Lambeth Overview

Above: Map showing today’s London Borough of Lambeth (RED line). The old Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth was a narrower piece of land (to the right of the YELLOW line).

This overview applies to the old Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth. In 1965 the old Metropolitan Borough became the London Borough of the same name. A few words need to be written about how the boundary changed. In the case of all other Inner London Boroughs, they were formed by combining two or even three of the old Metropolitan Boroughs to form the new London Borough. This did not happen with Lambeth. Today’s London Borough of Lambeth is rather narrow (east to west) at the northern end and becomes much wider towards the southern end. The older Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth was quite narrow from the northern end beside the Thames to its southern boundary along Crystal Palace Parade – as can be seen on the above map.

In 1965, the old Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth remained the same size and shape with the districts of Clapham and Streatham being added along its western side. These two districts had previously been in the old Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth which had been one of the largest Metropolitan Boroughs in old Metropolitan London. Putting it another way, the boundary line of all eleven London Boroughs was formed by drawing a new line around two (sometimes three) of the old Metropolitan Boroughs. It was only Lambeth that was different, having two districts from another Metropolitan London Borough added to its western boundary.

The old Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth included the ancient villages of Lambeth, Vauxhall, Kennington, the more recent district of Waterloo, a part of the village of Camberwell (along Coldharbour Lane), Brixton, a part of Dulwich (including some of West Dulwich), West Norwood (originally called Lower Norwood) and most of the land that has become the district of Crystal Palace. Because Clapham and Streatham were originally in the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth and are now part of the London Borough of Lambeth, they each have a separate ‘Overview’ page to themselves.

Until the early 19th century, all the old Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth had been one long narrow parish also called Lambeth. The parish church was near the Thames and still stands beside Lambeth Bridge. It is the church of St Mary which is now in use as a plant museum. Parishioners at the southern end of the parish had a very long journey to attend their parish church. In the 1820s, four new parish churches were built – at Waterloo was St John, at Kennington was St Mark, at Brixton was St Matthew and the church at West Norwood was St Luke. All four churches are still in existence, having been named after the first four books of the New Testament.


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