West Norwood

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West Norwood
Norwood Road, West Norwood
Greater London UK location map 2.svg
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West Norwood
Location within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ325715
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SE27
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°25′37″N0°05′44″W / 51.427025°N 0.095539°W / 51.427025; -0.095539 Coordinates: 51°25′37″N0°05′44″W / 51.427025°N 0.095539°W / 51.427025; -0.095539

West Norwood is a largely residential area of south London within the London Borough of Lambeth, located 5.4 miles (8.7 km) south south-east of Charing Cross. The centre of West Norwood sits in a bowl surrounded by hillsides on its east, west and south sides. From many parts of the area, distant views can be seen, of places such as the City of London, Canary Wharf and Crystal Palace.


West Norwood includes some or all of three Wards of the London Borough of Lambeth – Gipsy Hill, Knights Hill and Thurlow Park. Each of these wards is represented on Lambeth Council by three councillors. [1]


The area is well served by public transport with these National Rail stations at each end of the main shopping area in Norwood Road, providing the services shown to central London and beyond:

Trains also run from both these stations to a variety of destinations further south of the centre of London.

Other nearby railway stations are:

The tube stations closest to West Norwood are at Brixton and Balham, both of which can be reached by bus and, in the case of Balham, also by train.

Eight daytime bus routes and two night-time routes serve the area. West Norwood bus garage is located at Ernest Avenue.

The South Circular (A205) passes close by at Tulse Hill and Streatham High Road (A23) is about one mile to the west of the centre of West Norwood.


The primary and secondary schools listed below are in West Norwood.



There are a large number of other publicly funded and also private schools within a short distance of West Norwood.


These include:


A map showing the Norwood ward of Lambeth Metropolitan Borough as it appeared in 1916. Lambeth Met. B Ward Map 1916.svg
A map showing the Norwood ward of Lambeth Metropolitan Borough as it appeared in 1916.

"Norwood" recalls the "Great North Wood", a name that was formerly used for the hilly and wooded area to the north of Croydon. Before 1885 West Norwood station and the surrounding area was known as "Lower Norwood", reflecting its being at a lower altitude than Upper Norwood.

John Rocque's 1745 map of London and the surrounding area includes the Horns Tavern at Knight's Hill, opposite what is now the main entrance to West Norwood station, with a largely undeveloped valley stretching to 'Island Green' in the north, approximately where Herne Hill railway station stands now. The enclosure map of 50 years later shows that little of the original woodland remained by then, other than a few coppices.

The future development of West Norwood was assisted by the Lambeth Manor Enclosure Act of 1806. Much of the land covered by this Act was owned either by the Archbishop of Canterbury or by Lord Thurlow, who died in the same year.

Most of the current main roads were either ancient or laid out in accordance with the provisions of the enclosure award. The River Effra ran alongside the current Elder Road, in a northerly direction, and was prone to flooding.

The area was over a mile from the nearest parish church (at St Leonard, Streatham), so St. Luke's was provided under the Waterloo church scheme and completed in 1825. The houses in the parish at that period consisted largely of substantial villas along the main roads and more humble cottages mainly situated between Knights Hill and the High Street. The South Metropolitan Cemetery was laid out in 1837 to provide burial facilities largely for the population of crowded areas that were closer to the centre of London.

The railway line from London to the Crystal Palace was opened in 1856 with a station at Lower Norwood (since renamed West Norwood). These improved communications heralded major changes. Many of the larger houses and gardens were demolished and replaced with predominantly more modest housing over the next four decades.

Norwood High Street contained the earliest group of shops in the area but never developed into a major shopping centre, as the main shopping parades were built during the decades around 1900 along Norwood Road between York Hill and West Norwood station. Horse-drawn trams shuttled passengers along this road from the terminus in front of St Luke's Church towards the middle of London.

Extensive anecdotal and other historical material from the 19th and early 20th centuries has been written up by Mr J B Wilson, a local undertaker. [11]

The two world wars witnessed fatalities and bomb damage to many buildings in the area, with York Hill and the areas around the railway suffering particularly badly. Chatsworth Baptist church had to be rebuilt after a direct hit. [12] Many of the post-war estates were built on bomb sites or replaced areas which had experienced damage.

