When our sons were about ten and twelve years old, we made a trip back to England, spending most of our time in and around London. Whilst we were travelling around London, my older son commented that London was really a lot of villages joined together - very observant statement really. Peckham is one of those villages. I had thought to combine it with neighbouring Dulwich, Honor Oak, Camberwell et al. but decided in the end that would be doing each of these ‘villages’ a disservice, so here is Peckham, home to many of the Mollett and the Magee families. In due time I shall deal with the others as they also have a place in our family history.
Ideal Homes - The excellent Ideal Homes/Suburbia in Focus site has a very informative section on the history of the development of Peckham, together with many photographs and maps.
A different view of Peckham - Prisma, an online multicultural newspaper has a page on Peckham today and in times past with lots of illustrations.
The Peckham Peculiar - a new online newspaper dedicated to goings on in Peckham and next-door Nunhead.
Peckham Platform - a community arts organisation attempting to support the local artistic community.
Peckham Vision - Another community organisation - this one dedicated to improving services in the town centre and engaging the public in participation.
British History Online - a detailed description of Peckham and Dulwich from Old and New London by Edward Watford, published in 1878.
The Peckham Experiment - The Peckham Experiment was a pioneering study of nutrition and health, and the Pioneer Health Foundation is maintaining the tradition. Includes a history and many photographs.
Wikipedia - Wikipedia has quite a comprehensive article on Peckham.
As it happens in its early times Peckham was given to Robert, the son of Henry I. He married the heiress to Camberwell and so the two manors were combined. King John is said to have hunted here, and he was so pleased with it that he granted it the ability to hold an annual fair - obviously a commercial boon to any community. Its history does not, however, seem particularly full of incident or characters. Mostly relatively prosperous until the nineteenth century it was prized for its proximity to London. There were market gardens and the first time-tabled bus service into London. Perhaps most significant is the vast brick reservoir that was built underneath the area and which was one of the largest in Europe. It still exists as part of the London water supply.
For a time in the nineteenth century it was prosperous and housed one of the most well-known department stores in London. Rye Lane became a major shopping venue.
However, in more recent times the area fell into the doldlrums as did so many south London suburbs. The better off moved further out as transport improved, immigration, low-level housing and general poverty led to it becoming an undesirable area. However, like many inner suburban areas of London it appears to be experiencing a rebirth. Since the 1990s there have been strenuous efforts to renew and redevelop the area and this seems to be gaining momentum. I suspect that most major old cities are experiencing the same thing. Formerly working class neighbourhoods are being gentrified and improved because of their very proximity to the city. From the websites that I have found at left it would seem that there are many community groups trying to raise the profile of the district and also to improve the services available to its citizens. I suspect it is still one of those parts of London that has its good bits and its bad bits though.
Peckham Rye is a very large area of common land that was preserved intact. This too must add to the general amenities of the area.
I think that at the time our ancestors lived here it was probably an area in decline. I remember my father using the words “genteel poverty” to explain their position in society. There are many streets of Victorian and Edwardian semi-detached villas - so typical of the times and my ancestors lived in several of them.