Inventory Site Record

Peckham Rye Common

Peckham Rye Common (Southwark)

Brief Description

Peckham Rye Common was for centuries used as a deer park although local people retained common rights. Together with Nunhead Green and Goose Green, it was purchased by Camberwell Vestry in 1868 after the lord of the manor proposed to develop the land, and it transferred to the MBW in 1882. It was much used for sports and recreation, as well as fairs and other events, and an old pool was later used for bathing until Peckham Rye Pool opened in 1923. The pool was closed in 1987, the site later cleared and landscaped. In 1889 a bandstand formerly sited in the RHS Garden in Kensington was erected here, but it sustained damage during WWII and subsequently demolished.

Practical Information
Site location:
Peckham Rye/East Dulwich Road/Strakers Road
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Rail: Peckham Rye then bus, Nunhead then bus. Bus: 12, 37, 63, 78, 312, 343, 484, P12.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/07/2005
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

'Pecheham', which may have been 'Peche's Home' was referred to in the Domesday Book of 1086 and at that time was owned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux; it is alleged that Queen Boadicea committed suicide here following her defeat by the Romans. By the C14th this area was known as Peckham Rye, which originally only referred to the River Peck, 'rye' meaning watercourse in Old English; traces of this stream are in the park although it largely flows underground. Peckham Rye Common was for centuries used as a deer park although local people had common rights here. William Blake claims to have seen a vision of angels in an oak tree on the Common as a child of 8 in 1765. In 1865 the Lord of the Manor of Camberwell Friern claimed ownership of the Common and planned to build on it. However, local objections resulted in his claim being rejected and the Vestry of Camberwell bought the land in 1868 so that it would remain public open space. Responsibility transferred to the Metropolitan Board of Works when it was acquired under the Metropolitan Board of Works Act 1882. It was much used for sports and recreation, as well as fairs and other events. In 1889 a bandstand was erected on the Common by the LCC, one of two previously sited in the Royal Horticultural Society's Garden in Kensington in 1861; the other was erected in Southwark Park (q.v.), and a replica made for Clapham Common (q.v.). The one on Peckham Rye Common was damaged during WWII and was subsequently demolished. Peckham Rye Park (q.v.) was laid out in 1894 on land purchased jointly by the Vestry, LCC and Charity Commissioners that was formerly Homestall Farm adjacent to the Common. The Friends of Peckham Rye Park was formed in 1995 and is also concerned with the Common.

The main area of the Common is south of East Dulwich Road and consists of open grassland with perimeter and scattered trees, including an avenue of horse chestnut trees. North of East Dulwich Road is a small triangular area of land detached from the main area of the Common that was once the site of a bathing pool formed from an old pond. An early C20th postcard shows the pond with low railings surrounded by people. Peckham Rye Pool opened here on 8 September 1923, an open-air pool of 180ft x 60 ft and a popular facility. Part of the film 'Entertaining Mr Sloane' was shot at the pool. It closed in April 1987, the pool filled in and the surrounding buildings gradually becoming derelict over the years, although attempts were being made by Southwark Council as late as 1995 to sell it for repair or redevelopment. Eventually the site was cleared and returned to public use as part of Peckham Rye Common. The remains of the tiered aeration fountain was left in the grass. This area is now re-landscaped and railed to the bordering roads and has paths, mown grass, and perimeter and scattered trees of various species, including willow; in the extreme north is a raised planter with roses.

Sources consulted:

EH: J J Sexby, The Municipal Parks, Gardens and Open Spaces of London (1898); Edward Walford 'Old and New London', vol vi (Cassell & Co., c1885/6) p290. LB Southwark 'Allotments and Park Gardens' (n.d.); John Beasley, 'Southwark Remembered' (Tempus Publishing, 2001); John Archer, Bob Britton, Robert Burley, Tony Hare, Ian Yarham, 'Nature Conservation in Southwark' Ecology Handbook 12, London Ecology Unit, 1989; The Parks Agency 'Commons, Heaths and Greens in Greater London. A short report for English Heritage', 2005; Website: 'Lidos in London no longer open' compiled by Oliver Merrington and Andy Hoines, with additional details and photographs from Ian Gordon,

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Southwark
Site management:
Parks; Friends of Peckham Rye Park
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Yes: Common (CL24)
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Local Importance
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

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