Peckham Heritage Talk: The Small House in Eighteenth Century London

On Wednesday 23rd September, 2020 Peter Guillery, building historian and academic, gave a presentation based around his important and highly influential book ‘The Small House in Eighteenth Century London’.

35 people logged into this zoom talk. It was great to be able to see familiar faces, and welcome new guests, after not being able to meet since earlier in the year.

We often think of Georgian houses as grand buildings like those in Fitzroy Square or the squares of Bloomsbury or Belgravia. But of course, these were not the only forms of housing built in the eighteenth century. There were more modest dwellings built specifically for artisans and labourers. There are significantly less surviving examples of these more modest houses.

Peter Guillery showed a revealing slide of a map of London circa 1660s (pre-Georgian), with areas shaded in according to the prevalence of housing with a specific number of chimneys or hearths. The higher the number of chimneys, the grander the housing. Southwark’s prevalent housing at the time had three or less hearths or chimneys, meaning its housing stock was generally modest.

Peter Guillery slide: London in the 1660s: mean dwelling size by number of hearths (adapted from Michael Power)

It was intriguing to hear that there is a distinct difference in the design of small buildings south of the Thames in comparison with the north. Many of the small houses south of the river had hearths and chimneys arranged through the centre of the dwelling rather than on the party wall. It’s not entirely clear why this is. Perhaps simply evidence of how limited the movement of people there was across the Thames?

As well as images of small 18th century homes from across London, Peter showed images of those within Southwark. There are very few surviving examples of these small dwellings. Peckham town centre has two clusters, at Nos. 58 – 62 and Nos. 98 – 104 Peckham High Street.

Peter Guillery slide: 100 to 108 Peckham High Street, c. 1928

This image from 1928 shows 100 – 108 Peckham High St. Currently, Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) works are underway on 102 Peckham High Street, and it is hoped that work will begin shortly on 100 Peckham High Street. The Peckham Heritage Regeneration Partnership (PHRP) and many others recently objected to a planning application to demolish No.104 Peckham High Street. Given the these are rare survivors of a distinctive form of 18th century housing, it is important that their contribution to the townscape is retained.

The other important cluster of small 18th century dwellings are those at Nos. 58 – 62 Peckham High Street.  These three are what is left of a former group of 6 houses shown in the photo below, with two higher buildings on either side of two smaller ones.

Peter Guillery slide: 66 to 54 Peckham High Street, c. 1928

There was a fire in No. 62 Peckham High Street in April 2017.  The fire caused extensive damage to this property, and the adjacent pair Nos 58 – 60 also sustained significant damage.  No. 58 is formally listed grade 2, and No. 60 has associated ‘curtilage’ listing.

Peter Guillery slide: 58 to 62 Peckham High Street, today

A listed building application has been made to repair Nos. 58 – 60, and it is anticipated that a planning application to repair No. 62 will be forthcoming in early 2021.

Peter Guillery talked about the significant presence of the third storey at No. 58 Peckham High Street, which he speculated must be to do with the striking views across to London for which Peckham was (and still is) well known. 18th century Peckham is described by Daniel Defoe (“A tour thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain” 1724 – 26) as a pleasant village with “some of the finest dwellings about London”, and with “a beautiful prospect, terminated by a view of St. Paul’s and the Tower of London. The beauties of this prospect were greatly increased by the masts of the ships being seen over the trees as far as Greenwich”.

In his book “The Small House in Eighteenth Century London“, Peter expanded on this theme, referencing No. 58 Peckham High Street:

“In Peckham, a small house with a view could perhaps be fashionable in a way that the same building might not have been in central London. Gentility and smallness of scale, classicism and timber frame construction were not necessarily mutually exclusive. The exploitation of a view of the City of London from these houses captures the essentially Picturesque ambivalence of the interaction between the urban and the rural in these London retreats”

End Note: Peter has kindly allowed us to share a Powerpoint entitled ‘The Small House in 18th Century London’. This does not have a audio-track but includes many photos and images of floor plans of these distinctive dwellings.

Historic England commends Peckham retailer

On Friday 29th March at 5.30pm there will be a ceremony to present Akbar Khan of Khan’s Bargains, 135 Rye Lane, an Historic England award. 

The award is a commendation from Historic England for the restoration of the exquisite 1930s vaulted roof in this landmark Art Deco building.

This presentation will be followed by a talk about the project by local architect Benny O’Looney.

Do come along to this event! Full details in the flyer.

Peckham THI Update – summer 2018

You may have seen that works are underway on three buildings near the junction of Peckham High Street and Peckham Hill Street.  These buildings are Phase 1 of the Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative.

We prepared the Peckham THI update summer 2018 for handing out at the Peckham Rye Park Fete on Saturday 1st September. It has information about Phase 1 plus news on other aspects of the THI.


