Lambeth is a borough of inner south-west London. Within the London Borough of Lambeth are the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, St. Thomas' Hospital and County Hall. Lambeth includes the districts of Kennington (location of the Imperial War Museum and The Oval Cricket Ground) and Brixton.
This destination covers most of the borough of Lambeth, except for a chunk around Waterloo station that is covered under South Bank. Lambeth was historically a largely deprived area of Inner London with very dense housing. However, this began to change in the 1990s as the gentrification that was apparent in just about all of inner London also manifested itself here.
Brixton is a colourful, unique urban area that is like nowhere else in London. Brixton has a mix of residents, ranging from people who have lived in the district for generations to new residents who have moved prompted by a new trendy image that it has gained. It is a multi-ethnic community, with around 24 percent of the population being of African and/or Caribbean descent, giving rise to Brixton being called the unofficial capital of the British African-Caribbean community in London.
The diverse population originates from the 1940s and '50s, when Britain invited large numbers of immigrants from the West Indies to fill the job gaps.
There is a thriving scene for clubbing and live music, especially reggae/ska and rock. There are also several trendy markets stretching across the district where you can buy all manner of exotic foods, textiles and jewellery. It is well known for its nightlife, particularly the Brixton Academy, along with many other interesting bars, pubs and clubs to explore. Electric Avenue (of Eddy Grant song-fame) was the first electric-lit street in the UK; even if it is in a rather obscure location, it's worth checking out for the thriving, competing halal butchers.
Herne Hill is a village-type area on the corner of Brockwell Park, which includes a historic velodrome.
Kennington is a residential district with a rich history. The area is characterised by late Georgian and early Victorian roads and squares. It is dominated by two London landmarks: The Oval, an international cricket stadium, and the Imperial War Museum, a national museum. Kennington appeared in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Chenintune", which may mean "place of the King". Edward III gave the manor of Kennington to his oldest son Edward, "the Black Prince", in 1337, and the prince built a large royal palace between what is now Black Prince Road and Sancroft Street. Geoffrey Chaucer was employed at Kennington as Clerk of Works in 1389. Kennington remains a Royal manor, and the Duchy of Cornwall has a substantial property portfolio within the district. A large number of Members of Parliament have London residences in Kennington; the district falls within the Division Bell Zone, because it is geographically close to the Houses of Parliament.
Kennington Park (south London's oldest public park, laid out by Victorian architect James Pennethorne) and St Mark's Churchyard now cover the site of Kennington Common, which was a place for executions, entertainment and demonstrations. In 1746 the Surrey County Gallows at the southern end of the common was used for the execution of nine leaders of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. The Common was also where the Chartists gathered for their biggest demonstration in 1848. "The Gymnastic Society" met regularly at Kennington Common during the second half of the eighteenth century to play football. The society - which could lay a claim to being the world's first football club - consisted of London-based natives of Cumberland and Westmorland. The tradition of crowds gathering at Kennington Park in advance of marches upon Parliament continues today.
Vauxhall, dominated by its gyratory system, is best-known to many Londoners for its gay scene and as a transport interchange (its bus station is the second-busiest in London; there is also a railway station served by South West Trains, and the Victoria line stops there) - but it is experiencing rapid gentrification along its Thames frontage. Vauxhall is the location of the offices of MI6 (famous from James bond films), and will be the site for the new American Embassy.
The history of Vauxhall is tied to industry: it was there that Vauxhall Motors was founded, and Royal Doulton had a factory. Before that, the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, created in 1661, attracted visitors. The largest green space in Vauxhall today is its small Park, which came about in 1890 through the campaigning of Octavia Hill (co-founder of the National Trust) for "More Air for London". In the 1990s, Vauxhall became a prominent feature on London's gay scene; a number of clubs, bars and pubs have placed it as an alternative to Soho. Bonnington Square, close to The Oval, where Vauxhall meets Kennington, developed from a squat, threatened with demolition, into an artists' community, with carefully-tended gardens and community spaces.
