The notable residents included in this list meet the following criteria:
- they made a contribution to national life;
- are known outside their work and local area; and
- lived or worked in Dulwich for a reasonable time (and not just attended a local school).
Dulwich is taken broadly as the Dulwich Estate and its immediate neighbourhood, including the Southwark side of Herne Hill, East Dulwich as far as Barry Road and Sydenham next to the Estate boundary. Please also see Duncan Bowie's pen portraits of Dulwich radicals here (PDF).
AELFHEAH and AELFSWITH (or ELSWITE) 10th century. In AD 967 Aelfheah, and his wife Aelfswith were granted the manor of Wimbledon and five hides (about 600 acres) of land in Dulwich by King Eadgar. Aelfheah, the son of Ealhhelm and brother of Aelfhere, successive 'ealdormen' of Mercia, was an 'ealdorman' of East Wessex from 957 until his death in the 970s, and his landholdings are estimated to have equalled, if not exceeded, those of the richest followers of William I after the Conquest. His wife Aelfswith was of royal birth and thus able to be the possessor of lands, including an estate at Kingston, in her own right. Aelfheah was buried in Glastonbury Abbey, of which his family were patrons. The Dulwich estate must at some stage have reverted to the Crown, but quite when or how this happened is not known.
ALLEN, James 1683-1746. Master of Dulwich College, 1721-1746. In 1741 he founded and endowed the Dulwich Reading School. The school was financed with the rents received from Allen’s purchase of six houses at Kensington Gravel Pits. The last of these houses was sold as recently as 1996. The school, or more accurately schools, were founded to provide education for poor boys and girls living within a one-mile radius. They were located in an inn, originally called The Bricklayers Arms and later renamed The French Horn. In 1842, the endowment was diverted solely for the education of girls (the boys benefited from the opening of the Grammar School in the village) and in 1878 the school was renamed James Allen’s Girls School.
James Allen came from a family with strong Jacobite connections and his sister married Lord Pitsligo who raised troops in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie. James Allen was described as being 6 feet tall, and ‘skilful as a skater, a jumper, athletic and humane’. He was an able administrator, economising on the previous ‘open house’ policy that existed at the College and built up a cash balance for the Foundation. He used some of his family’s money as a loan to rebuild the east wing of the (old) College in 1738/9.
ALLEN, Dr John 1771-1843. Known as 'Holland House' Allen. He studied medicine in Edinburgh, then moved to London, where he became the personal physician to Lord Holland, with special responsibility for Holland's delicate son Charles Richard Fox. After a two year Grand Tour with Allen, the boy was restored to health, and Allen's medical duties came to take a relatively minor place in his life. Instead he developed his interests in philosophy, literature and historical research. He became a distinguished writer on political and historical matters. He was particularly interested in the history of Anglo-Saxon England and in the work of the Record Commission, and was instrumental in the formation of the Public Record Office. He contributed forty-one articles to The Edinburgh Review.
John Allen became indispensable at Holland House, while Lord Holland became increasingly crippled with gout. Allen assumed duties of co-host, sitting at the end of the dining table and carving the joint. He became friends with Brougham and Melbourne, and William IV dined at the house four times between 1830 and 1834 as later did the entire Whig Cabinet. Allen was described by Lord Byron as ‘the best-informed and one of the ablest men’ he knew.
Allen was Warden of Dulwich College from 1811 and assumed the Mastership in 1820. Clearly he was absent from Dulwich far more often than its Statutes permitted, and cannot be said to have guarded the College entirely wisely during his years of office. His neglect of the education of the boys was excused on the grounds of the poor quality of the boys that the Foundation parishes sent him. However, there is no denying that he looked after their material comfort. He re-housed them in a large, lofty room, each with his own bed instead of sharing as before.
ALLEN, Dr Joseph 1714-1796. As ship's surgeon, sailed round the world with Lord Anson, 1740-43. Succeeded as Master of Dulwich College on death of James Allen, in 1746, having been elected Warden the previous year. He resigned in 1775, after marrying Elizabeth Plaw. His portrait, painted by Romney, is now in the possession of Dulwich College. His will included a bequest of £200 to the vicar and churchwardens of St Giles Camberwell to provide coals for the poor of the Hamlet of Dulwich.
ALLEYN, Edward 1566-1626. Born on 1 September 1566, the middle child of the Innkeeper of 'The Pye' at Bishopsgate, also called Edward, and his wife Margaret. Alleyn senior died in 1571, and his widow (née Townley) remarried, to one John Browne. Perhaps at his instigation both Edward and his older brother John entered the acting profession.
It seems probable that Alleyn served his apprenticeship touring the provinces, as a musician and playing female roles as was then the custom. At eighteen his name was recorded in the list of the Earl of Worcester's Players, and later of Lord Strange’s Men.
By 1588, aged 22, following a sensational debut in Christopher Marlowe’s play Tamburlaine, Alleyn was acclaimed as the leading actor of the time. In late 1590 or early 1591 he formed a joint company combining Lord Strange’s Men with the Lord Admiral’s Men, which after 1603 became the Prince Henry’s Men. Alleyn created the leading role in three other of Marlowe’s great plays, Edward II, The Jew of Malta and Dr Faustus, until his partnership with Marlowe ended with the latter's murder in May 1593.
In late 1591 Alleyn quarrelled so seriously with James Burbage, the proprietor of The Theatre in Shoreditch, (and father of Alleyn's later rival Richard Burbage) that he stormed off the premises with his men, crossed the river and entered into partnership with Philip Henslowe, sole proprietor of The Rose Theatre, the first to be built on Bankside. In October 1592, Alleyn married Henslowe's stepdaughter, Joan Woodward.
The Bear Pit, which Henslowe also owned, flourished and The Rose Theatre was extremely successful. In 1599, however, Henslowe’s old rival James Burbage opened The Globe Theatre on Bankside, its opening production being Shakespeare's Hamlet. Not to be outdone, Alleyn, with Henslowe’s backing, built The Fortune Theatre in Cripplegate, which opened in May 1601.
On 14 March 1604, Alleyn retired from the professional stage, although on the following day, at the splendid city pageant staged to honour the entrance into London of the new king, James I, Alleyn played the ‘Genius of the Citie’, delivering congratulatory addresses to His Majesty with ‘a well tun’d, audible voice’ at the beginning and the close of the proceedings, a fitting end to a great career.
In 1605 Alleyn purchased the manor of Dulwich from Sir Francis Calton. The title and the manorial lands cost him £5,000, but in addition, over the next six or seven years, he was obliged to negotiate with the owners of other small pockets of freehold land within the manor, and with the owners of manorial copyhold land who had property rights which in effect gave them the same status as freeholders. However, by 1613 he had acquired, at a total cost of over £9,000, the manor and almost all the land within it.
Quite when Alleyn conceived the idea for his foundation we do not know, or even why. Clearly he was a pious and charitable man, and he may have realised early on that he and his wife would have no direct heirs. Whatever the reason, Alleyn gave instructions for his College, to be known as Alleyn's College of God's Gift, to be erected at the south end of Dulwich High Street. Work started in 1613 and took three years to complete. The chapel and also the burial ground at the north end of the Village were consecrated on 1 September, 1616, Edward Alleyn’s 50th birthday. The original constitution of his College provided for a Master and a Warden (both of whom should have the name of Alleyn), four Fellows - Preacher, Usher, Schoolmaster and Organist – twelve almspeople, namely six poor brethren and six poor sisters, and twelve poor scholars. The foundation received its letters patent from James I in 1619.
Joan Alleyn died in June 1623. On 3 December that year, Alleyn married the 19-year-old Constance, daughter of Dr John Donne, celebrated poet and Dean of St Paul's. Three years later Edward Alleyn died and was buried in the chapel of his College on 27 November, 1626. He had no children - his descendants and beneficiaries are the scholars and pupils of the foundation and the inhabitants of Dulwich.
Arthur Chandler & Patrick Darby
ALLEYNE, Sir John 1820-1912. Businessman and engineer. Article here.
ALLPORT, Denison William 1844-1931, and Denison Howard 1885-1974. Local historians.
The Allports were a public-spirited family who, while working in the City, lived in the Camberwell and Dulwich area, and were very involved in its life, from 1806 to 1948. Best known is Douglas Allport, author of the first local history of the area. He wrote Collections Illustrative of the Geology, History, Antiquities and Associations of Camberwell and its Neighbourhood in 1841. It includes a chapter on Dulwich, ‘this retired and picturesque hamlet’. Two of Douglas’s brothers, Franklin and Denison Harrison, lived in a large house on Champion Hill, commemorated now by Allport House, a block of flats on the site. Denison’s son, Denison William Allport, lived in Townley Road and lectured on the history of Camberwell and Dulwich. He is buried at West Norwood Cemetery. His son, Denison Howard Allport lived in Gilkes Crescent and was a manager of Dulwich Village School. He was the author of Dulwich Village and A Wayfarer in Dulwich and a history of Wilson’s Grammar School, Camberwell, of which he was a governor. His booklets on the history of his own family, originally from Staffordshire, throw light on social and educational work in the poorer parts of 19th century Camberwell. When ‘Denny’ Allport left Dulwich in 1948 to retire to Oxfordshire, a family link going back over 140 years was finally broken.
ATKINSON, Henry William 1752-1834. Moneyer. Of those who made Dulwich their home in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, none made his fortune quite so literally as did Henry William Atkinson, who lived at 'Ryecotes' on Dulwich Common (demolished 1966, now the site of Ryecotes Mead) from 1783 to 1798. The Company of Moneyers was responsible, until the Royal Mint was 'nationalised' in the 1840s, for the manufacture of the nation's coinage. In Henry William the two dynasties which dominated the Company, those of Atkinson and Vander Esch (his mother's family) were combined. He entered the Mint as an apprentice in 1770, and in 1777 was elected a Fellow of the Company.
On his marriage Atkinson moved to Dulwich, taking a lease of two recently-built brick houses (one of which he sub-let) on the north side of the Common, with an adjoining 3-acre pasture. From 1786 another 4-acre meadow was added to this. He and his wife Susanna raised a large family at Ryecotes, several of whom were themselves later to achieve eminence. After leaving Dulwich, Atkinson took up lodgings in the Mint itself, becoming Provost of the Moneyers and dying in 1834. He is buried in the Dulwich Burial Ground in the Vander Esch/Atkinson vault which is still visible on the Village side.
BAIRD, John Logie 1888-1946. Pioneer of television. Born in Scotland, Baird was driven south by ill-health. In 1924, from a Hastings attic, he made the world's first practical television transmission, followed a year later by the first public broadcast (from Selfridge's) and, in 1927, by transmission over the Atlantic. Attracted to the high towers of the Crystal Palace, in 1933 he moved to 3 Crescent Wood Road (where he stayed until 1941) and set up a studio in the South Tower, experimenting with ultra-short wave and colour transmissions.
In 1936 a government committee was set up to adjudicate between Baird's part-mechanical 240-line system, and EMI's rival all-electronic 405-line system. Unfortunately for Baird, the committee recommended the rival system, as it probably would have done even if Baird had not been unlucky enough to lose essential equipment in the fire which destroyed the Crystal Palace late that year, as his inferior system was at the limit of its potential achievement.
Mystery surrounds Baird's work in his last few years, and he may have been engaged on secret work involving radar and the high-speed transmission of printed and filmed material.
BAKER, Herbert Brereton 1862-1935. Chemist. From 1886 to 1902 a Chemistry master and eventually Head of the Science Side at Dulwich College, ‘eminent both in scientific and scholastic work’. Elected FRS. in 1902, in which year he was appointed Headmaster of Alleyn’s School. In 1904 he went to Oxford as a lecturer and tutor. From 1912 to 1932 he was Professor of Chemistry at Imperial College. Advised the War Office on how to meet the threat of gas attacks. He was an experimentalist, rather than a theoretician. Chemists of the day described the degrees of dryness of dried objects as varying from dry, through very dry, to Baker-dry, through slowing down or stopping chemical action.
BARING, Maurice 1874-1945. Writer. Article here.
BARRY, Charles Jr 1823-1900. Architect. The eldest son of Sir Charles Barry, architect in the 1830s of the present Houses of Parliament and of the Old Grammar School in Dulwich and was his father's General Superintendent at the Palace of Westminster for two years and designed some of the ornamentation on the Clock Tower there. In 1858 he was appointed to succeed his father as Architect and Surveyor to the Dulwich College Estate, to be in turn succeeded by his son Charles Edward Barry on his death. Barry was President of the RIBA. from 1876-79, and his award of their Gold Medal in 1877 cited the New College at Dulwich, designed in a style he called ‘North Italian of the Thirteenth century’, and his other famous work, the extension to Burlington House adjoining the Royal Academy of Arts, in Piccadilly. Under Barry the Dulwich College Estate was developed speedily but carefully, and he was responsible for two churches on the estate (St Stephen’s, College Road and St Peter’s Lordship Lane) and some fine villas and railway buildings. Elsewhere Barry designed nine churches and several country mansions. At one time he lived at The Priory in Orpington, now the premises of Bromley Local History Museum, and also at Lapsewood, Sydenham Hill.
BELCHER, John 1841-1913. Architect. President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 1904-6, he lived for the last 28 years of his life at Redholm, 3 Champion Hill, the red-brick house which he designed for himself and his wife in 1885.
He was the eldest of ten children of architect John Belcher, senior, and his first work was in partnership with his father. The family firm was in Trinity Church Square, Southwark. It was responsible for the Mappin and Webb building in the City, demolished in recent years after considerable protest. Later John Belcher, junior, took as partner a succession of distinguished architects and finally John James Joass. Although Belcher also designed country houses, it is for his grand commercial and office premises in the City and West End, typifying London’s imperial prosperity, that he is chiefly remembered. For these he favoured a flamboyant Baroque, well- known at the time as ‘the Belcher style’. Among those which survive are the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Moorgate, and the Royal Insurance building at the corner of St James’s Street and Piccadilly. In 1913 the firm of Belcher and Joass also designed the Mappin Terraces at the Zoo.
In addition to Redholm, the local area has one important building designed by Belcher and his father, what is now St Mary’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Camberwell New Road. It was built in 1876 as a Catholic Apostolic Church, for the now almost defunct sect of which both the Belchers were prominent members. John Belcher, junior, was an ‘Angel’, or priest of the church. After its closure in 1961, the building was sold to the Greek Orthodox community.
Belcher’s hobby was music and he was noted for his fine bass voice. In his obituary, the architect Philip Mainwaring Johnstone, Belcher’s former pupil, and neighbour, recalled the musical evenings with Belcher at Redholm, where ‘in his own charming little house, a graceful rendering of late Tudor, he always seemed to me to be peculiarly at home in literary and musical activities’. John Belcher’s tomb is in West Norwood Cemetery. More here.
BESANT, Annie 1847-1933. Theosophist, educationist, social reformer and political activist. She was a prolific writer and George Bernard Shaw considered her to be a great public speaker.