Peckham History Trail – a walk for families

Available from September 2018, the Peckham History Trail is another of the Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative community projects.

It’s been designed to be enjoyed as an adventure by families with primary-school aged children.  Peckham has a long history and this Trail reveals clues to its past.  Enjoy!

Particular thanks to the families at the Tomas Carlton Centre who contributed early ideas to the project, and to Julie Garton who researched and wrote it.

Interested in Heritage and Peckham Town Centre?




What does the Partnership do?
The Partnership is a formal requirement of the Heritage Lottery funding and meets quarterly (currently on Tuesday evenings) to consider 3 main areas:
• Review and advise on the main capital programme to restore heritage buildings within the Peckham town centre;
• Work collaboratively to prioritise, develop, publicise and review the programme of Community Activities funded through the Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative;
• Identify opportunities to work collectively to promote awareness and take action to enhance the Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area and Peckham town centre.

Activities to date include
• Funded and launched the new website –
• Hosted a series of Peckham Heritage Talks, including the public meeting on Managing Change in Conservation Areas;
• Hosted an event on Caring for Traditional Buildings and funded the development of a Heritage Learning Resource for primary schools.


We currently have 5 places available for membership/co-option. These can be individual residents as well as local businesses, organisations & groups.

• passionate about Peckham; interested in its local history and architecture & design;
• interested in working to raise awareness of the Rye Lane Conservation Area
• interested in community activities that raise awareness of local history, the built environment, and bring people from different communities together

Apart from attending meetings it would be valuable if you had time to take on some practical tasks in between meetings:
• plan and help out at events or information stalls to promote the Conservation Area, the town centre & local heritage;
• review and comment on planning applications & other relevant documents;
• helping out with communications – website, Tweets etc.


Please complete this applicaton form Best 2018 Application to PHRP

and send this by midday Thursday 8th March to


Contact Julie Mallett on 0207 525 3265


Two new building histories

Derek Kinrade, local historian has provided two more fascinating sketches about buildings in the Rye Lane Conservation Area – The Greyhound, 119 Peckham High Street and 117-125 Rye Lane.  Check them out in the Heritage Information section.

The Greyhound, 109 Peckham High Street


This public house is identified as part of a heritage cluster on the Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative map of town centre priority projects. Happily it is one property that, without prompting, has been freshened up by its owner so it’s an exemplar of what is possible in a generally run down, tired high street. The present building dates only from the 1880s, and apart from television screens is a specimen of an authentic Victorian hostelry, with old racing scenes on its walls, sculptures of greyhounds everywhere, and, as far as I could judge, a clientele intensely interested in the running of their current equivalents.

More interesting, however, is its predecessor, for it dates back to at least the 17th century, and was situated at what was then the very hub of the village. I was already aware of a playbill from 1807 which located Peckham Theatre as “Opposite the Greyhound, Peckham” (shown above),  but was delighted to find among Bill Marshall’s papers at Southwark’s Local History Library a reference to rubbings of Greyhound trade tokens dating from 1660. Further enquiry brought out a copy of these rubbings (shown below), inscribed on the obverse “WILL ERBERYAT THE”, with a greyhound running, and on the reverse “GRAYHOUND IN PECKHAM”, with the initials W.M.E.



Now this is interesting in itself, but more so in that greyhound racing is said to have originated only in the 19th century. Coursing preceded this, first described by Arrian in c.180AD, and codified in Britain during the reign of Elizabeth I. It appears, however, to have been essentially an aristocratic activity, until the first club meeting, at Swaffham, Norfolk, in 1776. Here from Peckham, perhaps, is something intriguing for canine historians.

Derek Kinrade – Feb 2018

117 – 125 Rye Lane


Photo of 117-125 when C&A occupied the ground floor (from Southwark Local History Library and Archive).

There is a certain mystery about the building at this address. In the Dec 2014 issue of The Peckham Weekly, (p.8) Benny O’Looney proclaimed it as part of the art deco development of 1935 surrounding Peckham Rye Station, designed by Southern Railway Architects under the direction of James Robb Scott (1882-1965).  And I find no reason to doubt this attribution, there being obvious features in common across the group of buildings.  I agree too that it is “the most prominent member” of the group, a fine building worthy of a great architect. This is supported by the shape of the building, in place opposite the station, complete with chamfered corners on the front, west elevation, shown on the OS map of 1937.

But if you then go to the unimpeachable Historic Area Assessment of Central Peckham prepared by Joanna Smith and Johanna Roethe of English Heritage you will find it described as part of a piecemeal rebuilding of individual premises on Rye Lane around 1949, “occupied from the outset by a second branch of C&A (Modes)” (p.43, my italics).  This is, I think, somewhat qualified on page 108, the report having previously conceded that its art deco treatment “seems rather old fashioned for its date”.  This suggests that the building was otherwise occupied between 1935 and 1949.