The district is served by the following tube stations in Zones 1 and 2:
- Brixton (Zone 2) (Victoria line)
- Clapham Common (Zone 2) (Northern line)
- Clapham North (Zone 2) (Northern line)
- Kennington (Zone 2) (Northern line)
- Oval (Zone 2) (Northern line)
- Stockwell (Zone 2) (Victoria and Northern lines)
- Vauxhall (Zone 1 & 2) (Victoria line)
The district is served by the following stations:
- Brixton (a three minute walk from the Tube station)
- Clapham High Street
- Herne Hill
- Loughborough Junction
- Streatham Common
- Streatham Hill
- Tulse Hill
- Wandsworth Road
- West Norwood
- 2 (Marble Arch - Vauxhall - Brixton - West Norwood)
- 3 (Oxford Circus - Brixton - Crystal Palace)
- 59 (King's Cross - Waterloo - Brixton - Streatham)
- 109 (Croydon - Streatham - Brixton)
- 133 (Liverpool Street - Brixton - Streatham)
- 137 (Oxford Circus - Sloane Square - Clapham - Streatham)
- 159 (Marble Arch - Brixton - Streatham)
- 196 (Vauxhall - Brixton - South Norwood)
There are also several Night Buses serving Lambeth including:
- N3 (Oxford Circus - Brixton - Crystal Palace - Bromley North)
- N159 (Oxford Circus - Streatham - New Addington)
- 1 Brockwell Park, Herne Hill (From town walk up Effra Rd, take a left into Brixton Water Ln, and look out for entrance on the right). Daily. A large hilly green park; 10-min walk from the centre of Brixton. Has the following facilities: Brockwell Lido, children's play area, paddling pool, café, flower gardens, sports facilities, toilets and several ponds. Brockwell Park also has a BMX track. Free.
- 2 Charles Chaplin plaque, 287 Kennington Rd. Charles Chaplin lived with his mother in various addresses in and around Kennington Road in Lambeth, including 3 Pownall Terrace, Chester St and 39 Methley Street, and briefly lived with his father and his mistress, Louise, at 287 Kennington Road where a plaque now commemorates the fact. After Chaplin's mother was admitted to the Cane Hill Asylum, her son was left in the workhouse at Renfrew Road in Kennington.
- 3 Lambeth Palace, Lambeth Palace, SE1 7JU (tube: ). Library Exhibition only May-Jul M-Sa 10AM-5PM. The palace has been the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury since the 13th century. Guided tours of Lambeth Palace are incredibly popular and there has been a substantial waiting list for some years. £8 for the Library Exhibition.
- 4 Leake Street, Leake St, Lambeth (Near Waterloo under the train arches). Also known as the "Banksy tunnel", every inch of the walls of this 300 m-street are decorated with graffiti - it was created during the "Cans Festival" organised by Banksy in 2008. Whatever the legal position may be, the ongoing creation of graffiti is tolerated, backed up by a (graffitied) billboard advert outside the tunnel stating that this is the case.
- 5 Kennington Park, Kennington Park Rd, SE11 4BE (tube: ). Small London park with some lovely tended gardens.
- 6 Museum of Garden History, Lambeth Palace, Rd SE1 7LB (tube: ), ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 10:30AM-5PM. In an old church, which also has the tomb of Captain Bligh of The Bounty mutiny fame. The museum charts the history of garden design and gardening. £6, under 16s free.
- 7 SIS/MI6 Building, Vauxhall Bridge (tube: ). Imposing building on the waterfront with a huge number of CCTV cameras and looks more fortified than a prison. Quite a sight to behold and you're able to walk around the outskirts of the building but can guarantee that you're being watched when you do.
- 8 Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Rd, SE1 6HZ (tube: or ), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM-6PM. Set up as a memorial to the British war dead of World War I, the Imperial War Museum focuses on British military history between 1914 and the operations in Afghanistan in the present day. Fronted by two immense guns of the kind used on Royal Navy battleships, the museum's exhibits mix military hardware with historial interpretation. The same institution owns the Central London HMS Belfast (South Bank; a World War II cruiser, now a floating museum), Cabinet War Rooms and Duxford Air Museum (Cambridgeshire) (an airbase a day trip from London with five hangars of historic aircraft). Free except some temporary exhibitions.
- 9 575 Wandsworth Road, 575 Wandsworth Road, Lambeth, SW8 3JD, ☏ , email@example.com. A uniquely decorated house. Book in advance.
- 1 Brixton Academy, 211 Stockwell Rd (tube: ). Live music venue for audiences as large as 4,000 in a beautiful Art Deco building. It is often considered one of the best concert halls in the world.
- Brixton Audio Tour. Alex Wheatle, the Brixton Bard, takes you on a personal journey through the vibrant streets of Brixton that have been his inspiration.
- 2 Brockwell Lido. Outdoor swimming pool that's empty during cold days and has queues around the block whenever the sun is out.
- 3 The National Theatre, South Bank, SE1 9PX, ☏ . The Royal National Theatre is one of the UK's two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies. The controversial building is "an aesthetic of broken forms" meaning a concrete monster. The riverside forecourt has outdoor performances in the summer.
