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


Tamsin said...

Modern goths striding up and down the cemetery paths on a FONC open day are indeed a sight to behold.

May I propose (and revive - I mentioned them on the orignal article) some additions to this section of the walk.

Do stop off at the Hill Station between the upper and lower Telegraph Hill Parks - a really good addition to the area and bung full of leaflets and information. Also a changing art gallery with stuff on the walls and even at prsent the ceiling. The paper models hanging inverted from the ceiling look lovely - until you look more closely and see the urban carnage they depict. Worth a visit in themselves. I also like the texture of the current abstacts - and the way they reflect the light.

And, as mentioned a few days ago, leave the lower park by the bottom north east gate and go along Arbuthnot, admiring the original railings on your left and lamenting their disappearance from the rest of the hill. Then, as Ben (was it?) said look at the view down Jerningham Road - now visible with the trees not in leaf and in any event having just had their cyclical hefty pruning.

In Sandbourne Road you might be lucky enough to find the community garden open - but if not you can look at the house with a viewing turrent on the corner of Reservoir Road and, even from ground level, you can see the view of Greenwich Observatory and the wooded park that it commands.

In Vesta Road there's the nature reserve. If you do get to look around it a lovely image across the railway tracks is the cultivated terraces that are Barriedale Allotments - like a little piece of sub-montane India dropped into London.

Along Endwell Road and the Quick Stop Shop - they dishonestly but deliciously sell bread and doughnuts finished off on the premises so sometimes still warm when you buy them.

And so to the Brockley Barge...

BrockleyKate said...

You can propose all you like, Tamsin.

Tamsin said...

Thanks! and hopefully some will second and respond and act on it...

Especially in the Festival when there is a day of Park events on Sunday 25th (just been sorting out the licence for use of the One O'clock Club with the Council) one of which is renewing the African planting around the Equiano Plinth - some volunteers wanted!

Anonymous said...

What would 'acting on it' consist of, exactly?

TH Tamsin said...

Simply crossing the railway tracks to the frozen and not-really-Brockley north and enjoying our parks and views.

Westsider said...

Crossing the railway tracks to Drakefell Road (SE4) and up Wallbutton Road (SE4) to our local Telegraph Hill park? Is that what you mean?

Westsider said...

Oh yea, and then on to Vesta Road (SE4) to the park or to Brockley Nature Reserve. Not proper Brockley you say?

Tamsin said...

As a "westsider" you should sympathise. Brockley Central is - understandably - centralised on Brockley, but I have in the past come in for a little bit of stick for trying to wave the flag for Telegraph Hill.

And mentally the railway lines are a more significant barrier than postcode.

Anonymous said...

love the bust/statue of Equiano!

MalB said...

(New Cross being, as we all know, originally called Hatcham.)

It wasn't. Hatcham was the area which is now called New Cross Gate. Hatcham, a village, predates New Cross by many centuries having existed in Anglo-Saxon times. New Cross was the name given to a collection of houses around a cross-roads and public house which grew up in the middle ages. Maps all the way up to the 19th century show New Cross and Hatcham as distinct.

Hatcham started to be known as New Cross Gate after the New Cross toll-gate, previously in New Cross, was moved to Hatcham. The process of change was completed (well almost) when New Cross Gate station was renamed.

The Telegraph Hill Festival includes a local history walk on 18th March which is covering some of the history of Telegraph Hill and New Cross.

Bea said...

Did the whole walk today (including Tamsin's detour) and it took about 4 hours (with an 8 year old in tow).

Really enjoyed it. Highlights included picnic lunch in Telegraph Hill upper park, the amazing view on Jerringham Road and, of course, Nunhead Cemetery (although I find our very own Brockley / Croften Park cemetery equally wonderous).

Thanks for posting this Kate! Saw parts of the area I had never been to in the 7 years since moving to Brockley. Now I need to slap on face cream on as my cheeks are burning after all that sunshine - who'd have thought March sun could make skin pink!

Anonymous said...

Announcing, at last, the Good Honest Guide to Brockley

Only proper fare sellers are included; no fussy stuff or artisan nonsense.

Click here to have a go.

Have any decent grub sellers been missed?

Bea said...

You've missed out City Noodles!

And it's a bit of a desert between E and F. Surely you could have included The Talbot - or doesn't that count as "decent" in your book?!

BrockleyKate said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Bea!

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