Camberwell Area Guide
Camberwell’s expanse captures a huge range of architecture—stretching from Peckham, up towards Elephant and across to Kennington. Camberwell Green pinpoints its centre and main shopping area, which are a short (10-minute) bus ride from the Thames. As Camberwell is actually very old, you’ll find some authentic antique homes here.
Inhabitants are a true mix; King’s College, Camberwell College of Art and nearby Goldsmiths’ University attract a large student population, the proximity to town make it perfect for those commuting to either Westminster or central London, while couples can find roomy houses to fill with children. It has the buzz of being a quick bus ride to Borough and has at its heart, a collection of extraordinary period homes.
Camberwell Grove and Grove Lane hold some of the finest examples of Regency and Georgian architecture this side of the Thames. More Georgian townhouses line Camberwell New Road towards Kennington, while just south is Myatt’s Fields, an area brimming with colossal Victorian semis, detacheds and terraces. Brunswick Park (Victorian) and Addington Square (Regency and Georgian) are pockets of magic, off the main drag.
For those with smaller budgets, plenty of cute terraces flow either side of Peckham Road with two-bed cottages in the adorable Ada Road and three bedders filling most streets. Flats are abundant, from ex locals to new builds, to period conversions.
Where to eat and drink
The food scene is strong, catering to Camberwell’s afro-Caribbean, Greek-Cypriot and South American communities. Upmarket grub can be found at Aside, The Crooked Well or The Camberwell Arms (which won best Sunday lunch 2017 by the Guardian.) The Sun of Camberwell is pretty decent too.
Zeret Kitchen has a fabulous reputation, Van Hing does great pho and Caravaggio is a good traditional Italian. Cheap, but entirely brilliant eats can be found at Viet Café, Theos Pizzeria while Silk Road has been given the thumbs-up from Jay Raynor. If you’re after a traditional pint with an open fire, you’d do worse than to stop at The Hermit’s Cave.
Younger crowds head to Tiger for late-night dancing at weekends, commuters settle at The Phoenix at Denmark Hill. Grove House on Camberwell Grove is a stately, traditional boozer. Down coffee with cake at Lumberjack, Daily Goods or Art Deli. Love Walk Café, The Pigeonhole Café and the café at South London Gallery all serve a decent brunch.
The main drag is chock-full of shops, with a large supermarket in a smallish arcade at the centre. Pesh is a lovely florist while the specialist vinyl shop, Rat Records pulls people from far and wide. Every discerning high street now has its own independent bike shop, some even have a community project with bicycle recycling and repair workshops. There are chemists, a Post Office, dry cleaners, an artists’ supply shop and an upholsterer in Addingon Square. The charcuterie specialist in Camberwell is exceptional.
Arty. Camberwell College of Arts is a Brutalist building attracting young artist grads and post-grads from around the world. Next door to the college is South London Gallery, while Goldsmiths’ University is just down the road. The area is teaming with artists’ studios and holds an annual arts festival and a summer fair with two live music stages. Blue Elephant Theatre is a teeny 50-seater with high accolades that puts on fringe shows. Old Dispensary hold live music and DJ nights while jazz nights at the Crypt under St Gile’s Church, have been pulling crowds for almost 25-years.
Burgess Park is one of London’s biggest and gained an £8-million transformation that began in 2012. It has been beautifully landscaped with improved children’s play areas, a BMX track, fishing lake, sports centre, an all-weather football pitch, cricket pitch, tennis courts and a rugby pitch. There’s a good café and lots of picnic areas. Tennis players can join Butterfly Tennis Club, yoga-lovers can practice at Zen Yoga or Yoga Arch.
Plans are under way to mould a creative quarter in Camberwell while just up the road at Elephant and Castle is The Artworks Elephant, a successful hub for new, innovative businesses. Artists’ studios include Space and Vanguard Court.