Denmark Hill

Located almost on the boundary line between Southwark and Lambeth Boroughs, Denmark Hill marks the lower edge of the Thames valley in this part of London. It is where the predominantly flat terrain of the City ends and slightly hillier ground begins. As a result it is possible to find good views of central London from on top of the hill and, on a clear day, to read the time from Big Ben without squinting. The area served by Denmark Hill Railway Station which is located very close to the areas most important buildings and attractions (the hospitals, the park etc.) and is served by regular trains to and from London Victoria, Blackfriars and London Bridge.

Known as Dulwich Hill until the 18th century the area was later renamed in honour of Prince George of Denmark, the husband of Queen Ann. Historically, there was only one building (referred to in the historical sources as the “Fox under the Hill” inn) present in the area until the expansion of London populated it. As such, for much of its history Denmark Hill would have been a resting place on the way to London and until the late 19th century remained largely undeveloped. It was written about by John Ruskin who had several homes here before leaving to flee the construction of train lines that was ruining the area’s natural beauty.

In the 20th century it has become better known for the two important hospitals housed within five minutes walking distance of the railway station. The Maudsley Hospital is a notable psychiatric teaching hospital, housing in-patients and treating out-patients whilst also being involved in cutting edge research the development of new clinical methodologies and treatments. The other major hospital, King’s College Hospital, which is a noted teaching hospital with a focus on providing acute care for people with short-term but intensive healthcare requirements. The specialisms of the hospital are liver disease, neurology, neurosurgery, dentistry and trauma. The liver unit at this hospital is unquestionably the largest in the world and operates an equally large liver transplant scheme. In terms of neurology, the institution is known for its expertise in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s or Motor Neurone Disease.

It was also in the early twentieth century that one of Denmark Hill’s most important architectural monuments was established, that of the William Booth Memorial Training College. Built on an impressive scale by the famous architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the building still stands today and is used as a training facility for Salvation Army Officers as well as offering courses on handling substance abuse disorders, youth work, and social care.

Although he moved away long before his death, Ruskin’s legacy in the area lives on in the form of Ruskin Park, an area of land saved from development by popular subscription in the early twentieth century and named after the great art critic and nature lover who had attempted to campaign against the ravages of industrialism during his lifetime. This Green Flag winning park is just a few minutes walk away from the station and both hospitals and sees a great deal of use from local people  as well as the hospitals’ patients and staff. It contains an attractive wooden bandstand and areas for sports and recreation as well as formal flower gardens and plenty of grassy spaces.