- For other uses of the name Camberwell, see Camberwell (disambiguation).
Camberwell is a district of London. It forms part of the London Borough of Southwark, just south of the River Thames. It used to be part of the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell.
The area is a mixture of relatively affluent housing and cheaper housing such as tower blocks. Camberwell Grove and Grove Lane have some of London's most elegant and well preserved Georgian houses. The Salvation Army's William Booth Memorial Training College, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, was completed in 1932: it towers over South London from Denmark Hill. It has a similar monumental impressiveness to Gilbert Scott's other local buildings, Battersea Power Station and the Tate Modern, although its simplicity is partly the result of repeated budget cuts during its construction: much more detail, including carved Gothic stonework surrounding the windows, was originally planned.
The name Camberwell probably derives from the old English Cumberwell or Comberwell. i.e. British well. It was already a substantial settlement with a church when mentioned in the Domesday Book. Up to the mid-nineteenth century, Camberwell was visited by Londoners for its rural tranqullity and the reputed healing properties of its mineral springs. The Camberwell Beauty butterfly was identified here in 1748 but is now rare in Britain. Like much of inner South London, Camberwell was transformed by the arrival of the railways in the 1860s.
The crossroads at the centre of Camberwell is the site of Camberwell Green, a very small area of common land which was once a traditional village green. Unfortunately it is now impossible to ignore the noise of the passing traffic. However, a very extensive range of bus routes stops at Camberwell Green (see the link to the bus spider map below for details).
The local ethnic mix includes a large proportion of people of Caribbean and Nigerian descent, a Greek Cypriot community, and number of immigrants of Middle Eastern origin. The area is popular with students, as it is home to the Camberwell College of Arts (part of the University of the Arts London - formerly the London Institute) on Peckham Road. Kings College (part of the University of London) also has a hall of residence (King's College Hall) on nearby Denmark Hill.
Camberwell has one of London's large teaching hospitals, Kings College Hospital. The associated medical school is the (recently merged) Guy’s King’s and St Thomas’ (GKT) School of Medicine. The Maudsley Hospital, a renowned psychiatric hospital which was an international leader in developing specialist training in psychiatry, and its academic partner, the equally distinguished Institute of Psychiatry, are also close to Denmark Hill station.
Past and current residents include Joseph Chamberlain, Robert Browning, John Ruskin, Michael Caine, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh and Nicholas Serota. Felix Mendelssohn stayed with relatives in 1842 and wrote a piano piece called 'Camberwell Green', whose popularity increased after it was renamed the 'Spring Song'.
Nearest railway stations: