Herne Hill

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Herne Hill
Herne Hill Junction.jpg
Herne Hill Junction
Herne Hill is located in Greater London
Herne Hill
Herne Hill
 Herne Hill shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ325745
London borough Lambeth
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SE24
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Dulwich and West Norwood
London Assembly Lambeth and Southwark
List of places

Coordinates: 51°27′16″N 0°05′37″W / 51.4544°N 0.0936°W / 51.4544; -0.0936

Herne Hill /hɜrn/ is a district in south London, England, approximately four miles from Charing Cross and bordered by Brixton, Denmark Hill, Dulwich, Loughborough Junction and Tulse Hill. It overlaps the boundary between the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. There is a road of the same name in the area (which is part of the A215 and was formerly called Herne Hill Road).


1888 map showing Herne Hill, bounded by Champion Hill to the north, Knight's Hill to the South, Brixton to the West and Dulwich to the East

In Rocque's 1746 map, the area was known as "Island Green", reflecting one of the previous routes of the River Effra.[1]

The first known reference to the name "Herne Hill" was published in 1789.[2][3] It was probably named from the Old English hyrne, meaning corner (cognate with the English word "horn"), after a local field called Le Herne (c.1495) as in "the angle or corner of land".[2] Other suggestions for the origin of the name include Heron's Hill, as the River Effra attracted a large number of herons, and George and Benjamin Herne who were residents in the 17th century, although the latter may have derived their surname from the pre-existing name of the area.[2]


Herne Hill and Half Moon Lane in 1823.

The area now known as Herne Hill was part of the Manor of Milkwell, which existed from at least 1291, and was a mixture of farms and woodland until the late 18th century.[4] It was divided between the ancient parishes of Camberwell and Lambeth.[5] In 1783, Samuel Sanders (a timber merchant) bought the land now occupied by Denmark Hill and Herne Hill from the Manor; he then began granting leases for large plots of land to wealthy families.[6]

By the mid-19th century, the road from the modern Herne Hill Junction to Denmark Hill was lined with large residential estates and the area had become an upper-class suburb (John Ruskin spent his childhood at an estate on Herne Hill).[7]

The Half Moon pub, which was flooded in August 2013

Herne Hill was transformed by the arrival of the railways in 1862. Cheap and convenient access to London Victoria, the City of London, Kent and south-west London created demand for middle-class housing; the terraced streets that now characterise the area were constructed in the decades after the opening of Herne Hill station and the old estates were entirely built over.[7]

The Half Moon is a Grade II* listed public house in Half Moon Lane.[8]

During the early morning of 7 August 2013, an 88‑year‑old 0.9 m diameter water main on Half Moon Lane burst, flooding Herne Hill, Dulwich Road and Norwood Road along with 36 properties (including the Half Moon public house) to create a scene described as "biblical" by local residents.[9] Thames Water admitted liability and estimated the total cost of the damage to be around £4 million.[10]


The Carnegie Library, Herne Hill Road

Herne Hill is situated between the areas of Brixton, Dulwich and Camberwell. It also straddles two boroughs, and is a community of just under 12,000 people, with a range of independent shops, art galleries, bars and restaurants. Famous Herne Hill residents from history include John Ruskin and the Lupino family, and actor Roddy McDowall was born there.

Local landmarks[edit]

The area is home to the 50.8 ha (125.5 acres) Brockwell Park. Near a hilltop in Brockwell Park stands the Grade II* listed Brockwell Hall,[11] which was built in 1831. The hall and the land surrounding it were opened to the public in 1891 after being purchased by London County Council. Brockwell Park hosts the annual Lambeth Country Show and was the site of London's Gay Pride festival for several years in the 1990s. The park also houses Brockwell Lido, a 1937 open-air swimming pool that faces on to Dulwich Road.

Herne Hill railway station on Railton Road was opened by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway in 1862; the Gothic, polychrome brick[12] station building was Grade II listed in 1998.[13] The associated railway viaduct and bridges are also noteworthy; The Building News stated in 1863 that the viaduct was "one of the most ornamental pieces of work we have ever seen attempted on a railway" for its fine brickwork.[14]

The Herne Hill Velodrome, situated in a park off Burbage Road, was built in 1891 and hosted the track cycling events in the 1948 Summer Olympics. Unlike most modern, steeply-banked velodromes, it is a shallow concrete bowl; the 'Save the Herne Hill Velodrome' campaign is seeking a way to secure the future of the site.[15] The same park also has a football pitch and was the home of Crystal Palace F.C. from 1915 until 1918.

A Blue Plaque at 84 Burbage Road marks the former home of the athletics coach Sam Mussabini. Mussabini was later immortalised in the film Chariots of Fire, in which he was played by actor Ian Holm. In 1894, Mussabini was appointed coach to the Dunlop cycling team which trained at the Herne Hill Velodrome. In 1913, Mussabini was appointed coach to the Polytechnic Harriers at the Herne Hill athletics track, which ran round the inside of the Velodrome cycle track. Here he trained athletes, including the fourteen-year-old Harold Abrahams.