- 4 The Old Vic, 103 The Cut, SE1 8NB, ☏ . Kevin Spacey has been the artistic director here since 2003 receiving considerable media attention and starring in a number of the shows himself. Great for something a bit different, and further up the cut you can check the Young Vic which focuses on productions of a younger generation.
- Watch cricket at 5 The Oval (The Britoval, Kennington Oval), Kennington SE11 5SS (tube: ), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The second home of English cricket in London after Lords - these matches sell out early. Surrey CCC also play here in Division One of the County Championship and tickets are readily available.
- 6 The Southbank Centre, South Bank, SE1 9PX, ☏ . Southbank Centre is the largest single-run arts centre in the world and includes the Royal Festival Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. It's one of the largest arts centres in the world, occupying a 21-acre site in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. It offers a wide-ranging artistic programme including classical & world music, rock & pop, jazz, dance, literature and the visual arts.
- 7 Stockwell Skate Park, Stockwell Park Walk. Also ironically named Brixton Beach, this free skate park began in the 1970s. Skateboarders and BMXers can regularly be seen riding or simply hanging out on the edges.
- Torture Garden. An avant-garde fetish club in Brixton—not for the squeamish! They do not have a permanent venue.
- 1 Brixton Market, email@example.com. M Tu Th-Sa 8AM-6PM, W 8AM-5PM. Brixton Market consists of several different parts. The main section is Electric Avenue, selling mainly fruit, vegetables and meat, which also has a very good Chinese supermarket. On Pope's Road you will find clothes and bric-a-brac. You will find more indoor markets around the area such as: Brixton Village (between Pope's Road and Coldharbour Lane), Reliance Arcade (between Brixton Road and Electric Lane) and Granville Arcade (running between Electric Lane and Atlantic Road). These sell everything from wigs, clothes, pets, exotic foods and coffee.
There are many different types of food available in Lambeth, from Caribbean to Eritrean and fish and chips to noodles. You will find most of the restaurants on Coldharbour Ln and Atlantic Rd. Here are few noted establishments. Clapham High St has a good selection of restaurants.
- Brixton Market:
- Agile Rabbit, A small pizzeria-café that hosts bands in the walkway of the covered arcade
- Cornercopia, Pioneering ‘locavore’ shop and restaurant that helped kick-start the Market...
- Honest Burgers, does exactly what the name says. Wholesome and hearty (honest)!
- Bellantoni's - Dario Bellantoni and his staff bring some sunshine to the market with a selection of own-made pasta and an all-Italian wine list.
- Mama Lan, Chinese-fusion, pretty-good ingredients! Lovely sense of flavours
- Etta's Seafood Kitchen, exciting, dreamy food but the rushed service when crowded can leave a bad taste in your mouth.
- Franco Manca, Unit 4, Market Row, SW9 8LD, ☏ . Lunchtimes. Once named Timeout's #1 cheap eat in all of London and is always ludicrously busy. Authentic Italian sour dough pizza for very cheap prices. Top tip for Saturday dining: Turn up at 11:45AM, 15 minutes before it opens. You queue 15 minutes guaranteed, but can over an hours wait if you turn up at 12:15AM.
- 1 Asmara, 386 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, SW9 8LF (Facing the Dogstar), ☏ . 5:30PM-12:30AM. Small friendly restaurant serving interesting Eritrean food.
- 2 Eco Pizza (formerly Pizzeria Franco), 162 Clapham High St, Clapham Town, SW4 7UG, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily noon–10PM. Tasty reasonably priced pizzas, calzones and sandwiches using fresh ingredients.
- 3 Gandhi's Restaurant, 347 Kennington Rd, SE11 4QE (tube: ), ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 5–11PM. Traditional Indian restaurant. Mains £6-13.
- 4 Ichiban Sushi, 58a Atlantic Rd, Brixton, SW9 8PY, ☏ . Tu–Sa 6–10:30PM, closed M. Great freshly prepared sushi and tofu dishes.
- 5 Negril, 132 Brixton Hill, Brixton, SW2 1RS. M-W 10AM-6PM, Th-Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-6PM. Jamaican restaurant that serves traditional Jerk chicken and Caribbean curries. Most of the food is organic and they make their own fresh fruit juice. Reasonable priced and has lovely patio area.
- 6 The Pepper Tree, 19 Clapham Common Southside, SW4 7AB (tube: ), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu–Sa noon–11PM, Su M noon–10:30PM. A long-established and very popular Thai restaurant serving good food in rather spartan surroundings, alongside Clapham Common. Good value. Expect to queue in peak period. Mains £5-7.
