This wonderful double-fronted detached villa lies on Love Walk in the Camberwell Grove Conservation Area. Built in 1860, the house is a beautiful example of Victorian domestic architecture and is moments from Denmark Hill and Camberwell Church Street. Set in a generous plot and surrounded by mature private gardens and a separate garage, the incredibly peaceful house has five bedrooms. It is set over three light-filled levels and measures some 2,500 sq ft internally and retains wonderfully generous proportions and beautiful original features throughout. Additionally, there is an exceptional contemporary addition to the rear of the house by Jamie Fobert Architects; home to the kitchen and dining room, it is an unapologetically modern exploration of volume, materiality, and light.
Setting the Scene
Adjacent to Grove Lane and close to Camberwell Grove, Love Walk is among the finest streets in Camberwell and, arguably, all of south-east London. Set within the parish of the ancient St Giles’ Church, it is an area steeped in history. The first Georgian houses were built on Camberwell Grove in the 18th century, with the upper reaches towards Love Walk built during Queen Victoria’s reign. Champion Lodge, the family home of the de Crespigny family, was built on the corner of Love Walk in 1717. Demolished in 1841, Love Walk’s row of eight detached villas are built on the former grounds.
The area’s links to the arts were first solidified when John Ruskin took up residence on Denmark Hill. He lived in the area for most of his adult life and wrote and painted a great deal of his works here; it is believed that his then-secretary lived in this very house on Love Walk. Today, the area retains a feeling of refined bohemianism; Camberwell Arts College is located moments away on Camberwell Church Street and noted galleries, including the Dulwich Picture Gallery, are nearby. For more information, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
Set back from the road, behind spearhead iron railings, a lawn with a centrally positioned path leads to the house. A lilac and winter flowering cherry tree are planted in the front garden, and climbing roses gently wind up the house’s carefully renovated brick façade. Sash windows and a grand entrance porch feature beautifully restored stucco dressings designed in the neoclassical tradition. The original panelled entrance door features inset etched glass and a roundhead fanlight above.
The spacious entrance hall bisects the house’s original plan. The living room and library are set to either side; all feature seamless waxed oak floorboards. Positioned to the rear and facing the gardens is the modern addition containing the dining room and kitchen.
The living room forms the entire depth of the original plan; it is an incredibly gracious room with wonderful proportions and original features. Double aspect windows allow the space to be flooded with light and ingenious panelled pocket door shutters offer seclusion when required. A Carrara marble chimneypiece with a working open fire acts as the centre point to the room; beautiful original plaster cornicing catches the eye. The library is home to handsome wall-to-wall joinery, hand-built and designed for the room, with a centrally-positioned bolection chimneypiece and a cosy wood burner.
The dining and kitchen area offers an exceptional contrast to the original main house. This space was one of celebrated architect Jamie Fobert’s first domestic commissions. It was designed with Viennese masterpiece the Wittgenstein Haus’s design principles in mind, particularly evident in the elegant quadripartite fenestration to one side. Portuguese limestone with warm fawn-coloured undertones runs underfoot and extends to the exterior terrace beyond, blurring the boundary between inside and out; the interior is warmed by underfloor heating. Ceilings have been elevated to a dramatic height, with an entire expanse of wall lit from above by a glass aperture that extends the width of the room, making the perfect highlight for a favoured artwork. The kitchen is set discreetly into the rear of this space. Raised very slightly, it features an expansive custom-built steel worktop, which rests atop a row of white cupboards; open shelving is set above. A mudroom is positioned to the side, with separate exterior access and a wet room.
Ascending the staircase, there are four bedrooms and a separate bathroom. The two larger bedrooms are set to the front of the plan and enjoy a wonderful soft northern light and lovely views with mature trees in frame. One acts as the main bedroom and has handsome built-in wardrobes set on either side of the box sash window. The other large bedroom currently houses an artist’s studio with two large windows, though it could easily be converted into sleeping quarters. Two further bedrooms are positioned to the rear of the plan.
