Dulwich Grove is the now little-known name given to a once delightful corner on the edge of Dulwich. Alas, today the site it once occupied is an assortment of the weed infested concrete of a former pub car park where shady deals were once hatched by criminals. In different times, although not altogether happier ones, the 1920’s pub, the ghost of which still stands at the corner of Dulwich Common and Lordship Lane, did, during World War 2, play host to ex-pat young Dutch intelligence operatives and gave them some relief from their preparations for parachuting into Nazi occupied Holland. The Grove Tavern’s blind pianist who once played for them, has gone down in Dutch wartime mythology.

In the late eighteenth century Dulwich Grove was the home of Dr William Glennie’s academy, made famous for its part in the education of the poet Lord Byron. It was earlier an inn named The Green Man and the Academy would occupy the same buildings. The Green Man was opened by London vintner John Cox in 1690. The enterprising Mr Cox obtained permission from Alleyn’s College in 1704 to create a ‘walk’ though the woods opposite, to the top of Sydenham Hill, perhaps to provide a direct access to the famous Sydenham Wells (once located at the foot of present day Sydenham Wells Park) or to allow his customers to gain the hill-top’s still spectacular viewpoint. Cox’s Walk survives today, a lovely oak-lined avenue.

The inn passed down to John’s son, William, who also possessed an entrepreneurial streak. In 1740, a well he had sunk the previous year to provide a better water supply to the inn in the absence of any nearby spring, was examined by a visiting Cambridge University professor of botany. The scientist analyzed the water which by then had filled the well and declared that the water had beneficial purgative properties, similar to the well-known wells over the hill at Sydenham. Naturally William Cox saw the opportunity now presented to him and seized it with both hands, placing an extensive notice announcing the numerous benefits the body might obtain by taking the waters from the well in The Daily Advertiser in 1744.Although the newly marketed Dulwich Wells would not rise to enjoy the fame of those at Sydenham, nevertheless, The Green Man became fashionable. In 1748 it was noted in the gossip columns of the day as a good venue for breakfasts and balls and that the proprietor had ‘lately built a handsome room on one end of the bowling green for breakfasts, dancing and entertainments.’

Richard Randall, the eligible bachelor organist, appointed to the College in 1762, several times repaired there, usually in the company of the chaplain, the Revd. William Swanne. The last visit by Randall was in May 1772 by which time the newly built Denmark Hall, an assembly room, was the fashionable place to be. Clearly the popularity of The Green Man was fading and reason might well have been the death of William Cox, obliging his widow Elizabeth to assign the lease of the inn. The new lessee, a wine merchant soon sold on the remainder of the lease to Charles Maxwell who gave it the name of Dulwich Grove or the Grove House.

Richard Randall, In his diary for the year 1782, wrote that on April 2nd that the cost of his wedding dinner at the Grove House was £17. Had the old inn become a wedding venue? Charles Maxwell’s tenure ended in the early 1790’s and the former inn was apparently temporarily rented by Lord Thurlow while his new house was being built nearby, close to Knight ‘s Hill and now the site of Elmcourt School. The entire establishment comprising eight acres of land, the inn and its stables and outbuildings was then acquired by Dr William Glennie (1761-1828) for a private academy. Aberdeen- born William Glennie would continue to run his school until his retirement in 1825 when he went to Sandgate to live with the eldest of his twelve sons.

Dr Glennie’s Academy

William Glennie was the son of John Glennie, who held a high post at the university of Aberdeen,and married Mary Gardiner of Edinburgh in 1794 at St Mary Magdalene, Richmond, Surrey. Glennie seems not only to have been a highly respected teacher but also well-connected in London society and literary circles, attracting a privileged-pupil base including Lord Holland’s son as well as Byron. The Glennie home at Dulwich Grove was also a magnet for writers and poets like Leigh Hunt, Thomas Moore and Thomas Campbell and artists like David Wilkie, who attended his weekend musical and literary gatherings.

