Who knew Vincent Van Gogh lived in Stockwell? Turns out nearly everyone who I mentioned this fact to. I didn’t but was fascinated to learn that Van Gogh spent a period in London in his young adulthood and loved it. A sizeable chunk of that was in Stockwell; he took a room in this little terrace house at 87 Hackford Road in 1873. He was doing very well for himself at the time. Just twenty years old and earning more money than his father, a religious minister, Van Gogh took to walking around the city and the still semi-rural edges enjoying its art galleries and parks and people.
He apparently fell for the landlady’s daughter until discovering that he wasn’t the only man she was involved with. He retreated to another boarding house in Kennington to nurse a bruised heart.
The local council has celebrated the local association with one of the greatest ever painters in a small but appropriate way. It has converted nearby Isabel Street into a semi-pedestrianised space and renamed it, appropriately, Van Gogh Walk.
There are benches and a free book swap box. Lots of sunflowers and other plants have been planted (although as I visited in November I did not see them at their best) in spaces where quotes from Van Gogh have been printed on the side of the borders.
It’s a lovely little quiet space in this unassuming part of the city.