Published on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 14:49
Some thirty years ago, David Price, a member of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and violin teacher at both Dulwich College and Dulwich College Preparatory School, thought that it would be nice to encourage his pupils to play with others during the holidays to gain some orchestral experience. Ninety courses later, Dulwich Youth Orchestra (DYO) continues to flourish, meeting every holiday for five days of rehearsals in one of the local schools.Ranging from seven to eighteen in age, and from piccolo to double bass, musicians are coached by a team of expert teachers and professional players. They are coached to a high standard in a wide variety of musical styles: recent performances included music by Mozart, Dvorak, Delibes, Holst and the music to ‘Lord of the Rings’!
The final concert is a showcase of the different groups – the String Ensemble for younger players; the Wind Band, which of course includes brass players and percussionists as well as wind players of every variety; the Senior Orchestra for the more advanced players, which fluctuates from chamber orchestra to symphony orchestra in size; and a final item by the ‘Great Orchestra’, in the hallowed British tradition of massed performance in which all participate!
For many Dulwich families, DYO has become a popular holiday activity, the courses being short and intensive - mornings only - enabling other commitments or relaxation for the rest of the day. It is for many a ‘first orchestral experience’ although high standards are constantly sought and achieved, and for the older, more experienced, the repertoire is more demanding, with solo or concerto opportunities arising. Over the years excerpts from major concertos by Grieg, Bruch and Elgar have been presented, but interesting unusual repertoire is also chosen, such as the Moscheles Concertino for Flute and Oboe.
Many, many young musicians have ‘cut their teeth’ at DYO; for some it is simply a part of the kaleidoscope of Dulwich life, hopefully giving them a long lasting passion for musical activity (and London has wonderful opportunities for the amateur musician given a reasonable level of competence!) but for others it has been the start of a very serious interest – one young lady who went on to the National Youth Orchestra and Cambridge University said ‘You know it really was DYO that woke me up, musically speaking’, and many former members have gone on through music colleges or university to successful careers in music.
Barbara Dalton, Tim and Gill Hewitt-Jones, have now been together for sixteen years, and with their overlapping skills and local knowledge, have a good sense of the possible when it comes to planning programmes for performance. Barry Graham joined the team in December 2009. Barbara Dalton, formerly at DCPS and now Director of Music at Alleyn’s Junior School, is the Musical Director of DYO. All four have taken a keen interest in musical education, and sincerely believe that introducing music of good taste to young people at an early age is a vital ingredient in a civilized society!
Some DYO facts
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:28
Published on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 14:41
Tuesday 8th Dulwich Picture Gallery – Contextual Lecture Series – ‘It will not quite eclipse Napoleon’: John Nash’s plans for London. David Watkin. Linbury Room 10.30am £10
Thursday 10th Dulwich Picture Gallery – Masterpiece of the Month Lecture – Vermeer – The Music Lesson by Desmond Shaw-Taylor. 7 for 7.30pm Linbury Room. Tickets £10
Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture – The Art of Conversation: painting & family life in 18th century England by Catherine Parry-Wingfield. James Allen’s Girls’ School 6th Form Lecture Theatre 8pm.
Saturday 19th Dulwich Helpline Antiques Discovery Day/Arts and Crafts Sale from 10.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. at Herne Hill Baptist Church, Half Moon Lane, SE24 9HU
Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery – Flamenco music, dance and supper – Juan Ramirez St Barnabas Hall, Dulwich Village at 6.30pm £17 (under 16’s £10)
Wednesday 23rd Dulwich Subscription Concerts – Accordion music from all eras and countries. 7.30pm The Old Library, Dulwich College. Tickets £15 (concs £10, students £5).
Thursday 24th Dulwich Society Garden Group – Talk – ‘The work of the Metropolitan Gardens Association, past and present’. Speaker Mrs Joyce Bellamy. 7.45 for 8.00pm at the St Barnabas
Centre, Calton Avenue SE 21. Admission free.
Tuesday 29th Dulwich Picture Gallery – Contextual Lecture Series – The Cockney Moment: Metropolitan Art and Literature in the Regency. Gregory Dart. Linbury Room 10.30am £10
Saturday 9th Dulwich Society visit to Buckingham Palace garden and Trees walk. 3.30pm (see page ?? for booking form)
Sunday 10th Christ’s Chapel Organ Recital – Marilyn Harper, Organist Christ’s Chapel 7.45pm
Thursday 22nd – May 8th. Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery. Friends Easter Open Exhibition. Linbury Room.