All of the Glennies’ twelve sons were born at Dulwich Grove and attended their father’s school, several showing talent in art. This was no doubt due to having the respected artist Samuel Prout teaching the subject. Prout was remembered by his pupils for taking them for outdoor sketching classes on one day a week when the weather was fine. One of the sons, Arthur, took up painting professionally. The ethos of the school seems to have been directed towards fostering its pupils’ future self-reliance. The dare-devil boldness of Byron appears to have been shared by most of Glennie’s sons in their quest for adventure, added to which were the qualities of determination and fortitude. Was Dulwich Grove something of an early example of Gordonstoun?

The eldest son was the Revd John David Glennie MA (1795-1874). His first preferment was as first perpetual curate of St Paul’s Church, Sandgate near Folkstone Kent which was a chapel of ease built in 1822. The Revd John David Glennie had a house at Sandgate and it was to this house that his father retired to in 1825 and where he died in 1828. John remained there until 1836, going on to become Secretary of the SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge), the world’s oldest Anglican mission organisation. He was then minister at Park Street Chapel, Mayfair. According to the 1861 census the Revd John David Glennie and his family were living at 51 Green Street, Mayfair.

George Ross Glennie (1798-1816)

From the Naval Chronicle of 1816 - Deaths. On 29th August off Algiers of wounds received on 27th. Mr George Ross Glennie, Midshipman of HMS Granicus, son of Dr William Glennie of Dulwich aged 18 years. The Allied bombardment of Algiers was in response to attacks on British shipping by Barbary Coast pirates. Casualties in the British naval squadron were 128 killed and 690 wounded.

The Mexican Adventurers

William Glennie (1797-1856) was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and was also an engineer. In 1824, and when on half-pay, he undertook on behalf of the British United Mining Company to head an expedition to Mexico to rework the Real del Monte silver mine. The expedition was made up of a large contingent of Cornish miners, some who brought their families, and whose descendants remain in Mexico to this day. Loaded with 1500 tons of mining equipment the expedition, accommodated in two ships, had a difficult passage. One account says the ship carrying William Glennie and two of his younger brothers, Frederick then aged 15 and Robert, aged 19 was wrecked off Cuba, however the expedition finally landed men and equipment in Mexico safely. There followed a difficult journey from the coast to the mountains and a number of the expedition succumbed to yellow fever.

William Glennie may have been employed by the British Foreign Office as a spy to report on the emergent Mexico’s attitude to Britain (Mexico had gained independence from Spain in 1821) or he decided to act in an unofficial capacity to protect British mining interests. He made a number of expeditions around the country during his years in Mexico and some of these may have formed the basis of his later report delivered personally to Lord Palmerston. One such trip took place in 1827 when William and Frederick Glennie climbed the volcano Popocatepetl and kept a journal of their journey.

William passed his responsibilities as agent for the mining company on to his brother Robert when he left Mexico in 1834. That December, at the request of the directors of the British United Mining Association he delivered by hand a report of his spying activities to the Foreign Office in London for the personal attention of Lord Palmerston. What Glennie claimed Palmerston wanted was information on the best way to respond in the event of the new Mexican government being unfavorable to Britain. As a naval officer, Glennie’s report was full of practical options for the British government to consider, from the blockading of ports to seizing assets as well as advice on an outright military assault. Glennie even included a sketch of the strategic fort of St Juan de Ulua, which commanded the entrance to Veracruz. He recommended seizing Yucatan with its valuable products of dyes and wax, noting that the geography of Yucatan meant it could easily be seized from the sea.

Glennie said “In the event of the obstinacy or folly of the Mexican Government rendering the above measures (military action) unavoidable and keeping in mind the general unhealthy climate of the coast of Mexico, the Directors feel it their duty to submit to Lord Palmerston’s consideration, whether the black troops in the West Indies might not be employed to advantage….if such a measure should be found necessary.”

The British government may well have rewarded the Glennie brothers in Mexico - by retaining William on naval half-pay for years and rewarding Frederick with the role of the office of British Consul in Mexico City.

By 1841 William Glennie was listed in the census as a civil engineer living in Gloucestershire with his wife Elizabeth and their four children. In 1845 he became the resident engineer of the South Devon Railway. He worked briefly with Brunel in the construction on the line from Exeter to Plymouth where he was a specialist on bridge-building. In 1851 he and his family were living in Plymouth and he was still listed as a RN lieutenant on half pay. He died in Stoke Damerell in 1856.

