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  Exploring Southwark and discovering its history

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Coat of Arms of the former

Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell

The Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell was created in 1900 from the ancient parish of St Giles.  It was awarded a coat of arms the following year and includes elements to represent the three areas within the borough - Camberwell, Peckham and Dulwich.  


- Camberwell is said to derive its name from the natural wells that occurred in the area reputed to heal the crippled, or the crooked. Its believed that camber was an old English word for crooked, so Camberwell is represented by the two brick wells shown on the coat of arms.  The parish church is dedicated to St Giles, the patron saint of cripples, and is represented by his emblems the wounded hart and crosier.





Coat of Arms

- Peckham is represented by the lion which was the badge of Robert, Earl of Gloucester, an illegitimate son of Henry I, who was one time Lord of the Manor of Peckham.  


- Dulwich is represented by the chevron and three cinquefoils the coat of arms of Edward Alleyn, who bought the manor in 1605 and founded a church, almshouses and college.  


The motto 'All's Well' is a cheery message that incorporates a pun to make you groan!

Coat of Arms plaque Grammar School 2

The coat of arms belonging to the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell shown above is part of the mural created by Adam Kossowski 'The History of the Old Kent Road' installed on the former North Peckham Civic Centre in 1965. When commissioned, the council would have been aware they would shortly be merged into the newly formed larger London Borough of Southwark and used the mural as a means to be commemorated.  


The coat of arms is also in evidence in Copleston Road, East Dulwich where there is a plaque that commemorates the building of the Grove Vale estate at the beginning of the 20th century.  The coat of arms is also displayed on the gables of some of the houses.  

Coat of arms

Over the entrance gates to Lucas Gardens, Peckham Road

The Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell became part of the enlarged Borough of Southwark in 1965 which was awarded a coat of arms a year later.  It comprises elements from the coats of arms of the former Metropolitan Boroughs of Bermondsey, Camberwell and Southwark with figures depicting Hamlet and the esquire from the Canterbury Tales reflecting Southwark's proud literary heritage. It can be seen with a full description on the Mayor of Southwark's web page on the Southwark Council website.