Brockley Green Chain; part 5 of 5

‘Upright and respectable’

If there are any Goths out there reading this, here’s the walk section for you. It’s mostly graveyards and Victorian furbelows. You’re welcome …

Pass Camberwell New Cemetery – or pop in, if you’re a fan of graveside architecture; this place is still fully in use. George Cornell is buried here – the East End gangster famously shot by the Kray twins in the Blind Beggar. The area is of course heavily associated with the Richardsons - the connoisseur’s gangsters of choice. Forget all that Krays hype, these guys were the real deal. Another overlooked aspect of south-east London life.

After paying your respects, head towards Nunhead Cemetery. Anyone seeking a pint-or-toilet stop can call in at the Waverley Arms just before we reach the main gates.

Wooded paths in Nunhead Cemetery

Nunhead Cemetery deserves its reverent reputation. As one of the Magnificent Seven Victorian London burial grounds, it is one of only two south of the river, and (have you noticed a theme yet?) is definitely the most under-appreciated. It has been aptly called an ‘elegant wilderness’. Gothic memorials, overgrown paths, the glorious riot of nature amid the staid sobriety of the dead – this place has it all. Walk, loiter, photograph and meditate as long as you like, this site could take a day’s walk on its own.

Gothic architecture

When you’re ready to exit, head north to Linden Grove (via the impressive ruined chapel), where we turn right past a series of curious 80s-style bungalows. A loop around and over the Peckham-Lewisham railway line brings us back to BC's core stomping grounds, crossing Drakefell Road into Upper Telegraph Hill Park.

The railway line crossing

The park lies just west of Haberdasher’s Aske’s Hatcham College, apparently the most over-subscribed state secondary in the country. So that explains all the middle-class liberals cluttering up the place. (New Cross being, as we all know, originally called Hatcham.)

This is another long-standing beacon site. Historically known as Plowed Garlic Hill, tennis courts now occupy the precise location. Local tennis enthusiasts are going to have to bite the bullet if the nuclear holocaust ever happens and we have to resort to basic communications systems again. Just saying.

From here, cross Kitto Road to enter the southern section of the park. Lined with stately period houses and on a definite incline, its respectable and orderly air is only partly dented by the controversial skate-park construction activity on its eastern fringe. There’s a pond, a children’s playground, a statue (2008) commemorating Equiano, and a basketball court. This is a neat and respectable park with a Victorian ethos. Very Brockley, in short.

The Equiano statue

At the end of your trip, stop off for a drink in the Brockley Barge. Having replaced a dive which was notorious across south-east London, this Wetherspoons-run hostelry is the subject of much noveau-Brockley ire, which just goes to show how short local memory can be. Many of the area’s longterm residents will affirm that its current incarnation is a massive improvement on its previous occupants, and as such should be strongly supported and encouraged. If nothing else, think of your house price if it were to revert to its former reputation …

The Green Chain logo

Waverley Arms: on
Friends of Nunhead Cemetery:
Friends of Telegraph Hill Park:
The Hill Station:
Brockley Barge: the Barge