Frederick Glennie (1808-1872) ultimately became HM Consul in Mexico.

According to his granddaughter, Frederick Glennie and his brother Robert continued managing the Real Del Monte Company for some time after the departure of William Glennie, “ but their sporting proclivities led them to absent themselves for a twelve month from the work during which time they wandered, shooting in the mountains and forest with an Indian servant. Their posts having been filled up on their return they obtained employment under wealthy Mexicans near Guanajuato managing mines and landed property. They did so successfully for their employers and for themselves, as both brothers made considerable fortunes.”

The mining towns in Mexico were notoriously rough and dangerous but the brothers were clearly made of sterner stuff and continued in the mining business. While living in Mexico City in 1847 Frederick, now married, found himself in the middle of the Mexico -American war following America’s annexation of Texas. According to Frederick Glennie’s daughter’s account, both Captain Robert E Lee and Lieutenant Pierre Beauregard, who would be future generals in the American Civil War, were billeted at Frederick Glennie’s house and they remained family friends all their lives.

In 1850 Frederick returned to England for a short visit. He sailed back on the maiden voyage of the steamship RMS Amazon. Due to the ship’s engine over-heating, the wooden ship caught fire and only 58 out of 160 passengers and crew survived, Frederick Glennie among them. He was able to give a graphic account to the press of his ordeal. Soon after his return to Mexico, at the wish of British residents of Mexico City who had petitioned the Foreign Office, he was appointed British Consul to Mexico. His troubles were not over however, his enthusiasm for art (which he shared with some of his brothers) led him to invest in land near Florence where he hoped to retire and study art but the deal turned sour, as did a further purchase of land in Mexico in partnership with his brother Robert and another investor.

Robert Gavin Glennie (1805-1872) Succeeded his brother William as agent for the United Mining Company until he took the leave of absence noted. He died in Guanajuato where he had settled and raised a family, marrying Fernanda del Val. He continued managing mines in the rich silver mining area.

The Artist

Arthur Glennie (1803-1893)

It took Arthur Glennie some time to settle down into the career for which he was best suited. Although trained in art by Samuel Prout (1753-1852) at his father’s school, Arthur initially took up a business career and this might have continued if a bout of ill-health had not interrupted it and he took up art again, more as a therapy towards his recovery. Prout, however, seems to have continued to keep an eye on young Arthur and encouraged him to take up art as a profession rather than for amusement. Arthur was also motivated by the artist William Harvell who had taken a tour of Italy in 1827, painting in Florence, Rome and Naples. Like Harvell, Arthur Glennie painted in water colours and also found the subject matter of Italy inspirational, indeed he would spend much of his life there and most of the 400 pictures he exhibited at the Old Water Colour Society’s summer and winter exhibitions were Italian subjects. Glennie painted mainly landscapes in which he employed atmospheric effects. It seems likely that meteorology was also included in Dr Glennie’s Academy curriculum as two other brothers devoted much time to keeping weather records.

Arthur Glennie was an associate member of the Old Water Colour Society at the age of 34 and went on to teach painting at Sidmouth and at Penzance but started living in Rome from 1846, making it his permanent home in 1855. In 1858 Glennie received full membership of The Old Water Colour Society. In 1865 he married Anne Sophie Parker who was some twenty-eight years his junior and they spent much time thereafter in the Bay of Naples but retaining their Rome home.

The Australian Adventurers

James Glennie 1800-1876)

In 1823, James Glennie, at the invitation of Francis Forbes a distinguished lawyer who had been appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, accompanied Forbes and his family to Australia on the convict transport ship Guildford with 159 prisoners and their guard, a detachment of the 40th Regiment. It was an eventful passage, requiring pumps to be working day and night as far as Tenerife. The Guildford proceeded to Rio de Janeiro where it remained two months for repairs to be made. The party finally arrived in Sydney in March 1824.

