Where do YOU live?

I had this conversation this morning with someone, and the answer was very pleasing, however I get the impression that it is one of the most controversial questions you can possibly ask someone of SE23.
Your postcode is SE23, the generalisation of this postcode is “Forest Hill”. Of course the postcode has two rail stations, Forest Hill and Honor Oak… Park! Honor Oak Park, sorry sorry, I know how important that last word is to some! We all know that it’s the law to ensure you say the entire place name.

Anyway, it would seem that daring to tell someone who defines their area as HOP that they live in FH is a crime worse than most. Kiwi’s have got used to being called Aussies, but God forbid mixing HOP and FH!

Goodness no, I don’t live in FH, I’m in the much classier and nicer part of the same postcode, joined by the same short main road…

This isn’t a new gripe of mine, I have had it for years. Personally I live in Forest Hill, a popular area of South London. On a lovely wide tree lined Street, and can’t think of any other part of SE23 I would want to live in. Nowhere else offers quire the same balance.

When it comes to choosing areas to frequent, I am not fussy, the environment and atmosphere is all that bothers me, not it’s postcode, street name, or preferred area name.

In short, I dont get the fuss. Same shops and services the same sort of distance apart. Same people, bus routes, policing, social issues etc… But God no I don’t live THERE, I live here! Its much nicer.



When I moved here a decade or so ago, all estate agents tended to refer to the area as a whole as Forest Hill.

When I met people they invariably thought I meant meant Forest Gate and I hardly met anyone who knew about Forest Hill, let alone some place called Honor Oak.

Fast forward 10 years and the are terms like ‘the village feel of Honor Oak’ being referred to. The area is much more known now due to the Overground coming in and there is much more reference to living in Forest Hill or HOP.

I feel Honor Oak and Forest Hill are distinct areas that meet at unspecified points

I will typically now say I live in Honor Oak, near Forest Hill, near Dulwich and continue until there is a flicker of recognition in the person I am speaking to.

I think you need a beer :slight_smile:


It doesn’t really matter what somebody chooses to call a location and we are all entitled to our own definitions, while respecting other people’s definitions, particularly of their own home.

What does matter is the definition of the town centre and the proximity of a business to key transport links and other shops. For example if you were to open a shop in Kirkdale you would have completely different demographics of visitors to a shop opposite Forest Hill station, and the same applies to the Brockley Rise/Stanstead Road junction in comparison to Honor Oak Park station. Footfall matters, proximity of parking matters, routes to school matter, and proximity of other key attractions like Horniman and the swimming pool all matter to businesses - much more than to residents.

In terms of where I live in Forest Hill, I’ve lived on both sides of the railway, and I’ve been to three schools in Forest Hill/Sydenham. I’ve got my own favourite places to live in Forest Hill and the only real difference I see between to two sides of the railway is the hills. I love looking out of my window with a horizon that reaches to Dartford or Wembley rather than across the street, although the walk home can be a bit tiresome. And I also like having Sainsbury on my route home from the station. But I spent many years happily living in Perry Vale.

There are other situations where boundaries do matter, such as setting up a civic society or a neighbourhood forum. There is no point claiming to represent people who do not associate with the area, but it is also far better not to exclude people who live just outside your defined area of interest. I would be happy to discuss such issues further on or off line if it is of any interest to other people.

Sounds like the last time I got a late-night cab home from the West End. Eventually it dawns on them: “Sarf of the river? Aw, I’m just clocking off, mate. End of me shift!” [Cabbie speeds off round the block hoping to pick up a fare that’s going somewhere civilised - like Stoke Newington.]


Lol, I do the same when speaking to someone out of the area, but use Forest Hill and Crystal Palace as references. The vacant looks on their faces stop me going any further.
As for the beer, urrgh, vile stuff, haha.

Michael, I get it totally from a boundaries point of view, Councillors, doctors, schools etc all need them. But as far as Joe public goes, and the occasional snobbery of “I don’t live in Forest Hill” pulls disgusted face, that is the part of it I am talking about.
Invisible lines making businesses and services not considered local or part of, even though it’s round the corner.
I agree there are differences on the sides of the railway lines. High Street, bank, supermarket, on one side, mainly residential on the other, with schools, smaller shops etc on the other.
But this quite visible boundary has somehow been turned into the better and worst sides of Forest Hill. So SE23 us apparently further divided busy another boundary.

