I walked from Waterloo, down to Elephant and Castle – but meandering about quite a bit and so a small part of my walk was in Lambeth but most of it was in Southwark, but I have treated the snaps as if they were all in Southwark – so it is possible that I have mis-named one or two of them.
The snaps are dominated by some fine terraces of housing – of a wide variety of styles.
On the way is St George’s Cathedral – a large Catholic cathedral – it’s full proper name is The Metropolitan Cathedral of St George – and is, in a way, the Catholic cathedral to rival the Church of England’s Southwark Cathedral just a short distance to the north in the same Borough. It is however much more modern and was originally built in 1848 – the architect being Augustus Pugin (one of the two architects of the Palace of Westminster). It was much destroyed by incendiary bombs in the War and was reconstructed afterwards – reopening in 1958. Until Westminster Cathedral was opened in 1903, St George’s was the largest Catholic cathedral in the UK.
The third snap in this set is one of the Imperial War Museum. This was originally the Bethlehem hospital for the criminally insane – known as Bedlam – but this eventually moved to Beckenham in 1936 (nowadays “Bethlehem Royal Hospital”) and the wings of the original building were demolished and the central domed section became the Museum. The Museum sits on land originally known as St George’s Fields (more or less opposite the Cathedral). This was the marshy area that I mentioned in last month’s blog. Shortly before the Bedlam moved off to Kent there was concern about overdevelopment of the area and the land was bought by Viscount Rothemere – owner of the Daily Mail. He gave it for use as a park to the London County Council and it was named after his mother as the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park. She was a remarkable lady who had 14 children!
Two other sets of snaps – two in each set – are worth a bit of mention: West Square and West Square Garden is a beautiful Georgian square with many very old mulberry trees – much propped up to prevent branches collapsing. Lamlash Street and Lamlash Street gardens – with a view of one of the new Elephant and Castle skyscrapers in the background – was an area where too many dumped rubbish until the locals turned it into a lovely local allotment.
Over the past twenty years, and more rapidly over the last ten years, this area has – like so many other areas of London – become more well to do. It has not yet undertaken the dramatic gentrification that an area like say Notting Hill made over an admittedly longer period from the late Sixties onwards, and it probably will not be the same as somewhere like that but nevertheless the changes have been and continue to be large scale – especially when the Elephant and Castle area is included. It is, in my opinion, likely to continue to look ‘posher and richer’.