An Art Deco cinema, named The Regal, was built at 304 Norwood Road in the late 1920s. It was designed by architect F Edward Jones (who also designed Madame Tussaud's) and opened on 16 January 1930. The cinema sat 2,010 and was equipped with a Christie Manual organ. The cinema closed on 8 February 1964 with a double screening of Peter Sellers' I'm Alright Jack and Two Way Stretch. Following its closure, the building became a Top Rank Bingo Club a few months later and remained open until 1978. The building was demolished in November 1981 and a B&Q store can be seen today on the site. [13]

After the Second World War, a considerable amount of council housing was constructed in West Norwood. The York Hill, Fern Lodge, Portobello and Holderness Estates arose during the late 1940s and the 1950s on the sites of houses with large gardens that had been destroyed by bombing or were simply demolished. Later houses and flats, such as in the Dunbar Street area, took the place of Victorian dwellings that were cleared away as slums or, alternatively, to achieve a higher density of development. The Woodvale Estate in Elder Road was erected on the site of the "Lambeth New Schools", which had been part of the local Workhouse and that had been renamed as "Wood Vale" before demolition. [14]

Parts of West Norwood have been declared conservation areas including the area around the cemetery, Lancaster Avenue and Rosendale Road. Local landmarks such as St Luke's Church, the late Victorian fire station (now the South London Theatre) on Norwood High Street, by the architect Robert Pearsall., [15] The early 20th-century former fire station at Norwood Road and the original public library at Knights Hill are Grade II listed buildings.

Knights Hill

Confusingly, there are two areas called Knight's Hill nearby; the names of both areas have similar origins, both belonging to Thomas Knyght in 1545, and in the south was known as Knight's Hill Common while the hill to the north was known as Knight's Hill Farm.

The southern Knight's Hill Common originally formed part of Lambeth Manor and contained land called Julian's, which is remembered through the street name of St Julian's Farm Road. The hill formed the nucleus of the vast estate in Lambeth and Streatham that Lord Thurlow acquired during the 18th Century, [16]

The Jewish Orphanage

The main building of the Norwood Home for Jewish Children ("The Jewish Orphanage") was completed in 1862. It was a three-storey edifice, with the appearance of a Jacobean palace [18] This structure was demolished in 1963, after the children had moved in groups to live in nine houses supervised by house parents in a less institutional environment, meeting for communal activities at a new synagogue built on the original site. In the 1970s, the charity moved out of the area and the main site was sold to Lambeth Council, which developed much of it for a housing estate, keeping only a small area beside the railway line as open space and converting the synagogue into a community facility known as the Norwood Hall. Some of this open space is now occupied by the West Norwood Health and Leisure Centre but the site of Norwood Hall has been landscaped. An account of a boy's experiences of living at the Orphanage between 1928 and 1933 can be found online. [19]

Of the original buildings only the porter's lodge off Knights Hill now remains, its curving Dutch-gables, red brick with black diaperwork and mullioned windows echoing the design of the main 3-storey institution. The Arnold & Jane Gabriel Home was built on the Wolfington Road frontage of the orphanage in 1910; it was converted into Julians primary school in 2012, which now features a colourful modern extension to the original building.

The charity that operated the orphanage in West Norwood retains an echo of its previous location in its current name Norwood.

Historical local photographs


During recent years, the number and variety of churches has increased, reflecting the diverse origins of many new residents. The following congregations meet in buildings that are readily identified as places of worship:

A former Congregational church stands on the south side of Chapel Road, SE27 0UR. It is a Grade II Listed Building and the only local purpose-built church in West Norwood that survives but no longer used for worship. The premises currently house a child care facility.

Open spaces

The main open space in West Norwood is Norwood Park.

West Norwood Cemetery has an area of 45 acres (18.2 hectares) and is close to the railway station. The Friends of West Norwood Cemetery aim to increase knowledge and appreciation of this facility. [31]

Peabody Hill Wood is an area of outstanding importance recognised by English Nature.


Clocks in West Norwood

Nearest places

Notable former and current residents

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crystal Palace, London</span> Residential area in London, England

Crystal Palace is an area in south London, England, named after the Crystal Palace Exhibition building, which stood in the area from 1854 until it was destroyed by fire in 1936. Approximately 7 miles (11 km) south-east of Charing Cross, it includes one of the highest points in London, at 367 feet (112 m), offering views over the capital. The area has no defined boundaries and straddles five London boroughs and three postal districts, although there is a Crystal Palace electoral ward and Crystal Palace Park in the London Borough of Bromley. It forms a part of the greater area known as Upper Norwood, and is contiguous with the areas of Anerley, Dulwich Wood, Gipsy Hill, Penge, South Norwood and Sydenham.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Streatham</span> Human settlement in England

Streatham is a district in south London, England. Centred 5 miles (8 km) south of Charing Cross, it lies mostly within the London Borough of Lambeth, with some parts extending into the neighbouring London Borough of Wandsworth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tulse Hill</span> Human settlement in England

Tulse Hill is a district in the London Borough of Lambeth in South London that sits on Brockwell Park. It is approximately five miles from Charing Cross and is bordered by Brixton, Dulwich, Herne Hill, Streatham and West Norwood.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">London Borough of Lambeth</span> Borough in United Kingdom

Lambeth is a London borough in South London, England, which forms part of Inner London. Its name was recorded in 1062 as Lambehitha and in 1255 as Lambeth. The geographical centre of London is at Frazier Street near Lambeth North tube station, though nearby Charing Cross on the other side of the Thames in the City of Westminster is traditionally considered the centre of London.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lambeth</span> Human settlement in England

