No longer a pit stop between Peckham and Brixton, Camberwell is creating a name for itself as THE exciting up-and-coming neighbourhood to watch in South London. With stunning restaurants, quirky exhibitions, plenty of green spaces and great transport links to London, now’s the time to check out the charm and character of this burgeoning South London hotspot.
Here’s 9 reasons why it’s one of the best places to live in 2022.
The area has a fascinating history
Up until 1800 Camberwell had been a farming village, with lots of mineral wells and springs in the local vicinity. One of the wells was said to have healing properties – ‘Camberwell’ or ‘the well of the crooked’, where people with physical impairments could come to be cured (or so the story goes, anyway).
Locals in the area obviously like the legend – see The Crooked Well, a terrific gastro pub in the area that alludes to its healing properties.
You’ll find some of the prettiest architecture in London here
Walking down Camberwell’s roads feature excellent examples of Georgian architecture. After Blackfriars Bridge opened in the mid-18th century linking Camberwell with the north of the river, Georgian terraces began popping up left right and centre.
See Camberwell Grove – one of London’s most elegant and well-preserved rows of Georgian and early Victorian houses in London. It used to be the home of famed philanthropist Dr Lettsom. When he sold Grove Hill (his villa), early Victorian houses were built on the grounds – an original faux cottage from the grounds still exists on the street to this day.
If you’re a fan of Georgian architecture, there are plenty more streets to stroll down. Linking Camberwell and Dulwich, Grove Lane is a tree-lined road with various styles of the period. Stretching from Camberwell Green to Kennington, Camberwell New Road was developed after the Vauxhall Bridge was built in 1818.
Camberwell’s history and culture shines through in its buildings, local community – and as we’ll soon find out, its restaurants.
Camberwell has some of the best independent food establishments south of the river
Food critiques are recognising SE5 as a foodie destination in itself, and with more amazing hotspots popping up in Camberwell every month or so there’s always new flavours to try and places to soak up the ambience.
Let’s start with Nandine, a family-run Turkish restaurant on Camberwell Church Street. Head chef Pary Baban originally opened a kiosk in Elephant and Castle, after being forced to flee Kurdistan in the late 80s. Now, she’s brought her critically acclaimed Kurdish mezze to trendy Camberwell.
There’s a similar story of grit and determination just over the road at FM Mangal. Started in the mid-1990s by Turkish entrepreneur, the restaurant is now adored by everyone from the British Kebab Awards to Reggie Yates.
Round the corner on Grove Lane, the smell of fresh Neapolitan pizza hits you in waves before you’ve even set foot in Theo’s Pizzeria. Theo’s is a firm favourite with the locals for its mix of authentic thin base/thick crust pizza. By the time you’ve sat down in the light, airy dining room, and the pizza arrives, you’ll be salivating more than one of the many dogs running around on nearby Camberwell Green.
Just over the road from Theo’s back on Camberwell Church Street, MOMO Sushi Bar is an intimate yet classy venue with some of the best Eastern dishes in London. The sushi classics are all on display here – Poke, sashimi, nigiri – with some economical mixed platters for sharing. Best of all is MOMO’s signature roll with a tempting mix of asparagus, prawn tempura tobiko and mayonnaise (although we also hear that sake cocktails are on the menu, which you definitely won’t get everywhere else).
Further down Camberwell Road is Zeret Kitchen, where restaurateur and local legend Tafe does everything in her power to make sure you are having a good time. Here they serve up Ethiopian flavours served generously atop a serving of injera – the shareable sour fermented flatbread that makes Ethiopian food so homely and welcoming.
If you are looking for more of a brunchy vibe, Love Walk Café is the perfect morning pick-me-up. Try an American breakfast with bacon eggs and pancake with a healthy dose of syrup. There’s always a mouth-watering selection of traybakes on the counter (salted caramel, rocky road, flapjacks). It’s the perfect place to meet up with a friend for a brew, enjoy a post-run treat on the weekend, or find a decent hangover cure.
And you might need one if you’ve been to The Camberwell Arms, a traditional 19th century pub back on the main strip. Here is the rustic feel of a pub that’s established, thoroughbred and rooted in the local community. Comedy nights, classes and quizzes round this out as a great place to catch up with local friends for a lovely Sunday meal.
There’s plenty of places to wet your whistle
Another warm and friendly pub vibes on Caldecot Road, The Sun of Camberwell is built for drinks in the summer, with a sizeable outdoor garden, pub quizzes and live music to enjoy. The interior’s no afterthought – walls are adorned with knickknacks, paintings, plates and fireplaces.
Just round the corner from Camberwell Green is the The Old Dispensary, a traditional Irish boozer with live music on in the evenings and sports during the day. Shadowy lighting, barrels as tables and a back room with a stage and piano make for an intimate atmosphere, while there’s a decent number of premium beers and cask ales on top.
Down the road slightly, east along Camberwell Church street is Good Neighbour, a cosy, well-stocked wine bar – and we really mean that, as you’ll see wines stocked to the high heavens as soon as you walk in. There’s some tasty nibbles on offer – cheese, charcuterie and more if you get peckish – but the drinks here win out, with some delicious cocktails to try and share.