Thursday 14th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture – Emma, Lady Hamilton: scandal, celebrity & art in 18th century Britain by Kate Williams. James Allen’s Girls’ School 6th Form Lecture Theatre 8pm.
Dulwich Picture Gallery Masterpiece of the Month – El Greco. Lecture by Rosalind Whyte Linbury Room 7pm for 7.30pm £10 (includes glass of wine)
Saturday 16th Meridian Brass – Concert – in aid of Practical Action, the international development charity. Music of Haydn, Ravel, Gershwin and Brubeck. St Faith’s Church, Red Post Hill SE 24 7,30pm Ticket £12 020 8670 4800
Tuesday 26th Dulwich Picture Gallery – Contextual Lecture Series – The Peninsular War: the End of the Beginning? Charles Esdaile. Linbury Room 10.30am £10
Wednesday 27th Friends of Dulwich Park Annual General Meeting - 7pm in the Francis Peek Centre, Dulwich Park. Following the meeting there will be a talk by Edward Mayer from Swift Conservation about helping to protect swifts and reducing the threats to them. All welcome.
Sunday 8th Dulwich Festival – Woodwarde Walk- architectural walk conducted by Ian McInnes. Meet junction of Calton Avenue/Woodwarde Road 2.20pm.
Thursday 12th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture – Art in Paris 1850 – 1900: the most decadent city in the world! By Linda Collins. James Allen’s Girls’ School 6th Form Lecture Theatre 8pm.
Saturday 14th Dulwich Festival Trees Walk conducted by Letta Jones for the Dulwich Society. Meet at the Old College Gate, Dulwich Park in College Road at 2.30pm
Sunday 15th Dulwich Festival – The Life and Times of Richard Randall – a talk by Brian Green with musical illustrations by Marilyn Harper on this eighteenth century professional Dulwich musician. Christ’s Chapel, Dulwich Village 3pm. Tickets £4
Monday 23rd Dulwich Society Annual General Meeting St Barnabas Centre, Calton Avenue
SE 21 at 8pm
Tuesday 24th Dulwich Picture Gallery - Contextual Lecture Series – Jews in Britain under the Georges. Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok Linbury Room 10.30am £10
Wednesday 25th Dulwich Subscription Concert – The Bozza Ensemble (wind and piano ensemble) Mozart and Poulenc quintet and sextet. The Old Library, Dulwich College at 7.30pm. Tickets £15, concs £10, students £5
Tuesday 31st Dulwich Picture Gallery – Contextual Lecture Series – The Founding of the Dulwich Picture Gallery 1811: Dulwich College and ‘the Bourgeois Gallery’. Jan Piggott, Linbury Room 10.30am £10
Sunday 5th Christ’s Chapel Organ Recital – Robert Woolley 7.45pm
Thursday 9th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture - The Amish People: their history, culture and quilts by Jane Jefferson. James Allen’s Girls’ School 6th Form Lecture Theatre 8pm.
Thursday 23rd Dulwich Society Garden Group. Full day visit to Pashley Manor and Scotney Castle Gardens. Price £28 including transport, tips and admission to Pashley Manor. Bring your National Trust card for admission to Scotney Castle. Reservations to Ina Pulleine, 1 Perifield, SE21 8NG. Telephone 8670 5477 after11am
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:28
Published on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 14:38
Unlike most roads in Dulwich we cannot be sure why Ildersly Road is so-named; it is possibly a misspelling of the surname of Thomas Iddersleigh, onetime Chairman of the Crystal Palace company. Whatever its origin, there is no denying it’s a charming little street with its wide bay windows and uniform wooden fences. Tucked away behind the bustle of Croxted Road the two rows of semi detached villas follow the curve of the road, finishing in a small sweep of taller houses before joining Park Hall Road.
The residents of Ildersly Grove listed in the 1881 Census are all British subjects but their birth places show some interesting geographical mobility. Nearly half of them were born in London with another third elsewhere in England, 14% in India with the remainder from Wales, the Netherlands and St Helena in the South Atlantic.
