Oval is a small area in the London borough of Lambeth, just across the river from Pimlico and less than half a mile from Oval tube station and the national rail station at Vauxhall.
Set between the districts of Vauxhall and Kennington, Oval is a short walk to the River Thames and the many bars and restaurants to be found there. Its proximity to Westminster makes Oval and its neighbouring suburbs a favourite location for many members of parliament (MPs) who own homes here.
Oval is also home to the world-famous Oval Cricket Ground, where England and Surrey play their home matches. The area has a mix of architecture ranging from grand Georgian villas to smaller workers’ cottages and purpose-built apartments, many of which now command premium prices as a result of the area’s gentrification since the 1990s.
Heritage and culture
Situated on the border of South East and South West London, this is a richly historic part of the capital, and residents will routinely find themselves wandering into the neighbouring suburbs of Kennington and Vauxhall which are just a few hundred metres away in each direction.
Kennington has a deeply royal history – A large royal palace was built in Kennington in the 14th Century. It was occasionally home to Henry IV, Henry VI and Henry VII, while Henry Vlll’s wife, Catherine of Aragon, stayed here in 1501. In 1531 the palace was dismantled and the materials used to build the Palace of Whitehall, at the time, the largest palace in Europe – even larger than the Vatican.
Royal links persist to this day as The Prince of Wales owns a sizeable portfolio of property in the Kennington area. Today, the Duchy owns 16 apartments and 23 houses.
Neighbouring Vauxhall was, in the 13th century, the site of the magnificent stately home of Falkes de Breaute, a fearless mercenary who fought closely with King John and then King Henry Ill. He was rewarded for his loyalty with enough wealth to build Falkes’ Hall, which over time became known as Fox Hall and eventually Vauxhall.
In the 19th century, Oval and its surroundings were populated by a mix of wealthy middle-class households living side by side with some of London’s poorest citizens. This somewhat uncomfortable mix led to a period of decline in the early 20th century as the richer households moved to other parts of London. The properties they left behind were often converted into apartments and bedsits, providing cheap accommodation for low-paid workers.
Charlie Chaplin spent an impoverished childhood in Kennington, and his experiences here were the inspiration for his movie character “the tramp”, which made him a household name. As a boy, he often attended the Three Stags pub in Kennington with his father. It is now a trendy gastropub and has a “Chaplin’s Corner” commemorating where his father used to sit while the young Chaplin played outside.
In recent years, Oval, Kennington and Vauxhall have witnessed a period of gentrification thanks to its central location, fantastic transport links, an abundance of open green spaces and garden squares. Many large Georgian and Victorian villas were converted back into luxury apartments, effectively reversing the decline of a century before.
Comfort and convenience
Oval is abound with shopping facilities – There are branches of Sainsburys, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Morrisons and Lidl less than a mile away, while there is a bustling farmers’ market held every Saturday between 10am-3pm in St Mark’s Church, close to Oval station.
There is an excellent selection of shops and restaurants a short stroll across the river in Pimlico especially for high-end fashion and furniture lovers. The development at Battersea Power station, just over a mile away next to the river, also has a host of vibrant cafes, bars and shops.
Many residents have chosen the area because of its easy commute to work, whether it’s the 4-minute tube journey to Victoria and employers like Telegraph Group, or the easy tube to Bank and Liverpool Street stations where you will find major offices of RBS, Deutsche Bank, Standard Life and UBS, to name just a few.
The London Underground journey to Canary Wharf, home to HSBC and Barclays, two of the biggest employers in the City, takes less than 40 minutes from Oval or Vauxhall stations. The commute to West End destinations such as Fiztrovia, where Facebook’s new office is located, takes just over 10 minutes.
London Bridge is a 15-minute journey from Oval on the Northern line. Nearby employers include Ernst & Young (EY) and News UK. The influx of professionals needing a central location has helped push house prices up by 33% in the past five years, and by 1% in the past 12 months alone, despite a difficult market in other parts of the capital. This suggests demand is holding up well.
By train and London Underground
Oval is so centrally located that many commuters walk to work. Its excellent transport links make commuting relatively painless. Oval is located in Zone 2 and Vauxhall station is in Zone 1. Victoria is just 4 minutes by London Underground from Vauxhall station.
It takes just 13 minutes by London Underground from Oval to get to Bank Station and 19 minutes by London Underground to Liverpool Street.
Charing Cross is 11 minutes by London Underground, Leicester Square 12 minutes and Tottenham Court Road are 13 minutes away.
Waterloo is just 6 minutes away by London Underground and London Bridge 8 minutes. Gatwick Airport is a mere 33 minute journey from Vauxhall station via Clapham Junction.
Oval is located on the A3, a key route out through the South West of London to the South Coast and the South West of the country. It takes approximately 45 minutes to drive to the M25, either directly south if you are heading to the south coast or to the south-west for the West country.
Students have easy access to some of the top universities in London including:
• London School of Economics
• University College London
• Imperial College London
• Chelsea College of Arts
There are some top-rated schools nearby. The outstanding-rated Thomas’s School and the excellent-rated Newton Prep School are both a 15-minute drive away. The world-famous Dulwich College is also just 16-minutes away by car.
Entertainment and leisure
The borough of Lambeth has a wonderful array of green spaces, parks, garden squares and riverside walks. The iconic cricket ground was established here in 1845 as a home for Surrey County Cricket Club, although there have been competitive matches played on the site, formerly Kennington Common, since 1724. It was the first ground in England to host international test cricket in 1B80.
Next to Oval is Kennington Park, a lush green oasis that is perfect for a lazy stroll or enjoying a host of more active activities. It has a cafe, a dog-walking area and a recently renovated flower garden. But it also has sports facilities for cricket, basketball, netball, hockey, football and athletics, as well as a row of all-weather table-tennis tables. It is a hub of community activity all year round and there are volunteer groups for those who want to help maintain the park and its amenities.
There is a total of 12 award-winning parks in Lambeth, including Vauxhall Park just a few minutes’ walk from Oval, giving residents another large green space for dog-walking, relaxing in the cafe or enjoying sports – as a participant or a spectator.
Vauxhall Pleasure Garden is adjacent to Vauxhall station and is yet another green space with a rich history, mentioned in literature by Charles Dickens and in William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.
Cleaver Square, laid out in 1789, was the earliest to be developed south of the Thames and provides an attractive and peaceful public space for the people of Kennington.
Being near the Thames, Oval residents are blessed with miles of riverside walks and an abundance of restaurants, cares, street food stalls. The iconic South bank Centre and Hayward Gallery are less than two miles away, with its many theatres and auditoriums hosting some of the world’s leading artists and orchestras. The Tate Modern is also two miles away or a 20-minute journey by London Underground.
The West End and its theatres are just 10 minutes away by London Underground from Oval station, as are its plethora of first-class cinemas, although there is also a stunning I-max cinema close to Oval at Waterloo. The White Bear Pub in Kennington also hosts a fringe theatre company for culture vultures who want entertainment on their doorstep. The countless fashion and furniture retailers in the West End are all easily accessible from Oval Village.
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