Turning therefore to the Post Office street directories, I found that prior to 1935 numbers 117-125 were part of Holdron’s department store, whereas in 1936, presumably in the new building, business was transacted by Henry’s Stores, drapers, and in 1937 to 1939 by Kingsword & Marle Ltd, furniture manufacturers. The mysterious thing is that through the war years and beyond to 1950, despite the annual directories continuing to be published, there is no listing for numbers 117-125. Perhaps there was a security reason for not advertising what went on in that part of Rye Lane?  It is beyond most memories, but it would be interesting if anyone can throw light on this period.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter? Most elderly people remember the building as a typical C&A store, and this is the photographic evidence: a huge property with an impressive frontage, well-maintained. There is no argument about its destiny: its closure in January 1987, an early casualty which would see the entire withdrawal of the company from the United Kingdom by 2001 (though still flourishing elsewhere). In 1998, the South London Temple, a Pentecostal church, moved into the upper floors, and independent retail outlets now trade from the ground floor. The huge building remains structurally intact, but inferior graffiti despoils the side and back walls, and the paint is peeling from the beautiful frontage, its fine architectural features obscured by over-painting, gaudy panels and crude shop fronts. “Tacky” is how one website has described it.

However it is remediable and this building is eligible to receive funding towards its restoration through the Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative. Whether Network Rail, its current owners, will seize this opportunity, remains to be seen.

Derek Kinrade – February 2018

Photo June 2017

Managing Change in Conservation Areas

Peckham Heritage Regeneration Partnership’s first event of 2018:

‘Conservation Areas’ are 50 years old. The first one was designated in 1967 and there are now over 10,000 in England.

Peckham town centre is within the Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area, and there are three more Conservation Areas adjacent.

This PUBLIC MEETING will be opportunity to explore a range of questions including:

  • What are Conservation Areas are? How do they protect our historic built environments?
  • What pressures are Conservation Areas facing? Can they fail?
  • What does positive and negative change look and feel like?
  • What can be done to boost the impact of Conservation Areas?

We’ve gathered an esteemed panel to share their thoughts an observations around these questions:

  • Simon Bevan, Director of Housing, Southwark Council
  • Ian Harvey, Executive Director of Civic Voice
  • Claire Hegarty, Chair of Peckham Heritage Regeneration Partnership.

Tuesday 23rd January 2018 at All Saints Church Hall, Blenheim Grove, Peckham, SE15 4QS. 7-9pm (6.30pm for refreshments). 

Booking is advised.  Contact / 0207 525 3265

Understanding and caring for traditional buildings

The full programme for this all day free event which was held on 30 September 2017. This event had talks and demonstrations on topics relating to traditional brick-built buildings, as well as a number of information stalls. It was relevant for anyone interested in Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian buildings, also a great opportunity to find out about careers and training in the fields of Construction, Architecture and Conservation. The series of talks, which attendees could book in advance, were popular, and we provided free childcare for those who needed it.

Peckham’s history and heritage

The websites of both the Peckham Society and Peckham Vision are treasure troves of information about Peckham’s built heritage. For example, Peckham Society History pages contain research and articles on themes such as Peckham in 1878, Peckham Rye park and Peckham theatres.

Peckham Vision’s website also has also has an Historic Peckham area which has a collection of photos and film clips of the town centre. You can also access there pdfs of the information boards prepared by the Peckham Society and Peckham Vision when they were lobbying for the Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area.

In addition there is a section showing the images created by Peckham Vision to highlight the Art Deco quarter which includes a number of landmark buildings within central Rye Lane in Peckham town centre.

Both organisations have given their permission for their websites to be referenced in these pages.

Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area

For several decades the Peckham Society played an important role in highlighting the heritage value of individual buildings within Peckham. Eventually their work led to English Heritage (now the part called ‘Historic England’) undertaking an extensive Historical Area Assessment of Central Peckham, 2009 [pdf 7Mb].

In more recent years Peckham Vision has built on this work to raise awareness of how these historic buildings have played, and continue to play, a pivotal role in shaping the town centre. Peckham Vision worked closely with Southwark Council’s Design and Conservation Team to prepare the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Townscape Heritage Initiative grant.

A further stage in the funding application was the adoption in November 2011 of the Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area Appraisal [pdf 2Mb]. In April 2014 the Conservation Area Management Plan was approved. Here is the map showing the area in the town centre covered by the conservation area. There are adjacent conservation areas, to the east – and to the west.

The designation of a conservation area means the local planning authority recognises that the area is one of ‘special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’.

The UK’s planning system requires planning permission to be sought for a range of works to homes and business premises. Where the property is in a conservation area there are additional situations where formal permission has to be granted.