All the servants living in Ildersly Grove at this time were born in England or Wales with two thirds born outside London. The rest were born in London although none are from Dulwich which is surprising, the nearest birthplaces being Covent Garden and Hammersmith. Of those from outside London 20% came from Wales and the others from all over England including Yorkshire, Lancashire, Worcestershire, Suffolk and Dorset. Only one house in the road did not have any live-in servants. Of the other households, if they had one servant she (and in this road they were always a she) was described as a general servant. If a household had more than one servant there was usually a cook and a housemaid or a governess and a general servant. Even childless households or bachelors living alone in Ildersly Grove had a live-in servant.
The professions represented in Ildersly Grove show a fascinating range of occupations. Among the bank clerks there was a builder (albeit one employing 27 men), a shorthand writer, an assistant chaplain to Dulwich College, a railway clerk, a tutor, a barrister/dramatic author and a professional cricketer. Several widows are listed as heads of households, including the wife of a judge in the Bengal Service and the wife of the President of Montsurat (could this be Montserrat?).
Perhaps the most famous resident of the street was Ebenezer Howard, the founder of the Garden City movement and the subject of a Dulwich Society article by Bernard Nurse earlier this year. However, Ildersly Grove had other residents who have left their mark on history in their own ways.
Take William Shepherd. Born around 1840 in Kennington he was a professional cricketer who played for Surrey. He umpired, captained and travelled with the Australian Aboriginal cricket team on their tour of England in 1868. This team made history as the first group of Australian cricketers to tour overseas and their first match at the Oval was attended by 20,000 spectators. The tour attracted a lot of publicity and spectators and must have made a considerable amount of money. There was talk of it continuing on to Europe and America and William Shepherd and his wife were booked to travel with them. However, a lack of a cricketing infrastructure in those countries and illness in the Aboriginal team put paid to this idea. Two team members had to return to Australia due to sickness and one player, King Cole, died of tuberculosis while on the tour and is buried in Tower Hamlets. In his memoirs William Shepherd said “The Aborigines, at heart, did not like the white man, and were of rather a sulky disposition, but by exercising tact I got on extremely well with them, finding them all right with a little bit of 'sugar’, i.e. humouring”.
William and his wife Lucy lived in Ildersly Grove with their four children and were the only family in the 1881 Census not to have live-in servants. He died in Tooting in 1919.
Or take Arthur Ernest Pearce, born in 1859 in Angell Road, Brixton. The son of an architect, he studied design in London and Paris before teaching drawing and exhibiting at the Royal Academy. In his early 20s he joined the pottery firm Doulton where he remained for the rest of his career, becoming head designer of ceramics and terracotta at their Lambeth studios. He designed many large scale works including the firm’s pavilion for the 1893 Chicago World Fair and the colossal Doulton Fountain in Glasgow Green: at 46 feet high it was the largest terracotta fountain in the world. At the time it was described as “an alliance of the beautiful and the useful” and “a sculptural extravaganza”. Designed in the French Renaissance style it commemorates Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee with all the pomp of the imperial heyday. The statue of Victoria at the apex was struck by lightning in 1891 and rather than let the city fathers replace it with something inferior, Doulton paid for a replacement, an expensive undertaking since Pearce’s original moulds had been broken up.
Pearce was also a superb watercolourist and one of his responsibilities was to illustrate the manuscripts which were presented to long serving Doulton employees. He also painted a vase which was presented to Queen Victoria.
One of seven children, the rest of whom remained single, in 1886 Pearce married Katherine Mary Hughes whom he had met at the Doulton studios and together they had three children. They lived in Ildersly Grove with a general servant called Louisa and Mabel the nursemaid. At some stage they moved to a house in Marius Road, Tooting (called “Ildersly”) where sadly Katherine committed suicide, being found by her daughter. Pearce then married again in 1921, to Lily Troake. He died in 1934.
In 1881 a widow, Mrs Grace Jacobina Strickland, can be found living in Ildersly Grove with her grandson Percy who was at Dulwich College, Annie, their cook and a general servant called Elizabeth. They had two visitors on Census night, Mrs Longmore and her son Henry. Both the Stricklands and the Longmores were born in India. There seems to me to be rather a large number of residents of Ildersly Grove who were British subjects born in India (9 out of a total of 63 residents). I don’t know whether that is unusual or not for the time but I like to think of people in India during the Raj discussing returning home to England: “Oh yes you must move to West Dulwich, it’s the in-place”. I do know that the vicar of All Saints in Rosendale Road, the Rev James Beeby, commented in 1900 upon the changes which had taken place in his parish: "There has been a complete change in the character (of the parish) in the last 14 years; then everyone had something to do with India, Indian civil servants and aunts of Indians bringing up their children and drawn by the nearness of Dulwich College and Dulwich High School (a girls' school now occupied by Rosemead School in Thurlow Park Rd). They are almost all gone now."