The lower-ground floor is home to a fifth guest bedroom, with its own access to the garden and a walk-in wardrobe area. There is also a large utility room, a secondary multi-purpose room and a larder-cum-wine store. This floor offers further opportunity for development if required; the floor of the bedrooms has already been lowered to create a more generous space.
The Great Outdoors
Extremely private and south-facing, the walled gardens are wonderfully mature and have an array of elegant features, with some areas designed and planted by esteemed landscape designer Non Morris.
Two separate terraces lead from Fobert’s glorious intervention at the rear of the house. One acts as a secluded seating area and shaded outdoor dining room, while the eastern terrace leads to the lawn with a circular pond positioned centrally. A beautiful fountain with a lion’s head spout is set into the boundary wall and lends a sense of antiquity to the rear elevation.
Planting has been carefully considered and subtly added to over many years, with specimens of note including a weeping birch, apple, pear and bay trees, and two stunning magnolia trees. Flowers are abundant in the spring and summer times and a fragrant jasmine winds around the rear of the house.
Out and About
Love Walk is near Camberwell Church Street and its exciting culinary scene. Bellenden Road, Peckham’s pretty village with its excellent selection of restaurants, cafes and good pubs, is just 15 minutes walk away. The Camberwell Arms is of particular note, as well as local favourite Theo’s Pizzeria on Grove Lane, modern Italian restaurant Artusi is also nearby. The newly opened Grove Lane Deli is hugely popular for provisions and there is a weekly farmer’s market on Camberwell Green.
The green spaces of Ruskin Park, Brockwell Park and Peckham Rye are all within easy walking distance, while local leisure facilities include the nearby Butterfly tennis club and Camberwell Green swimming pool. Local cultural distractions are plentiful and include the South London Gallery and Dulwich Picture Gallery.
There are several excellent state and public schools in the area, including Dulwich College, James Allen’s Girls’ School, Alleyn’s School, The Villa Pre-Prep and Nursery, Dog Kennel Hill Primary School and Lyndhurst Primary School.
Denmark Hill station is a short walk away, running direct rail services to Victoria, Blackfriars and St Pancras International, and Overground services to Clapham Junction or Dalston Junction via Canada Water (Jubilee Line). Camberwell is also uncommonly well served by at least ten bus routes.
The higher ground on which Love Walk lies is thought to have been a strategic point for a Roman encampment and the earliest settlement in Camberwell.
Until about 1800, Camberwell was a farming village surrounded by woods and fields. The village was based around its High Street, now called Denmark Hill, in honour of Prince George of Denmark, the husband of Queen Anne, who had a residence there.
There were several mineral wells and springs in the area until about 1850. One of the village wells was reputed to have healing properties, and from this legend comes a possible explanation for the name Camberwell. The old English word cam means “crooked”, so Camberwell may have meant “the well of the crooked”, suggesting that it was a place where people with physical injuries or impairments could seek a cure. It is perhaps significant that the local church is named in honour of St Giles, the patron saint of disabled people.
St Giles’ church still stands on its original site. The first church is estimated to have been built in the 7th century AD. Rebuilt in stone in 1154, St Giles’ underwent many alterations over the centuries before it was destroyed by fire in 1841. The new church, finished in 1844, was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and contains stained glass windows designed by local resident John Ruskin.
The 19th century saw more affluent people moving into the area as the construction of Westminster Bridge (1750), Blackfriars Bridge (1769), Vauxhall Bridge (1816), and Southwark Bridge (1819) all made it easier for them to commute to work in central London. Despite the population growth, Camberwell remained an area of beauty. In 1842, the composer Felix Mendelssohn stayed with his wife’s relatives at Camberwell and was inspired to write “Camberwell Green”, now better known as “Spring Song”.
As with much of South London, the railways dramatically changed the landscape. The first trains arrived in 1862, and over the next six years, a vast number of tracks were laid, offering a new, cheap way to travel, meaning more people could afford to live in the suburbs. In 1801 the population of Camberwell was 7,059; 100 years later, it was 259,425.
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