- 7 Satay Bar, 447 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, SW9 8LP (tube: ), ☏ , email@example.com. M–F 5–11PM, Sa Su 1–11PM. Brixton's longest running restaurant, specialising in Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai cuisine. Also has a cocktail bar and lounge with extensive cocktail list and premium drinks menu. Located next to the Ritzy Cinema. Probably Brixton's busiest restaurant. Run's many specials including lunch special at £4.95.
- 8 Trinity Upstairs, 4 The Polygon, Clapham, SW4 0JG (Side street off Acre Ln above Opus), ☏ . Michelin Bib Gourmand winning restaurant in the unlikeliest of locations. A non-descript door buzzer in what looks like a flat leads you up to a cosy bar serving delicious cocktails before you ascend again to the tiny restaurant. The food is delicious and though expensive, very reasonably priced for such upmarket cuisine with very attentive staff. Not a place for every day, but a great choice for a treat. Expensive.
- 9 Wang Fa, 208 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, SW9 8SA (Next to Loughborough Jct Railway Stn), ☏ . M-Sa noon-10:30PM. Authentic Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Bento boxes, pad Thai, mizo, spare ribs.
Brixton has the advantage that every night you can stay out drinking later than almost anywhere else in London. Even on a Sunday, there are plenty of bars open until 2AM if you really do not want the weekend to end. The more interesting and local bars are dotted down backstreets.
- 1 The Duke Of Edinburgh, 204 Ferndale Rd, Brixton, SW9 8AG, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–Th 3–11PM, F–Su noon–11PM. Only really worth going if the weather is sunny, as the pub itself is nothing to write home about. Step out through the back and you will find a massive beer garden, and the only thing waking you to the reality that you are still in Brixton is the trains that clatter by every 15 minutes or so.
- 2 The Effra Hall Tavern, 38a Kellett Rd, Brixton, SW2 1EB, ☏ . A winning combination of great Guinness, a friendly mixed crowd and superb live jazz on weekdays and Sundays.
- 3 The Grovenor Arms, 17 Sidney St, SW9 0TP, email@example.com. M–F 4–11:30PM, Sa noon–11:30PM, Su noon–10:30PM. Fabulous old school boozer with two bars and a pool table. There is large function room at the back with a growing reputation for putting on interesting rock, reggae and punk acts.
- 4 Hootananny Brixton, 95 Effra Rd, Brixton, SW2 1DF, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–Th 5PM–midnight, F Sa 2PM–1AM, Su 2PM–midnight. Popular late licence pub with a penchant for live ska music. Incredibly popular on weekends with upbeat fun atmosphere and large outdoor area. Also hosts El Panzon Mexican kitchen for delicious cheap food.
- 5 The Marquis of Lorne, 49 Dalyell Rd, SW9 9SA, ☏ . Sporting an immaculate and beautifully preserved exterior, this quiet pub deserves to be much better known.
- 6 Prince Albert (Green King), 418 Coldharbour Ln, SW9 8LF, ☏ . A local favourite that still stubbornly remains a simple pub, without succumbing to standard London bar makeover. Good atmosphere with plenty of places to sit down inside plus a tiny outside beer garden, which is nice in the summer.
- 7 The Prince of Wales (POW Brxtn), 467-469 Brixton Rd, SW9 8HH, ☏ , email@example.com. Tu–Th 5–11PM, F Sa 4PM-midnight, Su 4–11PM. The downstairs pub has a late licence while the exquisitely restored upstairs POW is a members only affair and well worth a visit. There is also a boutique hotel on the top floor. In the boozer, there's free wi-fi with any bar purchase, making it a good place for daytime meetings.
- 8 The Riverside, 5 St George’s Wharf, Vauxhall, SW8 2LE (tube: ), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM–midnight. Gastropub on the Thames Pathway near Vauxhall Bridge. Serves a wide range of food and drink, including Pimms on tap at the bar.
- 9 Trinity Arms (Young's), 45 Trinity Gardens, Brixton, SW9 8DR (up Brighton Ter on the right), ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 11AM–11PM. A proper old man's pub with a picture of the Queen pulling a pint on the wall. Right in the middle of the bustle of Brixton near the tube station, but tucked around a corner on Trinity Gardens that feels like it's in a different part of London altogether. Beer garden in front and back.
- 10 Windmill Brixton, 22 Blenheim Gardens (off Brixton Hill), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A bit of a trek from the Brixton tube (about 15 minutes walk), but it's a gem worth discovering. This small pub regularly hosts live music from up and coming bands, in the past seeing Bloc Party before they hit big time thanks to promoter Tim Perry's meticulous quality filter. Sunday nights they have DJs and BBQs during the summer. Usually only about £3 to get in.