Born at 2 Fish Street Hill, London, she was the daughter of William Wood, a doctor, and his wife Emily Morris. When Annie was five her father died and the family moved first to Richmond Terrace, Clapham, and then in 1854 to Harrow where her mother took in boarders to make a living so that her son Henry could be educated at Harrow School, while Annie was sent to the home and school of a family friend Ellen Marryat in Dorset.
At nineteen Annie married Frank Besant, an Anglican vicar and they had two children. However their partnership was far from happy. Annie was highly intelligent and independent in thought and her husband very much a traditionalist. Annie began to question her Christian beliefs and when she refused to attend communion, her husband ordered her to leave the family home. In 1873 a legal separation was arranged with Frank having custody of Digby their son and the daughter Mabel going with Annie.
Before the separation Annie had spent time with her mother in London and whilst there made friends with the Rev. Charles Voysey (father of CFA Voysey – qv), founder of the ‘Theistic Church’ and his wife, with whom she stayed in Dulwich. Through them, she met Thomas Scott, who lived in Farquhar Road, Upper Norwood, where she met a wide circle of people dedicated to free-thinking. It was to these friends that Annie looked for help and in 1874 she moved to what is now 39 Colby Road, Gipsy Hill, earning her keep by writing pamphlets commissioned by Scott, and as a public lecturer. A blue plaque, erected in 1963, marks the house where she lived in 1874.
She became a member of the National Secular Society and met Charles Bradlaugh with whom she became close friends. She worked with him on the National Reformer which he edited and where she published many articles relating to women’s rights. With Bradlaugh she re-published a pamphlet by Charles Knowlton on birth control entitled The Fruits of Philosophy, for which they were both prosecuted on a charge of immorality in 1877. Although found guilty their sentence of six months imprisonment was quashed on appeal.
Annie then wrote and published her own book on birth control entitled The Laws of Population which received much publicity. In 1879 Frank Besant persuaded the courts to let him have custody of their daughter because of Annie’s declared atheism and alleged unconventionality. However she continued with her work and also obtained a science degree from London University as well as joining the Fabian Society and becoming editor of The Link.
In 1888 she helped form the Match Girls’ Union and played a major role in the successful strike which highlighted the unsafe practices and low wages paid to female factory workers. In 1889 Annie was elected to the London School Board where she established a programme of free meals for undernourished children and free medical examinations for all those in elementary schools.
Annie became a convert to Theosophy in 1889, a religious movement based on Hindu ideas of karma and reincarnation. From 1893 she spent the winter months in India and became President of the Theosophical Society from 1907 until her death. In 1916 she established the Home Rule League and became its president. She was a staunch supporter and propagandist for Indian home rule and was interned by the British during World War One. On her release she became president of the Indian National Congress in 1917, and General Secretary of the Indian National Convention in 1923. In 1909 she claimed that her adopted son and protégé, Krishnamurti was the ‘new’ Messiah, a teaching that he totally rejected in 1929. Annie Besant died on 20 September 1933 in Madras and was cremated on the banks of the River Adyar where it flows into the Indian Ocean.
BESSEMER, Sir Henry 1813-1898. An engineering genius, whose most notable (and lucrative) achievement was the invention of a revolutionary steel-making process which bore his name. Henry Bessemer was able to retire in 1863, at the age of 50, and devote time and money to building an imposing residence in Dulwich, Bessemer House, complete with outhouses, paddocks, shrubberies, hot-houses, and a lake. Bessemer's first fortune had been made from the discovery of a cheap and efficient way of manufacturing bronze powder, the profits from which financed all his later research. His steel process, developed in England and Sweden over a four-year period beginning in 1854, increased production of the metal in this country ten-fold, and brought Bessemer honours from all over the world (including having a town in the United States named after him).
Bessemer did not waste his retirement. He created a machine for artificially inducing waves on the lake at Bessemer House, in order to experiment on his prototype 'Saloon Steamship', which had hydraulic stabilisers enabling the passenger portion of the ship to remain steady while the outside hull did the rolling. Part of his estate (now at the back of James Allen’s Girls School, across the railway line) was laid out as a 'Model Farm'. Bessemer died in 1898, and both Bessemer House and Bessemer Grange next door (built as a wedding present for his daughter and later used as an hotel), were compulsorily purchased and demolished in 1948 to make way for the present local authority Denmark Hill housing estate.
BICKNELL, Elhanan 1788-1861. Art collector. Born in London, he was the son of William Bicknell, a serge manufacturer and friend of John Wesley and also the religious writer, Elhanen Winchester, after whom he was named. Bicknell initially prospered in the sperm whale business and, in 1819, moved to Carlton House, a large mansion on Herne Hill which stood between the present Casino Avenue and Danecroft Road. Between 1838 and his death in 1861, he assembled there a magnificent collection of British paintings from Gainsborough until his own times, buying many of Turner’s works before the artist had been championed by Bicknell’s neighbour, John Ruskin. Art lovers were always welcome to visit the house, and artists were generously entertained. He was a supporter of Unitarianism and was the main contributor to the building of the Brixton Unitarian Chapel. He died in 1861 and was buried at West Norwood Cemetery. Bicknell wanted to leave the collection to the nation, but the needs of his large family required it to be sold at auction two years later.
Bicknell had four wives and fourteen grandchildren. Two of his sons born in Herne Hill achieved fame. Herman (1830-1875) trained as a surgeon, joined the army but resigned his commission to devote himself to travel and learning oriental languages. Assuming the character of an English Moslem, he became the first Englishman to join the annual pilgrimage to Mecca without having to disguise himself or his nationality. He lived in Persia (Iran) for a time to help him translate the poems of Hafiz. An accident while attempting to climb the Matterhorn hastened his death in 1875 and the poems were published posthumously.
Another son, Clarence, was also born in Herne Hill. He worked as a curate in St Paul’s Walworth before moving to Bordighera on the Italian Riviera. There he was able to follow his great interest of collecting and painting flowers, and published books on the flora of the area illustrated with his own drawings. The Museo Bicknell, which he established, remains as a study centre for the district; his collection of European plants was given to the Botanic Institute in Genoa after his death in 1918.
BING, Gertrud 1892-1964. Scholar. Born in Germany, in 1922 she joined the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg in Hamburg, as a librarian and personal assistant to its founder Aby Warburg. In 1933 after Warburg's death, Bing accompanied the Warburg Library in its move to England. She became Assistant Director in 1944 when the Library was incorporated into the University of London as the Warburg Institute, and a British citizen in 1945. In 1955 Bing became the Director of the Institute and Professor of the History of the Classical Tradition, the raison d'être of the Institute, until her retirement in 1959. Short, dark and bespectacled, she edited many scholarly works. ‘Her home in Dulwich, where she lived for nearly thirty years [until her death in 1964], with a garden which she had herself planted and cultivated, was a meeting place for friends and scholars from all over the world.’
BOURGEOIS, Sir Peter Francis 1756-1811. Painter, collector and founder/patron of Dulwich Picture Gallery. Born in London, Bourgeois seems to have been abandoned by his Swiss watchmaker father on his mother's death. He was early taken under the protection of Noel Desenfans [qv] and lived with him, and later his wife Margaret, for the rest of their lives. Desenfans encouraged his protégé to become a painter, sending him as a pupil to Philip de Loutherbourg, and subsequently in 1776 on a grand tour of France, Italy and Switzerland. With Desenfans' determined backing Bourgeois became a Royal Academician in 1793, and Landscape Painter to George III in 1794. He was, however, a painter of limited talent; Dulwich Picture Gallery possesses twenty-one of his works, but rarely exhibits any of them.
Bourgeois' claim to fame is as a collector and benefactor: he added to the Desenfans' stock of pictures originally collected for King Stanislaus of Poland, to whom he had been appointed Court Painter in 1791, being keener than Desenfans that the collection should remain intact. Bourgeois directed in his 1810 Will (of which Lancelot Baugh Allen, Master of Dulwich College, was one of the Executors) that after Mrs Desenfans' death the paintings (by then numbering 377) which he had inherited on Desenfans' death in 1807 should be bequeathed to Dulwich College. He also left an endowment for the housing of the collection and for the building of a mausoleum to accommodate his remains and those of the Desenfans. He died in 1811, aged 55, as the result of a fall while riding. None of the trio ever lived in Dulwich, but the bodies of all three were in 1815 placed in the Mausoleum attached to the Picture Gallery, where they remain to this day.
BROWN, George Alfred, Baron George-Brown 1914-1985. Politician. Born in Southwark and a resident for many years in Court Lane. Brown left school at fifteen but attended further education classes. He was an official of the Transport and General Workers’ Union before entering Parliament as the member for Belper in 1945. After several junior posts in Attlee’s government, Brown rose rapidly during the Opposition years that followed and was the spokesman on defence issues 1958-61, when he supported his leader Hugh Gaitskell in opposing unilateral disarmament against the formidable alliance of Michael Foot and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Brown unsuccessfully challenged Harold Wilson for the leadership of the Labour Party following Gaitskell’s death, and was appointed deputy-leader from 1960. When Wilson formed his government in 1964, Brown became First Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. He produced an ambitious plan for raising production by 25% over five years but this was quietly allowed to wither away. Nevertheless, he firmly believed in the opportunities the Common Market might offer and was Labour’s ally to other Common Marketeers like Edward Heath. In 1966, Brown was appointed Foreign Secretary, a post he held until he resigned in 1968 during one of the frequent gold crises. He returned to the backbenches and lost his seat in the 1970 election. He was subsequently created a life peer, changing his name by deed poll in 1970. In 1981 he was elected President of the Social Democratic Alliance.
Brown was frequently the butt of cartoons depicting his fondness for social drinking. He had a flamboyant, impetuous and controversial nature but was held in high esteem by his contemporaries. His lifestyle was frequently the source of tabloid journalism as the following quotation reveals:
According to one version of a story about George Brown, while on a trip to Peru in the 1960s as the Labour Foreign Secretary he approached, at a grand reception, a person resplendently dressed in a coloured frock whom he asked to dance. He was turned down with the response: ‘First, you are drunk. Second, this is not a waltz, it is the Peruvian national anthem. And third, I am not a woman, I am the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima.’ More here.
BYRON, George Gordon, 6th Lord 1788-1824. Poet. Two hundred years ago the present site of the Harvester, or Grove Tavern, at the junction of Dulwich Common and Lordship Lane, was occupied by Dr Glennie’s Academy, a small boarding school for young gentlemen, one of several in the Camberwell and Dulwich area at that time. One of Dr Glennie’s pupils from 1799 to 1801 was Lord Byron, the future poet. Byron’s mother sent him there in the hope of getting better treatment for his lameness in London than at his home, Newstead Abbey, Nottingham. To give him a room to himself a bed was put up in Dr Glennie’s own study.
There are various reports of Byron’s time at Dr Glennie’s, with tales of the young lord and his friends playing at highwaymen and calling on passing strangers to ‘stand and deliver’. His education was not helped by his mother who frequently took her handsome son out of school to show him off in society. Dr Glennie, however, found him a great reader, especially of history and poetry, which must have been a good foundation for Byron’s later writing.
After two years at Dr Glennie’s it was decided that Byron should go to a public school. As he wrote to his cousin, being by then perhaps bored with his ‘quiet school’ in Dulwich, ‘I am going to leave this damned place at Easter and am going to Harrow’.
CAMPBELL, Mrs Patrick 1865-1940. Actress. Born Beatrice Stella Tanner in Kensington, she was the granddaughter of Count Angelo Romanini, an Italian political exile. Much of her early life was spent at three different addresses in Dulwich and the neighbourhood, first at Tulse Dale Manor, between Tulse Hill and Dulwich, then at 17 Milton Road, Herne Hill and later with her Uncle Harry at 14 Acacia Road, West Dulwich. At the age of 19 she eloped to marry Patrick Campbell, a clerk in the City, and afterwards always appeared on the stage professionally as Mrs. Patrick Campbell.
An accomplished actress, her first major success was as the lead in Pinero’s The Second Mrs Tanqueray in 1893. Bernard Shaw cast her as the model for Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion twenty years later. Mrs. Campbell followed the original script intended to shock audiences when she used the phrase ‘not bloody likely’; this was often altered in later productions. Her rebellious behaviour on and off stage, although mixed with wit and humour, made her the terror of managers, and she was seldom given parts in Britain after World War One.
Her first husband was killed in the Boer War and her second husband deserted her. She exchanged entertaining love letters with Bernard Shaw for forty years almost until her death in France in 1940.
CARTWRIGHT, William 1607-1686. Actor and bookseller. Cartwright is a significant figure in the history of the English theatre in that he acted on the Jacobean stage from the 1620s until the closure of the theatres by the Puritans in 1642, and he returned to a theatrical career when the theatres were re-opened at the Restoration in 1660. During the latter period he acted in supporting rather than leading roles, while maintaining his second career as a bookseller, by which he had supported himself during the Civil War and the Commonwealth. Acting was in his blood, as his father, also William, had been a colleague and friend of Edward Alleyn, and dined with him at Dulwich in the early 1620s. The younger Cartwright was an avid picture collector, possessing 239 paintings at the time of his death. It was his father's friendship with Alleyn which no doubt led the son, in the absence of heirs, to bequeath his pictures and the bulk of his estate to Alleyn's College of God's Gift at Dulwich, where Alleyn's picture collection was already housed. Only 77 paintings currently in the ownership of Dulwich Picture Gallery can now be confidently ascribed to Cartwright's bequest.
CARVER, Rev. Alfred James 1826-1909. Master of Dulwich College. Carver was educated at St Paul’s School and Trinity College, Cambridge, and was therefore an undergraduate when Joseph Romilly (qv) was a Fellow of Trinity. He was an accomplished classicist who was elected a Fellow of Queen’s College, Cambridge 1850-53. He was appointed Sur-master (deputy head) of St Paul’s School in 1852, a post he held until his appointment as Headmaster of the Upper and Lower Schools of Dulwich College in 1858.
From the start it was Carver’s ambition to create a public school which would rival those institutions known as the Great Schools. The number of boys in the Upper School, located in various parts of the Old College in the village rose to 150 and put tremendous pressure on space. Fortunately, two railway companies offered to buy 100 acres of land on the Dulwich Estate for their expanding rail networks. With ample funds now available, new buildings on a grand scale designed by Charles Barry Jr [qv] were opened in 1870.
The new school’s academic success was enhanced by the number of boys proceeding to university, some being financially supported out of Carver’s own pocket. Such was the success of the Upper School that the Lower School, whose pupils paid far lower fees, had to remain in the Grammar School and buildings of the Old College. In 1876, with the futures of both the Upper and Lower Schools uncertain, Carver successfully appealed to the Privy Council for a new scheme of administration for the charity. This was achieved in 1882, securing the future of the two schools as Dulwich College and Alleyns and making provision for James Allen’s Girls School to benefit from the growing income of the estate. Although Carver resigned as Headmaster when the new scheme came into effect, he continued his long association with JAGS. In 1858 he had become a trustee and was Chairman of the Governors until his death in 1909. He did as much to establish that school as he did for his more acknowledged services to Dulwich College.
