Addington Square

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Addington Square looking east

Addington Square is a Georgian and Regency garden square in Camberwell in the London Borough of Southwark. It was named after Henry Addington, prime minister in the early 19th century.[1]


Addington Square is unusually well-preserved, and a conservation area [2] with the houses that make up the east, south and west sides of the square listed Grade II. The north side is newly refurbished tennis courts.[3]

Because three sides of the square back onto Burgess Park and there is no through traffic, it is a peaceful space popular with lunchtime office workers. This controlled access, period buildings and proximity to central London also make it popular with film crews.

In the 1960s the square was notorious as the base of the Richardson Gang, a south London rival to the Kray twins. They ran a private drinking club from the square,[4][5] which had “Mad” Frankie Fraser and two dancing bears[6] in residence.[7] According to the gang's Old Bailey trial in 1967, the club was used to kangaroo court and torture rivals. The bears escaped onto Camberwell Road one night.[8]

In more genteel times, one of the founders of the National Trust, Robert Hunter was born in the square in 1844,[9] and it was also the home of Liberal politician Charles Masterman.[10][11]

Construction of the square in the early 1800s came with the Grand Surrey Canal which terminated at Camberwell Wharf lying on the north side of the square. The first house in the square (now number 48) was completed by 1810 and owned by Nathaniel Simmons who was the engineer to the Grand Surrey Canal Company. Most of the rest of the square was built by 1827, and the square was complete by 1844. The 1851 census shows 32 houses with 179 residents and 33 servants, an occupancy rate of 6.2 persons per house. Nikolaus Pevsner points out in his The Buildings of England that as the construction was completed over a period of time (unlike most North London squares) "uniformity was abandoned" leading to "the pleasant irregular early c19 houses and terraces around Addington Square."

There were also public baths and a swimming pool on the north side until the turn of the 19th/20th centuries, and a scandal involving a parson in bathhouse activities is commemorated in a rare satirical poem found in the library of Cornell University.[12] In the late 1930s the King George's Fields Foundation gave a grant of £1,000 towards the cost of £5,363 of acquiring the former swimming pool and turning it into a public garden.[13][14]

In 2008 it was used as the location for the electronic duo Goldfrapp's music video for their single "Happiness", which features on their fourth studio album, Seventh Tree. The video featured the duo in various cameos, but focused on a young man in a white suit joyfully jumping down the streets in Addington Square.


  1. ^ "Addington Square, Camberwell, 1969 | Southwark Galleries". Ideal Homes. 2010-09-29. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  2. ^ "Southwark list of Conservation Areas". 2011-02-23. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  3. ^ "Southwark City Tennis Club". Southwark City Tennis Club. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  4. ^ The Last Word: My Life As A Gangland Boss, Eddie Richardson, Headline 2006
  5. ^ "Addington Square, Camberwell, London". Notable Abodes. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  6. ^ My Manor: An Autobiography, Charlie Richardson, Pan Books 1992
  7. ^ "CamberwellOnline Blog » Nosing around the neighbourhood". 2006-06-19. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  8. ^ The London Compendium: A Street-by-street Exploration of the Hidden Metropolis, Ed Glinert, googlebooks
  9. ^ Founders of The National Trust, Graham Murphy, Googlebooks
  10. ^ C G F Mastermann: A Biography, Lucy Masterman, Cass 1968
  11. ^ Charles Masterman (1873–1927), politician and journalist, Eric Hopkins, Edwin Mellen Press 1999
  12. ^ "William Bengo Collyer 1782–1854 – His life and work". Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  13. ^ "Addington Square Garden, Southwark". London Gardens Online. 
  14. ^ King George's Fields Foundation, Final Report, 1965, p. 27

Coordinates: 51°28′52″N 0°05′31″W / 51.481°N 0.092°W / 51.481; -0.092