For the coffee connoisseurs, Daily Goods and Lumberjack are absolutely obsessed with the precision of making the perfect cup; weighing out the freshly ground beans to your specification! Starbucks and Costa are so far behind the coffee movement here!
Those are just a few of the pubs and cafes in the area. Drop in to Maloko, Stormbird, The Hermit’s Cave, The Joiner’s Arms, and Mono, and you’ll still have plenty more to discover.
Camberwell is an arty neighbourhood and a hub of cultural activity
Camberwell has an arty feel and population, largely because it’s home to Camberwell College of the Arts – one of the biggest art and design institutions in London with some well-known alumni (including Quentin Blake, Florence Welch, Tim Roth, Des’ree, and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen). It’s no wonder there’s plenty of culture to keep arty types entertained in Camberwell.
Next to Camberwell College of the Arts you’ll find the glorious red-brick laden Victorian façade of the South London Gallery – but don’t be fooled by its old-timey looks. It’s one of the leading art intuitions in London, regularly featuring the hottest contemporary exhibitions showcasing South London life. One of our recent favourites is Shut the Club Down, which rewound back to the 90s for a deep and dirty look at dance music and nightlife culture in 1990s Camberwell.
As you walk down the road into Camberwell proper, you’ll see the spire of St Giles Church – founded in the 11th century, but rebuilt in the 19th after a tragic fire. It’s home now to a friendly local religious community during the day and a thriving jazz scene at night. Descend into the crypt on a Friday evening, and you’ll hear masterful improvisation some of the top UK jazz musicians.
If drama is more your thing (and you like it with a bit of an edge) give the Blue Elephant Theatre a try. This fantastic fringe performance hub hosts plays old and new, performed by seasoned thespians as well as people who have never acted before. There’s plenty of seasonal kids’ shows to bring your kids along to, as well as more hard-hitting adult fare.
From 10am to 2pm each Saturday, local farmers, producers and artisans descend on Camberwell Green to flog their wares. Whether it’s roasting joints, aromatic herbs or vegan-friendly candles, there’s something for everyone at the Camberwell Farmers Market.
Camberwell Green also plays host to Camberwell Fair, an incredible free-to-enter music festival brings music, culture and people together, celebrating the amazing diversity in Camberwell. Shopping, food to eat, dance to watch, music to listen to – everything you could ever want for a fun day out! Since 2015, the Fair says it has worked with over 500 artists and musicians, 100 volunteers, 220 community groups and welcomed over 30,000 people.
There are plenty of parks and green spaces to explore
Outside of the hustle and bustle of Church Street and Denmark Hill, there’s loads of green spaces in the area to relax and unwind unwind, go for a picnic or take the dog for a walk.
Adjacent to Denmark Hill station is Ruskin Park, a huge Edwardian Park complete with a community garden and a bandstand hosting musicians and events during the summer. We helped the park raise money to save the local paddling pool (find out more about our community work here).
Sequestered away, a couple of blocks in from Peckham Road is Brunswick Park, a small but picturesque park with luscious foliage, trees and flowers. Also in this hidden green haven are two tennis courts, a gallery and a café.
The hugely versatile Myatts Field’s Park is a home for gardening, music, sports, food stalls, and more. It’s run by its own charity, and serves as a local hub for community, especially children, young people, and families.
If you fancy a slightly longer walk, Burgess Park is definitely worth the trip with its huge open space, elevated viewpoints of the South London skyline, BMX track and skate park.
The local community is thriving
We love Camberwell, and so do other people – there’s plenty of things to get stuck into, with people wanting to pitch in and truly make this neighbourhood the best in London.
There’s the Camberwell Society, which works to promote the highest standards of planning and architecture in Camberwell. It’s also the ringleader for other organisations pushing for change in the borough – Camberwell Trees and Green Spaces Group works on green initiatives across the 40 parks/green spaces that are wholly or partially in Camberwell.
We’ve recently contributed to the Camberwell Clarion – a brand new, exciting publication covering what’s hot and what’s not in Camberwell. We’re really excited to read their first issue!
You can get to Camberwell from anywhere
No tube station? No problem. Trains from Denmark Hill station will get you to Victoria in 15 minutes, London Bridge in just over 20 and Shoreditch in 30. Buses from the high street able to whiz you to locations across South London, including Peckham, New Cross, Kennington, Forest Hill, Waterloo and Elephant and Castle.
Camberwell is our home
We know Camberwell. We love Camberwell. And most importantly, we understand the market in Camberwell.
Since we first set up shop in Denmark Hill, we’ve helped countless landlords, buyers, sellers and tenants find their dream homes in SE5. Because of our local knowledge, we can go further than your typical mainstream estate agent, advising on location, pulling in contractors and getting you the most bang for your buck.
Looking to switch to a new estate agent, or buy or sell property in Camberwell? Get in touch with us today. For landlords looking to switch, we’ll take over your existing tenancy, collect rents, manage repairs and ensure full legal compliance – all for an introductory rate of just 5% (of the rent) per month.
For buyers and sellers, our fantastic understanding of our local area will get you the deal you want in no time.
Want to find out more? Pop by our office on Denmark Hill for a chat, give us a call on 020 3519 9121 or email us email@example.com.