Baskets of sourdough, retro furniture and a dinosaur sculpture garden: it’s the best bits of Crystal Palace
One thing is crystal clear, south London is full of vintage delights.
Why go there?
Because the views are great, it’s home to London’s own miniature ‘Jurassic Park’ and there are more antique furniture shops than you can shake a mahogany walking stick at.
Where’s the bloody palace, then?
Ah. The original Crystal Palace was an enormous glass building constructed in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851, and moved south in 1854 to Sydenham. It was destroyed by fire in 1936 and replaced with… well, not much. So no palace for you!
Disappointing. I need some retail therapy now.
Then it’s a good thing that Crystal Palace is a secondhand-lover’s delight. For decent-priced furniture make a beeline for Crystal Palace Antiques (Jasper Road), a sprawling Victorian warehouse with room after room of period gems. If it’s nostalgic clothes you’re after, head to Crystal Palace Vintage (Westow St): among the towers of old leather suitcases you’ll find rails of ’70s dresses and more tweed jackets than a Cotswold pub. You’ll also find top-quality men’s vintage at Crazy Man Crazy, while Boyce de Roca (both on Church Road) hits all the nails on the head by selling retro furniture, vintage clothes and being home to a cute café too.
I’m all shopped out, time for some food…
For great tea and cake, try Brown & Green, a tiny café filled with mismatched furniture that occupies a corner of CP’s pretty Victorian station. Closer to the centre of town you’ll find Blackbird Bakery (Westow Street) with its baskets of sourdough bread and tempting cakes and tarts. If you’re after something more substantial, Crystal Palace Market (Church Road) is a swish market-cum-restaurant.
And if I’m after something stronger?
Westow House (Westow Hill) is a large boozer on one point of the Crystal Palace ‘triangle’ (of roads). They’ve got a decent selection of craft beers plus some fun and games on offer. At another point of the triangle is The White Hart (Church Road), a popular spot for Sunday roasts. And, because this is Crystal Palace, this tavern features vintage clothes shop Vintagehart.
And if I only do one thing?
Crystal Palace Park is where you’ll find the world’s first dinosaur sculpture garden. It was created in 1854, and the result is a not-very-accurate but nonetheless charming collection of concrete lizards dotted around lakes at the southern end of the park.
By Gail Tolley, who wants them to rebuild the palace out of crisps. Crispal Palace.