The Camberwell Society

Society for those living, working or interested in Camberwell

Open Gardens Sunday 16th June

It's summer (!?) and Open Gardens is here again. This year there are some new and unusual venues to visit. Tickets on the day from 34 Grove Lane for members and their guests. New members welcome and can join on the gate. Teas and cakes served for extra energy.

Launch of the Camberwell Black History Walk

The Camberwell Black History Walk is now a physical reality with a map lectern on the Green and eight plaques located around Camberwell at points linked to the people featured. The walk is being officially launched by the Mayor on the Green at 11:00am on Saturday 3rd February at the lectern, and all are very welcome to attend. After the launch at around 12:00 there will be an opportunity to join a guided group doing the walk. Book your place on the walk at Eventbrite

Alternatively you can download the walk guide from the Events and Activities page of this website and guide yourself, see menu above. Along the way you will hear the voice of a young actor reading the guide entries at the stopping points.

OPINION - Mission Care development


Richard Donnell, Chair of the Grove Lane Residents Association on planning irregularities emerging from the consideration of the Mission Care development.

The proposed redevelopment of the Mission Care site in Love Walk, SE5 continues to rumble on. Legal agreements have not yet been finalised to enable the official grant of planning permission to allow work to start. The deadline was extended to 31 October 2023.

One reason for the extension is that further irregularities with the planning process have come to light. Southwark Council’s planning team were required, by law, to notify Historic England about the proposals and seek their views regarding the impact on the Conservation Area. They failed to do this. They have now rushed in a retrospective request to Historic England the day after a query was raised as to why this had not taken place.

This isn’t the first material omission by Southwark Council’s planning team. Officers’ chose not to refer the scheme to Southwark’s Design Review Panel, despite the scheme meeting the required criteria and a request to do so earlier this year. The planning officer’s report, recommending the planning committee to approve the scheme, failed to include any assessment on the impact of the proposals on disabled residents at 11a-11f Love Walk as they are required to do by law.

GLARA is hopeful Historic England provides a similar critique of the scheme’s design credentials to that supplied by Southwark’s Conservation Area Advisory Group and the Camberwell Society’s planning committee. Both described the scheme as poorly designed and out of scale and proportion to the local area. The independent expert advice GLARA obtained was on similar lines, describing the design as “poor”. We await with interest the report from Historic England and how Southwark’s planning team respond.

It's still not too late for common sense to prevail. The local community remains supportive of the principle of redevelopment but hopes Southwark Council and/or Mission Care senior management send the proposals back for a redesign to improve its external design and reduce the height and massing and negative impact on the local community.

Be of good cheer in Church Street


Wine experts Patrycja Lorek and Donald Edwards talk to Marie Staunton about Dolly Parton chardonnay, climate change and what to drink at Christmas


In Poland Patrycja’s family drank beer or vodka. Inspired by Ella Fitzgerald, dreaming of a career as a singer, she came to London to study music in 2013 and discovered wine. Her boss at the Covent Garden gastro pub where she worked encouraged her to join wine tastings and take courses. She met her husband John through the industry and in 2022 they opened Veraison in Camberwell Church Street (the name refers to the stage when grapes ripen and change colour). Singing is now limited to karaoke.

“I trained at the Wines and Spirits Educational Trust in Bermondsey Street,” she says. “Their three-day level two course is a great way to learn the myriad complexities of wine.”

Patrycja spent nearly a decade in Covent Garden wine bars and has seen fashions change. Chardonnay was ubiquitous, the great white wine success story of the modern era. Big blowsy Chardonnay – what the Aussies call Dolly Parton wines – are now being replaced by New World wines that have the freshness of good white burgundy.

Young winemakers and drinkers favour natural wines which minimize sulphur dioxide and avoid filtration. But without talent the wine can be cloudy and cidery. “Bad winemaking cannot be justified by the term natural,” says Patrycja. “You need to know a lot to do little.”

Most bottles on Veraison’s shelves are minimum intervention wines from small growers, either organic, made without artificial pesticides, e.g. using pheromones instead to sexually confuse moths, stop them mating and producing vine-destroying caterpillars, or biodynamic, from winemakers who believe in harmonious vineyards, crop rotation and natural sprays such as nettles for soil. “Some go to extremes, scattering crystals between the vines and singing ariettas to the barrels. Does it work? Well, many of these wines are beautiful.”

For Christmas dinner Patricya advises wines over £20. After tax and costs in a £6 bottle of wine, only 27p accounts for the juice, compared to £2.04 in a £10 bottle or £6.23 in a £20 bottle. John and Patrycja will be having “a toasty and cosy pinot noir champagne from a small grower with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. With the turkey a chardonnay from Coteaux Champenoise and an elegant red burgundy, Vins d’Arlaud 2017 Hautes Cotes de Nuit.”


