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The Camberwell Coincidence

IMG_2824We are asked to investigate house histories and draw properties all over the UK. We’ve travelled from Killyleagh in Northern Ireland down to Taunton in Devon, but it has to be said that the majority of our work is in London and the Home Counties. It’s a strange coincidence that at the moment we seem to be very much in demand in one street in South London – Camberwell Grove. We’ve created several drawings for residents who have no connection to one another. The street is packed with history and the houses are beautiful, mostly Georgian and very interesting.

The Grove began life as a private road leading to the mansion of Dr Lettsom, the famous physician and philanthropist. The area boasted some of the best market gardens in London, and Camberwell Grove became particularly well known for its melons which were grown on the slopes of the hill.

Houses began appearing in number in the late 18th century, and when Lettsom’s Estate was sold and broken up in 1848, the builder William Chadwick began development in earnest. Charles Booth’s famous Poverty Survey of 1892 described the Grove as “Broad; leafy; declining; many large houses…. Lodgers coming in to many of the smaller houses.” Although the prosperity and elegance of the early 19th century was still clinging on in many places, it seemed to have the air of a ‘paradise lost’; a motif which the area has borne from its days as a rural market garden to the late 20th century. Only in the last 20 years or so has the Grove regained its former grandeur with most of the larger Georgian houses returning to single family ownership and being lovingly restored.

You don’t have to live in Camberwell Grove for us to find out about your house and produce a detailed history, accompanied by an elegant architectural drawing. Contact ARCHISTORY if you would like to know more.

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Ben Taggart Designer and founder of Archistory

Paul Murray House Historian

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