Grace was the mother of Lt William Strickland who won a medal while serving in the Burmese Expedition of 1852-3. His son, Percy, studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s after leaving Dulwich College and was a member of the BMA for 51 years. He became a surgeon in the Indian Medical Service, rising to Colonel and he also won a medal in the Burmese Expedition of 1889-90.
However, India isn’t the most unusual birthplace for Ildersly Grove residents. Mary Ann Jefford Peterson was born in St Helena in the South Atlantic in 1845. At that time it was a Crown colony so Mary was a British citizen. The population was declining due to emigration and although it is not known when she left the island she lived in India at some stage after her marriage and she is found in Dulwich in 1881. She lived in Ildersly Grove with her two young sons who were both born in Simla, India, her daughter Eveline who was born in Jalpaiguri, India and her daughter Hilda, born in Dulwich. They had a cook, a housemaid and a nurse who all lived in. In the 1881 Census she describes herself as the head of the household but also as the wife of a Judge in the Bengal Service; her husband was Frederick William Voysey Peterson who must have been still in India. I presume the two sons, described as scholars, were at Dulwich College but the Petersons also had an older son, Frederick Hopewell, who was at Rugby and who later joined the Bengal Staff Corps. He was mentioned in dispatches and won medals in various Indian expeditions.
Another resident, Sydney Grundy, described himself as a “dramatic author and barrister not in practice”. The son of an alderman, he was born in Manchester in 1848 and although his plays began to appear on the London stage from 1872 he showed commendable caution and continued to practise as a barrister until 1876.
Grundy became known as an adapter of French and German plays, re-shaping them to suit the British theatre audience but his most celebrated works were his original comedies and his librettos of comic operas. In 1892 he wrote Haddon Hall with Sir Arthur Sullivan after Sullivan had begun to chafe at the absurdities of Gilbert’s plots. The opera was performed at the Savoy and went on tour but did not lead to further collaboration with Sullivan.
Grundy’s partnership with Edward Solomon was very popular and Solomon and Grundy operas (not to be confused with the man who was born on Monday) toured Britain and the English-speaking world and were particularly popular in Australia. About a dozen of Grundy’s plays were performed on Broadway, where they were described as “brilliant” and “daring” and several were made into films. In Jersey the play chosen to re-open the Opera House in 1900 after a major fire was Grundy’s “The Degenerates” and Lillie Langtry curtailed her holiday in order to appear in it, having created the role of Mrs Trevelyan at the Haymarket in London the previous year.
Although his obituary in the New York Times described him as unmarried in fact Grundy lived in Ildersly Grove with his wife Maria, their daughter, Emily and their servant Annie before moving to Addison Road in Kensington, gaining a cook, a parlour maid and a housemaid on the way. He died in July 1914.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:28
Published on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 14:39
Ildersly Grove by Ian McInnes
In his essay, ‘Fiction, Fair and Foul’, John Ruskin described a walk he took in March 1880 from the Half Moon pub at Herne Hill to Dulwich College, via Croxted Road, and passing Acacia Grove and Ildersly Grove, the latter then still being built.
“In my young days, Croxted Lane was a green bye-road traversable for some distance by carts; but rarely so traversed, and, for the most part, little else than a narrow strip of untilled field, separated by blackberry hedges from the better cared-for meadows on each side of it: growing more weeds, therefore, than they, and perhaps in spring a primrose or two--white archangel--daisies plenty, and purple thistles in autumn....... There, my mother and I used to gather the first buds of the hawthorn; and there, in after years, I used to walk in the summer shadows, as in a place wilder and sweeter than our garden, to think over any passage I wanted to make better than usual in ‘Modern Painters’.
So, as aforesaid, on the first kindly day of this year, being thoughtful more than usual of those old times, I went to look again at the place.