Donald’s neighbours texted him Veraison’s licensing application, fearing a rowdy wine bar. Donald knew Patrycja’s husband John from the wine trade and submitted evidence that he was a well respected and a successful licensee. He says, “In the ten years I have lived in Church Street, Camberwell has developed great independent businesses, from Toad Bakery to Irene’s. I thought Veraison would be a great asset. I was right. Some of the NIMBY objectors are now regulars!”

Donald is head sommelier at the Michelin starred La Trompette in Chiswick. He started a neurology and computing degree, but became fascinated by the complexities of wine. He studied at Plumpton College. He says, “Wine is a prism to study geology, economics, social history. In biodynamics Rudolf Steinar captured traditional agricultural practices, creating and oxygenating a delicate micronutrient ‘compost tea’ just when workers were leaving the land.”

He worked in wine in Paris and the UK and enjoys being a sommelier. “Every table, every moment of your evening, is different. It fits neatly into my ADHD. It just works with my mindset.”

Donald buys wines from independents. “They tend to be a little bit bolder than supermarkets; making something that represents them, their patch of soil. Every wine can be thrilling and different.”

The early 2000s when Donald started was a blessed time with a run of brilliant French vintages. But climate is changing. “I confidently expect to see the end of fine wine in my lifetime. Burgundy was a cool climate region, but now has days at 40 degrees-plus regularly. Wildfires risk is so high that in California vineyards cannot get insurance.”

Essex now has temperatures of a good year in Burgundy. UK is developing wines of note in Kent, Hampshire, East Sussex and now Dorset.

Donald started his own wine label, Simply Mondays. His first wine, a dry, dark rosé called Not my King (he is not a monarchist) is made in Battersea with fruit from Essex.

And for Christmas dinner? Donald has three “aspects of deliciousness on the go: a bottle of good white burgundy, a pinot noir and a Bordeaux. He says new wave South Australian grenache is an underrated turkey wine – as is Essex dry dark rosé!”

Illustration by Jane Moxham

How to turn passion into a career


Around 1,000 new students begin their studies at the Camberwell branch of University of the Arts London every year. But what lies beyond graduation, and can they forge a future from their passion? Cornelia Falknäs talks to local artists about their experiences.

Vanguard Court is one of Camberwell’s best-known artist collectives, the entrance to the old bus factory just across the road from the Arts college. Gill Rocca is one of the artists who has a studio here, making a living from her intriguing paintings of dark, misty landscapes.

But that wasn’t always the case. Back in the 1990s she had to work three jobs – at a record shop, a gallery and a cinema – to live and pursue her real love: “My jobs were all things around my practice that I knew would feed it,” Gill tells CQ. “My practice was the most important thing, always in that time, but it wasn't the thing that I spent most of my time doing.”

Working closely with galleries, her paintings sold slowly at first but eventually she began selling enough to quit her other jobs and support herself through painting. Gill still sells mainly through galleries, and although she enjoys participating when Vanguard Court participates in Camberwell’s annual Open Studios, it’s not really a selling opportunity for her.

“For other people who work here, I guess it's when they get to sell their work direct to the public, and that's not that for me. I just like to be here and talk to people and have them see the work.”

Someone else who regularly opens up her studio is Lynette Hemmant, who paints from a light-filled studio in her flourishing garden in the heart of Camberwell Grove. Lynette got her start soon after graduating from Saint Martin’s School of Art in 1958 when she was taken on by an agency.

“That doesn’t mean I was any good,” Lynette laughs. “I'd merely got something - it was going to Saint Martin’s, and they got me enough badly paid illustration work.”

She started illustrating books and magazines while sometimes working extra as a cook. In the 1970s Lynette found a new focus - vivid paintings centered around nature and architecture. She has never looked back, not only continuing to paint and sell new works but earning an income from copyrighted earlier images.

She has advice for aspiring young artists: “If you've sold a piece of work then you still have copyright. Join Design and Artists Copyright Society, and you will be rewarded by little dribble bits of money every year there has been use of that image.”

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The Camberwell Society was formed in 1970 and is the recognised amenity society for those living, working or interested in Camberwell.

The Society’s objectives, as defined by our constitution, are: to stimulate public interest in Camberwell, to promote high standards of planning and architecture in Camberwell, and to secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic or public interest in Camberwell.

We are a charity and raise money for local charities. In the past we have raised money for Southside Rehabilitation Association, St Giles Trust, Cambridge House, the CamberwellCommunity Choir, the HollingtonYouth Centre and the Camberwell Arts Festival