Camberwell New Road, SE5, SE11

Place Name

Directional, runs south from Victoria to New Cross Gate via Camberwell and Peckham. It was built in 1818 and the prefix New added to distinguish it from the old Camberwell Road. While there had been a significant settlement at Camberwell since at least the time of the Domesday Book, the area remained largely undeveloped, as seen on John Rocque’s 1741 map of the area, until the late 18thCentury. The name is first recorded in 1086 as Cambrewelle, later versions include Cambyrwell in 1154, Camerewelle in 1199, and Camberwelle in 1241. Its meaning is obscure. While the second element, wella, is known to have come from the Old English word for a spring or stream, since early times the springs and wells on the slopes of Denmark Hill had made the area popular with resorting Londoners, there are various suggestions as to the first part of the name. David Mills in A Dictionary of London Place Names suggests it might have been borrowed from the Latin word Camera, meaning a vault or room, perhaps in reference to some early structure overlooking the spring. Sheila Fairfield in The Streets of London suggests it could be from an Old English word for wildfowl. Another theory suggests it’s an Old English personal name, literally, Cantbeohrt’s spring. Others say it could be from an old word Cumber, which was used to describe Welsh people, perhaps in reference to the area being populated by Celts during Anglo-Saxon times. In any case, it was laid out over Myatt’s Fields, which were named after a celebrated market gardener famed for his strawberries.

 

 

 

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