The fields on each side of it are mostly dug up for building....... half a dozen handfuls of new cottages, with Doric doors, are draped about here and there among the gashed ground: the lane itself, now entirely grassless, is a deep rutted, heavy hillocked cart road, diverging gatelessly into various brickfields or pieces of waste; and bordered on each side by heaps of – Hades only knows what! – mixed dust of every unclean thing that can crumble in drought, and mildew of every unclean thing that can rot or rust in damp: ashes and rags, beer bottles and old shoes, battered pans, smashed crockery, shreds of nameless clothes, door sweepings, floor sweepings, kitchen garbage, back-garden sewage, old iron, rotten timber jagged with out-torn nails, cigar ends, pipe bowls, cinders, bones and ordure, indescribable: and, variously kneaded into, sticking to, or fluttering foully here and there over all these, remnants, broadcast, of every manner of newspaper, advertisement of big lettered bill, festering and flaunting out their last publicity in the pits of stinking dust and mortal slime.”
Ildersly Grove is located on a former ‘copyhold’ field lying between the Acacia Grove development (built 1866 -67) Park Road (now Park Hall Road) and the back of Park Row Cottages and the Alleyn’s Head - at that time located on the site of the current Majestic Wine shop. In March 1877, Mr John Harris, a ‘Gentleman’ by profession, living at “Oakfield House, Dulwich in the County of Surrey” (now 41 College Road on the corner with Dulwich Common), purchased the field from the tenant, Mr Thomas Wright, for a premium of £1000.
‘Copyhold’ tenure dated from feudal times and, by the nineteenth century, was considered to be largely an anachronism. This particular plot had been acquired as compensation for the loss of grazing rights on Dulwich Common after enclosure in the early eighteenth century. A ‘copyhold’ was effectively a freehold as it was held in perpetuity from the landlord as long as the rent was paid. The owner of a ‘copyhold’ was entitled to enfranchise it as a freehold and Mr Harris paid the Estate £621 10s by way of compensation. He subsequently appointed builders, Messrs Edward George Paull and Henry John Paull of Gypsy Road, Lower Norwood, to build houses on the site – on both sides of the new road and along part of Croxted Road. He also built a small row of shops along the north side of Park Road.
There was no further mention of the site until March 1926 when the Estate Solicitor reported that he had received a letter from a Mr H T Young who represented the head lessee, Mrs Louisa Taylor. He offered to sell the freehold ground rents Nos 1 to 13 lldersly Grove, and other houses in Croxted Road and 1 & 2 Oakfield Cottages for a price in the neighbourhood of £8000. The Manager was instructed to offer £7500 but, in April, was able to report that he had actually acquired the properties for £7250. The deal was completed in late June and a visit to Ildersly Grove was included in the 1926 Governors’ annual review. Late in the year the Estate also bought in the leases on the adjacent sites of the Alleyn’s Head and the Park Row Cottages – thus giving them ownership of all the land on the north side of Park Hall Road, east of Croxted Road.
Now that the Estate was in control it started preparing schedules of wants of repair to bring the houses up to standard. The condition of the road and pavements in Ildersly Grove were also the subject of continuous discussion in the Estate minutes over the next few years. The road itself remained private until the late 1940s and the lessees had to contribute the sum of 17s 11d at Michaelmas each year towards the cost of any repairs. There was a suggestion in the mid 1930s that Camberwell Borough Council should be asked to take over the road.
In June 1937 the road was described as “in bad condition and it should be scarified and coated on top, either with a water bound surface, subsequently tar sprayed, or with a new tarmac surface.” Tenants also complained about the size of the plane trees on the footpaths and some thought was given to remove them and replace them with slow growing trees such as Japanese Flowering Cherry, “thus making a picturesque grove in the spring time similar to Burbage Road”.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:28
Published on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 14:34
The Lost Houses of Dulwich - Ryecotes Mead
By Bernard Nurse with additional research by Ian McInnes
Ryecotes was demolished in 1967 to make way for the present development of Ryecotes Mead. It had been one of the large houses with extensive grounds on the Dulwich Estate which attracted wealthy business men. Its occupiers included William Young, the historian of Dulwich College, Sir Hiram Maxim, the inventor of the machine gun and Sir William Lane Mitchell, MP for Streatham. In more recent times, it has been better known as the temporary club house which the Dulwich and Sydenham Golf Club used after their original clubhouse was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War.