James Glennie received a land grant of 2080 acres of land at Falbrook, on a crossing point of the Hunter River near the town of Singleton 122 miles north of Sydney. To clear and work the grant he was assigned convict labour and was supplied from Government Stores for six months to ensure the enterprise’s success. Glennie lost no time in naming his new home Dulwich. Nearby can be found the village of Camberwell. There was even an inn called The Greyhound on land north of Glennie’s property, surely too much of a coincidence for Glennie not to have a hand in their naming. Initially the farm he built consisted of a rough slab hut next to the creek that would later bear his name.

In 1824 the famous expedition led by explorer and botanist Alan Cunningham to survey the unknown hinterland of the mountain pass leading to Liverpool Plains set out from Glennie’s Dulwich farm. Four years later the census reveals that twenty-one convicts remained assigned to him and the station had four horses and 604 head of cattle and 673 sheep.

Life in those early days of Australia was very similar to that of the Wild West. While some settlers attempted friendship with the indigenous population of aborigines whose land was being thus invaded, others warned against this practice claiming it only emboldened the aborigines to steal cattle. Fourteen years after his arrival, the now married James Glennie, in a letter to another settler complained of the actions of a local stockman who used the friendly approach which Glennie claimed led to several workers being killed in confrontations on nearby stations. Glennie himself advised and pursued a policy of forcefully preventing any aborigines entering his land holding and urged for a detachment of mounted police to be stationed in the area. He offered to provision such a force at contract prices and indeed did become a government contractor supplying rations and forage for the mounted police and surveyors..

Glennie sold his station in 1845 for £2500. By then it covered an area of 3000 acres, all fenced with a considerable portion cleared. He moved to the Richmond River where he set up a new farm. Twenty years later he moved to Queensland where he died near Gladstone in 1876.

Alfred Glennie (1811-1870)

Alfred, then aged 17, arrived in Australia as a free settler aboard the convict ship Marquis of Huntley in January 1828 and joined his brother, James, at his farm Dulwich. That June, the teenager was appointed clerk o the local bench of magistrates. Two years later when another brother, Henry arrived at Singleton, Alfred promptly courted his brother’s future wife’s sister, Anne Ferris. Thus the two brothers married the two sisters, Henry in 1833 and Alfred in 1836. and a couple of years later Alfred and Anne purchased 324 acres on the Allyn River, East Gresford. He grew crops and raised sheep and cattle and had a vineyard, something of a surprise considering his attitude toward temperance in later life! He named his farm ‘Glenthorne’. It was there that he decided to take Holy Orders in the Anglican church and was appointed to the Brisbane Water (Gosford) parish from 1850-1865. He is remembered for both the detailed weather records he kept while he was farming in the Hunter valley and which might now play a part in studying climate change in Australia, and for his Journal which records his life as a priest in a large, scattered parish forty five miles from Sydney. Interestingly, another brother Alexander, who was also a priest, kept detailed weather records during his years as a minister in Georgetown, South Carolina.

Dr Henry Glennie (1807-1880) studied medicine and qualified as a surgeon at Edinburgh University. He arrived in Australia aboard the convict ship Royal Admiral in May 1832. Among the passengers were three sisters, Eizabeth, Anne and Miss H Ferris. Following what was clearly a ship’s romance, he married Elizabeth the following year. Initially he lived with his brother John but following his marriage he settled in nearby Singleton, remaining there all his life.

In 1836 a Quaker pioneer wrote “ We proceeded along the south side of the Hunter to Patrick Plains, which is an extensive tract, partially cleared, and having several scattered houses upon it. At the western extremity there is a ford across the river and the rudiments of a town called Darlington consisting of a store, two public-houses, some smaller houses and a few huts. Here we were kindly received by a young surgeon named Henry Glennie and by his wife and their brother Alfred Glennie: they undertook to invite the people of the neighbourhood to a meeting in the government schoolhouse”. The Quakers stayed a week and then Henry conveyed them across the Hunter river in his gig and they continued to James Glennie’s farm at Dulwich.