CHANDLER, Raymond 1888-1959. Writer. Article here.
CHURCH, Richard 1893-1972. Poet, novelist and essayist. Born in Battersea, his father was a post office mail sorter and mother a schoolteacher. To escape the industrial and river fogs, as both he and his mother had poor health, the family moved in 1905 to Warmington Road, off Ruskin Walk. He attended Dulwich Hamlet School and described his three years there as ‘almost impossible happiness’. He blossomed physically and intellectually in the improved environment.
He graphically describes life in Dulwich, and pays tribute to his teachers, in the first volume of his autobiography Over the Bridge. He became captain of the school, and excelled in art and won a scholarship to Camberwell School of Art, but his father insisted that he made a career in the civil service, where he stayed for 24 years. Frustrated by his employment he began to write poetry, his first ‘Elm-Waif’ was inspired by the elms that then lined Dulwich Village. He moved from Warmington Road in 1911 and later published over a dozen volumes of poetry, novels (the best known probably being The Porch) and essays.
CLOWES, Frank 1848-1923. Chemist. Born in Bradford and educated at the City of London School, the Royal School of Mines, London and the Royal College of Science, Dublin. Professor of Chemistry at University College, Nottingham 1881–1897, he was employed by the London County Council between 1897 and 1913 as Chemical Adviser and Director of the Council’s Chemical Staff and Laboratories. He was also the Expert Adviser in Gas Supply to the City of London and President of the Society of the Chemical Industry in 1897-98. He wrote books and articles on practical chemistry, the detection of inflammable gases in the air and bacterial treatment of London sewage. He lived at The Grange, Grange Lane and was a Governor of Dulwich College.
COLE, Sir Colin 1922-2001. Herald. Born in Herne Hill the son of Edward Harold Cole, a successful wholesale stationer and manufacturer of staples, his widowed mother lived in Dulwich Village until the 1980s. He was educated at Dulwich College and chaired the Board of Governors between 1988 and 1997. He read law at Oxford, served as a captain in the Coldstream Guards during World War Two and was called to the bar in 1949. However, the artistry of heraldry as much as its historic associations had been a passion since childhood and in 1953 he was appointed Fitzalan Pursuivant Extraordinary, advancing to Windsor Herald in 1966 and finally Garter King of Arms in 1978. Whilst holding this office, he successfully supervised the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the College of Arms in 1984 and raised a large sum to renovate the 17th century building. Elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1954, he gained his knighthood in 1983 and decoration as KCB on his retirement as Garter in 1992.
CONSTABLE, Colonel 1784-1877. Farmer. Constable's Farm (aka Court Lane Farm) was known as one of the best kept farms in South London. Colonel Constable was born in 1784 into a Camberwell family that dated back to the 1670s. Colonel was not a title but a family name first recorded as 'Cornel' in the St Giles parish register in 1714. Constable was ploughman at the farm in the 1820s for the lessee Mr Johnson, became caretaker and then took a lease himself in 1842 of the farmhouse, outbuildings and 76 acres. He also farmed around 200 acres on the other side of Lordship Lane. He married twice and had six sons and three daughters. On retirement he was granted an 'outdoor' pension by the College and died in 1877 aged 92. Constable Walk, off College Road, is named for him.
CORNWELL, James 1812-1902. Educationalist. James Cornwell played an important part in the development of education in the 19th century. He worked for one of the organisations promoting schools before education became compulsory, the British and Foreign Schools’ Society. It was largely supported by Nonconformist families. He founded new schools, helped new teachers and became head of the Borough Road Training College, now the South Bank University. His school textbooks were far in advance of their time. In the latter part of his life, he lived with his wife, Mary Ann, at Parbrock, Crescent Wood Road. He is buried in Norwood Cemetery.
COURAGE, John 1790-1854. 19th century head of the famous brewery, and son of the first John Courage, its founder. The family firm expanded enormously under his direction. John Courage II was born at Horsleydown, on the Bermondsey river-front, but ended his days in Dulwich. After his marriage in 1823, he and his wife lived first at De Crespigny Terrace, Camberwell, before moving to The Hall, a large house and estate situated at the junction of Dulwich Village and East Dulwich Grove. Tom Morris (qv) described Courage as ‘a most kind and charitable man’.
Mary Boast and Patrick Derby
COX, David (senior), 1783-1859. Artist. Best known for his landscape paintings of English and Welsh scenery, David Cox was born in Birmingham, the son of a blacksmith. Following his apprenticeship to a painter of miniatures, he became a scene painter at the Birmingham Theatre. In 1804 he moved to London where he continued with scene-painting and absorbed himself in the task of learning to be an artist. In 1808, when he married Mary Ragg, he moved into a small cottage on the edge of Dulwich Common. The exact location is not known for certain although Tom Morris (qv) claimed that ‘the site of his home was, no doubt, at the back of Blew House, a fine old rustic cottage…and now gone to decay’ (A Short history of Dulwich Village, p6). He supplemented his earnings with teaching, and made many studies on the Common of gypsies and of the windmill which once stood there. His son, David (1809–1885), also an outstanding artist, was born in Dulwich.
In 1814 he moved to Farnham and later to Hereford where he taught in various schools. In 1841 he returned to Birmingham where he lived until his death. In 1836 Cox made a technical discovery that was to give his work a distinctive character - he started to use a rough textured wrapping paper made in Dundee which well suited his rapid strokes and his representation of windswept landscapes with rough atmospheric effects. However he only ordered one ream, and when it was finished was never able to obtain the same quality of paper again. A similar paper today is always known as ‘David Cox’ paper.
CRACE, John Gregory 1809-1889. One of a dynasty of celebrated interior decorators whose successful business grew from coach-painting in the 18th century, he was the son of Frederick Crace (1779-1859) who had worked extensively at Carlton House and the Royal Pavilion at Brighton for the Prince Regent. JG Crace is notable for having decorated Devonshire House and Chatsworth (for the 6th Duke of Devonshire), the House of Lords, the Medieval Court at the 1851 Great Exhibition, and a new apartment at Windsor Castle for the 1854 visit of Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie.
In 1860 or thereabouts he and his wife Sarah Jane (née Langley) moved from St John's Wood to Springfield, a stucco villa set in a miniature park, on the south side of Half Moon Lane. At the time the premises were being reduced by the construction of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, opened in 1860, along the western boundary. Crace became an enthusiastic amateur photographer in 1852, and there is a surviving series of photographs of the house and grounds dating from his family's years of occupation (deposited with the firm’s archives in the Victoria and Albert Museum). When Springfield was demolished after his death, Stradella Road, Winterbrook Road, and the northern end of Burbage Road were built on the site.
Bernard Nurse and Patrick Darby
CROFT, Michael 1922-1986. Actor and teacher. Article here.
CROSBY, Rt Hon. Brass 1725-1793. MP for Honiton from 1768 until 1774, Brass Crosby owed his unusual forename to his mother, née Mary Brass. When elected Lord Mayor of London in September 1770, he declared that at the risk of his life he would protect the citizens of London in their just rights and privileges. Almost immediately he denied entry to the City to press-gangs intent on forcibly enlisting men into the army or navy. When in February 1771 the printers of certain London journals were charged by the Commons with breach of privilege for publishing accounts of parliamentary debates, Crosby refused to allow the warrants for their arrest to be executed within the City. Still an MP himself, Crosby was charged with breach of privilege by the House of Commons. In March 1771 he was committed to the Tower of London where he remained until the parliamentary session ended in May. On his release he was escorted back to the Mansion House in triumphal procession. He received the thanks of the Corporation and a valuable cup for having supported ‘the liberties of the corporation, and for having defended the constitution’. During his mayoralty an obelisk was erected at the centre of St George's Circus in Southwark, to which position it has recently been restored. A portrait of him can be seen in the Guildhall Art Gallery, and his courageous example has since inspired many to be 'as bold as Brass'.
From 1756 Brass Crosby was a resident of Dulwich, and his name is listed in the College Rent Tables until 1786, although he probably sub-let his property after 1775. Blanch informs us, in 'Ye Parish of Camerwell', that Crosby's departure from Dulwich followed his having ‘married a great deal of money’. He was married three times, his third wife, who survived him, being the daughter of James Maud, a wealthy London wine merchant. Crosby's house, with nearly 16 acres of land, was situated on the south side of Ireland Green (now Half Moon Lane), almost exactly on the site of what is now the Judith Kerr Primary School. Brass Crosby died in 1793, and was buried in Chelsfield Church near Orpington, where a monument commemorates him.
Hilary Rosser and Patrick Darby
CUSHING, Peter 1911-1994. Actor. Article here.
DESENFANS, Noel Joseph 1745-1807 and Margaret 1731-1813. Noel Desenfans was born in Douai in northern France and came to England in 1769 to earn his living as a language teacher. A financially and socially advantageous marriage in 1776 to Margaret Morris, the rather older aunt of two of his pupils, enabled him to set up as a picture dealer. At this he was successful, and with his protégé, Bourgeois (qv), he pursued social advancement relentlessly. The commission he received in 1790 from King Stanislaus Augustus of Poland, to assemble a collection of great European paintings in order ‘to promote the progress of the fine arts in Poland’, was socially prestigious but ultimately financially embarrassing, as Stanislaus lost his throne in 1795 and died in 1798. The group of paintings collected by Desenfans (which cost him several thousand pounds) ultimately formed the nucleus of the Bourgeois bequest to the future Dulwich Picture Gallery. Desenfans died in 1807, and in 1815 his body was laid in the Mausoleum at the Picture Gallery with those of his wife and friend.
The only self-effacing member of the Desenfans-Bourgeois household, Margaret came from a newly prosperous south Wales family which had recently been granted a baronetcy. Her hasty marriage - at the age of 45 - to a much younger French language teacher without apparent prospects, can hardly have been popular with her family; but her respectable private income was no doubt very welcome to her new husband, Noel Desenfans. As a young woman Margaret had been painted by Reynolds, whose portrait of her hangs in the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Although her husband and Bourgeois entertained extensively, Margaret never attended even their mixed soirées. As the surviving member of the trio, Margaret Desenfans played a vital part in fulfilling Bourgeois' dying wish that the paintings which he and Desenfans had collected should be accommodated at Dulwich in a building to be designed by Sir John Soane. When Soane's designs had been pared down to a minimum, a shortfall of £4,000 remained, which Mrs Desenfans met from her own resources. The Gallery and Mausoleum were largely completed by the time of her death in 1813.
DOLMETSCH, Eugene Arnold 1858-1940. Musician. Arnold Dolmetsch was born in France into a musical family, and after finishing his musical studies at the Brussels Conservatoire came to Dulwich College, where he soon won a reputation as a teacher of the violin. However, his chief love became the study of old music and the instruments on which it was played. He discovered manuscripts of forgotten early English composers in the British Library, gave up teaching, and concentrated on giving lectures and recitals on old instruments which he both repaired and learned to make. In 1903 he married, as his second wife, Mabel Johnston of Denmark Hill. In 1925 he founded an annual historical chamber music festival in Haslemere, Surrey, where they had settled. His four children also participated in these festivals, playing on instruments (such as the clavichord and viol) reconstructed from old designs. The Dolmetsch Foundation was started in 1928, and the Dolmetsch collection of musical instruments is now at the Horniman Museum.
DOUGLASS, Sir James 1826-1898. Engineer. Occupier of Stella House, College Road, and designer of the replacement Eddystone Lighthouse. James Nicholas Douglass was born at Stella House, Penzance, in 1826, and died at Stella House, Bonchurch, Isle of Wight, on 19 July 1898. It therefore seems likely that he also gave the name of Stella House to 11 College Road. In 1877 (when it was one of the very few freehold properties on the estate) it was purchased by WT Douglass ‘for the use of JN Douglass’. The association of the word 'stella' (Latin for 'star') with Douglass is entirely appropriate, as he devoted his working life to creating artificial suns as navigational and safety aids for sailors - in other words, lighthouses. The inventor of the 'Douglass Burner', he oversaw construction for the replacement for the Eddystone Lighthouse, for which he was knighted in 1882. At various times he had been resident engineer on the Bishop Rock, Smalls, and Wolf Rock Lighthouses off the south-west coast of England, and then held the post of Engineer-in-Chief to Trinity House until his retirement in 1892.
As well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society, Douglass became an Estates Governor and a Governor of Dulwich College, to which he sent two of his five sons. One of these was William Tregarthen Douglass (the purchaser of Stella House in 1877), who was himself a distinguished engineer, the author of several books on the subject, and consulting engineer to various public boards.
DOULTON, Frederick 1824-1872. In 1859 Frederick, a younger son of John Doulton, founder of the famous pottery works in Lambeth, took a lease from Dulwich College of the 21-acre Hall Place estate at the present junction of Park Hall Road and South Croxted Road. He came to live at the old mansion, which he renamed The Manor House, and which, according to Blanch, had a magnificent oak staircase, spacious entrance hall, and lofty rooms. The family pottery was headed by Frederick's elder brother Sir Henry Doulton, who carried it to the peak of its success, and built a new factory for making utilitarian pottery, drain-pipes, etc, in which Frederick invested. It proved very profitable thanks to the great sanitary advances then taking place in London.
Frederick Doulton left the firm in 1862 to pursue a career in politics, sitting as MP for Lambeth from 1862 to 1868. In those years he instigated the development of a large part of his Dulwich estate, laying out much of Alleyn Park and Alleyn Road between 1862 and 1866. Financial difficulties prevented his completion of the project, which was continued by John Westwood who bought his lease in 1869, and who was responsible for demolishing The Manor House itself in about 1882. Four sons and several grandsons of Frederick Doulton attended Dulwich College.
DURRELL, Lawrence 1912-1990 Author. In 1923, when Lawrence Durrell was 11 and his brother Leslie 6, they lodged at 36 Hillsborough Road, backing onto Alleyn's School. Lawrence went to St Olave's and St Saviour's Grammar School in Tooley Street, Bermondsey. In 1926 their mother came from India and bought 43 Alleyn Park - ‘a substantial detached 3-storey property with a large garden’. She sold it at the end of 1929, and the family moved to a spacious flat next to the Queen's Hotel in Upper Norwood, and thence to Bournemouth in 1931. In that same year Leslie entered Dulwich College, but Lawrence went to St Edmund's, Canterbury.
EMERY, Prof. Walter Bryan 1903-1971. Egyptologist. Born in Liverpool, Emery witnessed the excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun. In 1929 he was appointed Director of the Archaeological Survey of Nubia with instructions to explore and excavate all the ancient sites in Lower Nubia which would be flooded by the second raising of the Aswan Dam. He advised on the dismantling and transport of the temples including Abu Simbel to safe sites and carried out many excavations at Saqqara for the Egyptian government. Elected to the Edwards Chair of Egyptology at University College, London, in 1951, he wrote a standard work on Egyptology published by Penguin in 1961. He and his wife, Molly (née Cowley), whom he married in 1928, had their home for many years at 1 Alleyn Road. Emery died in Cairo on 11 March, 1971.
