Southwell Road, London SE5
The house was built in 1906 by theatre impresario Fred Karno and served as the headquarters for his music hall troupe, which included, among others, a young Charlie Chaplin and his then understudy, Stan Laurel. The magnitude of the internal spaces was born of a need to house enormous theatre sets and has resulted in a wonderful conversion to modern living through a sympathetic design by architect Yvonne Dean.
The towering front façade extends high above its neighbours, with off-street parking for two cars at its foot. The house can be entered either through a front door to the left or via electric shutters, which unfold to allow cars to be parked within the building’s expansive ground floor. This versatile space has painted concrete floors and ceilings in excess of five metres; it currently serves as a display gallery for the artist-owner. At the far end of the ground floor is a guest WC.
Beyond the open studio space, steps descend to an area that can be used as an independent maisonette. To the left is a utility room and ahead lies a double-height living space and open galley kitchen. From the reception, stairs lead up to a bedroom with an en suite bathroom.
At the front of the ground floor, two routes are offered to the upper levels: an open-tread staircase or a goods lift that stops on each floor. The first floor is another entirely open-plan space, currently used as an art studio and beautifully lit through galvanised-steel framed windows and doors that provide access to an enormous roof terrace. Also on this level is a large shower room, positioned opposite the goods lift.
There are two sweeping bedrooms on the second floor, both with bamboo flooring and painted brick walls. A family bathroom with a shower is situated at the front of the plan. Underfloor heating extends across the upper two levels and there is air conditioning throughout.
A central staircase, constructed in French oak sleepers, rises through a spacious void with walls of exposed and painted brick and birch-ply cladding. This ascends to the third floor, which is also arranged in an open-plan, with the living space and guest WC at the front of the house, and kitchen and dining room at the rear. Incredible cathedral ceilings clad in sky-blue timber slats and with exposed steel trusses are illuminated from above by huge sections of roof lights by Kalwall. The bespoke kitchen has been hand-built and has concrete worktops and floors.
The expansive first-floor studio provides direct access to a large west-facing terrace, which could easily be bordered with fencing and planting to create a private garden.
Southwell Road is a quiet residential street, just north-west of Ruskin Park and within easy reach of Camberwell and Brixton, both of which have excellent selections of restaurants, cafes and pubs. Camberwell is home to Silk Road, The Daily Goods, The Camberwell Arms and Theo’s Pizzeria. There are also excellent galleries in the vicinity, including the South London Gallery – recently extended by 6a Architects – Hannah Barry Gallery in nearby Peckham and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Peckham has a plethora of bars and restaurants, including Levan, The Begging Bowl, Artusi and countless others.
There are several excellent state and public schools in the area, including Dulwich College, James Allen’s Girls’ School, Alleyn’s School, The Villa Pre-Prep and Nursery and Dog Kennel Hill Primary School.
Loughborough Junction is a four-minute walk, for Thameslink services into Elephant and Castle, Blackfriars, Farringdon and St Pancras International. Denmark Hill station is a short walk away, running direct rail services to Victoria, Blackfriars and St Pancras International, and Overground services to Clapham Junction or Dalston Junction via Canada Water (Jubilee Line). Camberwell is also well served by many bus routes.
Southwell Road, London SE5
NEAREST STATIONSDistances are straight line measurements from the centre of the postcode
- Loughborough Junction Station0.2 miles
- Denmark Hill Station0.4 miles
- Brixton Station0.7 miles
About the agent
The Modern House is an estate agency that helps people live in more thoughtful and beautiful ways. We believe in design as a powerful force for good. Inspired by the principles of modernism, we represent design-led homes across the UK which celebrate light, space and a truth to materials. Esquire credits The Modern House with "rewriting the rulebook on estate agency" and GQ voted us "one of the best things in the world".
Founded in 2005 by two former design-editors, M
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