Rycotes was rebuilt and extended several times since the 18th century, but fortunately the leases survive in Dulwich College Archives to record the changes. These show that two houses built earlier in the 18th century were converted into one and rebuilt in 1787 by Henry William Atkinson (1753-1834). One had been occupied by the local surgeon, but with the arrival of Atkinson the properties were transformed into a far grander building. Atkinson was a moneyer of the Royal Mint then in the Tower of London and one of those responsible for the ensuring the quality of the coinage. By the time of his death he had held this position for 64 years, during thirteen of which he had been the provost or most senior official. He first took out a lease in 1783, but with a growing family of four sons and four daughters clearly needed more space. The children are listed in Burke’s Landed Gentry which notes that one son died at sea and two were knighted. His long marriage was commemorated by a medal on the occasion of their golden wedding in 1830, when ‘they were surrounded by children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and relation’.
The schedule of fixtures provides considerable detail about the size and layout of the new house. There was a nursery, maid’s garret, man’s room, footman’s room, powdering room, several bedrooms, a drawing room with veined marble chimney piece, only one water closet ‘fitted with seats and flaps’, a butler’s pantry, kitchen, laundry, washhouse and beer cellar. The house was constructed with bricks and slates and had parapet walls coped with stone. Outside was a small farmyard with stable, cowhouse, pigsties, corn room, tool house, coal and wood houses. The grounds included a kitchen garden, pleasure grounds and meadow. The front part of this building survived until 1967 and can be seen in photographs taken prior to demolition.
It appears that William Atkinson did not live in the house very long and at the time of his death he was living in the Royal Mint opened in 1810. He assigned his lease in 1798 to John Bowles, a local magistrate. The number of burglaries in the neighbourhood at the time was a matter of great concern. Blanch’s history of Camberwell records that Bowles was thanked in 1816 for helping to establish a patrol of constables ‘whereby many criminal persons have been in the course of a few nights apprehended’. By 1821 his widow had taken over the lease and it was assigned to a succession of city merchants and stockbrokers, who made no substantial changes to the property until purchased by William Young in 1858. William Young (1825-1896) was an insurance broker, the son of a Glasgow merchant who became deputy chairman of Lloyd’s. After his death, the Edward Alleyn Magazine described him as ‘a fine type of the business Scotchman, clear headed and energetic, and though somewhat brusque in manner, was thoroughly kind-hearted and universally esteemed by all who were brought into contact with him’.
He was appointed a governor of Dulwich College in 1872 and in 1876, in order to meet the demand locally for accommodation for the low paid who provided essential services as gardeners or grooms, he, with others, formed the Dulwich Cottage Company. The company had a limited capital of £6000 in £10 shares and it retained Charles Barry jnr. to design houses that could be let cheaply but which would harmonise as far as possible with the general character of the locality. The cottages, set in small gardens, were built between 1879-82 at the bottom of what became Calton Avenue and in Boxall Row (Road).
Young also spent many years researching for his monumental two volume History of Dulwich College, published in 1889. In it he noted that the college had been granted by its founder ‘lands, woods and waste grounds called Ricotes als Rigates in Dulwich’ among other properties. The land was roughly where the sports grounds are now on the south side of the South Circular going towards Cox’s Walk. Young chose the name ‘Ryecotes’ for his nearby house. In 1864-5 he spent more than £1500 (c. £140,000 today) on repairing and improving it and obtained a new lease of 45 years. From the later photographs, the rear section seems to have been extensively rebuilt. It accommodated himself, his Australian wife, six children and five servants, but in 1883 he moved to Stanhill Court, in Charlwood, Surrey, where he built an even larger house in the Scottish Baronial style, now Stanhill Court Hotel. The photograph of William and his wife, Frances, belonging to his great-granddaughter, Sarah is taken there. Despite moving away, Young remained a Dulwich College Governor until his death in New York in 1896.
None of the residents who followed Young stayed as long, most remaining for between five and ten years. One of the shortest periods was the three years when Sir Hiram Maxim occupied it with his wife and grandson from 1909 to 1912. Maxim moved from Thurlow Lodge, Norwood Road where he had lived most of his working life in London. There he had experimented with his prototype machine gun whose ‘unusual noise created a sensation in the vicinity’ and his ‘Captive Flying Machine’ which was erected at Crystal Palace. However, by the time he moved to Ryecotes at the age of 69, Maxim had become more interested in developing an aeroplane which could drop bombs. In 1911 he registered three patents for a release mechanism with a device to make them explode on or above ground, demonstrating one of them at the new Hendon aerodrome, using bags of flour. Although he accurately predicted the importance of aerial bombing in future warfare, his ideas came to nothing at the time. Maxim agreed to spend at least £200 in repairing Ryecotes, but soon moved to Streatham High Road where he died in 1916.