Henry Glennie was an active member of the community, a JP, a crack shot in the Singleton Volunteers, a keen cricketer and sporting enthusiast. In one cricket match played between the single and married men of Singleton, he received a severe wound to his cheek bone but continued to play in the second innings with a black eye! He was medical practitioner and coroner in Singleton, remaining in practice into his seventies and his death was caused when his buggy overturned after visiting a patient in 1880.

Benjamin Glennie (1812-1900)

In true Biblical fashion, the youngest of Dr William Glennie’s twelve sons was named Benjamin and like his brothers, educated at his father’s school before going on to King’s College School. He then appears to have acted as a private tutor on the Continent until 1842, when, at the age of 30 he entered Christ’s College, Cambridge taking a BA in 1847. The following year Benjamin accompanied Dr William Tyrrell, the first bishop of Newcastle (NSW),who arrived in Sydney that January with two priests and seven ordinands, one of whom was Glennie. Apparently, Tyrrell was reluctant to accept the Australian diocese but in fact it became his family and he never visited England again.

Appointed deacon a couple of months after his arrival in Australia, Benjamin’s prospects of being an effective clergyman were bleak. In addition to having a nervous condition himself, matters were made worse in that the parish he inherited at Moreton Bay had a previous priest who had been ineffective and a congregation which was indifferent. Nevertheless, Glennie persevered, opening a day and a Sunday school and increasing his congregation in the temporary church he built. He was ordained priest in 1849 in the Darling Downs district, where he remained for ten years. He then became priest at Warwick and subsequently at Drayton, a total of a further sixteen years of ministry. He undertook long and arduous pastoral tours on foot and on horseback, averaging 3000 miles a year though his vast parishes. In 1863 he was appointed the first archdeacon of Brisbane becoming full-time archdeacon and responsible for clergy training in 1877. In 1868 he married Mary Brougham the daughter of a master mariner. By the time of his death in 1900 he was credited with being the pioneer of the Anglican ministry of Queensland and of laying the foundations of its parochial structure by building four churches. In 1908 the Anglican church in Queensland opened a school in his honour which today functions as an Anglican day and boarding school for girls in Newtown, Toowoomba.

Alexander Glennie (1804-1880)

Alexander Glennie went to the United States in 1828 to be a tutor to Plowden the son of Francis Marion Weston, a wealthy rice grower and slave owner in Georgetown, South Carolina. After serving as a lay-reader in All Saints parish he became a deacon in 1832 and a priest the following year. Shortly after he became rector of the Episcopal Church of All Saints. His former pupil, Plowden, gave him support and encouragement to establish mission churches among the slaves on the rice plantations and used his influence among other slave owners to allow their slaves to finish work early on the days each week when Alexander Glennie would orally teach the slaves in the afternoon and hold services for them at night. Glennie did this work among the slave plantations three or four days a week. Altogether, Alexander Glennie established thirteen slave chapels in the plantations up and down the Waccamaw Neck, one of which survives and is a national monument.

He began his All Saints Sunday School Society in 1832 with 10 black communicants, thirty years later this had grown to 529.

A hobby of Glennie was to keep meticulous records of the weather, taking readings three times a day which he copied into bound ledgers. He was married first to Harriet Bell Stack and then to Sophia Parker.

The Civil War naturally interrupted Glennie’s work and Georgetown was occupied by Union troops and the slaves freed. This led to the ending of most of the rice milling of the area and an economic decline began. After the war Alexander Glennie was appointed rector of Prince George Church, Georgetown. Today, the plantation where he tutored Plowden Weston, called Laurel Hill, is a huge and magnificent sculpture garden created by Archer and Anna Huntingdon in 1932 named and Brookgreen Gardens.

On his death in 1880 Alexander Glennie was buried in the cemetery of All Saints where he had started his mission.

Of the remaining two Glennie children, Charles born in 1810 died aged 6 months in 1810 and the only daughter, Isobella (1801-1881) married twice, to John Thompson a cousin and Walter Crafton Smith.

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The Dulwich Society - Registered under the Charities Act 1960, Number 234192

The Society’s aims and objectives are to foster and safeguard the amenities of Dulwich, both in the interests of its residents and the wider local community of which it is a part, and to increase awareness of the varied character that makes the area so special.

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