Lambeth is a district in South London, England, in the London Borough of Lambeth, historically in the County of Surrey. It is situated 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Charing Cross. The population of the London Borough of Lambeth was 303,086 in 2011. The area experienced some slight growth in the medieval period as part of the manor of Lambeth Palace. By the Victorian era the area had seen significant development as London expanded, with dense industrial, commercial and residential buildings located adjacent to one another. The changes brought by World War II altered much of the fabric of Lambeth. Subsequent development in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has seen an increase in the number of high-rise buildings. The area is home to the International Maritime Organization. Lambeth is home to one of the largest Portuguese-speaking communities in the UK, and is the second most commonly spoken language in Lambeth after English.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Upper Norwood</span> Area of south London

Upper Norwood is an area of south London, England, within the London Boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth and Southwark. It is north of Croydon and the eastern part of it is better known as the Crystal Palace area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth</span> Metropolitan borough of England

Lambeth was a civil parish and metropolitan borough in south London, England. It was an ancient parish in the county of Surrey. The parish was included in the area of responsibility of the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1855 and became part of the County of London in 1889. The parish of Lambeth became a metropolitan borough in 1900, following the London Government Act 1899, with the parish vestry replaced by a borough council.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Herne Hill</span> Human settlement in England

Herne Hill is a district in South London, approximately four miles from Charing Cross and bordered by Brixton, Camberwell, Dulwich, and Tulse Hill. It sits to the north and east of Brockwell Park and straddles the boundary between the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. There is a road of the same name in the area, as well as a railway station.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Streatham (UK Parliament constituency)</span> Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1918 onwards

Streatham is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2019 by Bell Ribeiro-Addy of the Labour Party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parks and open spaces in the London Borough of Lambeth</span>

The London Borough of Lambeth, in spite of being close to the centre of London has over 64 areas of parks and open spaces, in addition to 34 play areas and eight paddling pools, within its boundaries. In common with all the London boroughs these green spaces provide "lungs" for the leisure pursuits of the inhabitants.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gipsy Hill</span> Area of south London

Gipsy Hill in south London is a hilly neighbourhood spanning the southern parts of the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark characterised for its great views of the City of London and Dulwich.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">West Dulwich</span> Human settlement in England

West Dulwich is a neighbourhood in South London on the southern boundary of Brockwell Park, which straddles the London Borough of Lambeth and the London Borough of Southwark. Croxted Road and South Croxted Road mark the boundary between Southwark to the east and Lambeth to the west. The suburb of West Dulwich dates back to the 17th century when the often flooded land known as Dulwich Common was acquired and drained by Edward Alleyn's estate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Norwood Ridge</span> Ridge in south London

The Norwood Ridge is a 10-square-mile (26 km2) rectangular upland which occupies the geographical centre of south London, centred 5 miles (8 km) south of London Bridge. Beneath its topsoil it is a ridge of London Clay that is capped on all sides with remaining natural gravel deposits mixed with some sandy soil, which in the South Thames basin is a material known as the Claygate Beds.

Norwood New Town is a largely residential, former working-class enclave within the larger district of Upper Norwood in Southeast London. It is within the London Borough of Croydon. In common with the neighbouring districts of West Norwood, South Norwood and Upper Norwood, it is named after the contraction of the Great North Wood, which once occupied this area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">A215 road</span> Road in London, England

The A215 is an A road in south London, starting at Elephant and Castle and finishing around Shirley. It runs through the London Boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Croydon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">All Saints Church, West Dulwich</span> Church in London , England

All Saints' Church is a Church of England parish church in West Dulwich, South London. It is a red brick building designed in a Gothic Revival style by George Fellowes Prynne and built 1888–91. It is Grade I listed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Luke's Church, West Norwood</span> Church

St Luke's Church in West Norwood is an Anglican church that worships in a Grade II* listed building. It stands on a prominent triangular site at the south end of Norwood Road, where the highway forks to become Knights Hill and Norwood High Street.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christ Church, Gipsy Hill</span> Church

Christ Church in Gipsy Hill is an Anglican Church in the London Borough of Lambeth. The remaining part of the original Victorian church building, the tower, which is now a private dwelling is a Grade II Listed Building and occupies a prominent position, the tower being a notable landmark in the area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Peter's Church, Streatham</span> Church

St Peter's Church is an Anglican church in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is a Grade II* listed building and occupies a prominent position in Leigham Court Road, Streatham.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Knight's Hill, Tulse Hill</span>

Knight's Hill is a hill in the Tulse Hill and West Dulwich area of the London Borough of Lambeth.


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  32. "International Federation of L'Arche". Archived from the original on 28 February 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  33. "Joanna Byrne". IMDb. Retrieved 24 November 2021.