I just find it annoying, that’s all. Hey we are one big community (but you live in the crap part) lol.

I’m not sure people are taking this in the way it is intended, but hey how, it got people talking, and me understanding why some people use these terms.

In short, I don’t really care what parts people live in, certainly don’t care about what people think about this part, it’s just annoying to see the stigma some people attach to the divides. Knowingly or unknowingly

Good morning SE23… All of it :wink:

Haha sounds very familiar indeed. Thank heavens for Uber eh.

*walks off quietly, hoping not to have started another argument *


I always say Honor Oak as I am by far closest to HOP station and I think that is as good a way of describing it to someone as anything

1 Like

If someone asked me if I lived in Forest Hill I’d say no, I Live in Honor Oak. Because that’s where I live. If you read something more into that like I’m disparaging Forest Hill by not living there I’m not sure there is anything I can do about that. I have to be honest ive never experienced this snobbery or divide that you talk about, just people trying to explain where they live in geographical terms that make sense to them.

1 Like

Good logic, I like that.

Perception and interpretation are indeed key to things like this. As I say, there is nothing wrong with being proud of where you live, or just being accurate about it, we all know that HOP is part of SE23, so it is logical to do so.
However there are certain instances where some people will make more of living in one part of SE23 than others. I am not for one second saying you have done such a thing.

If you read enough threads and have enough conversations, it becomes obvious which groups use HOP as status or a step up from others.

I don’t expect a single person to reflect and change their mannerisms, that would make things dull.

This is just a general observation, and a question to see reasons for use of the invisible divide :slight_smile:
No offence intended.

My answer to the original post would simply be:

I live & trade in Forest Hill SE23 & absolutely LOVE it :hugs::hugs::hugs:

1 Like

Well that of course it COMPLETELY understandable. Catford indeed! Eeew lol

We used to do similar (well still do in fact) to a friend who lived one street from Peckham Rye, every time he said East Dulwich, we would joke and say you mean Peckham right… He gets very defensive lol

I live in SE26 - midway between Sydenham station and Forest Hill station. Typically I say I live in Forest Hill, partly through my own snobbery, but also we’re closer the shops etc in forest hill than Sydenham.

often people get confused with Forest Gate…

1 Like

I once had a guy jump of a bus at Westbourne Drive, run over to me and ask for a unfamiliar street name. When rushed me for an answer , he mentioned he had 10 mins to get to a job interview… In Forest Gate. :frowning:


Perception and interpretation indeed. I live in Honor Oak. I used to live in Forest Hill and have no feelings of snobbery about this.

I do not have any sort of feeling of place relating to postcodes. These determine where your postie starts their round (if just talking about the first part). Place names such as Forest Hill and Honor Oak describe places which are also communities. Honor Oak is not just SE23 but Forest Hill is, purely because the sorting office just happens to be sited there.

Honor Oak Park is a an area of green with a road and a station named after it. The station is only called that to distinguish it from Honor Oak station which sadly no longer exists.

Am sure many will disagree re place names and am ok with that, it is one’s personally interpretation where you live. Heck, have met people from Hengrave Road who think they live in East Dulwich (née Peckham LOL). Am more irritated by the postcode obsession though - it is widespread in London and much snobbery to be found with it, mostly related to house values IMO.

1 Like

I wasn’t gonna mention postcode snobbery. It used to be about gangs and coming from the wrong endzzz! But now it’s a whole different game! Lol

I like the way this discussion is going. Most informative. Thanks all for participating.

1 Like

Why is there no ‘u’ in Honor?

1 Like

As far as I know it’s an old spelling of the word.

1 Like

I was discussing this with someone the other day as it happens, and this Wikipedia article shed some light on the subject (in fact it even gives Honor Oak a special mention!)

1 Like

I’d say Honor Oak Park because I’m 5 minutes from the station and much further from Forest Hill. I moved here 2 years ago and didn’t even know HOP was considered a ‘posher’ area than Forest Hill generally?