Village Lock-Up Stone

The carved inscription on a stone which was incorporated in the wall of the village lock-up and bears the date 1760 and the inscription “It is a Sport of a Fool to do Mischief - to Thine own wickedness shall correct thee” has been given Grade 2 listed status by English Heritage. In its Reasons for Designation it states: The C18 plaque in the garden adjoining 1d Calton Avenue, Dulwich, dated 1760 and originally part of the village lock up, is listed for the following principal reasons; Historical interest: as a tangible and evocative reminder of crime and punishment during the Georgian period; Rarity: as a rare and particularly early example of an ‘improving’ biblical text used to embellish a now demolished village lock up; Survival: the plaque survives in a very good condition with crisp lettering.

The motto is derived from a pair of biblical proverbs: ‘It is sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom’ (Proverbs 10:23) and ‘Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backsliding shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts’ (Jerimiah 2:19).

Lock ups, also known as round houses, blind-houses, cages and clinks, were temporary holding places for offenders being brought before the magistrate. They were often built by the parish or as a gift to the village or town by a wealthy resident and are generally centrally placed within the settlement. The earliest recorded lock up dates from the C13 but the vast majority were built in the C18 and early C19. Most fell out of use in the mid-C19 when they were made redundant by the formation of a regular police service. Lock-ups were often associated with stocks for the subsequent punishment of offenders, as was the case at Dulwich.

However, there is an error concerning the stone’s original location which the Dulwich Society has now pointed out to English Heritage and requested the designation to be amended. The original location was incorporated in the Burial ground wall. The College’s Private Sittings Book 1829-1859 states that on 10th September 1841 - Ordered that the cage at the corner of the churchyard be taken down and the gap filled up in continuation of the present wall.
This confirms that the cage was on the other side of the road by the churchyard (today the burial ground) and not where the stone is now. The stone was placed in its current position in 1968 when S G Smith took over Sprackling's Builders yard to extend their car repair/servicing business and construct a petrol station at the corner of Calton Avenue and Gilkes Place.

St Barnabas Parish Hall has also been given Grade 2 status by English Heritage.

The hall was designed by architect Ernest G Cole in a Domestic Revival Arts and Crafts Style. The Rev Howard Nixon, the pro-active first vicar of St Barnabas in Calton Avenue, had been trying for some time to find a site to build a parish hall and finally persuaded the Dulwich Estate to let him acquire this site. English Heritage says that it was built as a memorial to King Edward VII but this is not strictly correct. While there is a plaque saying that 'This the hall was dedicated on December 10th 1910 to the memory of Edward VII by the parishioners, residents and subscribers', this must have been an afterthought as the king died on 6th May 1910 and the foundation stone was laid on 5th July, so design work had been ongoing for some time previously. The foundation stone was laid by the newly elected Dulwich MP, Andrew Bonar Law, a future prime mister (1922-23)

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