Nunhead, According to legend, takes its name from the noggin of an ill-fated mother superior – chopped off by Henry VIII’s soldiers, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and impaled on a spike to intimidate the locals. Thankfully things have become a lot less ‘Game of Thrones’ since then, but with a traditional high street and startlingly friendly inhabitants, the village does feel pleasantly stuck in the past. Numerous family businesses have stood the test of time, with HA Smith the butcher and Ayres Bakery serving the area faithfully since 1955, while famous fishmonger FC Sopers has been standing in its original place since 1897.
Given its SE15 postcode, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that, in recent years, unmistakably Shoreditch-esque bars and restaurants have taken up residence along Nunhead’s high street. But unlike most trendy areas, the sense of community here remains strong. Businesses work in tandem, sourcing stock from one another, and banding together to host annual events such as mini beer festivals, a local art trail and, somewhat morbidly, a fun day at the spectacular cemetery. When the monotonous service of aloof bearded gents gets you down, Nunhead offers a haven of no-nonsense traditional cockneyish charm. Hip London hotspots, take note
Caribbean craft beer and bottomless teapot cocktails at Little Nan’s Tropical Den. Hidden beneath the Golden Anchor pub, this small and unassuming venue is for ticket holders only. Expect plenty of popcorn, prosecco and framed pics of Pat Butcher.
Bloody marys and buck’s fizz over brunch at The Habit. Embracing Nunhead in name and by nature, this neighbourhood bistro gets its ingredients fresh from the local high street. You’ll be served Instagram-worthy plates in a warm and chatty atmosphere.
Locally sourced craft beers at micropub The Beer Shop. On Tuesday nights it has a BYOT (that’s bring your own takeaway) policy. Arrive with food to scoff; owners Lee and Lauren will provide the plates.
Traditional Portuguese cuisine at Napura. This family-run restaurant has recently been redecorated to keep up with area’s increasingly hipster vibe. Thankfully it remains entirely unpretentious.
Pizza from newly opened Four Hundred Rabbits. These guys use the finest fior di latte mozzarella and San Marzano DOP tomatoes on their bases – apparently, far superior. Find out for yourself.
A tasty pastry from the legendary Ayres Bakery. Opened in 1955 by villager ‘Fred the Bread’, this charming period bakery boasts the best cronuts south of the river.
Visit Nunhead Cemetery. Spanning 52 acres, this beautiful Victorian site is littered with crumbling nineteenth-century graves, overgrown pathways and abandoned gothic chapels. Just don’t go alone. Yikes!
Get on yer bike. But not before you’ve had it serviced at Rat Race Cycles.
Mid-century furniture from retro homeware store Papa Bear.
A succulent from AG Flowers. These friendly florists will be happy to help you select the one you’re least likely to kill.
Pick up a side of salmon or something else scrummy from the sea at FC Soper.
If you only do one thing…
Pay a visit to the self-proclaimed ‘Ryan Gosling of Pubs’. The Old Nun’s Head is a lively local that plays host to a ton of pop-ups including I Should Be Souvlaki, and Japanese supper club Fowl Mouths.
By Holly Hobkirk, who regularly loses her head over Nunhead
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