All planning applications have to be made through national Planning Portal

– Applications are considered and decided by local planning authorities. For properties in Peckham this means Southwark Council. The Planning Portal has interactive images of homes and shops to help people identify what work needs planning permission as well as a list of common projects

– Southwark Council provide information about planning permission for business including shop-fronts and security shutters.

– Southwark Council provide information about permissions required by domestic properties in conservation areas.

Shop front design

The design of shopfronts within a town centre can make a significant impact on how a retail area is experienced by people who live and shop there. Shop-fronts include a number of elements:

– shop sign or ‘advert’ (as it’s known in planning terms);
– lighting above the sign;
– the arrangement of doors and windows;
– the materials used – timber, or powder coated resin; and
– security shutters.

For shop-fronts in older buildings there is widely accepted good-practice about what features of the building should be retained, repaired and restored. But’s it’s not about ‘one-size-fits-all’, it’s about understanding the age and architectural style of each building and using appropriate proportions and materials.

Southwark Council Planning Policy team will be drafting planning guidance about what is regarded as best practice in shop-front design for both contemporary and traditional properties in the spring 2017. It will be widely consulted on amongst both businesses and residents and if approved by councillors will be referred to as a material consideration in determining planning applications.

Peckham Heritage Regeneration Partnership

The Peckham Heritage Regeneration Partnership is made up of local people, community organisations, council officers and elected councillors who meet four times a year to contribute to the successful delivery of the Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).

The Partnership is made up of people who are passionate about Peckham – its past, present and future: there are architects, planners, community activists, historians, conservation specialists, artists and local businesses around the table.

The role of the Partnership is to:

– Review progress of the capital restoration and repair projects;
– agree how to spend the community budget and celebrate Peckham’s heritage; and
– support the implementation of the Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area.

Claire Hegarty – Chair

The partnership has an independent Chair, Claire Hegarty, who brings to the partnership here her love of urban settings and her experience of running an architecture practice in North London. Claire has been working with historic buildings for over twenty years.

‘Coming to Peckham from a different part of London and reading and looking at the work that has been going on in Peckham, what strikes me is the incredible energy and commitment to the THI project and the work done by local people.

I’m looking forward to this amazing opportunity to work with local people who have such a body of knowledge about Peckham and its history, but it will also be a challenge. London is experiencing great change, which in many cases is positive, but this project is also about creating continuity and keeping that sense of place and history.

Neighbourhoods like Peckham are distinctive to London, with layers of memories and stories that we want to protect and I am very much looking forward to working with the council and local people to do that.’

Peckham Heritage Talks

Throughout the THI there will be a series of workshops and presentations on heritage and conservation-related themes.

The first Peckham Heritage Talk took place on 14 September 2016 and was attended by thirty local people. Seon Soyemi, Senior Grants Officer from the Heritage Lottery Fund gave a presentation about the national programme of Townscape Heritage Initiatives, and Paul Latham from The Regeneration Practice spoke about the work he’d done to research the condition of buildings in Peckham town centre in order to identify which properties would be eligible for THI funding.

The second Peckham Heritage Talk: ‘Breathable buildings’ took place on Tuesday 14 March 2017. Bill Morris, a local architect talked about his approach to working on Petitou café in Choumert Road. Joseph Orsi, who serves on the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings Technical Panel, described the performance of lime renders and mineral paint.

Architect Benny O’Looney took the floor on Wednesday 14 June, in the Old Waiting Room, Peckham Rye station for Talk 3. He described several restoration projects that have been undertaken at the station, with a focus on the latest one – the stair project.

Benny spoke about the restoration techniques and the conservation ‘philosophy’ used, and highlighted the roles of the different local trades involved including steel fabricators, the makers of the new lath and plaster ceiling/lime-plaster repairs, and the carpenters/main contractor.

Peckham Platform’s Open 16

Peckham Platform host an open exhibition every year.

This year, with support from the Peckham THI, they themed their exhibition Peckham’s Heritage – people, culture and place – and ran drop-in workshops through October for people of all ages to make screen-prints of some of Peckham’s most iconic buildings.

Schools and heritage

Our Hut, a London charity which specialises in architecture education, is being funded through the THI to develop teaching resources for primary schools on Peckham’s history and its built environment. They’re also doing a similar project as part of the Brixton THI. Check out the Our Hut website for information on this and other projects they have delivered.

Lucy Lavers, Judy Ovens and Suzanna Prizeman make up the Our Hut team. They’ll be working with St James the Great Primary School to develop and pilot the learning resources. The work will take place in the summer term 2017.

The work took place in summer term 2017, please see our Primary Schools’ education resource news post, and you can download the Teachers’ Resource Pack, which was created by Our Hut, from ‘Community documents’ in the Community section.