London’s long list of tourist-friendly districts spans many areas of the city. From West London’s Park Grand Paddington Court Hotel London to the East Ends Barbican based accommodation, tourists in London will be able to visit a wide range of districts that you might have thought restricted to local suburbs.
One such area is Camden. Whilst the surrounding area includes leafy suburbs such as Kentish Town and Tufnell Park, Camden’s long history as a thriving market and a historically popular punk and musician hang out means that it should be top of your list when it comes to sightseeing and souvenir shopping. With a lot of history to it and a broad variety of amazing areas to explore, here are some of the best things to do in Camden, and why it’s worth some of your London trip.
History of Camden
Named after the Earl of Camden, who incidentally had his earldom and estate in Kent, the area of Camden was once part of the nearby Kentish Town estate, but started developing into its own area in the late 18th century. Eventually, the borough of Camden was established in 1965 and saw a longstanding relationship with London’s arts culture being established there.
Where is Camden?
Camden is located in the North West of the city, just up from Paddington and Little Italy London and connected to these areas by the Regents Canal. Camden also acts as one of the locks for the canal, the terminus for which is found at the Paddington Basin. Nearby landmarks include Primrose Hill and Regents Park, giving guests in the area plenty of walking routes and parks to visit.
Unique Landmarks in Camden
Despite its long history of Kentish Town manors, the area of Camden has actually seen most of its landmarks develop over the 20th and 21st century. This is in part because of its links and connections to different subcultures that were made famous over the post-war period. Below are just a few of them.
Statue of Amy Winehouse
The Amy Winehouse Statue in Camden is located in Stables Market and was built to commemorate the life of the famous singer. Built-in the popular market square just a mile away from Amy Winehouse’s home in Camden Square, the statue is over 5 feet tall and sees the singer wearing her famous beehive hairstyle and a star of David around her neck, commemorating her Jewish heritage. Unveiled three years after the singer’s death, the statue was sculpted by London artist Scott Eaton.
Camden Lock has an important role int he regulation of the Regent Canal’s water and traffic flow. The historic area around the Lock even has decades-old rope marks on its handrail bars, from where horses used to pull barges along the canal. Nowadays, however, the manually operated lock system is just one of the many attractions for tourists and visiting guests; you’ll find many street stalls in the vicinity of the lock, which has its own market named after it, alongside daily barge tours down Regents canal, a perfect date idea for couples staying at romantic hotels in Paddington nearby.
Stables Market is one of the top market areas of Camden. With rules banning any chain stores from selling in the historic Grade II listed Pickford Stables, Stables Market offers a range of speciality products which include goth fashion, homeware, furniture and ethnically inspired arts and crafts. With its unique focuses and many subcultures, Stables Market is as Camden as it gets.
Whilst the main focus might be in on its independent commerce, there are a few unique museums dotted around Camden Town, which give greater insight into the history and personality of the area.
Jewish Museum London
Founded in 1932, the Jewish Museum is located on Albert Street and gives all people an accessible way to explore the history and identity of Jewish life in London. With an annual cultural programme alongside educational teams and workshops, the collections at the Jewish Museum of London include ceremonial art has been given a “designated” status to commemorate it’s importance to the country. The museum is open till 5 pm every day except for Fridays when it closes at 2 pm.
Base don Chalk Farm Road, the Vagina Museum is a dedicated pop-up centre that explores the myth, realities and art around vagina and gynaecology. With educational exhibitions and a manifesto that supports positive body image and feminist ideologies, this is a fun, horizon-broadening way to engage in women’s sexual and physical health, for any and all genders.
Culture in Camden
The culture in Camden has been vastly inspired by the likes of the local Amy Winehouse and the 70s’a nd 80s’ Punk scene that incubated in the Camden area. Many of the shops and aesthetics of the area were inspired by music, and so its no surprise to find that Camden is home to some of the best music venues in the city. Here are just a few of them.
The Camden Roundhouse is one of the most popular venues in the borough, if not the city. With an innovative line up that spans international superstars to golden oldies, the 1700 capacity venue also hosts film screenings, poetry and performance nights as part of its revolutionary cultural outreach and development programme.
The Electric Ballroom is located right next to Camden Town Station and is one of the most famous venues in the area. With an 1500 capacity and a range of alternative acts playing every week, the Electric Ballroom has a history as an Irish dancehall that dates all the way back to the 1930s’.
This hidden gem is located on Chalk Road and just a short walk from Kentish Town Station. With its upstairs attic gig space, this intimate music venue offers guests the chance to see some of the best up and coming local acts, as well as touring musicians for great value prices. This is a great music venue for those making the most of deals on London hotels on a budget.