Camberwell: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 51°28′25″N 0°05′28″W / 51.4736°N 0.0912°W / 51.4736; -0.0912

Camberwell is located in Greater London

 Camberwell shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ325767
London borough Southwark
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SE5
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Camberwell and Peckham
Dulwich and West Norwood
London Assembly Lambeth and Southwark
List of places: UK • England • London

Camberwell is a district of London, England and forms part of the London Borough of Southwark.[1] It is a built-up inner city district located 2.7 miles (4.3 km) south east of Charing Cross. To the west it has a boundary with the London Borough of Lambeth.



Camberwell appears in Domesday Book as Cambrewelle.[2] The name might derive from the old English Cumberwell or Comberwell, meaning Welsh well. Springs and wells are known to have existed on the southern slope of Denmark Hill, especially around Grove Park.[3] Alternatively, the name Camberwell may have come from the Saxon language, meaning Cripple Well, which developed as a hamlet where people from the City of London were expelled when they had life threatening diseases like leprosy, for treatment by the church and the clean waters from the wells. The Parish Church is dedicated to St Giles, patron Saint of cripples.


It was already a substantial settlement with a church when mentioned in the Domesday Book, and was the parish church for a large area including Dulwich and Peckham. It was held by Haimo the Sheriff (of Kent). Its domesday assets were: 6 hides and 1 virgate; 1 church, 8 ploughs, 63 acres (250,000 m2) of meadow, woodland worth 60 hogs. It rendered £14.

A c. 1900 poster for the Camberwell Palace

Up to the mid-nineteenth century, Camberwell was visited by Londoners for its rural tranquillity and the reputed healing properties of its mineral springs. Like much of inner South London, Camberwell was transformed by the arrival of the railways in the 1860s.[3]

Camberwell St Giles formed an ancient, and later civil, parish in the Brixton hundred of Surrey.[4] The parish covered 4,570 acres (18.5 km2) in 1831 and included Peckham to the east and Dulwich to the south. The width of the parish tapered in the south to form a point at Crystal Palace.[4] In 1801 the population was 7,059 and by 1851 this had risen to 54,667.[5] In 1829 it was included in the Metropolitan Police District and in 1855 it was included in the area of responsibility of the Metropolitan Board of Works, with Camberwell Vestry nominating one member to the board. In 1889 the board was replaced by the London County Council and Camberwell was removed from Surrey, to form part of the County of London. In 1900 the area of the Camberwell parish became the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell.[6] In 1965 the metropolitan borough was abolished and its former area became the southern part of the London Borough of Southwark in Greater London.

Boundary marker for Camberwell Parish on the route of the Effra at Gipsy Hill is now partially buried by later layers of pavement.

Early music halls in Camberwell were in the back hall of public houses. One, the "Father Redcap" (1853) still stands by Camberwell Green, but internally, much altered. In 1896, the Dan Leno company opened the "Oriental Palace of Varieties", on Denmark Hill. This successful venture was soon replaced with a new theatre, designed by Ernest A. E. Woodrow and with a capacity of 1,553, in 1899, named the "Camberwell Palace". This was further expanded by architect Lewen Sharp in 1908.[7] By 1912, the theatre was showing films as a part of the variety programme and became an ABC cinema in September 1932 – known simply as "The Palace Cinema". It reopened as a variety theatre in 1943, but closed on 28 April 1956 and was demolished.[8] The 1957 film The Smallest Show on Earth[9] tells the tale of a struggling family-run suburban cinema, is thought to be based on the Palace. Nearby, marked by Orpheus Street, was the "Metropole Theatre and Opera House", presenting transfers of West End shows. This was demolished to build an Odeon cinema in 1939. The cinema seated 2,470, and has since been demolished.[10] A second ABC cinema, known originally as the Regal Cinema and later as the ABC Camberwell, opened in 1940. With only one screen but 2,470 seats, the cinema was one of the largest suburban cinemas in London and continued to operate until 1973, after which it was used as a bingo hall until February 2010. The building retains its Art Deco style and is Grade II listed.[11]


Camberwell Green
Camberwell railway station on Camberwell Station Road, closed in 1916
Camberwell College of Arts. (October 2005)
Camberwell Leisure Centre
Camberwell Beauty butterfly

Camberwell today is a mixture of relatively well preserved Georgian and twentieth century housing, including a number of tower blocks. Camberwell Grove and Grove Lane have some of London's most elegant and well preserved Georgian houses.

