Among its other attributes, Camberwell, in south-east London, can always lay claim to one of the most beautiful streets in the capital: Camberwell Grove, with its elegant Georgian houses and monumental plane trees,rises in a straight line up the steep slopes of Denmark Hill providing a unique urban townscape.
The presence of two of London’s major hospitals, King’s College and the Maudsley, and one of its most famous art schools, the Camberwell School of Arts, has always brought doctors, artists and students to the neighbourhood.
But according to local estate agency legend, Colin Lowman, from Roy Brooks, who has been selling homes in Camberwell for 50 years, the area attracts a wide range of professionals including barristers and judges, as well as a actors and entertainers.
“There are people who live in Camberwell who could afford to live in Kensington, but choose to live here because of the quality of the architecture.”
Long-standing resident, comedienne, Jenny Eclair, who lives in a striking modern house, close to the top of Denmark Hill, named one of her novels Camberwell Beauty, a passing reference to the famous dark burgundy red and blue spotted butterfly which was first spotted in Coldharbour Lane in 1748 but which has rarely been seen again.
Fine Georgian houses in Camberwell Grove, Grove Lane and Camberwell New Road, although the most expensive house currently for sale in Camberwell is in Champion Hill where Foxtons (020 8613 6200)is selling a seven bedroom detached Georgian mansion with a guest cottage, a self-contained flat and its own carriage drive for £7 million.
Stories Mews runs between Camberwell Grove and Grove Lane. This almost rural mews is slowly being developed with ramshackle garages transformed into stylish modern houses.
One of the prettiest houses currently for sale is a four bedroom bow-fronted early Victorian house with a manicured box-hedged front garden in Grove Lane with a separate two bedroom modern house in Stories Mews which estate agents Hamptons (020 3318 7092)is selling for £1.395.
Grove Park is a small neighbourhood of large Victorian red brick houses at the top of Denmark Hill where detached houses are now selling at around £1.5 million.
Renowned landscape gardener Dan Pearson is currently selling his three bedroom, four storey Victorian house (with his 120 foot-designed garden) in Talfourd Road, on the south side of Peckham Road for £895,000 through Wooster & Stock (020 7708 6700).
The area attracts: young professionals in search of affordable first time homes; wealthier more mature buyers from the professions and the arts who want a period house; and student renters.
Staying power: The large Georgian houses are often lived in by several generations of the same family and rarely come on to the market. The flat market is more transitory.
Postcodes: SE5 is the Camberwell postcode, although roads such as Talfourd Road are on the Peckham borders and are in SE15.
Best streets: Camberwell Grove, Grove Lane, Grove Park and the roads around Myatt’s Fields park.
Up and coming: The area around Brunswick Park north of Camberwell Church Street where there are small enclaves of flat fronted early Victorian houses.
What’s new: St George, part of Berkeley Homes, has a large development of 90 homes of which 32 are affordable, at the bottom end of Camberwell Grove (020 7708 5829), where it has converted the former Victorian Mary Datchelor school buildings into flats and is building three terraces of Georgian-style houses around it. Prices range from £399,950 for a studio to £1.45 million for a four bedroom house. Local council, Southwark, has sold a row of fine Georgian houses on Peckham Road. The houses have been used as offices but are likely to be converted back to residential with some student housing.
Schools: St John the Divine CofE is the best state primary school with good results and an outstanding Ofsted. Other primary schools rated “good” by Ofsted and which get good results are: Comber Grove; St George’s CofE in Coleman Road and St James the Great RC in Peckham Road.
The best state comprehensive school is Sacred Heart a small co-ed Roman Catholic school in Camberwell New Road, but many parents prefer the Dulwich private schools: the co-ed Alleyn’s; James Allen’s girls’ school and Dulwich College for boys
Shops and restaurants: shopping is not one of Camberwell’s strengths. The shops are clustered around Camberwell Green, Denmark Hill and Camberwell Church Street. There is a big Morrisons supermarket in the Butterfly Walk shopping centre; Sophocles is a Greek bakery; Cruson sells a wide range of fruit and vegetables; Pesh is a lovely flower shop; while Cowling and Wilcox claims to be the biggest art shop south of the river.
When it comes to eating out the choice is better, improving and ethnically idiosyncratic. The Vineyard is a long-standing Greek restaurant with outside tables at the bottom of Camberwell Grove; all in Camberwell Church Street are: Angels and Gypsies,a tapas bar in the Church Street Hotel; Caravaggio, an Italian; and F M Mangal, a Turkish; Kazakh Kyrgyz is a Central Asian restaurant in the Pasha Hotel in Camberwell Road; and Castelo in Coldharbour Lane is Brazilian.
Popular pubs serving food are the Sun and Doves in Coldharbour Lane;the Tiger on Camberwell Green;the Bear in Camberwell New Road; the Phoenix in Denmark Hill railway station and the George Canning on Denmark Hill.
* MORE ON THE BOROUGH OF SOUTHWARK:
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Leisure and the arts: Camberwell has lots of parks both large and small. Burgess Park is undergoing a £6 million renovation; Ruskin Park has a recently restored Victorian bandstand and a Green Flag Award, while Myatt’s Fields has recently completed a £2.6 million renovation funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Locals fought hard to save the Camberwell Baths which is housed in a fine Victorian building dating from 1892. The baths reopen after refurbishment in the autumn. After Tate Modern, the South London Art Gallery on Peckham Road is south London’s leading contemporary art gallery.
It has recently opened an extension designed by 6a Architects which has a new cafe. Two cinema clubs have sprung up in recent times: one in the Sun and Doves pub and Whirled Cinema under the railway arches in Hardess Street close to Loughborough Junction.
Transport: Camberwell has two train stations: Denmark Hill with trains to Victoria (12 minutes), London Bridge (14 minutes) and St Pancras (23 minutes); and Loughborough Junction with trains to St Pancras (19 minutes). Camberwell is also very well served by buses with most routes going either via Kennington or Elephant and Castle offering connections with the tube. Camberwell is in zone 2 and an annual travel card for zones 1 and 2 costs £1,032.
Council: Most of Camberwell is in Southwark (Labour controlled) and Band D council tax for 2010/2011 is £1,221.96; west of Denmark Hill is Lambeth (Labour controlled) with a Band D council tax of £1,235.11.
One-bedroom flat: £174,000
Two-bedroom flat: £229,000
Two-bedroom house: £325,000
Three-bedroom house: £400,000
Four-bedroom plus house: £553,000
One-bedroom flat: £190 to £220 a week
Two-bedroom flat: £240 to £260 a week
Two-bedroom house: £300 to £320 a week
Three-bedroom house: £330 to £370 a week
Four-bedroom plus house: £450 to £480 a week
(Source: Ludlow Thompson)
Pictures by Barry Phillips
All details correct at time of publication (28 July, 2010)