5 places to enjoy the sun in South London – by Walk Leader Volunteer Arun

These are some perfect places to have a break, eat your lunch and catch some rays. Vitamin D is really good for you!

1. Myatt’s Fields

Myatt’s fields was awarded the prestigous ‘Green Flag’, denoting it as a quality green space in 2015. It includes a bandstand, summerhouse and café which are all well used, and it also has basketball and tennis courts along with a children’s play area and picnic spaces.

The jewel in the crown is the community greenhouse, which is overseen by head gardener Fabrice Boltho, who is passionate about the greenhouse and vegetables he grows from all around the world. The community are actively encouraged to volunteer and help out here. Groups are also encouraged to use the facilities and to to cook and eat the fresh veg (whatever’s in season).

It was voted the ninth best park in United Kingdom. Forget the hustle and bustle of London by spending half-an-hour in this leafy paradise! Better than yoga, I’d say.

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2 & 3. Trinity Square and…

Trinity Church Square developed from 1777 in the late Georgian style, and the buildings around it are now all residential. In its centre is Henry Wood Hall classical music rehearsal space (used by the London Philharmonic Orchestra), that was formerly used as the eponymous church. The Square still has Victorian gas street lighting around it, making it a fine example of how Dickensian era would have looked, and so the square is often used for film shots. One of the oldest public sculptures in London is located on a stone plinth, depicting King Alfred the Great. The provenance of the statue is unknown, but it’s said to be one of the eight medieval statues from the north end towers of Westminster Hall late 14 century.

Newington Gardens

… Newington Gardens

We then walk from Trinity Square to Newington Gardens which is just behind the Inner London Crown Court, formally Horsemonger Lane Gaol. These gardens were a site for executions over the centuries and famous for the hanging of the Mannings, a husband and wife who murdered a friend and neighbour for his money. Billed as the hanging of the century, it was the first married couple to be hanged in over 150 years. They were executed on 13 November 1849 at midnight, and the event was attended by over 30,000 citizens. The most famous of these onlookers was Charles Dickens, who was appalled by what he saw, and subsequently wrote a scathing letter to The Times newspaper condemning the jovial, circus-like atmosphere. Thomas Cook, the travel agency, even ran trains to the event, treating them as pure tourist attractions.

Today the garden is a tranquil, pleasant green space where one can reflect and contemplate before going back into the Crown Court for sentencing.

4. Lambeth Palace

Lambeth Palace gardens is a green space over the river from the Houses of Parliament. It’s a site of a great orchard planted around the Archbishop’s Palace, with half of it now a public green space. This is the site of the medieval church St Mary’s at Lambeth, but the first church on this site was built before the Norman conquest. In 1062 a wooden church was erected by Goda, sister to Edward the Confessor. Later on in the same century it was rebuilt in stone, and finally in the 12th century it became part of the religious centre established by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The tower, built in 1377, is the oldest surviving structure in the borough of Lambeth, except for the Crypt of Lambeth Palace.

In 1790 William Blake moved into Hercules Road, and it was his most productive period. The mosaics in the archways depict his life’s works, and include his poems and artworks, which are synonymous with Blake. These lead us back into streets around Lambeth Palace, where no doubt he would have walked, drawing inspiration for his works.


I wonder thro’ each chartered street,

Near where the chartered Thames dose flow,

And mark in every face I meet,

Marks of weakness Marks of woe,

In every cry of every man,

In every Infants cry of fear,

In every voice, in every ban,

The Mind-Forged Manacles I Hear……………..

William Blake

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5. West Square

West Square is a historic square in the borough of Southwark. To the west is the Imperial War Museum, formerly the Mental Institution known as Bethlem Royal Hospital. The terraced houses surround a quaint, communal garden that is open to the public. It is well known that Charlie Chaplin lived here with his brother and mother Hannah at his aunt Kate’s house, at number 30, known as the ‘Kitteries’. However there is speculation that he lived in some style at number 39 with Leo Dryden, a famous and fashionable Music Hall Singer/Songwriter, who was also his mother’s lover. It is a beautiful example of a Georgian square, and a great place to escape from the polluted Elephant & Castle.

Come along on a Guided Walk here: http://www.cooltanarts.org.uk/guided-walks/ 

Donate to our walking programme CoolWalks on our Crowdfunding campaign:



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