Patrick Darby and Jill Alexander
ENO, James Crossley 1820-1915. Maker of fruit salts. Eno was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where his parents kept a general shop. He was apprenticed to a druggist and in 1846 was appointed dispenser at the Old Infirmary, Newcastle at £60 a year. In 1852 he acquired a chemist and druggist business, practised dentistry at the Old Infirmary, sold human and animal medicines and three products under his own label - a tooth enamel for DIY fillings, a hair restorer and a treated linseed oil for poultices.
Having thus tested his business ability, Eno began to make the fruit salts that made his name a household word. The fruit salts were a mixture of tartaric acid, citric acid and sodium bicarbonate. This produced an effervescent drink when stirred into water. The bicarbonate was a product of the Tyneside alkali industry. For the next twenty years he continued to describe himself as a dispensing chemist and dental surgeon. He marketed his fruit salts by giving free samples to the ships’ captains who tied up at Newcastle Quay, thereby ensuring that his name and his product travelled around the world. Prescriptions of a similar nature were probably common knowledge but Eno’s success was due to commercial enterprise rather than scientific insight.
In 1876 he left the practice of retail pharmacy and dentistry for the large scale manufacture of his fruit salts in London. He acquired Wood Hall in College Road as his residence and a factory in Pomeroy Street, New Cross. He then began to compose his characteristic advertisements, the concentrated texts of which he always wrote himself. In an era when proprietary remedies were flaunted with exorbitant bombast, Eno restricted his claims to success against biliousness, feverishness, sleeplessness, headaches and ‘sudden changes in the weather’. He contributed £10,000 to the new infirmary in Newcastle in 1899. He died in London in 1915 at the age of 95 leaving over £1.6 million.
FARRAR, David 1908-1995. Actor. Article here.
FITTON, James RA 1899-1982. Artist and illustrator. Lived at 10 (subsequently 10/11) Pond Cottages for over fifty years. Born in Oldham, the son of a mill worker and trades union official, Fitton attended evening classes at Manchester Art School whilst working in a textile company. When his father's work brought him to Peckham, the family moved to Woodbine Cottage, Dulwich Village. James lived for a short period in Downing Street, as a guest of a Labour cabinet minister and family friend. By now working freelance, he painted a mural for an Ideal Home Exhibition, designed for a golf club, and became an illustrator for a monthly magazine.
He met his future wife Peggy whilst they were fellow evening-students at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Requiring a more secure income, he joined an advertising agency where he remained for fifty years, ending as Art Director. Amongst his most notable commercial work were posters for London Transport and the Ministry of Food. On marrying in 1928, he and Peggy moved to Pond Cottages where they had two children, Judith and Tim.
Fitton held strong anti-fascist views, becoming a founder member of the Artists' International Association and contributor of illustrations and cartoons to Left Review. From 1929 he exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, often painting members of his family or interiors of his Dulwich home. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1954, was a Trustee of the British Museum, and a Governor of Dulwich College, with Honorary Surveyorship of the Picture Gallery collection from 1970 until his death. James Fitton was the layman's idea of an artist: bearded, flamboyant, articulate, and with great humour that often showed itself in his work.
FORESTER, Cecil Scott, see SMITH, Cecil LT
FOUNTAIN, Guy R. 1898-1977. Engineer. Gave to the language the word ‘Tannoy’, which has become synonymous with public address systems. Born in Selby, Yorkshire, he came to London during World War One, and opened a workshop in Tulsemere Road, SE27, to make battery chargers for wireless sets and in which he used a rectifier of tantalum and lead alloy, hence the trademark ‘Tannoy’. He subsequently had factories in West Norwood. After his marriage in 1922 to Elsie Portwine (see entry for her father) the family lived at 25 Lancaster Road (now Lancaster Avenue) and afterwards at 112 College Road, which had been built by his father-in-law.
FRITH, William Powell 1819-1909. Artist. Article here.
GALER, Allan Maxey 1867-1938. Barrister and local historian. The eldest son of John Maxey Galer (1839-1919), a civil servant, he was educated at Dulwich College, and Worcester College, Oxford, called to the Bar (Inner Temple, 1897) and was the secretary of the Alleyn Club, 1900-1905. He was the author of Norwood and Dulwich Past and Present, 1890. He died in West Dulwich and is buried in Camberwell Old Cemetery. His daughter, Jacqueline, was secretary to the Master of Dulwich College for many years.
GILKES, Arthur Hermann 1849-1922. Schoolmaster. Son of William Gilkes, chemist of Leominster, Herefordshire, and educated at Shrewsbury School and Christ Church, Oxford. Assistant master at Shrewsbury, 1873-1885 and Master of Dulwich College 1885-1914 as later was his son Christopher. Another son became High Master of St Paul's School. After retirement, he was ordained and appointed curate of St James Church, Bermondsey in 1915. He wrote several books including A Day in Dulwich.
GLENNY, Alexander 1882-1965. Immunologist. Article here.
GLENNY, George (1793-1874) Horticulturalist, prolific author and one of the founders of the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Institution, Glenny was born in Hoxton and spent his early years in Hackney. He was apprenticed to a watchmaker but after seeing a bed of tulips in Walworth, he devoted himself to growing flowers. He organised flower shows in his own garden at Worton, Isleworth and at Lord’s Cricket Ground.
Glenny, who was married twice and had nine children, earned his living more by his pen than by his spade, starting the first gardening newspaper in the country, the sixpenny Gardeners Gazette. A forceful and outspoken critic, he drew attention to the absurd restrictions on the public enjoyment and the neglected state of Kew Gardens. His show hall in Chiswick Lane bankrupted him in 1837, and he had to sell the Gazette and all the plants from his garden to pay his debts. After 1868 he moved to Gipsy Hill and the 1871 census shows him living at 12 Colby Road. He continued to write a weekly column on gardening for Lloyd’s Weekly until his death at 80. He is buried in West Norwood Cemetery.
GOLDSMID, Sir Isaac Lyon 1st Bt. and Baron of Palmeira. 1778-1859. 19th century banker and philanthropist. Son of Asher Goldsmid, of Mocatta & Goldsmid, bullion brokers, he married his cousin Isabel in 1804 and became a member of the Stock Exchange in 1806. He steadily restored the family fortunes until, by the time his father Asher died in 1822, he was a wealthy man. In his day professing Jews were not admitted to the universities, but he had a first-class private education and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1826.
He took a great interest in social and political matters, particularly Jewish emancipation. He was sympathetic to the work of people such as Elizabeth Fry and Robert Owen, and became a trusted friend of the reformers, Lord Holland (nephew of Charles James Fox) and Lord Brougham. When the latter promoted a non-denominational University of London, Goldsmid gave it his full support. As a leading shareholder in the venture, he helped to buy the site in Gower Street where University College London opened in 1828 and stands to this day.
From 1821, Goldsmid lived at Dulwich Hill House, a large villa with extensive gardens and fields beyond, at the top of the south side of Champion Hill. According to the ratebooks Goldsmid remained the nominal occupier of Dulwich Hill House until 1839. However in 1830 he bought an estate in Hove which he developed. and a villa in Regent’s Park a few years later.
In 1841 he was made a baronet, the first Jew to be so honoured. Five years later the Queen of Portugal made him Baron de Palmeira, in recognition of his services in helping to settle some awkward financial disputes between Portugal and its erstwhile fief, Brazil. Goldsmid died in 1859, just after a bill for Jewish emancipation passed both Houses of Parliament.
GROTE, George 1794-1871 and GROTE, Harriet 1792-1878. George Grote – historian, politician and Greek scholar, perhaps best remembered as the author of an important ‘History of Greece’ – lived in Dulwich 1832-37. Grote’s German grandfather had founded a banking house in Threadneedle Street. From 1832 to 1834 Grote was MP for the City of London and a noted supporter of the great Reform Act of 1832. Grote was one of the founders of University College, London, and later held many prestigious offices, including Vice-Chancellor of London University, Trustee of the British Museum, and Professor of Ancient History at the Royal Academy. He is buried in Westminster Abbey. His wife Harriet was herself a talented scholar, artist, musician, and writer, and hostess to their many distinguished friends.
Though only temporary residents, the Grotes were in some ways typical of the prosperous business and professional people who moved into Dulwich in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. George and Harriet lived at Wood House, a mansion built c. 1810 on the edge of Dulwich Woods, on the east side of what is now College Road. It had beautiful gardens, an estate of 24 acres, and a fine view over London. Later in the 19th century the house was rebuilt on a grander scale and became known as Wood Hall, sometime home to James Eno, (qv). The site is now covered by the Woodhall Estate. More here.
HALL, Barbara 1923-2022. Crossword compiler. Article here.
HALL, Edwin Thomas 1851-1923. Architect. Born in Lowestoft, the son of architect George Hall, Edwin established his own architectural practice (which continues, as Easton, Robertson, Preston & Partners) in 1876, later moving offices to Bedford Square. He was known as 'Byelaw' Hall for his skill in unravelling legal complexities, and specialised in the design of hospitals, including the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Two of his other best-known surviving buildings are St Ermin's Hotel, Westminster (1887) and Liberty's behind Regent Street (1924-26) which was completed by his son Stanley.
Hall, who lived at 'Hillcote', Thurlow Park Road, West Dulwich, was responsible for designing the (now Old) Library in 1902 as a Boer War memorial for the College, ‘a cheerful exercise in Edwardian baroque’, in contrast to Barry's original Italianate buildings. He also designed Camberwell Central Library, Camberwell Town Hall, and St Giles' Hospital. Hall was an Estates and College Governor, in the former case for twenty-two years, three of them as Chairman. As such he was able to influence the Board to introduce the town planning ideas of the Garden City Movement, evident in the layout of Sunray Avenue, for example. As an architect member of the Picture Gallery Committee he was responsible for the design of the four additional exhibition rooms in the Gallery generously financed by Henry Yates Thompson (qv). Towards the end of his life, Hall wrote one of the first histories of Dulwich: 'Dulwich History and Romance, 967-1922'. He and his wife Florence had three sons and four daughters, one of whom married a vicar of St Stephen's. Hall himself was vicar's warden of Emmanuel Church, West Dulwich, for thirty years.
Hilary Rosser and Bernard Nurse
HALL, Lt Col Sir Frederick 1864-1932. MP. He had a career in the City before becoming Conservative MP for Dulwich in 1910. He retained the seat until his death in 1932. He was the last private owner, from 1906-1908, of Eastlands, a large house occupying the site currently covered by Eastlands Crescent; but he lived in central London once he became MP. He served with distinction with the Royal Field Artillery in World War One, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and being awarded the DSO in 1917. In 1915, he succeeded in raising a brigade of 4300 men drawn from the Borough of Camberwell for the regiment; the men drilled and the horses grazed on the Dulwich Hamlet football field. He was knighted in 1918 and made a baronet in 1923.
HARDING, Anthony 1762-1851. Shop owner. Article here.
HENDERSON, James 1824-1906. Newspaper proprietor. Born at Lawrence Kirk, Scotland, he started the Glasgow Daily News, the first penny newspaper in Scotland, and refused to pay the newspaper tax. A radical, he was an energetic member of the Society for the Repeal of Taxation on Newspapers. As manager of the Leeds Express, he reduced the price from three old pence to one penny and raised the circulation from 300 to 15,000 per week. In 1865 he founded the South London Press at Red Lion Court, Fleet Street. He lived for many years at Adon Mount, Mount Adon Road, off Lordship Lane. He died at Worthing in 1906 but is buried in Camberwell Old Cemetery.
HINTON, Christopher, Baron Hinton of Bankside 1901-1983. Engineer. He lived at Tiverton Lodge, Dulwich Common from about 1965 until his death. Born in Wiltshire the son of a village schoolmaster, in 1925 he obtained a first-class degree in engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge in two years. He joined a company that was later to become a part of ICI and became chief engineer at the age of 29. During World War Two he worked for the Ministry of Supply organising the construction of ordnance factories, from 1942 as deputy Director-General.
After the war he was appointed to head the construction of nuclear power plants, including Harwell, Windscale (now Sellafield) and Calder Hall. All were opened on time and within budget; Calder Hall, opened in 1956, contained the first plutonium-based nuclear reactors in the world to feed electrical power into a national grid. In 1956 he was appointed chairman of the new Central Electricity Generating Board established to supply electricity in bulk to the retailing area boards. In retirement he chaired a world energy conference, advised the World Bank, was the first Chancellor of the University of Bath, and played an active role in the House of Lords.
The Dictionary of National Biography describes Hinton as ‘one of Britain’s relatively few truly great engineers’. He was knighted in 1951, made a Fellow of the Royal Society, granted a life peerage in 1965 and in 1976 awarded the Order of Merit.
HORTON, Percy 1897-1970. Artist. Article here.
HOWARD, Ebenezer 1850-1928. Founder of the garden city movement. Article here.
HUTTON, Charles William Cookworthy 1823-1903. Manufacturer. From 1859 to 1891 Hutton was the tenant of Belair. Born in 1823, he was apprenticed to his father's silk and worsted manufacturing business in Newgate Street, at the age of 15 and was admitted to the Weavers' Company (with which he was to be associated for nearly sixty years) in 1845. Hutton's connection with Dulwich dates from 1848, when he married Elizabeth, the daughter of John Winder of Grove Lane, Camberwell. The young couple first settled in East Dulwich, where six of their twelve children were born before 1858, the others being born at Belair.
By the mid-1870s Hutton was at the apogee of his career. His extensive alterations and additions to Belair (including the range of greenhouses) was complete, he had been elected Sheriff of London and Middlesex for 1868-69, appointed a JP in 1872, and was Upper Bailiff of the Weavers' Company in 1874-5. His father's business, which he had taken over in 1856, was now devoted to the manufacture and sale of 'Berlin wool', a dyed, garish, fine wool, similar to worsted, used for embroidering firescreens, samplers, etc. However, its popularity among Victorian ladies started to decline at about this time, and so did Hutton's fortunes, no doubt strained by the need to provide for a large family and supporting staff, and to maintain the existing and additional buildings at Belair, which were becoming increasingly dilapidated.
Between 1886 and 1891 (when the Estates Governors instituted possession proceedings for non-payment of rent) Hutton embarked on various attempts at disposing of his lease or developing Belair, none of which came to anything, and in May 1891 he and his family quit Dulwich and moved to Penywern Road, Earl's Court, having surrendered his lease on condition that no action was taken against him in respect of the dilapidations. He died in 1903, aged 80, and whatever unpleasantness he may have experienced in business and in Dulwich, Hutton's friends remained true. When he died, his colleagues in the Weavers' Company paid tribute to ‘the integrity of his character, the liberality of his views and kindness of his heart’.
