Why I live in Crystal Palace: artist and interiors guru Anna Jacobs’s guide to the creative south London neighbourhood

·3-min read
Anna runs step-by-step courses on how to master colour in your home  (Adrian Lourie)
Anna runs step-by-step courses on how to master colour in your home (Adrian Lourie)

I feel more part of the community here than anywhere else I’ve lived.

I founded Crystal Palace Artists’ Open House in 2019 just after I moved because there’s a fantastic creative community full of enthusiasm. We’re taking a break this year because of Covid but we’ll be back again in 2022.

Where to eat and drink

There are loads of really nice independent places in the Triangle, where three high streets intersect at the heart of Crystal Palace. Coopers is a bakery by day and a bar by night, decked out in vintage, and Varanda has taken over a derelict building with Mexican street food and great cocktails. The Alma is great for an al fresco drink.

Right at the heart of the ‘Triangle’, The Alma has a large all-weather beer garden tucked away behind the restaurant (Adrian Lourie)
Right at the heart of the ‘Triangle’, The Alma has a large all-weather beer garden tucked away behind the restaurant (Adrian Lourie)

Green space

Crystal Palace Park is huge, obviously it’s where the Crystal Palace was moved after the Great Exhibition; before then it was called Penge Place. Westow Park’s really sweet, there’s a lovely dog-walking community there and it’s great for kids. South Norwood Lakes are gorgeous and you can sail with Croydon Sailing Club.

Working out

British Military Fitness has a new location in Crystal Palace Park run by two ex-paratroopers who train 18 to 75-yearolds with the same encouragement. The Crystal Palace National Sports Centre is unique. My son attends Deep Dish beach volleyball there and team GB train alongside so there’s a fantastic atmosphere.

Culture fix

Crystal Palace Festival is on for the rest of August in the refurbished Crystal Palace Park Bowl with everything from big name acts to local musicians, free film nights and workshops. There was a local campaign over eight years to get the old cinema reopened and now it’s an Everyman. It hosts Crystal Palace International Film Festival every March.

The Crystal Palace International Film Festival is later this year and will take place in September with the awards show hosted by comic Johnny Vegas (Adrian Lourie)
The Crystal Palace International Film Festival is later this year and will take place in September with the awards show hosted by comic Johnny Vegas (Adrian Lourie)

Dream street

If I’m honest my flat is almost my dream property. It’s a beautiful historic Victorian house in the heart of everything, close to the Triangle, it has a huge garden and it backs on to Stambourne Woods, which is a hidden oasis. Harold Road is also lovely, with big posh houses overlooking the recreation ground.

Getting around

To be honest I don’t cycle because the hills are a bit daunting. But transport here is really good, there are buses that take you straight into Brixton and you can get a train to Victoria, London Bridge or Canary Wharf from Crystal Palace or Gipsy Hill. It’s also on the Overground network.

While the hills of Crystal Palace can be daunting for cyclists they boast some of the most dramatic views of the city’s skyline that London has to offer (Adrian Lourie)
While the hills of Crystal Palace can be daunting for cyclists they boast some of the most dramatic views of the city’s skyline that London has to offer (Adrian Lourie)

Grocery shopping

Crystal Palace Food Market is like our own mini Borough Market. Crystal’s Cookies is run by a guy who bakes in his kitchen and brings them out fresh to sell on the stall and they’re fantastic. Sainsbury’s offers free parking for people who shop on the Triangle, not just at the supermarket, which is a great boost for local shops.

Only in crystal Palace?

Where else would you find dinosaurs and sphinxes in the local park?

What’s the catch?

Rents are rising because it’s an up-and-coming area so it’s hard for small businesses. It’s a shame because it’s that uniqueness that attracts people.

Crystal Palace is a popular and leafier choice for creatives wishing to escape the steep rents of more central neighbourhoods (Adrian Lourie)
Crystal Palace is a popular and leafier choice for creatives wishing to escape the steep rents of more central neighbourhoods (Adrian Lourie)

In three words

Creative, community, green.

Schools

Primaries Rockmount, David Livingstone Academy, Paxton Primary and St Joseph’s RC Junior School are all rated outstanding by Ofsted. For secondary pupils Harris City Academy is outstanding while there are several ‘good’-rated secondary schools nearby.

Evening Standard readers can get 20 per cent off Anna’s course Create Colour Magic in Your Home with the code STANDARD20 at annajacobsart.com

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