After the First World War in 1919 a new 21 year lease was granted to William Lane Mitchell (1861-1940), Mayor of Camberwell 1906-8 and Conservative MP for Streatham from 1918 until 1939. His obituary in The Times says he was a well known figure in the frozen food industry and in the early days of refrigeration was established as an importer of frozen rabbits. He was knighted in 1921, and after his first wife died in 1925, he married Sarah Lady Vestey, the widow of Sir Edmund Vestey whose brother William lived nearby at Kingswood House. Both William and Edmund made their fortunes in cold storage, and Lady Sarah Lane Mitchell’s Rolls Royce ‘in need of attention’ has recently been sold. The schedule of fixtures attached to Lane Mitchell’s lease shows how the house had changed internally since the 18th century. There were now nine bedrooms, more bathrooms and toilets, a library and billiards room, conservatories and a lodge with two bedrooms and outside toilet. It was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain: when Lane Mitchell left in 1927, the Estate Surveyor estimated the cost of making good at £710 (about £33,000 today).
The repairs were carried out by the new tenant, Bernard Wilden-Hart, who had been, Professor of English and History in a Japanese University before the First World War, and then employed on military intelligence. He formed a flat and garage out of the stable block, but left in 1930, was declared bankrupt in 1931 and died the following year. In the 1930s, the house was occupied by F J Bryant . At the end of September 1939, three weeks after war was declared, Mr Bryant, wrote to the Governors asking for permission to double the poultry area on the site and to grow potatoes on the 2 acres of the garden not covered by the orchard. He said, patriotically that “both would be of service locally” and the Governors agreed. However his 21 year lease ended not long afterwards - in June 1940 - and the Governors entered into negotiations with the military, a Royal Army Service Corps unit stationed at Highwood Barracks, Lordship Lane , who were considering requisitioning Ryecotes. Nothing came of these negotiations and there remained the matter of dilapidations for which Mr Bryant was responsible. In the event Bryant was apparently caught up in the Japanese occupation of Singapore and the matter was closed.
The house’s future was saved by a V1 flying bomb that demolished the Dulwich and Sydenham Hill golf clubhouse at 02:24am on 26th June 1944. The Centenary History of the Golf Club notes that, at an emergency meeting at 7pm the following evening, the Governors agreed to let the Club use Ryecotes as a temporary clubhouse. At the subsequent board meeting on July 8th the Manager confirmed that “the secretary of the Club enquired whether the Club could be given temporary alternative accommodation until such time as the club house could be rebuilt and with the approval of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman the Club has been allowed the use of ‘Ryecotes’ as a club house.
After being empty for three years and with the outstanding repairs not being effected, the house was in a poor condition and on the wrong side of Dulwich Common, which became increasingly hazardous for golfers to cross. Male members used the front entrance, ladies the back and had to have their drinks in the hall. It would be twenty two years before the club was able to raise sufficient funds for a new clubhouse ‘back up the hill’. In 1966 they left Ryecotes and the old house was demolished the following year.
In April 1966 Russell Vernon, the Estate Architect, had outlined his proposal to develop the 1.45 acre site with 6 houses in a short cul-de-sac – at a density of about 40 persons to the acre. The Governors thought this insufficient and he was instructed to submit a revised scheme for a higher density. A denser scheme comprising a cul-de-sac on the east side of the site with four bungalows and eight ground and first floor flats on the ‘Glenlea’ side. He said the problem was that the site is long and narrow between the development in Frank Dixon Way and the scheduled building of Glenlea. The buildings should not be too high or overlooking will occur. This consideration was achieved and the following January the development was costed at £100,000 -£110,000 - with an expected ground rent income of £640 per annum. The Governors debated whether to develop the site themselves but because of the unsettled state of the property market at the time and their other capital commitments they decided against it. In the event, a local builder, W J Mitchell & Son was selected.
In December Russell Vernon recommended that the name of the new road be Ryecotes Mead “for this development as Ryecotes is perhaps the oldest name in Dulwich and it would probably be inappropriate to call it anything else.” Construction continued through 1968 and the development was complete early in 1969.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:28