The crossroads at the centre of Camberwell is the site of Camberwell Green, a very small area of common land which was once a traditional village green on which was held an annual fair of ancient origin which rivalled that of Greenwich. An extensive range of bus routes have stops at Camberwell Green (see the link to the bus spider map below for details). The Salvation Army's William Booth Memorial Training College, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, was completed in 1932: it towers over South London from Denmark Hill. It has a similar monumental impressiveness to Gilbert Scott's other local buildings, Battersea Power Station and the Tate Modern, although its simplicity is partly the result of repeated budget cuts during its construction: much more detail, including carved Gothic stonework surrounding the windows, was originally planned.

Camberwell is home to one of London's largest teaching hospitals, King's College Hospital with associated medical school the Guy’s King’s and St Thomas’ (GKT) School of Medicine. The Maudsley Hospital, an internationally significant psychiatric hospital, is also located in Camberwell along with the Institute of Psychiatry. As well as the significant Camberwell College of Arts Camberwell is home to several art galleries including the South London Gallery and numerous smaller commercial art spaces. The annual Camberwell Arts Festival is well supported.

The town is referenced in the film Withnail and I — "Camberwell carrot" is the name of the enormous spliff rolled using 12 rolling papers, by Danny the dealer.[12] His explanation for the name is that "I invented it in Camberwell and it looks like a carrot".

Lakanal fire

On 3 July 2009 a major fire swept through a twelve storey tower block. Six people were killed and at least 20 people were injured.


Camberwell is connected to central London by Camberwell Road in the north and Camberwell New Road in the west. It is very well served by bus routes: its location means that it is easy to travel into central London with journey times of 12–20 minutes, though often much longer in the rush hour.

Camberwell had been served by three railway stations until the First World War, Camberwell Gate, Camberwell New Road and Denmark Hill. Like many less well used stations in inner London, Camberwell Gate and Camberwell New Road were closed in 1916 'temporarily' because of war shortages and were never reopened.

London Underground have planned a Bakerloo line extension to Camberwell on at least three occasions since the 1930s, and this is again said to be under consideration.[13]

Nearest railway stations:


Camberwell is a diverese part of London. The area is popular with art students, as it is home to the Camberwell College of Arts (part of the University of the Arts London - formerly the London Institute) on Peckham Road. Goldsmiths College is found in nearby New Cross with many students living in Camberwell. King's College London (part of the University of London) also has a hall of residence (King's College Hall) on nearby Champion Hill.

People from Camberwell

Camberwell Beauty

The Camberwell Beauty is a butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa) which is rarely found in the UK - it is so named because two examples were first identified on Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell in 1748.

Nearest places


  1. ^ Southwark London Borough Council - Community guide for Camberwell
  2. ^ Mills, A., Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names, (2001)
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b Vision of Britain - Camberwell parish (historic map)
  5. ^ Vision of Britain - Camberwell population
  6. ^ Vision of Britain - Camberwell MB (historic map)
  7. ^ Shaftesbury Avenue, Survey of London: volumes 31 and 32: St James Westminster, Part 2 (1963), pp. 68-84 accessed: 12 June 2008
  8. ^ Camberwell Palace Theatre (Cinema Treasures) accessed 12 June 2008
  9. ^ The Smallest Show on Earth (1957) at the Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ Camberwell Halls and Entertainment (Arthur Lloyd Theatre History) accessed: 12 June 2008
  11. ^ ABC Camberwell (Cinema Treasures) accessed 22 February 2010
  12. ^ Withnail and I (1986) at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ Tube line 'may extend south within 20 years'

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CAMBERWELL, a southern metropolitan borough of London, England, bounded N. by Southwark and Bermondsey, E. by Deptford and Lewisham, W. by Lambeth, and extending S. to the boundary of the county of London. Pop. (1901) 259,339. Area, 4480 acres. It appears in Domesday, but the derivation of the name is unknown. It includes the districts of Peckham and Nunhead, and Dulwich with its park, picture-gallery and schools. Camberwell is mainly residential, and there are many good houses, pleasantly situated in Dulwich and southward towards the high ground of Sydenham. Dulwich Park (72 acres) and Peckham Rye Common and Park (113 acres) are the largest of several public grounds, and Camberwell Green was once celebrated for its fairs. Immediately outside the southern boundary lies a well-known place of recreation, the Crystal Palace. Among institutions may be mentioned the Camberwell school of arts and crafts, Peckham Road. In Camberwell Road is Cambridge House, a university settlement, founded in 1897 and incorporating the earlier Trinity settlement. The parliamentary borough of Camberwell has three divisions, North, Peckham and Dulwich, each returning one member; but is not wholly coincident with the municipal borough, the Dulwich division extending to include Penge, outside the county of London. The borough council consists of a mayor, ten aldermen, and sixty councillors.

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