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The Horniman Museum

A Guide to Lewisham

9 May 2018 Sian Brett

The borough of Lewisham is home to transport links, Goldsmiths University, and once upon a time, Kate Bush. A study recently found disposable income in the area was rising faster than anywhere in the UK, and with so much to do in the area, it’s probably for the best.

Brockley Market

To get your fresh fruit and veg you’ll want to hit up Lewisham Market, with shouts of ‘pound for a bowl’ ringing through the air - it’s not only cheap but you get huge portions for what you pay. For a more artisanal selection, Brockley Market is in Lewisham College car park on Saturday’s 10-2, and has businesses from across the city coming to tout their wares. Food vans, bakery bread, fresh coffee and beer all combine with the friendly atmosphere that is so ingrained in Brockley folk. It’s also just across the road from Aladdin’s Cave, a treasure trove of weird artefacts all spilling out onto the street in front of this emporium.  As well as conventional markets, Lewisham also has the Model Market over the summer, a street food booze and ‘vibes’ extravaganza just behind the high street that packs out on warm July evenings.
Canvas and Cream by Michael Franke

Just round the corner from Lewisham Market you can find Antonio Delicatessen, an authentic Italian deli where you can stock up on pasta as well as escaping the Lewisham shoppers by sitting having a quick bite to eat - their panini’s are second to none.

For pub grub you’ll want to hit up The Royal Albert. The over 200-year-old pub sits just between New Cross and Deptford and in doing so it perfectly encapsulates that border between student vibe and old school south east London. There’s also live music on Sunday nights to accompany their amazing roasts and their food is incredibly hearty, healthy, and delicious.
The perfect spot for Brunch on a Saturday morning is Canvas and Cream in Forest Hill, a higgledy piggledy café that feels like it’s part antique shop and serves up not only the very best in breakfast foods but has a wide range of veggie and vegan options too.

For slightly more refined dining (i.e. for when the parents are visiting) we heartily recommend Parlez in Brockley, a new addition but one that’s already making waves. Located right next to the overground station it offers brunches, lunches, snacks, cakes and dinners, all in a chic and friendly setting. There’s also live music on from time to time, and when there is, it absolutely packs out, so be sure to book a table!

After all that food you’re going to want to wash it down with a drink. Lewisham has every kind of pub you could think of, from gastropubs like Jam Circus and The Ladywell Tavern, to proper South East boozers like The Five Bells and The White Hart that have managed to perfectly encapsulate the essence of Lewisham, whilst also appealing to the younger student clientele of the area.

We all know the natural progression from drinking is dancing, and although the much loved Montague Arms recently closed down, there are still plenty of chances to have a boogie in Lewisham. The Rivoli Ballroom is London’s last still operating 1950s style ballroom and hosts regular dance classes, as well as 80’s nights on the last Saturday of every month. And if it looks familiar that’s probably because it is – it’s used as a location in lots of Hollywood movies because of its distinct and authentic interior. For a slightly different vibe of dancing, The Amersham Arms in New Cross not only hosts bands and comedians, but also has ‘Whip It!’ on Friday nights. There’s free entry to the sticky floored pub which gets rammed with students and locals alike, all in the name of a good dance to your favourite cheesy tunes.  

If you prefer lounging in pub gardens to tearing up the dance floor, you’re definitely going to want to check out The Fox and Firkin in Lewisham, which has a big sprawling messy garden full of pub benches and fairy lights, perfect for showing off on your Instagram.

To clear away the cobwebs after all that drinking, you’re going to want some good sights and some culture, and Lewisham has plenty. For walks and amazing views, check out Telegraph Hill and Hilly Fields in Brockley, to get panoramic views of the city. Pop along to Catford to see the famous fibreglass cat, or to Deptford, to see the newly replaced anchor that caused such controversy when it was removed five years ago. Forest Hill is home to the Horniman Museum, a Victorian era building once owned by Frederick Horniman and full of his collection of objects and artefacts. It has beautiful gardens surrounding it, farmyard animals to visit and a very impressive greenhouse. Be sure to go and say hi to the stuffed walrus in pride of place in the animal’s gallery. There’s loads of activities for kids and a café to stop off for a snack in too. 
There’s so much to explore in Lewisham, and the best way to do it is to visit the old and the new, and to spend your time and money in the old pubs as well as the new gastro-ones.

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