenham Road and Surrey Road are also much in demand. Staying power: Robathan says the estate agent she works for is often called in to value houses that have been occupied by the same family for 40 years — so this is an area where people are happy to put down roots.  However, the choice of property is limited and families wanting larger houses have to look elsewhere.

Up-and-coming areas: house prices are cheaper closer to Queens Road but the recently improved Overground station and the arrival of Blackbird Bakery, a branch of the small south London artisan chain, is giving the area a lift. 
 


Schools: there are two state primary schools that are judged “good” by Ofsted — St Mary Magdalene CofE in Brayards Road and Ivydale in Ivydale Road. Local state comprehensives Harris Girls’ Academy East Dulwich (ages 11 to 18) in Homestall Road and Harris Boys’ Academy East Dulwich (ages 11 to 18) in Peckham Rye are judged “outstanding”. Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College in Pepys Road (co-ed, ages three to 18), New Cross, is an all-through state school that is also judged “outstanding”.  As for private schools, Dulwich College, Alleyn’s School and James Allen’s Girls’ School, are all nearby in Dulwich.
 
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Traditional trades: Lester Barrow at FC Soper fishmongers in Evelina Road, which also has a butcher, a baker and a deli

Shops and restaurants: Evelina Road is very much a traditional high street, with one of south London’s best fishmongers, FC Soper; a butcher, HA Smith; Ayres the bakers, and a delicatessen called Bambuni. Papa Bear sells mid-century furniture and there are specially selected home accessories available there in the run-up to Christmas. 

The Ivy House in Stuart Road  made history in August last year as the first pub to become co-operatively owned, after it was  listed as an asset of community value and bought by the community under the provisions of the Localism Act. 

The Old Nun’s Head is a hard-to-miss mock Tudor pub on Nunhead Green that serves a variety of street food including burgers from Burger Bear, hot dogs from Oh My Dog and south American food and Sunday roasts from Soul Cocina. The Waverley Arms in Ivydale Road has recently been refurbished.
 
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Dog walkers’ favourite: Nunhead Cemetery’s formal avenues give it a Gothic feel

WHAT THE LOCALS SAY ON TWITTER:

@NunheadSage
@BambuniNunhead-Great deli with huge range of F&B; @ratracecycles - superb LBS for all cycling needs. @Papabearnunhead - cool furniture and craft collaborations @theoldnunshead unique friendly local 

@NunheadSage @TheWaverleyArms new pub - @beershoplondon newly opening craft beer micropub @PTOOcomedy best comedy night ever @PeckhamBazaar 10/10 restaurant

@NunheadSage sample deli activity us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=8d075fb4943… see it all here lovenunhead.co.uk

@trickidicky the ivy house is 100% the best pub in Nunhead

@sipandsavouruk AG Flowers fantastic, friendly florist. @theoldnunshead for beer and rotating food pop-ups. @Jay_Sopers for fish, even on Sun

@JCTrinder The Earl of Derby at the Telegraph. Friendly old school pub with excellent food. Great Sunday Roast!

@NunheadSage plus local fruit and veg, @ayres_the_baker old skool bakery, @NunheadDC for friendly DC’ing, @agflowers1 for amazing flwrs

@gudrunlawyer Charlie Foxtrot Vintage for retro styles and hair do's at the back.

@NunheadSage plus @CharlieFoxtrotV who have just joined the Nunhead massive @PeckhamBR for yet more beer!

@NunheadSage @RoyBrooksAgency for a quirky independent estate agency...

@aboycalledsu needs to include @theoldnunshead and the soon-to-be-opening @beershoplondon

@SkullyBen @NunheadFA Bajan Spice make excellent caribbean food. I love their rotis, and come over from Brockley especially for them

@NunheadSage @NunheadRadio local radio station and a community centre to come @NunheadsVoice

@aakirkpatrick @TheWaverleyArms @Save_Ivy_House @earl_ofderby @BambuniNunhead @Jay_Sopers @ayres_the_baker great. Sadly lacking restaurants!

@NunheadSage plus @shearclassshoes and the best fish shop in S London @Jay_Sopers + new cafe/restaurant opening in the old trumans arms

@roswynnejones @peckhampeculiar - try @PeckhamBazaar @theoldnunshead @Jay_Sopers @agflowers1 @BambuniNunhead @TheFONC & @NunheadRadio

@NunheadSage getting grief for not including @nunhead_green newly developed @peckhampeculiar our own paper and @Save_Ivy_House local pub!

@nunhead_lives no one has mentioned @PeckhamBazaar unspeakably good Greek style grub
 

Open space: Peckham Rye Park and Common is a restored Victorian park and historic common with an ornamental garden, Japanese and American gardens, a skatepark, lake, children’s playground and café. 

Leisure and the arts: There’s an active local pop-up art scene with the Nunhead Art Trail, now in its second year, and the Peckham & Nunhead Free Film Festival, both taking place in September. The South London Gallery in Peckham is a leading contemporary art gallery.

The nearest council-owned swimming facility is the newly restored Victorian pool at Dulwich Leisure  Centre in Crystal Palace Road, East Dulwich. 

The area has a rather unusual golf club — the volunteer-run Aquarius Golf Club in Marmora Road, which has a nine-hole course laid out around and on the roof  of the covered Beechcroft Reservoir. 

Council: Southwark council is Labour controlled, and Band D council tax for the current year is £1,211.14.
 
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Historic: Nunhead Cemetery, with important monuments, is one of London’s “Magnificent Seven” Victorian cemeteries

Three things about Nunhead:
What links David Beckham with an open book at Nunhead Cemetery?

In August 1912, nine sea scouts, eight of them from Walworth in south London, drowned when a storm blew up off the Isle of Sheppey on their way to a camp at Leysdown, in what has become known as The Leysdown Tragedy. John Beckham and his brother Edward, then 11, the soccer legend’s great-grandfather, survived but their brother William, a patrol leader, perished. The dead were buried in Nunhead Cemetery, where there is a memorial in the form of an open book.

Where did the “pub rock” music genre cross the river?
Pub Rock flourished in the pubs of north London for a brief period in the Seventies before the arrival of punk. The genre strayed south of the river to one venue in south London, the Newlands Tavern, now The Ivy House, in Stuart Road, which saw performances from the likes of Elvis Costello, Joe Strummer, Ian Dury, Dr Feelgood and Jeff Beck.

What links a Nunhead pub to one of the oldest names in fireworks?
Brocks Fireworks manufactured fireworks from the end of the 17th century to 1988 when it was taken over by Standard Fireworks, although the name has been resurrected and fireworks are being made again in the UK under the Brocks brand. It was famous for its lavish displays at Crystal Palace. One of the factories was in Nunhead, a fact celebrated at The Pyrotechnics Arms overlooking the green.

Pictures by Graham Hussey
 

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