INNES, William 1905-1999. A self-taught artist whose work in pastels and oils was nationally and internationally known and can be found in many public and private collections. He first exhibited during World War Two when he served in the Royal Air Force. Since then his work has been shown at the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists, the New English Art Club, and the Royal Society of Oil Painters. He was a Past President of the Pastel Society, and a member of the United Society of Artists and the London Sketch Club. He was best known for his seascapes of the southwest coast and was never short of commissions. In his 94th year, he could still be found at home working up sketches drawn on recent trips. He lived at 38 Ruskin Walk, for most of his long life until his death in 1999.
Bernard Nurse with information from Lilian Lawson.
JAMES, William Henry 1796-1873. Engineer. Born in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, the son of William James (1771-1837), solicitor and railway 'projector' [ie project manager]. He helped his father in 1821 on a survey for the Manchester and Liverpool Railway. Subsequently he started business as an engineer in Birmingham, where he conducted experiments on steam locomotion on roads. He took out numerous patents for locomotives, steam engines, boilers and railway carriages. He died in the College Almshouses at Dulwich, on 16 December 1873 and was buried in Camberwell Old Cemetery.
JARVIS, Henry 1816 – 1900. Architect. Jarvis spent the last twelve or more years of his life at 502 Lordship Lane, Dulwich. Previously he had lived at 29 Trinity Church Square, Southwark, where he and his son, also Henry Jarvis, carried on their architectural practice. He was a surveyor for the parish of St Mary Newington and later District Surveyor for Camberwell, and designed many Victorian Gothic churches in the Southwark area. Most of these were destroyed by bombing during World War Two or subsequently demolished, but St John’s Larcom Street, Walworth, and also the former St Augustine’s Bermondsey are still standing.
Probably the best-known surviving work by Jarvis is the former St Mary Newington Vestry Hall, Walworth Road, erected in 1865, which later became the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark Town Hall, and is now used as municipal offices for the London Borough of Southwark. It is a typically ornate Victorian building of red brick and Portland stone with strange heads above the windows and columns of polished red granite. It is now a listed building. Henry Jarvis is buried in Nunhead Cemetery.
JOHN, Rosamund 1913-1998. Actor. Article here.
JOHNSTON, John Lawson 1829-1900. Re-builder and occupier of Kingswood House. Kingswood was acquired by John Lawson Johnston after the death of the previous owner, Thomas Tapling. He set about transforming the house from 1893, the result being much as it appears today.
Lawson Johnston was born in Roslin, Midlothian and educated at Edinburgh. As a young man he received the Royal Humane Society Gold Medal for saving several lives from drowning. Although his family wished him to enter the medical profession he became interested in dietetics, and in 1874 went to Canada as a dietetic expert for the French Government. Johnston’s great triumph was in the invention and marketing of the beef extract which he called ‘Bovril’, from which he amassed his considerable fortune. Kingswood became widely known locally as ‘Bovril Castle’, and its owner acquired the nickname ‘Mr. Bovril’.
Altogether Johnston spent about £10,000 on the estate. He added the entrance, battlements, and the north wing, and the ‘Castle Ruin’ which stood near the site of the modern shops was probably his inspiration. He is believed to have built or extended the servants’ wing on the east side of the building. Lord Playfair co-operated with him in the perfection of ‘hygienic marching rations’ for troops, used on forced marches in South Africa. During the Boer War, in 1899-1900, Johnston established at his own expense the War Employment Bureau, which found work for the wives of reservists during their husbands’ absences at the Front. Among Johnston’s recreations were shooting and spending time on his yacht, ‘White Ladye’. He was an original trustee of the Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Golf Club He was also a fervent supporter of the Jacobite cause, hence the Culloden Room at Kingswood and its portrait over the fireplace, supposedly of the Young Pretender. At his death in 1900 he left a fortune of £850,000.
Brian Green and Patrick Darby
JOHNSTONE, Philip Mainwaring 1865–1936. Architect. Johnstone was a distinguished architect who lived on the borders of Dulwich for most of his life and, for the last almost thirty years, at the house he designed for himself, 44 Champion Hill, known originally as Sussex Lodge. The date on the front of it is 1907.
He is known locally for his book, ‘Old Camberwell: its history and antiquities’ (1919), based on earlier histories but informed by his personal knowledge of the area. Its titlepage indicates his much wider importance, as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and of the Royal Institute of British Architects. His career began with study at King’s College, London, and travel in this country and abroad to widen his knowledge. He was articled to architect John Belcher, (qv) who was later to be his close neighbour and friend.
Particularly interested in historic architecture, he worked mainly on the restoration of old churches in Sussex, Kent and Suffolk and became architect to Chichester Cathedral and to Stratford-on-Avon Preservation Trust. His work also included twelve of the war memorials set up after World War One. He was a pioneer in rescuing medieval wall-paintings, notably those at Clayton Church, Sussex. He was interested also in archaeology and became Vice-President of the British Archaeological Association and of the Surrey Archaeological Society. He compiled a schedule of the antiquities of Surrey and contributed to the Victoria County History of that county and to other publications. He is buried at West Norwood Cemetery.
JOYCE, William (‘Lord Haw Haw’) 1906-46. Traitor and the last person in the country to be hanged for high treason. Joyce was born in Brooklyn, New York, of Irish-American parents, and moved with them as a child to Ireland and in 1923 to Allison Grove, Dulwich. A year later, at the age of 18, Joyce joined the British Union of Fascists (BUF), attracted at first, it is thought, by the Blackshirts’ uniform. He soon came to the notice of Sir Oswald Mosley and was appointed to his staff, eventually becoming Director of Propaganda in 1933.
In 1937, Joyce broke away from the BUF to found the National Socialist League (NSL). He was disenchanted with Mosley, blaming him for the decline of the movement through his failure to win the support of the country. His new organisation was anti-communist and virulently antisemitic. It had an active branch in Dulwich. In the first issue of the NSL’s newsletter, The Helmsman, it was claimed the party’s meetings at Dulwich Library were very successful, and attracted the largest crowds ever seen at open-air meetings in the district. Open-air meetings were also regularly held on the pavement at the corner of Dulwich Village and Calton Avenue, where Joyce would address the audience from a soap box. The St Barnabas Church parochial church council refused to allow him to hire the Parish Hall for meetings.
Following his marriage to Margaret Cairns, a fellow BUF member, Joyce and his wife moved to Farquhar Road. It was on the evidence of an application for a British passport, from this address that the prosecution successfully obtained a guilty verdict to the charge of high treason.
Both Joyces left for Germany on 25 August 1939, with the intention of William, in his words, ‘playing what humble part I could in working for her (Germany’s) victory in the war which I knew to be inevitable’. Joyce began broadcasting in 1940. His broadcasts were treated more as a joke by the British, because of his odd speech in the introduction, which began ‘Jairmany calling, Jairmany calling’, and earned him the nickname of ‘Lord Haw Haw’. Joyce embraced the name. The broadcasts were made with the intention of undermining British morale, an exercise his wife also tried to carry out in separate broadcasts to women listeners. While he announced news of Allied reverses in the war or trivial observations of everyday life in Britain, his wife would extol the domestic benefits of the German social system.
William Joyce was captured in 1945 and sent for trial in England. His wife meanwhile was detained in Belgium but was not prosecuted because of the danger of making them both martyrs. William was hanged in 1946. There are two unusual coincidences in connection with Dulwich and the Joyces. The Joyce family home in Allison Grove was the first to be destroyed by German bombs. The chief prosecutor at William Joyce’s trial was Sir Hartley Shawcross, an old boy of Dulwich College, and later the chairman of its governors.
KARLOFF, Boris 1887-1969. Actor. Article here.
KLEINWORT, Herman 1856-1942. Banker. Lived at ‘The Platanes’, Champion Hill from 1890 to 1908. A member of the banking firm that bears his name and descended from German Lutherans from Schleswig who established a firm of merchant bankers in London by 1792. Although British citizens, Herman Kleinwort and his wife Marguerite were also part of the large German colony around Champion Hill. This colony included four other houses occupied by members of the family. By 1908 however, Champion Hill had ceased to enjoy its isolated and rustic seclusion. According to Kleinwort many of the larger houses in the neighbourhood were being occupied as boarding houses, hostels, nursing institutions and educational colleges. The Dulwich College Estates Governors turned down Kleinwort’s plans to develop his estate into smaller housing units, and in the event he was unable to sell it. Finally, in order to rid himself of the unwanted lease which still had 57 years to run, he gave the house to King’s College Hospital as a hostel for students. It remains a Hall of Residence for King’s College medical students to this day.
KNOLLES, Sir Robert c.1316-1407. Dulwich tenant c.1375-1398. Heading the list of Dulwich tenants in 1376 is the name of 'Dominus Robertus Knolles'. Knolles fought at the battle of Crecy in 1346 and was knighted soon afterwards. Remaining in France as captain of one of the notorious 'Free Companies' after the English victory at Poitiers in 1356, Knolles and his band of 500 archers practised systematic extortion and terrorism on the civil population of the Loire Valley and Normandy and made a fortune of 100,000 crowns. He took part in the Black Prince’s successful campaign in Castile in 1367 and, nicknamed ‘The Old Brigand’, was promoted to commander of the English forces in France.
In the mid-1370s Knolles returned to England, a wealthy man, with estates in Normandy and Brittany. He also owned freehold and copyhold land in Dulwich, a manor in Norfolk and a London mansion near the Tower. In 1381 Knolles was living at his Seething Lane mansion, as the Peasants' Revolt under Wat Tyler advanced on London. With his forces he surrounded the rebels at Smithfield, who immediately abandoned any hope of success and were led away under escort.
Towards the end of his exceptionally long life for the times (he died aged about 90), Knolles disposed of his properties in Dulwich. One of these later became known as Hall Place, at the north end of South Croxted Road, but for nearly two hundred years after his death it was known as 'the Manor of Knolles' or 'Knowlis'.
LAMMER, Alfred 1909-2000. Photographer and RAF navigator. Alfred Ritter von Lammer was born in Linz, Austria and moved to London in 1934 working for the Austrian state travel bureau. He resigned his job and decided to stay after the Germans annexed Austria in 1938, dropping the ‘Ritter’ and the ‘von’. He joined the RAF in 1940 and spent most of the war in night fighters as a radar navigator, ending as a squadron leader running the RAF school for navigators at Charter Hill. By then he had been twice mentioned in despatches and was awarded the DFC and bar.
After the war, Lammer pursued his interest in photography, teaching at the Central School of Art and at Guildford School of Art where in 1952 he set up the first school of colour photography in Britain. He specialised in close-up photography of plants, and his pictures were used by the Royal Mail for a series of flower stamps issued in 1987. He also took the photographs for John Baker’s English Stained Glass (1960), a project which made full use of his skill as a climber. After retiring from the Guildford School of Art in 1976, he taught photography part-time to graduate students at the Royal College of Art for another ten years. He was an honorary Fellow of the RCA and decorated by Austria for his services to art. He lived at 12 Pickwick Road, Dulwich Village for nearly forty years.
LANE, Jack 1879-1953. Music-hall star. Born in Halifax, Yorkshire, Lane’s real name was John Edward Rider. He was billed as ‘The Yorkshire Rustic’ for his music-hall performances. His act was very versatile, embodying dialect studies, patter and comedy; he sang and played the piano. The son of a shoemaker, Lane began his working life as an engineering apprentice. A succession of jobs followed, and with the encouragement of his mother, who had ‘put him to the piano at an early age’, he entered the world of entertainment. His first professional appearance was in his native Halifax in 1902, accompanying Leo Dryden, who sang his famous song ‘The Miner’s Dream of Home’.
An agent saw Jack performing and offered him a pantomime engagement at Doncaster at £5 a week. This led to a tour of South Africa and he decided to get married on the strength of it. He was a great favourite in pantomime, playing the role of Simple Simon or Idle Jack. The comedy part of his act was so good that he unwittingly cured a shell-shocked soldier, rendered dumb by gunfire in 1916. Apparently he laughed so much at Lane’s act at the Sunderland Empire that he got his voice back.
In later years Lane made a name for himself on radio, appearing on Variety Bandbox and Palace of Varieties. His most famous act was to be able to play ‘Cock o’ the North’ on the piano with one hand, his signature tune Hello! with the other, and sing ‘On Ilkla Moor Baht ’at’ to a different tune altogether. He lived at 133 Burbage Road from 1921 to 1926.
LAWS, John 1921-1999. Radiologist. Lived in Frank Dixon Way, one of the outstanding radiologists of his generation, a gifted teacher who developed radiology at King’s College Hospital into one of the finest in the country. There he transformed a department which had been ailing for some time into the hub of a hospital’s clinical activities. As his reputation spread, aspiring radiologists came to work and train at King’s. He was awarded the CBE and played a large part in the activities of the Royal College of Radiologists of which he was successively registrar, warden and finally president 1980–83.
LIGHTFOOT, Luke c.1722-1789. Woodcarver. ‘Some of the most extraordinary Rococo decoration in England’, is how the National Trust describes the work of Luke Lightfoot at Claydon House, Buckinghamshire; his Chinese Room there is especially famous. The interesting connections of this ‘woodcarver of genius’ with Dulwich are much less well known.
Lightfoot’s name first appears in the Dulwich Estate records in 1761 as leasing property in Dulwich. He was one of several master-craftsmen who had workshops in the Borough High Street area of Southwark. Lightfoot’s real claim to local fame, however, dates from about 1768 when he built, on the hill-top, at the northern tip of the manor of Dulwich, the present site of the Fox on the Hill, a grand place of public entertainment, which he called Denmark Hall. According to a contemporary account, ‘when it was first opened it was much frequented by large parties from London; it contained one of the largest rooms in England, being upward of 100 feet in length, and 30 feet in width’.
Lightfoot apparently named it in honour of the King of Denmark who visited England in 1768. While in London King Christian visited the much more famous Ranelegh Gardens in Chelsea, and perhaps Lightfoot was hoping for similar royal patronage. However, Denmark Hall did not prove to be such a success, and within a few years it was converted into several private dwellings, though retaining for a while the reduced ‘Denmark Hall Tea Gardens’. However, Luke Lightfoot’s short-lived 18th century ‘leisure centre’ did leave one permanent mark: Denmark Hill was named after it.
LINLEY, Ozias Thurston 1765-1831. ‘Oz’ Linley was the only member of that famous Bath family to have any direct connection with Dulwich. In 1816 he was elected Organist (the most junior of the four Fellows) at Dulwich College, which appointment required him to live in the College precincts, play the organ on Sundays, and teach music to the scholars. In addition to his musical skills, Ozias was a fine mathematician with a lively interest in philosophy and intellectual disputes, and a forcible manner of expressing himself. He was buried in the College Chapel and left his property (apart from his collection of pictures, bequeathed to the College) to his younger brother William (1771-1835). Portraits (by artists such as Gainsborough and Lawrence) of eight members of the Linley family, five of whom were talented musicians, now hang on the walls of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, some of them the gift of the younger brother William.