Bars and clubs
- 11 Dogstar, 389 Coldharbour Ln, SW9 8LQ, ☏ , email@example.com. M–Th 4PM–midnight, F 4PM–1AM, Sa noon–1AM, Su noon–11PM. One of Brixton's long time favourites and worth a visit for a night out. It still runs an eclectic mix of dance music, covering hip-hop, reggae, r&b, ska and house. Has dance floor, big old sofas and screen for sports matches. Upstairs there is Moca (Caribbean restaurant) and a third floor to hire out for private parties. Admission free weekdays, charges on weekends.
- 12 Fire Nightclub, S Lambeth Rd, Vauxhall, SW8 1RT (at Parry St), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in the train arches of Vauxhall are three inter-linked clubs (with separate events and queues): Fire, Lightbox and Protocol. The music and crowds range from velvety commercial house for shirtless, partying-till-midday gay audiences to underground techno, South London grime and even Canto and K-Pop nights for the East Asian community.
- 13 Hideaway, 2 Empire Mews, Streatham, SW16 2ED (rail: Streatham), ☏ , email@example.com. Streatham jazz club. Voted the best jazz venue of 2011 by the House of Commons' cross-party Parliamentary Jazz Club.
- 14 White Horse Brixton, 94 Brixton Hill, Brixton, SW2 1QN, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu–F 4–11PM, Sat noon–11PM, Su noon–10:30PM. Typical London pub with outdoor area and pool table. Serves food. DJs usually play Funk music on the dance floor (although you should expect it to be crowded late on F and Sa). No entry fee.
Gay and lesbian
- 15 Eagle London, 349 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, SE11 5QY, ☏ . Tu–Su 2–10PM, closed M.
- 16 Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 372 Kennington Ln, SE11 5HY, ☏ . F 6PM-2AM, Sa 4PM–2AM, Su 3–10PM. Home to a constant assortment of strange, bawdy, underground, queer and quirky nights from artists, comedians and performers.
- 1 Belgrave Hotel, 13 Clapham Rd, ☏ . Nice little economy hotel with friendly staff. Very simple clean rooms.
- 2 Chelsea Guest House, 372 Wandsworth Road, SW8 4TE, ☏ , email@example.com. Nice little economy hotel with friendly staff. Very simple clean rooms.
- 3 Church Street Hotel, 29 Camberwell Church St (2 mi from the Brixton tube stn, bus goes from Brixton Academy to right by the hotel), ☏ . Small beautifully decorated boutique hotel. Also the amazing Hotel Pasha is nearby.
- 4 London Hotel, 411 Coldharbour Ln, ☏ . Small budget hotel.
- 5 No 7 Guesthouse, 7 Josephine Ave (A ten minute walk from Brixton tube). A bed and breakfast run by a friendly gay couple.
- 6 Park Plaza London Riverbank, 18 Albert Embankment, SE1 7TJ (tube: ), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Stylish and reputable.
- Aa's Communication Internet Cafe, 248 Kennington Park Rd, ☏ .
- Apollo Home Entertainment, 400-402 Brixton Rd, ☏ . A video/DVD hire shop which has branched out into providing internet access.
- Internet Exchange, Brixton Library, Brixton Oval (Next to Ritzy Cinema), ☏ . M 1PM-8PM, Tu Th 10AM-8PM, W F 10AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Free use of computers for internet and word processing, although you may have to queue. No food or drink.
Most of Lambeth is as safe as the rest of London. The South Bank is a major tourist area, do watch out for coats and bags, as opportunist thefts are not unknown.
In the 1980s Brixton had a reputation for crime and, even until a few years ago, it was almost impossible to leave Brixton tube station in the evenings without being offered drugs. While the situation has improved a lot, it's still sensible to take some precautions in Brixton and the nearby areas at night. Stick to well-lit, busy areas and you have little to worry about. Some South London housing estates have a poor reputation for violent crime; while these are rarely places tourists would have much reason to go, visitors should avoid spending too much time passing through housing estates at night, at least until they have got to know the area. The same goes for the open space of Clapham Common; fashionable during the day, at night it has something of a reputation for sexual activity and muggings.
|Routes through Lambeth|
|Leicester Square / The City ← Southwark-Lewisham ←||N S||→ Wandsworth → South London|
|North London ← Westminster ←||N S||→ END|
|END ← Wandsworth ←||W E||→ Southwark-Lewisham → East End|
|Routes through Lambeth|
|The City ← South Bank ←||NE SW||→ Wandsworth → Kingston-upon-Thames|