The Half Moon Public House on Half Moon Lane was built in 1896 (although a tavern has existed on the site since at the 17th century) and was Grade II* listed in 1998.[16] The pub hosted a boxing gym for over 50 years.[17]

The Church of St Paul on Herne Hill was originally built by G Alexander in 1843 at a cost of £4,958,[18] but dramatically rebuilt by Gothic architect G E Street in 1858 after a destructive fire. It is now Grade II* listed.[19]

The lake in Sunray Gardens (at the junction of Elmwood Road and Red Post Hill) was originally the fish pond in Casino House (a large estate established in 1796/97, now demolished); the adjoining Casino Estate still bears the house's name.

The Carnegie Public Library on the road now named Herne Hill Road opened in 1906 after a Lambeth Librarian got a grant from Andrew Carnegie for building a library within the Herne Hill area. It is also a listed Grade II building.[20]

A Blue Plaque at 51 Herne Hill (by the junction with Danecroft Road) marks the former home of author Sax Rohmer (a.k.a. Arthur Henry Ward), most famous as author of the series of novels featuring the master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu.

Notable former and current residents[edit]



Direct rail services are available from Herne Hill railway station to London Blackfriars, Farringdon, St. Pancras International, Luton Airport and London Victoria.

Nearby railway stations offer services to other destinations: London Bridge station can be reached from North Dulwich; since December 2012 Denmark Hill has trains to Clapham Junction in south-west London and Highbury and Islington in north-east London via the London Overground's South London Line. The nearest London Underground station is Brixton on the Victoria line. There have been past proposals to extend the Victoria line to Herne Hill station on a large reversing loop.[23]


Herne Hill is a London bus zone the routes are 3, 37 (24 hours), 68, 196, 201, 322, 468, school route 690 and night buses N3 and N68.[24]


  1. ^ The Story of Norwood J.B. Wilson & H.A. Wilson ISBN 978-0951538418
  2. ^ a b c A Dictionary of London Place-Names, A. D. Mills, OUP Oxford, 2010, ISBN 9780199566785: "So called in 1789, also Hern Hill on the Ordnance Survey map of 1816, probably named from a field called le Herne c.1495, that is "the angle or corner of land" from Old English Hyrne, with the later addition of hill. Alternatively, it may take its name from the family called Herne mentioned in connection with nearby Dulwich from the 17th century (although their surname almost certainly derives from the same, or a similar, early place name)."
  3. ^ Family homes and good-value flats in Herne Hill are more popular than ever, Evening Standard, 17 June 2015, "The name Herne Hill first appeared in 1789. Before then, the area around what is now the station was known as Island Green. No one seems to know how the name Herne Hill arose. Did it come from the local Herne family? It may have been previously called Heron’s Hill, as the River Effra attracted herons. In the 15th century, there was a nearby field called Le Herne, which translated from the Anglian means “an angle or corner of land”."
  4. ^ British History Online - Myatt's Fields, Denmark Hill and Herne Hill
  5. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43027
  6. ^ Survey of London: volume 26: Lambeth: Southern area
  7. ^ a b British History Online - Myatt's Fields, Denmark Hill and Herne Hill
  8. ^ "Half Moon public house". National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Herne Hill properties flooded after burst water main". BBC News Online. 7 August 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Prynn, Jonathan (9 August 2013). "Thames Water's £4m bill for Herne Hill flood after burst water main". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  11. ^ List entry Number: 1080511, BROCKWELL HALL English Heritage. Retrieved 28 April 2012
  12. ^ Cherry, Bridget; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1983). Buildings of England, London: South, Volume 2. London: Penguin. p. 363. 
  13. ^ List entry Number: 1376144, HERNE HILL RAILWAY STATION, ENTRANCE BLOCK ONLY English Heritage. Retrieved 20 April 2012
  14. ^ "London, Chatham and Dover Railway". The Building News (The Proprietor of the "Building News") 10 (9 January): 27. 1863. 
  15. ^ [1] Save the Herne Hill Velodrome. Retrieved 28 April 2012
  16. ^ List entry Number: 1385592, HALF MOON PUBLIC HOUSE English Heritage. Retrieved 28 April 2012
  17. ^ Where the pugilists drink Times Online. Retrieved 28 April 2012
  18. ^ British History Online - Calne - Cambourne
  19. ^ List entry Number: 1385599, CHURCH OF ST PAUL, HERNE HILL English Heritage. Retrieved 28 April 2012
  20. ^ British History Online - Myatt's Fields, Denmark Hill and Herne Hill
  21. ^ Neil Midgley "Cathy Newman: The time I feel the need for plastic surgery is the time that I leave TV", Evening Standard, 6 December 2011
  22. ^ http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/ustv/s151/game-of-thrones/news/a519321/game-of-thrones-casts-joel-fry-as-danys-meereen-contact.html
  23. ^ http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/mayor/vision-2020/interactive-map (Click on the arrow pointing south east from Brixton and then, on the popup, click on "more")
  24. ^ Buses from Herne Hill (PDF). Transport for London. 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 

External links[edit]