Hilary Rosser and Patrick Darby
LOWE, Evelyn Mary 1869-1956. The first woman chairman of the London County Council, and a prominent social worker and administrator in South London. She was born in Rotherhithe, the daughter of the Rev. J. Farren, a Congregational minister. She trained as a teacher and early in life she joined the staff of Homerton College, Cambridge, where she later became Vice-Principal.
She married Dr George Lowe a distinguished physician who was in partnership with Dr Alfred Salter in Bermondsey. They formed the Bermondsey Labour Party with the co-operation of other activists from local churches and chapels. She became actively involved in local government and served as a borough councillor and member of the education committee. From 1922 until her death she sat for Bermondsey as a Labour member of the London County Council (LCC). She was appointed deputy chairman of the LCC in 1929 and chairman in 1939. From 1929-1939 she was also chairman of the higher education sub-committee. She was chairman of the governors at James Allen’s Girls School and Honor Oak Girls School. A primary school in the Old Kent Road was named after her, and a portrait by AK Lawrence used to hang in the Ayes Lobby at County Hall. After World War Two, she lived at 30 Dulwich Common until her death in 1956. Her personal papers are in the Women’s Library, London Guildhall University.
McKAY, Roy 1900-1993. Broadcaster. Article here.
MASON, Alfred Edward Woodley (AEW) 1865-1948. Author, most notably of 'The Four Feathers (1902). He was the youngest son of William Woodley Mason, a chartered accountant. Born in Camberwell, his parents moved to Everleigh, Dulwich Wood Park in 1878. He was educated at Dulwich College between 1878 and 1884. His ‘home in a garden of trees’ is described in The Summons, and his teenage years in Dulwich are reflected also in his unpublished final novel. He was MP for Coventry 1906-1910 but is best known as a writer. In 1946 he became President of the Alleyn Club and published his last book with the title of ‘The House in Lordship Lane’. According to EV Lucas, his laugh was ‘famous in both hemispheres’. He declined to accept a knighthood and died in Westminster.
Patrick Darby and Bernard Nurse
MATTHEWS, Samuel died 1802. ‘The Dulwich Hermit’. A jobbing gardener of somewhat eccentric character, he was much affected by the death of his wife and wishing to shun social life he obtained the consent of the College to dig a cave and erect a hut in the Dulwich Woods. He became known as the ‘Wild Man of the Wood’ and an attraction for visitors, who found him a harmless and gentle being, hospitably offering them beer. He was murdered in his woodland home on 28 December 1802. A reward of £25 was offered for apprehension of the murderer but no arrest was made. Years later an Isaac Evans claimed he was one of the party who murdered the Dulwich Hermit. Matthews was buried in the Old Burial Ground in Dulwich Village.
MAXIM, Sir Hiram Stevens 1840-1916. ‘A chronic inventor’ (his own description), Maxim was born in Maine, USA. His basic engineering experience came from working in his uncle’s factory manufacturing gas engines. By his mid-30s he was senior partner of a New York firm producing gas and steam engines. His inventive mind focused on any problem that came his way: after a warehouse fire he invented a sprinkler system which also alerted the fire brigade.
Maxim came to London to reorganise his company’s office. His best-known invention, first patented in 1883, is the Maxim machine gun, a self-loading gun which fired continuously. From the 1890s he developed an interest in aeroplanes, and some maintain that he was the first to achieve flight at Bexley on 31 July 1894. The aeroplane was steam driven and enormous, with a wingspan of 104 feet and two rear 18 feet propellers. With Maxim and two assistants on board, the aircraft lifted for a short distance from the track before crashing.
Maxim has been criticized for being too confident in his own approach to developments and ignoring the research of others. He subsequently took out a patent on a design for a helicopter and invented an inhaler for relief from bronchitis (from which he suffered). To raise finance, he developed a ‘captive flying machine’, an enormous merry-go-round which swung passengers around on the end of 60 feet radial arms. His first experiments were in his garden at 377 Norwood Road, (close to Lancaster Avenue), and the most famous example was erected in the grounds of the Crystal Palace, where it remained in a dilapidated condition until after World War Two.
He became a naturalised British citizen and was knighted in 1901. The family moved in 1910 to Ryecotes, a mansion on Dulwich Common, which later became the temporary clubhouse of the Dulwich and Sydenham Golf Club and is now the site of Ryecotes Mead. He subsequently moved to 382 Streatham High Road. His tomb, and that of his wife and grandson, is close to the entrance in West Norwood Cemetery.
MICHEL, Louise 1830-1905. Teacher and revolutionary. Article here.
MILNE, Alexander Taylor (Jock) 1906-1994. Historian. Educated at University College, London, he became Librarian of the Royal Historical Society based there 1935 – 40. He held the position of Secretary and Librarian of the Institute of Historical Research between 1946 and his retirement in 1971. During this time he compiled a number of bibliographies of writings on British history and contributed to reference works and learned journals. After retirement, he edited two volumes of the letters of Jeremy Bentham. He lived in Frank Dixon Close and was Chairman of the Dulwich Forum for twenty-five years.
MILNER, Edward 1819-1884. Landscape gardener. He was apprenticed to Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth, and also studied at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. He assisted Paxton in laying out Prince’s Park, Liverpool, in 1844, Crystal Palace Park and the People’s Park, Halifax, in the 1850s. Paxton was responsible for the designs and Milner for superintending their execution. Milner also worked on his own, designing three public parks in Preston in the 1860s and Lincoln Arboretum in 1872. He was responsible for laying out St Paul’s Churchyard as a public garden in 1879. In the last years of his life he was Director of the Crystal Palace School of Gardening and lived at Hillside, Dulwich Wood Park from the 1860s.
MITCHELL, Sir William Lane 1861-1940. Publisher and MP. Chairman of the publishing house of Lane Mitchell, alderman and twice Mayor of Camberwell, 1906-7 and 1907-8. He was MP for Wandsworth, Streatham from 1918, standing as a Coalition Unionist, then MP for Streatham from 1922 as a Conservative. He was knighted in 1921. He lived for many years in Dulwich and was buried in Camberwell Old Cemetery.
MORLEY, Eric 1918-2000. Impresario. Born in Holborn, his father died when he was two and his mother and stepfather died of tuberculosis when he was eleven. The London County Council sent the orphaned boy to the Royal Naval training ship Exmouth, but in 1934 he transferred to the Royal Fusiliers as a boy bandsman, playing the French horn.
After the war he joined Mecca as a publicity sales manager, and in the following years created some of Britain’s most enduring popular entertainments. In 1949 he devised Come Dancing, which went on to become the world’s longest running musical television programme and was later revamped as Strictly Come Dancing. From the fashion shows which he also held in Mecca dance halls, he developed the idea of the Miss World contests in competition with the rival American Miss Universe. Originally conceived for the 1951 Festival of Britain, Miss World was first televised in 1959; by 1995 there were 1.5 billion viewers in 115 countries. He led Mecca into several new activities, introducing commercial bingo to this country in 1961. He became managing director in 1968, but two years later the company was taken over by the leisure group, Grand Metropolitan, and he left in 1978.
He was an assiduous worker for charity, an active supporter of the Variety Club of Great Britain, and the driving force behind the Club’s largest undertaking of the time, the building of the new King’s College children’s hospital, opened in 1985. For a short time he turned to politics; he stood as the Conservative candidate for Dulwich in 1974 and 1979, when he was defeated by Labour’s Sam Silkin (qv) by just 122 votes. He lived in College Road for much of the last half of his life.
MORRIS, Thomas 1830-1913. Artist and writer. Little Tom Morris who never grew taller than 3 feet 4 inches made a record of Dulwich, his ‘dear old village’, by means of both paint and pen. Thomas was born in 1830 at a house near the Old Burial Ground, where his parents had a greengrocer's and milk business. Young Thomas soon displayed various skills. He was, for example, in demand as a violinist at local dances. His special talent, however, was as an artist. At the school of art which he attended he won four medals and a special medallion. Ruskin befriended him, giving him lessons in painting. As Morris said: ‘I received many kindnesses from him and gifts of money from him to buy paints and brushes’. Oil paintings and water-colours by Morris evoke a picture of Dulwich when it was still a rural area, for example, Croxted Lane (now Croxted Road), when it really was a country lane. He began sketching there while watching over his mother's cows. He gave his paintings to the South London Gallery, where they are still part of the permanent collection. Thomas Morris' last years were spent at the Old College Almshouses, now known as Edward Alleyn House and he died in August 1913.
PARKES, Alexander 1813-1890. Sometimes described as ‘the father of plastics’, he spent the last five years of his life in West Dulwich, at 32 Park Hall Road (where a plaque in his memory was put up in January 2002), 8 Chancellor Grove and 61 Rosendale Road, where he died. Born in Birmingham, Parkes was apprenticed as an art metal worker, and became head of the casting department of Elkingtons, manufacturers of metal products. He had outstanding inventive abilities and registered over 60 patents of diverse nature, including electro-plating, a cold curing process of vulcanisation and smelting of metals by blasts of hot air.
Parkes’s most notable achievement was to produce a semi-synthetic mouldable plastic, which he called ‘Parkesine’. Models and household items, such as combs and buttons, made of this material were exhibited at the 1862 International Exhibition in Hyde Park and at the 1867 Paris Universal Exhibition, where on both occasions he was awarded medals. Unfortunately, the material was highly combustible, and his business failed. The invention was refined by an American company, which renamed the product ‘Celluloid’. A fortune was made and a universal name coined but not to the benefit of Parkes.
PAXTON, Sir Joseph 1801-1865. Paxton was a farmer's son, and his first job was as a gardener. Whilst working for the Horticultural Society at Chiswick, he came to the attention of the Duke of Devonshire, who appointed him Superintendent of his gardens at Chatsworth. Here he designed and built a great conservatory made of glass, an experience which no doubt inspired his ambitious 1850 design for the following year's Great Exhibition. His design for the huge Crystal Palace was chosen, and the building erected in Hyde Park; the following year Paxton was knighted. Paxton supervised the removal of the Crystal Palace to Sydenham. He remained director of gardens both at Chatsworth and at Crystal Palace. Among his other projects he planned two early public parks: Princes Park in Liverpool in 1842 and Birkenhead Park in 1843. From 1854 he was the Liberal MP for Coventry. Sir Joseph Paxton lived from 1852 until his death in 1865 at his house Rockhills, opposite 108 Westwood Hill. The house was demolished in the 1960s, but a Crystal Palace Foundation plaque marks the site.
PEARSALL, Phyllis (née Gross) 1906-1995. Originator of the London A-Z. Phyllis Pearsall was born at 3 Court Lane Gardens, then named Budapest, in 1906, a house that was to be her home until shortly before the outbreak of World War One. Born to an Irish mother who had eloped with a Hungarian father to Gretna Green, she had a difficult childhood. Her mother’s mental illnesses and the bankruptcy of her father forced her to leave Roedean and finish her teenage years living rough in Paris. In 1908, her parents had established a map-making company in London named ‘Geographer’ and this enterprise had a long-term influence on Phyllis, although her father was obliged to sell the company to pay his debts.
In 1935 a taxi ride on a wet evening to a dinner party in Maida Vale had elicited some commiseration from her hostess. ‘It is tremendously hard to negotiate London’, to which her husband added, ‘unless you are in a taxi, there is no clear way to know how to get where you are going’. From these chance comments, the idea of producing an easy to read, street by street map of London was born. Working from Ordnance Survey maps, Phyllis ultimately listed 23,000 roads. A company was formed, ‘The Geographers Map Company’ and the first London A-Z guide was published in 1936.
PEEK, Francis 1834-1899. Tea importer and philanthropist. Lived at Roby, Crescent Wood Road. A partner in the firm of Peek Brothers and Winch, tea importers, in 1895, the largest wholesale dealer in tea and coffee in the world. Francis Peek was a great philanthropist and social reformer. He was chairman of the Howard Association, now the Howard League for Penal Reform. He was also a member of the London School Board and gave £1,000 in one year to provide shoes for poor children. In response to the Bishop of Rochester’s appeal for funds to build ten new churches in the diocese, Francis Peek agreed that he would meet the costs of building a new church if the target of the original Ten Churches Appeal was met. As a consequence, he provided the funds for the building of St Clement’s Church, Friern Road and further funds to assist with the building of St Saviour’s, Copleston Road and Emmanuel Church, West Dulwich. He wrote numerous articles on the treatment of the poor and was the author of ‘Social wreckage: a review of the laws of England as they affect the poor’, (1883).
PENNEY, William George, Baron Penney of East Hendred, 1909-1991. Best known for his work in developing the atomic bomb in America and at Aldermaston (1953-1959). Born in West Norwood, he was educated at Sheerness Technical School, and gained a scholarship to Imperial College, where later he was appointed assistant professor of mathematics (and eventually Rector).
During World War Two he worked on the nature and properties of bomb blast waves, and was sent to Los Alamos in America as part of the British team working on the blast effects of an atomic bomb. Penney and Leonard Cheshire were the only two British observers to accompany the flight when the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. After the decision to develop nuclear weapons, Penney had to organise the research without the co-operation of the United States, as sharing information was banned. The first test in 1952 off the coast of Australia was a complete success. The hydrogen bomb was developed, and tested on Christmas Island in 1956-7. This led to a bilateral treaty for mutual assistance in nuclear defence with America. Penney had a leading role in these negotiations and afterwards in the discussions which led to the nuclear test ban treaty. Later he became chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and presided over the development of the fast reactor at Dounreay, and the nuclear power programme.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, awarded the Order of Merit, and made a Life Peer. Besides being a brilliant scientist and administrator, he was an approachable man much appreciated by staff and students, with the ability to explain complex matters in a simple and direct manner. As a young married man, he lived at Crystal Palace. For ten years from 1942 the family lived in Idmiston Road and from 1965 to 1968 they lived in Raleigh Court, Lymer Avenue. Whilst in the district, he was a keen member of the Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Golf Club, winning the Paddon Cup in 1948.
PORTWINE, John 1866-1956. Co-founder of AC Cars. Portwine was a butcher by trade who, in 1902 provided the finance for John Weller, a mechanical engineer, to create the Weller car, and a goods carrying vehicle called the ‘Auto Carrier’. In 1907 the company became Auto Carriers Ltd., their passenger car having the abbreviated name ‘AC’ The company started in Thomas Place (later named Waylett Place) West Norwood, and moved to Thames Ditton in 1911.
Portwine started driving in 1898, and after licences were introduced in 1903, held licence no. 4. The family lived at 25 Lancaster Road (now Lancaster Avenue) and afterwards at The Firs, Sydenham Hill. Between 1923 and 1943, they lived in the house which he built at 112 College Road. His daughter Elsie married Guy Fountain (qv).
POWELL, Harry 1853-1922. Designer. Article here.
PRATT, William Henry aka Boris Karloff 1887-1969. Actor. Article here.
