London Districts: Sydenham





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Published on Nov 25, 2018

Once home of the celebrated writer Kazuo Ishiguro, this short film on Sydenham is in part a tribute to him for his talent in literature and helping inspire the London Districts series.

The district of Sydenham spans the London Boroughs of Lewisham, Bromley and Southwark.

It was once known as Shippenham during its time as a humble settlement of cottages weaved in the woods. These inhabitants led simple lives of wood gathering and animal grazing.

It became a bigger deal once the first canal opened in 1809 and then of course, the railways in 1839 which also kicked off the activity in most other districts. Over time, Sydenham residents would do more interesting things such as invent Television or explore the Antarctic.

Historically, its always maintained a reputation of affluence. It's now a leafy, suburban neighbourhood with a gritty edge to it. The cosmopolitan high street forms the backbone as the residential limbs branch off with great property of all ages. Upper Sydenham has the more grandiose homes and Lower Sydenham is more affordable.

During the summer of 1987 a quiet dude called Kazuo Ishiguro wrote the Booker prize-winning classic novel, 'The Remains of the Day'. He regularly visited this book shop for research on the English countryside and read essays about typical characters of the time for inspiration.

With pure discipline in what he termed a 'crash', he locked off all outward communication and did nothing but write for 4 weeks straight from dawn to dusk only stopping to sleep and eat. This is the house where 'The Remains of the Day' was written inside his dedicated study. His publications available in the same local establishment he used as a tool to author them with - Kirkdale Bookshop.

An emotional Tom Waits song called 'Ruby’s Arms' helped him finish the novel. He used it to mirror the main characters emotions at the end of the story. Ishiguro's latest book is 'The Buried Giant' and he continues to write.

A lot of the buildings were erected around the time when the Great Exhibition moved to Sydenham in 1854 to showcase Victorian Britain's technical and industrial ability.
This is why there is such variety in housing stock, including grand Edwardian dwellings, Victorian terraces, classic three bedroom 1930s semis and townhouses from the 1960s on top of brand new flat developments.

Families with young children are spoilt for choice with several types of schools being Ofsted rated good or above as well as award winning green spaces like Mayow Park.

Sydenham has the largest concentration of conserved space in the Lewisham borough. The area has become a lot more connected since the arrival of the Overground network which links it to numerous corners of London, most notably Docklands and the City.

Filmed and edited by Dewyne Lindsay http://dewyne.uk
Music by Yeth Thar. https://yeththar.bandcamp.com/
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