In Camberwell, South London, a long incline of London plane trees graciously lined what was once a private avenue that began at its foot, off Camberwell Church Street, and led to a Tudor manor house at the top.
By the mid 1770’s the manor house had fallen into a state of disrepair and was demolished, but the long tree-lined avenue was retained and given over as a public highway in London’s ever pressing need for residential expansion.
A grade II listed mid-nineteenth century stuccoed Italianate villa on Camberwell Grove, illustrated by Andrew Cadey
The residential developments that occurred evolved slowly and in a piecemeal fashion. Subsequently, the street as a masterplan provides a fascinating lineal timeline of architectural styles, starting with modest brick Georgian terraces and early Victorian semi-detached and terraced townhouses at the lower end, towards later grander Italianate villas and large stuccoed terraces at the top.
An irregular set of Georgian terraces - these were once shops converted to residential properties with modern Georgian style facades, illustrated by Andrew Cadey
There is no grand visual coherency here like you might expect in similar patterns of estate development in areas such as Chelsea or Kensington. What you see instead, is a rich tapestry of architectural fashion, paraded out over more than a century but held together by traditional but varying principles of architectural fenestration and construction, an almost continuous respect for a scale of four storeys and of course an established tree-lined avenue.
In subsequent years the street suffered its fair share of neglect and war damage and so twentieth century interventions have understandably occurred. During this time, most existing houses have been sensitively restored, some middle century developments muscle in with a true and almost unapologetic reflection of the architectural style of their time, whilst other contemporary additions are masked as almost carbon copies of their Georgian and Victorian predecessors. This again shows how, over a relatively short timeframe, architectural taste, opinion and conservation has shifted and evolved, further adding another rich layer of contemporary architectural history to an already well-healed historic street.
A late eighteenth century Georgian terrace, grade II listed, on Camberwell Grove - the concrete lintels over the windows and doors replaced brick arches after war damage, illustrated by Andrew Cadey