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The Old Nuns Head - - 44426.jpg
The Old Nuns Head, Public House
Grid reference: TQ355755
Location: 51°27’44"N, 0°3’3"W
Population: 13,620  (2011 (ward)[1])
Post town: London
Postcode: SE15, SE4
Dialling code: 020
Local Government
Council: Southwark
Camberwell and Peckham

Nunhead is an inner-city suburb in Metropolitan Surrey, located four miles south-east of Charing Cross. It is the location of the 52-acre Nunhead Cemetery.[2] Nunhead has traditionally been a working-class area and, with the adjacent neighbourhoods, is currently going through a lengthy process of gentrification.[3][4] Nunhead is the location of several underground reservoirs, built by the Southwark and Vauxhall Waterworks Company.[5]


The name is first recorded in 1680 and is believed to be taken from a local inn named The Nun's Head. It is rumoured that this name refers to the beheading of a nun during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. However, there is no evidence to support this claim.[6]


Nunhead lies within the large ancient parish of Camberwell in the Brixton Hundred, but was never an independent unit of civil administration.[7][8] Instead, as population grew, a separate St Antholin, Nunhead ecclesiastical parish was created in 1878, with a church built in 1877.[7] The church was later rebuilt in 1957 as St Antony's Church.[9] It was then Listed Grade II in 1972 but became surplus to requirements of the church and was declared redundant in 2001 and sold to its present owners. It then became the Lighthouse Cathedral.[10] In 1887 Nunhead is recorded as having a population of 10,727.[11] There was a Nunhead Football Club from 1888 to 1949. Nunhead has some fine examples of late Victorian / early Edwardian properties; these can be seen on both Carden Road and Tresco Road. It is even reputed, in Claire Tomlin's biography of Charles Dickens' mistress Nelly Ternan, that Charles Dickens was taken on his death bed from the house he rented for Ternan, at Windsor Lodge in Linden Grove to Gad's Hill to die. The house no longer stands, but was at 31 Linden Grove. Old maps show that the church was next door to where the dental surgery now stands at 42 Linden Grove, so Windsor Lodge was presumably more or less opposite that.


Nunhead forms part of Southwark Council's Peckham Programme regeneration scheme.[12] As part of this plan, the area forms part of the East Peckham and Nunhead renewal area.[13] A component of this regeneration is the proposal that the Cross River Tram could serve the area,[14] however in November 2008 Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced that due to funding constraints this project would be cancelled.[15]

The Lighthouse Cathedral, the current name of this church, which was built in 1957 to the designs of Lawrence King as St Anthony's (for the Church of England). The previous church on the site (destroyed by wartime bombing in 1940) was called St Antholin's and built in 1877.


Gibbon Road is the location of Nunhead railway station. The station is located on the line from Blackfriars to Sevenoaks and Victoria to Dartford. The area is also served by a variety of London Buses services.[16] Bus route 78 starts in Nunhead and terminates in Shoreditch also via the commercial area surrounding Liverpool Street as well as going over famous Tower Bridge and bypassing the historical Tower of London. The P12, which begins its journey in Brockley, goes through Nunhead, terminating at Surrey Quays shopping centre.

As part of the urban sprawl of London, Nunhead is contiguous with the neighbourhoods of East Dulwich to the south-west; Peckham to the north-west; and New Cross Gate to the north-east, as well as the Kent suburbs of Brockley to the east; and Honor Oak to the south.


Nunhead Cemetery Open Day occurs every May and is organised by Friends of Nunhead Cemetery.

Nunhead Beats the Bounds is an annual event where Nunhead residents march around the perimeter of Nunhead - from Queens Road to Camberwell New Cemetery - to build community spirit. It is generally held the first Saturday afternoon in July.


("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Nunhead)
  1. "Southwark Ward population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 13 October 2016. 
  2. BBC London - Nunhead Cemetery
  3. Liebman, Robert (3 October 1998). "Hot Spot: Nunhead: Back from the dead". The Independent. 
  4. "On the Tiger trail". The Economist. 8 February 2008. 
  5. Peckham and Dulwich, Old and New London: Volume 6 (1878), pp. 286-303
  6. Mills, Anthony David (2001). Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280106-6
  7. 7.0 7.1 'Parishes: Camberwell', A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4 (1912), pp. 24-36. Date accessed: 3 July 2008.
  8. Great Britain Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, Camberwell (historic map). Retrieved 2008-07-05.
  11. John Bartholomew, Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887) - Nunhead
  12. Southwark Council - Peckham Programme
  13. Southwark Council - East Peckham and Nunhead
  14. Transport for London - Cross River Tram: Route options 2006
  15. Transport for London - Cross River Tram project status
  16. Transport for London - Buses from Nunhead