Living in Camberwell


Leafy, arty and relaxed, Camberwell in south-east London is enduringly popular with young professionals, students and couples. Find out what living in Camberwell is like with our guide to the area.

History of the area

In the Domesday Book Camberwell (‘Cambrewelle’) is listed as having a church, meaning it was already an important settlement in the 11th century. Camberwell’s name in Old English meant ‘Well of the Britons’, and mineral springs in the area (thought to be where Denmark Hill is now) attracted visitors for their healing properties. Like so many other parts of south London, Camberwell was a predominantly rural area until the railways came in the mid-19th-century. Camberwell Green hosted an annual fair from at least 1279 until 1855, when it was abolished for attracting ‘too many undesirables’.

Camberwell became a fashionable place to live in the 19th century, and several famous writers called it home, from John Ruskin to Robert Browning. It has a celebrated place in the British arts scene. Alumni of the Camberwell College of Arts include Quentin Blake, Mike Leigh, Maggi Hambling, Tim Roth and Florence Welch (aka Florence and the Machine). The group known as the Young British Artists – featuring the likes of Damien Hirst, Gillian Wearing and Sam Taylor-Wood – trained at Goldsmiths’ School of Art, which in the 1980s and early 1990s was based at the Millard building in Cormont Road, opposite Myatt’s Fields.

The property market

House prices in Camberwell are lower than the London average, but the market is dynamic, with prices rising fast. Dominated by leafy residential roads of Victorian villas and Edwardian terraces, there are fewer new developments than in neighbouring Peckham and Brixton.

New build homes

Camberwell Fields is a recent development of 279 apartments, duplexes and townhouses close to Burgess Park, on the site of the demolished Elmington Estate. Camberwell on the Green is a boutique development, ideal for the village community around the Green.

First time buyers

First time buyers with healthy deposits will find a good range of 1-bed and 2-bed properties in Camberwell. Wyndham Studios is a more recent development of studio, 1, 2 and 3 bed apartments with affordable and shared ownership blocks. Shared ownership schemes on the former Elmington estate come up from time to time.

Renting in the area

With it being so attractive to arts and medical students (King’s College Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital are on Denmark Hill), Camberwell has a competitive rental market, but sharing properties may be harder to find than you expect. Average rental prices here are marginally lower than neighbouring Peckham and Brixton.

Schools and education

Camberwell has plenty of pulling power when it comes to schools. Sacred Heart Catholic School on Camberwell New Road is a secondary rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Primary schools with ‘outstanding’ Ofsted ratings include the John Ruskin School; the Crawford Primary School on Crawford Road is rated ‘good’. Camberwell is most famous as the site of the Camberwell College of Arts, now part of the University of the Arts London.

Transport links

Although there is not a tube station within Camberwell, Denmark Hill station provides the quickest overground access to Central London. Trains reach Victoria in 11 minutes from here. Most of the buses stop on Camberwell Road; the no. 35 goes to London Bridge, 176 and 68 are for Waterloo, all taking under 25 minutes to get to town.

Lifestyle and leisure

People love the village feel of Camberwell, with its café scene, pubs, independent shops and restaurants on Denmark Hill and Camberwell Church Street setting the tone for the area.

Places to eat and drink

Bellenden Road towards Peckham is where you’ll find The Begging Bowl and Petitou, two chilled out cafés serving Thai street food and homemade dishes with a French vibe respectively. There are some great pubs for food in and around Camberwell, from the Camberwell Arms on Peckham Road to the Crooked Well on Grove Lane.

Things to do

The arts scene in Camberwell is legendary. You may not find Damien Hirst hanging around so much anymore, but there is plenty to delight the art lover, from internationally renowned galleries like the South London Gallery on Peckham Road, to the Camberwell Arts Festival, held every June on the Green, to arts markets, exhibitions and open studios. Burgess Park is the largest public park in the Southwark borough, featuring a BMX track, fishing lake and sports pitches. Myatt’s Fields and Ruskin Park are community-run green spaces with plenty for families to do.

Where to shop

Camberwell Church Street is Camberwell’s main shopping street. Gladwell’s Grocery and Deli is a relatively new deli and off-license selling local produce; the Di Lieto bakery near Oval has been run by the same Italian family since 1980, and also serves delicious lunches. Why not buy a plant at the Nunhead Gardener near the Green, or homewares at Eleven.SE5 on Denmark Hill?

Felicity J Lord can help you buy, sell or rent in Camberwell

If you like what you’ve read about living in Camberwell, we can help you buy, sell or rent in SE5. Get in touch with the friendly team at our Camberwell branch and they will be happy to help.