Once a year the gates on Choumert Grove open up to the public and the tranquil, green beauty of Choumert Square is revealed to all for just a few quid to charity.
I was lucky as I read a lovely article about it in Issue 2 of the Peckham Peculiar back in April, and then managed to remember to look up the date when it got nearer the time. It was a lovely hot Sunday afternoon and I managed to sneak away from the family for an hour to have a peaceful wander up this little ‘secret’ laneway.
Choumert Square is not a square at all, but a narrow lane with tiny cottages on each side. These 46 tiny houses have tiny front gardens all looking on to the central lane, and all are beautifully kept. The open day was put on by National Garden Scheme’s Gardens Open for Charity; we paid an admission fee, and an amount went to St Christopher’s Hospice. Many of the residents were selling plants, books, Pimm’s, cakes and there was music and jollity. The Peckham Society was there, and I enjoyed the ‘Who Tall are you?’ game which involved a height ruler, a 25p donation to charity, and me wearing a Samantha Fox sticker for the rest of the day (apparently me and Sam are the same height; I would have chosen Prince had he been on the list).
Being a sucker for old-style lampposts and stunning greenery, I loved having a nose down Choumert Square. However, you would have to like living at very close quarters with your neighbours, so that would definitely be a step too far for me.
You can have a nosey yourself by looking at my pictures.
If you want to know more about Choumert Square, you should read the Peckham Peculiar’s 46 Strange and Amazing Facts from the 46 little cottages of Choumert Square. Not surprisingly it has been home to many intriguing characters over the years, and there are tales of multiple harmoniums, communal singing and drinking, award-winning gardening, cats and mandrakes.
If you don’t manage to meet a resident who can invite you round there in the next year, make sure to do a mental bookmark for next year’s Open Day. It really is a treat.
Meanwhile I’d advise you to pick up the Peckham Peculiar when you see it (here’s the latest list of stockists). It’s the ‘hyperlocal’ newspaper which launched in January 2014, and is always bursting with good stuff about Peckham and Nunhead and its environs. Without it I would have missed this secret hideaway for sure.