Why I live in West Norwood: Pip Lacey of new hicce hart pub on why her friendly south London area is on the up

Pip Lacey has lived in West Norwood for a year (Matt Writtle)
Pip Lacey has lived in West Norwood for a year (Matt Writtle)

I’ve lived in West Norwood for just over a year. My partner and I were living in Ealing before - we were renting and wanted to buy somewhere.

We found a couple of streets we really liked here. We were the first to see our place - my partner sent me pictures. I was like: “Put an offer in, quick, quick, quick.” It was 10 times better than anything we’d seen.

It was a good move. I think Norwood’s on the rise.

Eating and drinking

The Blackbird Bakery does a good quiche Lorraine, says Pip (Matt Writtle)
The Blackbird Bakery does a good quiche Lorraine, says Pip (Matt Writtle)

We’ve got a wicked little place called The Garden on Knights Hill. It’s an Italian - a small, family-run business and probably the best place to eat in West Norwood. There’s a place called Knowles of Norwood on Norwood Road that’s good for drinks.

The Great North Wood pub on Knights Hill is nice, with friendly staff and a little beer garden. It’s got a warm atmosphere.

There’s a good wine shop called The Good Drinker, also on Knights Hill. We’ve got a really nice bakery on Rothschild Street, Blackbird Bakery. They supply quite a bit of London. I have the quiche Lorraine and the chocolate fudge cake.

Where I work out

I put a Peloton in the outhouse in our garden because that’s where I was going to go on it, but it’s so far away from my mind that I forget that it’s there. Ideally, that’s where I’d do some exercise.

Brockwell Park has rugby, football, running, tennis courts. It’s pretty set-up. I played football in Ealing but since Covid I’ve been so busy. I keep saying that I’ll go and join a team there.

Brockwell Park (Matt Writtle)
Brockwell Park (Matt Writtle)

To commune with nature

People sometimes say that there’s not much greenery in London. There’s loads. Brockwell Park and Dulwich Park are the nicest and best parks near me.

Grocery shopping

We have a farmers’ market, West Norwood Feast, on the first Sunday of every month. I could do with it every Sunday.

We’ve got Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Co-op next to each other, but it’s not the best place to go. I tend to drive to Streatham to get stuff from the market shops, or they’ve got a decent Tesco there, too.

My main grievance with London is grocery shopping. You’re subject to what the supermarkets have, and it’s the most uninspiring selection. I went to Italy recently and the markets there made me cry, they were so good.

For a culture fix

We’ve got a cool cinema, West Norwood Library & Picturehouse, on Norwood High Street. It’s part of the library, and is a cool building.

We’ve got a small local theatre, South London Theatre. We need to go - we always see people coming out, so it’s on the list and there’s comedy there as well.

West Norwood’s cool cinema (Matt Writtle)
West Norwood’s cool cinema (Matt Writtle)

Getting around

The transport connections are pretty good. We live next to West Norwood station, which takes you to Victoria and Clapham. That’s useful for most things.

To get to King’s Cross I can jump on the Thameslink from Tulse Hill, which is 25 minutes. Buses are decent - I think south-east London is pretty good for public transport. I had a scooter for years, which is the best way to get around if you’re a chef and you miss the Tubes.

The clocktower in Brockwell Park (Matt Writtle)
The clocktower in Brockwell Park (Matt Writtle)

Dream street

We looked at Casewick Road for several houses. We missed out on one because we couldn’t get a mortgage, and we were gutted. Every house we’d looked at on the street was good - that was where we wanted to live. But we’re not far away now - I think we live in the nicest bit of West Norwood, up the hill towards Crystal Palace.

Something you only see in West Norwood

Cats. I’ve never seen so many cats in all my life. Cats own West Norwood. I’ve got two and it’s like they’ve asked every cat in the area to come to our garden.

The Good Drinker is an independent wine shop (Matt Writtle)
The Good Drinker is an independent wine shop (Matt Writtle)

What’s the catch?

Although there are good transport links, the biggest downside for me is the distance, and the traffic. I have to leave an hour and a half to two hours to get to work, which is a bit mad, but I like the comfort of my own space.

In three words

Character. Friendly. Quiet.

Pip is opening the hicce hart, a gastro pub in Islington, on 18 November with her business partner, Gordy McIntyre. Together, they run hicce restaurant & mkt.

Schools

For primaries, St Joseph’s RC Junior School, Rockmount and Dunraven —also a secondary and sixth form— are all rated outstanding, with 13 others rated good. As well as Dunraven, Bishop Thomas Grant Catholic and Kingsdale Foundation are both outstanding secondary schools.

What it costs

Buying in West Norwood

Average flat price: £402,540

Average house price: £767,950

Renting in West Norwood

Average flat price, pcm £1,440

Average house price, pcm £2,320

Source: Hamptons & Land Registry