Why I live in Kennington: Lee Broom on his ‘creative and convenient’ neighbourhood


’ve lived in a flat in a converted 19th-century fire station in Kennington for almost 20 years. It’s a beautiful building with lots of industrial details, including the old doorway, which is now a window. It still has the original watchtower, from which someone would try to spot fires across the city.

When I first moved to London I lived in Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove with no plans to move south, but I love this area — you’re so central, but there’s also something quite leafy and suburban about it. There’s a lot of history here, even though it was quite heavily bombed during the war, and it attracts people from all walks of life. It’s been an up-and-coming area for two decades now.

Best eating and drinking

Kennington is known for its Indian restaurants, which are a favourite of MPs who want to live close to the Houses of Parliament; they’ve all got these photographs of politicians going back to the Eighties. The best of the bunch is the famous Kennington Tandoori in Kennington Road.

Kennington Cross has always been home to a lot of pubs, but my go-to is The Prince of Wales in Cleaver Square. It’s a real gem — like being transported to a different era. In the summer you’ll see a crowd playing boules on the square.


The Cock Tavern is a classic south London gay pub-stroke-club in Kennington Road with brilliant DJs and really nice cocktails. It’s a truly queer venue, and there aren’t many left any more. It did have a stint as a straight tiki-themed venue called South London Pacific, and there are still some tiki remnants.

Where I work out

I run a few times a week up across Lambeth Bridge to Westminster and back. It’s only 10 minutes to the river — always a good reminder that you’re in London.

The Cinema Museum is housed in the former Lambeth Workhouse, where Charlie Chaplin grew up

/ Adrian Lourie

For a culture fix

Before the shopping centre arrived, Elephant and Castle up the road was the Piccadilly of south London, full of music halls, theatres and cinemas — a real cultural centre of film and light entertainment. The Cinema Museum is dedicated to that history. It’s housed in what used to be Lambeth Workhouse, which is where Charlie Chaplin grew up.

Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery is an amazing modernist space. New works get displayed there as well as pieces from his archive. The City and Guilds of London Art School gives the area a really creative energy, especially around the grad shows.

A go-to gem: Lee Broom at The Prince of Wales in Cleaver Square

/ Adrian Lourie

To commune with nature

Kennington Park is our largest greenspace, but I prefer to wander to the beautiful gardens at the Imperial War Museum or Lambeth Palace, the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Windmill Flowers is a lovely independent florist on Windmill Row. The owner knows I love a big old display in my home, so she’ll pop into the back and come out with an armful of branches that she’s been using for a wedding.

Grocery shopping

Among the strip of independent shops and delicatessens on Kennington Road there’s a really lovely café, deli and food store called Sally White. It’s a real neighbourhood spot for sandwiches and home-baked bread.

Sally White is a lovely deli, cafe and food store on Kennington Road

/ Adrian Lourie

Getting around

We’ll walk into central at the weekend if the weather’s good, but it’s less than 10 minutes into the West End on the Northern line. It’ll take friends almost an hour to get home after an evening out, but I’m always back in half the time. It’s one of the main things that keeps me in the area.

Dream street

It has to be Cleaver Square, with its 18th-century townhouses. It could almost be in the Cotswolds — all very quaint.

Something you only see in Kennington…

The roofline of the Houses of Parliament. When there’s not a lot of traffic, you can hear Big Ben.

What’s the catch?

There’s been a real surge in building enormous, generic tower blocks. I don’t know who they’re appealing to, but a lot of them end up half empty. It would be good if it were social housing, because at least then they’d be useful.

Kennington Park is the area’s largest green space

/ Adrian Lourie

In three words

Central, convenient and creative.

Lee Broom’s first monograph, ‘Fashioning Design’, with text by Becky Sunshine, is out Nov 15 (Rizzoli, £49.95; leebroom.com)


Local primary schools with an outstanding Ofsted rating are Crampton, Henry Fawcett and Church of England school Archbishop Sumner. Towards Vauxhall, co-educational secondary Lilian Baylis Technology School also has an outstanding Ofsted rating.

What it costs

Buying in Kennington

Average flat price: £502,500

Average house price: £1,047,220

Renting in Kennington

Average flat price, pcm: £2,150

Average house price, pcm: £3,160

Source: Hamptons & Land Registry


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