The Grove, which is one of the principal ornaments of the neighbourhood, is a delightfully embowered walk, nearly half a mile in length, having a gradual ascent from Peckham Road. The view from the summit is extensive, rural and picturesque… The air around here is genial and invigorating: Dr Lettsom, the celebrated physician and botanist, used to designate this place and its immediate neighbourhood as the Montpelier of England.
Pigot’s New Commercial Directory for 1823–1824
I found this description of Camberwell Grove in Gillian Tindall’s The House by the Thames, which is a fascinating history of Bankside and Southwark. I thought it rather timely with the recent kerfuffle about the opening of the railway bridge.
The celebrated physician and botanist’s name lives on in the area in the gated gardens and a housing estate.
The book goes on to say:
By the later part of the nineteenth century the whole district was built up, an embodiment of the phrase ‘urban sprawl’, becoming more crowded and insalubrious as rows of smaller houses were squeezed in between the existing streets.
So it’s not just post-war planning which has done for the area.
I went to the Museum of London at the weekend, and they have a pretty extensive array of local history books. Only one on Southwark, however, and that one featured no mention of Camberwell. Since Wordsworth shut down, where are we to find books on local history?