PRITCHETT, Sir Victor Sawdon 1900-1997. Writer. VS Pritchett was a master of the short story, a travel writer, novelist, biographer, journalist and critic. Born in Ipswich, his father was a Micawber like character, shopkeeper and travelling salesman; the title of Pritchett’s autobiography, ‘A Cab at the Door’, derives from the numerous homes they vacated due to financial problems. In a more prosperous interlude, the family lived at 200 Clive Road; and he attended Rosendale Road School. His father’s business partner paid for him to go to Alleyn’s, where he stayed for two years, 1914 to 1916. Whilst there he decided on a writing career, and afterwards took a great interest in the school. On his last visit, he presented his handwritten first page of his autobiography.
The family moved to Bromley, and Pritchett had to leave school at 15 and went into the leather trade in Bermondsey. At 21 he left for Paris, and at times had to sell books he had collected to survive (two volumes equalled a meagre meal). He landed a job as a journalist for Christian Science Monitor in Ireland, and later in Spain. The people he met and countries visited gave him the material for his writings, which are distinguished by their wide social range, shrewd observation of the quirks of human nature and humane irony.
REED, Ronald Thomas 1916-1995. Ronnie Reed's father was killed in France when Ronnie was less than a year old, and he grew up in the King's Cross area of London, becoming a choirboy at St Pancras Church. With his boyhood friend Charles Chilton (later Head of the BBC Light Programme) he developed a life-long interest in 'ham' radio, eventually qualifying as an electrical engineer and, in the mid-1930s, joining the BBC. In 1940 he was summoned to Wormwood Scrubs Prison at the request of those interrogating a recently arrived German spy who had agreed to collaborate (rather than be shot), to supervise the spy's first call back to Germany. Reed was thereafter seconded to MI5 for the remainder of the War. Eddie Chapman, probably this country's most successful triple agent (and the subject of the film Triple Cross) later presented him with the Iron Cross which Chapman had been awarded by the unsuspecting Germans. By the early 1950s Reed, by now married with two sons and living in Upper Norwood, was a senior officer in MI5, in charge of the section dealing with Russian spies. In 1957 he was seconded to the Foreign Office, and posted for three years to New Zealand, where he helped set up the equivalent of MI5. On their return he and his wife Mary bought 2 Court Lane Gardens, where they continued to live after his retirement in 1976.
Ronnie Reed was a resident of Dulwich for thirty-five years, and was active in the Dulwich Society Trees Sub-Committee, so that it is particularly fitting that he is commemorated by an oak planted at the junction of Turney and Burbage Roads, under which his ashes were placed.
Patrick Darby from material supplied by Nicholas Reed
ROGERS, Rev. William 1819-1896. Social reformer. Article here.
ROHMER, Sax see WARD, Arthur Sarsfield
ROMILLY, Rev. Joseph 1791-1864. Diarist. Stayed at The Willows, Dulwich Common, and chronicled life in Dulwich in the early 19th century. Joseph Romilly was christened at St Anne’s Soho and was the son of Thomas Romilly (1753-1825), who was of Huguenot descent. Joseph had two older brothers, Cuthbert a lawyer, Samuel who was a Lt Col in the Royal Engineers and a younger brother Frank, who lived in Paris. There were three sisters: Caroline married Lancelot Baugh Allen, who had been Warden and Master of Dulwich College from 1805 until he resigned to marry Caroline in 1820; Margaret and Lucy.
Joseph’s working life was spent in Cambridge, from the time he was admitted to Trinity College, in 1808 until his death in 1864. He became a Fellow of Trinity in 1815, Senior Dean 1829-1831 and in 1832 was appointed University Registrary, the Cambridge term for registrar, with responsibility for the university records. However between about 1811 and 1837, he spent his vacations in Dulwich. His father took the lease of The Willows on Dulwich Common soon after it was built to the design of George Tappen, the College Surveyor. When Romilly died in 1828, it passed to his two unmarried sisters.
To augment his Cambridge salary, Romilly was given the family’s living of the parish of Porthkerry, Glamorgan, where he was the absentee Rector from 1830 to 1837. Other than this he never held a parish and seldom took religious duties or preached. Nevertheless he was sincere in his religious belief, he was courteous, well-read in English and Continental literature. In politics he was a radical, in favour of the Reform Bill and the abolition of slavery. He enjoyed a wide circle of friends, gambled modestly at whist, was fond of good food and wine, especially champagne.
From 1820 until his death, he kept a daily diary and when he went on holiday, he kept a journal. His diaries from 1830 onwards are very detailed, snobbish and provide a unique window into the social life of a bachelor clergyman. They also offer much information on life in Dulwich in the period up to 1837 when his two unmarried sisters settled in Cambridge with him. Even afterwards, the Romilly family retained an interest in The Willows and Joseph continued to make occasional visits to Dulwich recorded in his diaries.
RUSKIN, John 1819-1900. John Ruskin, the great Victorian writer, thinker and artist, whose work was so influential, spent his most creative years in the Dulwich area. From 1823 he and his parents lived at a house on the west side of Herne Hill, moving from there in 1843 to a larger house and estate at the top of Denmark Hill, on the east side, just within the old manor of Dulwich. Ruskin’s father, a wine merchant, was typical of the prosperous people moving out of the City in the 18th and early 19th century to places such as Dulwich and Herne Hill.
Ruskin’s autobiography, ‘Praeterita’, has many vivid recollections of the rural beauty of Dulwich as it was in his youth. Ruskin’s first drawings were of Dulwich and his first introduction to great paintings was at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Later, as a lecturer at the Working Men’s College, he brought his students to sketch in Dulwich Woods. At Denmark Hill Ruskin entertained the most famous names in Victorian art and literature. Paintings by Turner adorned the house. It was only in 1872, after the railways had come and the neighbourhood was losing its rural character, that Ruskin moved away to the Lake District.
The two houses where Ruskin lived have both gone. 26 Herne Hill occupies the site of the first of them. A plaque in St Paul’s Church, Herne Hill, commemorates Ruskin’s residence in the parish. 163 Denmark Hill survived as Ruskin Manor Hotel until 1949 when it was demolished to build a council housing estate. Simpson’s Alley, an old footpath from Herne Hill to Dulwich, has been appropriately renamed Ruskin Walk. Ruskin Park, opened in 1907, was also named after the neighbourhood’s most famous resident. Ruskin’s greatest personal legacy to south London must be the magnificent east window of St Giles’ Church, Peckham Road, Camberwell, which he and a colleague designed in 1844. It is the only surviving stained glass by John Ruskin.
SHACKLETON, Sir Ernest Henry 1874-1922. Explorer. He was born in Ireland, the son of a doctor who moved to Sydenham in 1885. The family lived in Aberdeen House, now 12 Westwood Hill. At the age of 12 he was enrolled in Dulwich College, where he did ‘very little work’ according to a contemporary, ‘and if there was a scrap he was usually in it’. In a conversation years later with PG Wodehouse (qv) he recalled with fondness the ‘jam-puffs’ from the College Buttery, and dreamt about them on one occasion when in the Antarctic. His father reluctantly agreed to allow him to leave school early, when he was 16, to join the mercantile marine.
Shackleton took part in four major Antarctic expeditions. He served under Scott on the Discovery in 1901-3 but was invalided home after developing scurvy. He commanded the British Antarctic Expedition on the Nimrod, which covered 1,260 miles in 126 days without loss of life and was knighted after returning home in 1909. However, it was the extraordinary courage and heroic qualities of leadership shown on the Endurance expedition of 1914-16 for which Shackleton is best remembered. His epic 800-mile journey in appalling conditions in the small whale-boat, James Caird, used as a lifeboat after the destruction of the Endurance has been the subject of many books, exhibitions and films. The boat was given to Dulwich College in 1922, where it is on display.
In 1922 Shackleton died suddenly of angina in South Georgia at the start of another expedition. His name is perpetuated in Mounts Shackleton in Canada and Greenland, Shackleton Inlet and Shackleton Ice Shelf in the Antarctic. A memorial statue stands in the premises of the Royal Geographical Society.
SHAWE, Richard 1755-1816. Barrister. Shawe was leading counsel for Warren Hastings when he was impeached on charges of corruption in the administration of Bengal, and tried between 1788-1795. Hastings was acquitted, but the seven-year trial cost him between £40,000 and £80,000, and financially ruined him. On the other hand, it greatly enriched Shawe, and with the proceeds he bought, in around 1800, an estate in Dulwich on Red Post Hill, where he probably commissioned John Nash to design him a villa, 'Cassino' (otherwise 'Casino', or 'Cassina'), and Humphrey Repton to landscape the grounds.
Shawe died in 1816 and is interred in a splendid chest tomb in the Village Burial Ground. His villa was pulled down in 1906, and the site and grounds almost completely covered immediately after WW1 by the Casino housing estate. Sunray Gardens, with its irregular lake, is all that remains of Repton's design.
SHELDRAKE, Khalid 1888-1947. Pickle manufacturer and would-be king. Article here.
SHELTON, Anne 1923-1994. Singer. During WW2, one of the scholars at the Sacre Coeur Convent in Honor Oak was Patricia Jacqueline Sibley, living at 112 Woodwarde Rd. Although recordings had been issued earlier under that name, as a child vocalist, it was not until she was auditioned by that astute judge of female vocalists, Bert Ambrose, that she emerged as Anne Shelton. There then ensued between 1940 and 1945 a string of records with the Ambrose Orchestra which disclosed a rich warm voice of quite outstanding maturity.
Billy Amstell, a member of the Ambrose Orchestra, recalled her nervous agitation at audition, although accompanied by her mother. In a later interview, Anne herself confided that at that stage of her career she thought a key was something used to open doors. Her enduring fame is based on her World War Two popularity, which included a delightful 1943 film Miss London Ltd, in which her charming personality is most apparent. She sang with Bing Crosby, at his request, and received the ultimate accolade, appearances with the band of the United States Air Force under the redoubtable Glenn Miller in 1943-4. Anne Shelton lived in Court Lane until her death in 1994.
SILKIN, Jon 1930-1997. Poet. Article here.
SILKIN OF DULWICH, Baron. Samuel Charles Silkin 1918-1988. Second son of the 1st Baron Silkin, educated at Dulwich College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge where he studied law and then called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1941. He served as Labour MP for Dulwich from 1964 to 1983, holding the office of Attorney General from 1974 to 1979. He was created a Life Peer in 1985 and was Opposition front-bench spokesman on legal matters in the House of Lords until his death in 1988.
Lord Silkin was one of the architects of the Leasehold Reform Act, intended primarily to help Welsh miners in tied houses, but which also enabled leaseholders on the Dulwich Estate to acquire the freeholds of their properties. He lived in Alleyn Road.
SMITH, Sir Francis Pettit 1808-1874. Inventor. Article here.
SMITH, Cecil LT 1899-1966. Author, most famously for the 'Hornblower' series, who wrote under the name of CS Forester. Of Anglo-American stock, Forester was educated at both Alleyn’s School from 1910-1915 and Dulwich College where he was a boarder from 1915-1916. His family lived at Shenley Road, Camberwell and Underhill Road, East Dulwich, where there is a blue plaque to his memory at No. 58. His parents moved abroad in 1915 as his father was given a post in the Ministry of Education in Egypt.
In 1917 Forester was refused entry into the army due to a weak heart, and after an abortive attempt to become a medical student settled on journalism. He wrote fiction in his spare time, and in 1937 produced the first of twelve Horatio Hornblower novels, in the course of which his fictitious hero rose from navy midshipman to admiral. Cecil Smith was present at the unveiling of the Dulwich College War Memorial in the Chapel, which included the name of Edmund S. Hornblower. Some stories say that he and Hornblower were friends; this is unlikely because of the difference in their ages. During World War Two Forester wrote articles for publication in the USA to assist the British war effort. After his first marriage was dissolved in 1944 he settled in the USA, re-married, and died in California in 1966.
Patrick Darby, Rosemary Warhurst and Arthur Chandler
SPICER, Sir Evan 1849-1937. Wholesale paper manufacturer, stationer and philanthropist. Evan Spicer lived at 'Belair' from the 1890s until his death. He was a leading Congregationalist and President of the British and Foreign School Society. He led the way in the establishment of the South London Polytechnics Institutes Scheme. He invited ‘a few men of worth’ to Belair to discuss the means by which money could be raised for Battersea and Borough Polytechnics and Goldsmith’s College. He chaired the first Finance Committee for Battersea. He was a founding trustee of the City Parochial Foundation from 1891 until 1937 and its Chairman from 1920-1933. He served as the member for Newington of the London County Council and was its Chairman in 1906-7. He was knighted in 1917.
STORACE, Anna Selina 1766-1817. Opera singer. Born in London of an Italian father. After making her singing debut at the Haymarket in 1774, Signora Storace (or Storache, as it was pronounced and sometimes misspelled) studied in Italy, where she contracted a disastrous marriage to a wife-beater, then moved to Vienna, where in 1784 she created the role of Susanna in Mozart's 'Marriage of Figaro'. Returning to England, she appeared frequently at Drury Lane from 1789. ‘In her later years the signora increased in bulk, and her features, always strong, became coarse. She persisted to the last in playing parts to which she was unsuited, and her final retirement was accepted with something more than resignation.’ It was finally all over when the fat lady sang in May 1808, after which she moved to Herne Hill Cottage in Dulwich, where she died in 1817. Her portrait, by Sharpe, is in the Mathews Collection at the Garrick Club.
SUTHERLAND, Dr John 1808-1891. Public health reformer. Sutherland was born and studied medicine in Edinburgh, having spent much of his early life on the continent. He practised for a short time in Liverpool, where he edited the Health of Towns journal. In 1848, at the request of the Earl of Carlisle, he entered public service as an inspector with the first Board of Health, when he probably moved to London. He conducted the inquiry into the 1848-49 cholera epidemic and headed a commission sent to foreign countries to investigate the law and practice of burial. He represented the Foreign Office at the 1851-52 congress in Paris on the law of quarantine, where he was presented with a gold medal by Louis Napoleon. In 1855, he worked at the Home Office bringing into operation the act for abolishing burials in City churches, because they were overcrowded and spread disease.
Sutherland’s later efforts were devoted to improving sanitary conditions in the army. He headed a commission in the Crimea, where he found Florence Nightingale a valuable ally. In 1855 he was summoned to Balmoral to inform Queen Victoria of the steps taken to benefit the troops. He set up a committee to visit all the barracks and military hospitals in the United Kingdom; its report was published in 1858. He later reported on conditions in India and the Mediterranean stations. Although he retired from the Army Sanitary Committee in 1888, at the age of 80, he was then appointed Medical Superintending Inspector General of the Board of Health and the Home Office and continued to work until shortly before his death.
Sutherland wrote several publications and edited the Journal of Public Health and the monthly record of sanitary improvement. In 1871, he was living with his wife and sister at Oakleigh, Palace Road (now Alleyn Park), where he died on 14 July 1891.
