Richard Lewis (1935 - 2022)


The Very Reverend Richard Lewis was vicar of St Barnabas from 1979-1990 and Dean of Wells from 1990-2003. He was appointed a Canon of Southwark in 1987. Lewis was educated at the Royal Masonic School for Boys and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Ordained in 1960, he began his ecclesiastical career with a curacy in Hinckley following which he was Priest in charge of St Edmund, Riddlesdown. He then held the incumbency at South Merstham, Wimbledon. 

When Richard Lewis arrived in Dulwich, he inherited a parish of two halves. At Christ’s Chapel there was an active and well-attended children’s church which catered for children up to the age of around 13 accompanied by their parents, and a slightly declining congregation at St Barnabas. He successfully amalgamated the two congregations and the younger element from Christ’s Chapel would provide the impetus for the increase in attendance and the addressing of other issues Lewis was able to stimulate.

An ambitious building plan to provide social space nearer the church than the existing parish hall in Dulwich Village was soon launched and the new vicar’s ability to recognise talents within his flock led to speedy growth. He expanded the already well-established choir and promoted a number of successful initiatives such as the ecumenical services which brought local churches together. He was an accomplished musician and while at St Barnabas conducted the annual Christmas music, often including a piece of his own. Under St Barnabas Studies, he initiated a programme of visiting speakers and opened the use of the church for local community events.

His elevation as Dean of Wells came as no surprise in view of his undoubted success in Dulwich, where he had also seen a re-ordering of St Barnabas’s interior and also acted on behalf of two successive Bishops of Southwark in handling delicate pastoral matters in churches elsewhere. At Wells he controversially but successfully brought girls into the Cathedral choir as well as using his considerable pastoral skills to lead a commission on behalf of the archbishops of Canterbury and York at the request of the deans and provosts to resolve a number of scandals including the proposed sale of Hereford’s historic Mappa Mundi to plug a financial hole, a dispute at Lincoln over doctrinal issues and misappropriation of funds at Exeter by the head verger.

For a few years after his retirement, he and his wife Jill moved to Great Malvern, but they returned to Wells after the appropriate period of distancing. Elected Dean of Wells Emeritus, he remained an active participant in arguments over the disposal of church buildings, in particular the recent plan to sell the ancient Deanery to a hotel group. He advocated that but should become a gallery. In their closing years, Richard was a devoted carer for his wife.

Platinum Jubilee Commemorated

Dulwich celebrated HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with numerous street parties, a flower festival at Christ’s Chapel and the Dulwich Postal Cart, suitably decorated for the occasion, became a favoured place for a photographic memento. A commemorative Jubilee Tree Trail Walk around the middle of the Village was published by the Dulwich Society.

Village Shop Celebrates its 75th Anniversary

The Art Stationers & Village Toy Shop, better known as ‘Green’s’, celebrates its 75th anniversary in September. Opened in 1947 by Ernest and Lilian Green, it took over an existing stationers and artists’ materials business which incorporated a printing works at the rear of the premises named The College Press, which had originally opened at the beginning of the century. In 1957 their son, Brian joined the business. He was later joined by his two daughters, firstly Sally and then Mary who currently runs the shop. What is remarkable is that in a challenging and changing retail environment this small family business still survives.

The ever-popular ‘Images of Dulwich Calendar’ for 2023 is now available at the shop and makes an ideal and inexpensive gift to send.

Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Tessa Jowell Centre

Bubble Dreams, a new digital artwork by artist Carolyn Defrin and set designer Paul Burgess, has been unveiled at Tessa Jowell Health Centre (TJHC) in East Dulwich. The immersive and playful artwork, which is on display in the Children’s Services area of the centre, invites service users to interact with a digitally enhanced mural. 

Designed to engage children and families in multiple ways, the installation offers opportunities for choice and control that can sometimes feel out of reach within healthcare settings. The painted mural and ‘dream bubbles’ are displayed on the wall of the Children’s Services waiting room and respond to the natural movements of visitors and staff. Through interactive technology and instructional language, the installation immerses visitors in a range of calming and playful 'bubble dreams' and transforms the space into numerous portals to other worlds. 

This is the second in a series of four art commissions that aim to embed art in healthcare and to enhance the healing environment at TJHC. It follows the inaugural commission, The Health Centre’s Quilt, a large-scale artwork by a collective of local artists; Bamidele Awoyemi, Farouk Agoro and Livia Wang, which was unveiled at the centre in summer 2021. The commission series is a partnership between Dulwich Picture Gallery and NHS South East London CCG.