THOMAS, James Henry 1874-1949. Trade Union leader and politician. Born in Newport, Monmouthshire, the son of a domestic servant, Elizabeth Mary Thomas. Later lived at 125 Thurlow Park Road, West Dulwich; and was President of the Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Golf Club.
Thomas joined the Great Western Railway as an engine cleaner at the age of 15, became secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants in 1907 and Labour MP for Derby in 1910. The following year he helped to organise the country’s first ever national rail strike. He held various government positions rising to become Chancellor of the Exchequer 1931-35. While in the Colonial Office in 1936 Thomas was forced to resign as minister and MP after being accused of leaking Budget secrets. Renowned for his ‘defiant avoidance’ of the letter 'h', he was once heard by FE Smith (Lord Birkenhead) complaining ‘I 'ave an 'eadache’. ‘What you need’, advised Birkenhead, ‘is a couple of aspirates.’
THOMPSON, Henry Yates, 1838-1928. Book collector and benefactor. Yates Thompson came from a wealthy banking family and was the principal benefactor of Dulwich Picture Gallery (then the Dulwich College Picture Gallery) during the early twentieth century. In 1908 he became Chairman of the Gallery Committee at the age of 70, and the following year on the death of the then Keeper (who on Yates Thompson's recommendation was not replaced) he personally took over much of the day-to-day management of the Gallery. At his initiative the building and furniture were repaired, an up-dated Catalogue was produced in 1914, and booklets and postcards of the collection were made available for the first time. In addition to giving a Canaletto and a Reynolds to the Gallery, Yates Thompson also inspired his friend Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919) anonymously to donate 35 British portraits to the Gallery, thereby incidentally underscoring its urgent need for more hanging space. Yates Thompson worked with fellow Gallery Governor and architect ET Hall (qv) on the designs for four additional rooms, and personally financed the building of them - work which was finally completed in 1915.
THURLOW, Edward, 1st Baron Thurlow 1731-1806. Lawyer and politician, born in Norfolk. He was sent down from King’s School, Canterbury and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge for being insolent and insubordinate. He was called to the bar in 1753 and entered Parliament as a loyal supporter of Lord North. He became Solicitor General and Attorney General and won George III’s favour by upholding the latter’s American policy. In 1778 he became Lord Chancellor and while retaining office under the Rockingham administration opposed all its measures. He was forced to retire but was restored by Pitt and presided over the trial of Warren Hastings (see Shawe, Richard). He was vulgar, arrogant, profane and immoral, but ‘no man’ said Fox ‘was so wise as Thurlow looked’.
He bought over a thousand acres of land to create an estate centred on Knight’s Hill stretching from Herne Hill almost to Streatham. In 1792, he commissioned Henry Holland to build him a large mansion on what is now the corner of Thurlow Park Road and Elmcourt Road, and near the cottage where he had installed his mistress. During the building he is said to have lived at or near The Green Man, Dulwich Common and a section of the road between was later named after him. The house took three years to build, was three times over budget and Thurlow vowed never to enter it. He did finally take up residence and entertained the Prince of Wales there. However, no buyer could be found for it after his death, and the house was demolished in 1810.
TRIER, Frank born 1853. Civil engineer. He lived at 6 Champion Hill and was a member of the district’s ‘German colony’. As a member of the London County Council, he was instrumental in securing much of the former Saunders estate on Denmark Hill as a public park, instead of being redeveloped for housing. It opened as Ruskin Park in 1907.
In 1907 he proposed the development of part of the Casino House estate on similar lines to those of a Garden City, a proposal that was eventually carried out after World War One.
Brian Green and Bernard Nurse
VESTEY, William, 1st Baron Vestey of Kingswood, 1859-1940. In 1919, Kingswood was bought by Sir William Vestey, who was granted a long lease of the property, at an annual rent of £386 11s 8d for the house and 27 acres, and from 1921 Kingswood remained his principal residence until his death.
Vestey, who came from a Liverpool family, was sent to Canada at the age of seventeen to establish an agency there for the family firm of provision merchants. He made his first fortune there in food canning before he was thirty. He established food processing and cold storage companies in Liverpool and London, and tried unsuccessfully to do likewise in Australia, but then turned his attention instead to Argentina, where he and his brother Edmund established what became the Union Cold Storage Company. Because there were insufficient refrigerated ships to cope with the output from his plants, he decided to have his own fleet of ships carrying his own meat, and the Blue Star Line was born.
William Vestey was given a peerage in 1922 and took the title of Baron Vestey of Kingswood. He and his brother Edmund donated £200,000 to replace the spire of Liverpool Cathedral in the 1920s, and in both World Wars he allowed the government full use of his fleet of Blue Star ships, port facilities and cold storage around the world. It was said that the tonnage lost by Blue Star in the early years of World War Two equalled the total lost by all other lines.
Like his predecessors at Kingswood, Lord Vestey made the grounds available for school sports and the like. However, early in World War Two he moved to his other home at Gerrards Cross, where he died in December 1940.
Brian Green and Patrick Darby
VIZARD, William 1774-1859. Vizard for whom the original Kingswood House was built in 1811-12, was a solicitor involved in one of the most sensational legal cases of his time: the divorce proceedings brought in the House of Lords by King George IV against his wife, Queen Caroline, in 1820. Vizard was the Queen's legal adviser, while Henry Brougham (later Lord Chancellor) was one of the barristers who successfully defended her. The government had the case dropped, much to the king's chagrin. Later on, Vizard acted for many years as adviser to the new Home Office on legal questions and was Secretary of the Bankruptcy Court. He was active in the newly-founded Law Society, of which he became President, and which possesses a portrait of him.
William Vizard spent a great deal of money improving his large Dulwich estate (67 acres at one time). He joined in local social life, becoming a member of the Dulwich Quarterly Meeting of residents, the gentlemen's dining club, from 1812 until he left the district for his native Gloucestershire in 1831.
VOYSEY, Charles Francis Annesley 1857-1941. Architect. Charles Voysey moved to Dulwich at the age of 13 when his father was deprived of his living as an Anglican clergyman in East Yorkshire for preaching a form of theism which was deemed to be heretical. Young Charles, who had hitherto been educated at home and may have been mildly dyslexic, was enrolled at Dulwich College, where he spent eighteen unhappy months and was regarded as an unsatisfactory pupil, leaving before his 16th birthday to continue his education privately. When he began working at an architect's office at the age of 17, he was living with his parents and five siblings at Camden House which, with its neighbour Plasgwyn in Dulwich Village, was bombed during World War Two and is now the site of a row of neo-Georgian town houses. By 1885 Voysey was married, living in Bedford Park, and beginning to establish his career. It reached its apogee in the 1890s when he designed some of his greatest houses, such as Broadleys and Moorcrag in the Lake District.
WARD, Arthur Sarsfield 1886-1959. Writer and creator of Fu Manchu novels. He lived at 51 Herne Hill with his wife, Elizabeth between 1910 and 1920. A blue plaque marks the house. Born in Birmingham of Irish descent, Ward came to London as a journalist investigating a criminal from the East End. He saw a passenger in a cab whom he described as a man ‘with the most indescribable evil face imaginable’. Ward gave himself the pen name of Sax Rohmer and created the totally fictitious but enduring evil character of Dr Fu Manchu. The character had ‘the brains of any three men of genius, with a brow like Shakespeare, and face like Satan, a close-shaven skull and long, magnetic eyes’. The doctor became one of the most popular fictions that promoted the notion of the sinister Oriental who was a man of medical science. He also created the perfect foil for Dr Fu Manchu in Denis Nayland Smith. An expert on oriental matters, Smith had ‘saved the British Empire’ in Burma, travelled in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce and eventually became an Assistant Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police.
Starting in 1912 with The Mystery of Fu Manchu Rohmer turned the subject into some 42 major published works popular in America as well as in the United Kingdom. From 1923 onwards they provided material for twelve films.
WATKINS, Stanley 1888-1975. Pioneering sound engineer. Article here.
WEBSTER, Dr George 1797-1875. A native of Brechin, Webster was apprenticed to a physician at the age of 12, attended Edinburgh University at the age of 15, and was enrolled as a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh when he was 18. His ambition to be an army doctor got him as far as Belgium, where the allied victory at Waterloo terminated his army career before it had begun. Refusing a position in India, Webster accepted one as assistant and subsequently partner to Dr Hall of Dulwich, little knowing that Dulwich was to become his home for the next sixty years. He soon became an established and respected figure in the community; Blanch speaks of him as ‘the most popular man in the parish’.
By 1841 Webster had settled in a house just north of the present College Road entrance to Dulwich Park, where the last of his nine children was born. He died there in 1875 when discussions were already underway to erect a drinking fountain in his honour very close to his home, near the entrance to the Old College. This fountain was finally in place in 1877 and was restored a century later to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee.
Webster had an ongoing concern for the sick and poor and was appointed a medical officer by the Poor Law Board of Camberwell. He and his colleagues in Camberwell and Southwark resigned their positions in 1836, because of ‘an indignity cast upon their profession’ by the Board. Webster's strong feelings concerning the necessity of reform of the medical profession especially in relation to Poor Law Boards led him to establish The British Medical Association, an eloquent member of which was Thomas Wakley, the reforming founder of The Lancet. Webster's Association, of which he was the President, survived for little more than a decade. Following its demise, The Provincial Medical Association which had also come into existence in the 1830s changed its name to The British Medical Association, the organisation we know today.
Webster's concern for child paupers led him to serve on the board of management of the Sutton Schools where it was reckoned 14,000 child paupers were prepared for domestic service or apprenticeships in the years 1855-75. Blanch claimed that ‘no face is as welcome to the little ones at Sutton as that of the cheery doctor’. After he had retired as a GP, the indefatigable Webster became a JP, serving as a magistrate for some years until his death.
WESTRUP, Sir Jack Allan 1904-1975. Born in Dulwich, son of George and Harriet Westrup, his father being an insurance clerk. Educated at Alleyn's School, where he held a scholarship, and at Balliol College, Oxford. Subsequently appointed assistant master at Dulwich College, where he taught Latin; he lived at 149 South Croxted Road. From 1947 he held the position of Heather Professor of Music at Oxford University. He is best known as a musician, conductor and author of works on composers especially Purcell and Handel.
WIDDOWSON, Elsie 1906-2000. Pioneering nutritionist. Article here.
WIDDOWSON, George 1804-1872. Silversmith. Article here.
WILLIAMS, Sir (William) Thomas 1915-1986. MP and judge. Born in Aberdare, he was educated at University College, Cardiff, St Catherine’s College, Oxford and Lincoln’s Inn where he took his bar finals. A Baptist minister during World War Two, he became a chaplain in the RAF and from 1946-49 taught at the non-conformist Manchester College, Oxford. For the following thirty years however, he followed the dual careers of politics and the law. He served as the Labour Member of Parliament for Hammersmith South then Baron’s Court from 1949-59, and for Warrington from 1961-81, most of the time sitting on committees as a back bencher. He was one of only two British Presidents of the World Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. He was made a Queen’s Counsel in 1964, knighted in 1976 and became a circuit judge in 1981. He lived for a long time at various addresses in Dulwich, including Dulwich Wood Park where he died in 1986.
WILSON, Thomas 1787-1863. Lawyer and art collector. Probably better known in Australia than in Dulwich, Thomas Wilson was important in the early history of Adelaide. He was its second Mayor and one who did much to establish its reputation as a city of culture. Before emigrating in 1838, he and his large family had lived, 1812-1834, at Dulwich Place, Half Moon Lane, a two-storey mansion with extensive grounds on the present site of King’s College Botanical Department. An eminent London lawyer, Wilson was also a great collector of works of art and interested too in literature and music. A detailed catalogue of the sale of Dulwich Place and its elegant furniture gives some idea of the style in which he lived. The house had fourteen bedrooms, a library, drawing room and dining room.
Within three years of emigrating, Wilson was an alderman of Adelaide and was described in the South Australian Magazine as a general favourite. ‘He has long been favourably known in the literary world and is an acknowledged connoisseur in the fine arts. He is a respected naturalist and has his attention much directed to the entomology of this province. Mr Wilson is now engaged as a solicitor in a very extensive practice’. By 1843 he was the city’s mayor and was also lecturing on art. In 1830, due to financial difficulties, he had been obliged to sell a great part of his own large collection, some items of which went to the British Museum. However, the Wilson Collection in Adelaide still has portraits of Thomas and his wife Martha, a drawing and sale catalogue of Dulwich Place, a copy of his Descriptive catalogue of the prints of Rembrandt, his special subject of research, and also some of the Dresden and Spode china from his Dulwich home.
WITHINGTON, Thomas Scholes 1790-1838. Merchant. Article here.
WODEHOUSE, Sir Pelham Grenville (PG) 1881-1975. Among the Dulwich College boarders at Elm Lawn in the 1890s was one who went on to become one of the greatest comic writers in the English language. PG Wodehouse, 'Plum', as he was known from an early age, was at Dulwich between 1894 and 1900, years which he was to describe much later in life as ‘like heaven’. His fictional School 'Wrykyn' was based on the College; Dulwich itself features as 'Valley Fields', and certain houses in Acacia Grove can be identified from their descriptions, particularly in his 'Psmith' series. He was knighted shortly before his death and was, in the words of his biographer Frances Donaldson, ‘one of the most admired and probably the most loved of all the writers of his time’. In his will, he left a number of personal effects to the College. These include his typewriter, desk, pipes, books and manuscripts, and have been arranged as a memorial in a corner of the school library.
Patrick Darby and Patrick Spencer
WRIGHT, Thomas (1722-98). Wright, for whom Bell House in College Road was built in 1767, was a wealthy member of the Stationers Company, of which he became Master in 1777. In partnership with William Gill, whose sister he married in 1746, he started a highly profitable business as a wholesale stationer on the old London Bridge in 1748 and, after the shops on the bridge were pulled down, in Abchurch Lane in the City from 1761. Wright became an Alderman for Candlewick ward in 1777, Sheriff of London and Middlesex in 1779, and (in 1785, and again in 1786) Lord Mayor. His Show was particularly splendid: the twelve guildsmen of his Company accompanied him in the procession in their own coaches, instead of on foot, as was the previous practice. On leaving office he presented the Stationers’ Company with a magnificent tea-urn and bequeathed £2,000 for the benefit of poor apprentices.
Thomas Wright lived at Bell House for thirty years and played an active part in the relatively small Dulwich community of those days. In 1771 he helped to secure a fire-engine for the village, and a house for it ‘south of the Pound’. He was a founder of the Dulwich Quarterly Meeting, which became a regular dining club (at the old Greyhound Tavern) in 1772, and which still meets, under the name of the Dulwich Club. Wright presented a bible to the College Chapel and contributed to many local charities. In 1798 the Gentleman's Magazine recorded his death, on 9 April of that year: ‘suddenly, after taking a walk in his grounds at Dulwich, Surrey, and without any previous complaint...’ His fortune was reckoned at not less than £300,000, and tribute was paid to his ‘great application and frugality’. His two sons had died before him, and Ann, his daughter, inherited his fortune.