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We promote and encourage research into Dulwich's fascinating past and are always keen to welcome new members. We write for the Society’s publications, give talks and guide local walks. We curate exhibitions, produce information boards and contribute to celebrations such as the Dulwich Festival.
Contact: Ian McInnes,
King’s College Hospital was established in 1840 when the physician Robert Bentley Todd persuaded the Council of King's College London to spend £25,000 converting a workhouse on Portugal Street, near Lincoln’s Inn Fields, into a teaching hospital. It soon developed into a general hospital covering the slums in the nearby area and need was so great that patients soon slept two to a bed. In 1861 the workhouse was replaced by a new building costing over £100,000 but as the surrounding area was redeveloped the slums disappeared, leading to a decline in demand for the hospital so in 1913 King’s moved to Camberwell.
Kingsley Dene was by far the biggest of the four houses built on Green Lane (now Greendale) on the Dulwich side of the railway line. Its site is now Green Dale Close and the JAPS car park. Built by Arthur Stanton Cook around 1884, Kingsley Dene’s first resident was Henry Briginshaw. Born in 1845 the son of a Putney baker, Henry became a butcher with shops in Rye Lane but he was not always the most honest shopkeeper and was fined for inaccurate scales. In 1871 he married Jane Clark and they lived in Brixton with their two children before moving to Kingsley Dene.
Bertie Sheldrake was an East Dulwich pickle manufacturer who converted to Islam and became king of a far-flung Islamic republic before returning to London and settling back into obscurity.
Bertie William Sheldrake was born in 1888, the grandson of Gosling Mullander Sheldrake who had started a pickle business, his factory was behind his house in Albany Road, Walworth. Bertie’s father, William, worked for the firm as a commercial traveller and with his wife, May, brought up their son and three daughters in various houses in the area, always close to the factory (which later moved to Cobourg Road), sometimes sharing with another family, as was common then.
The Dulwich Society marked its 50th year by installing 12 commemorative plaques to those civilians killed during World War Two. Over 500 high explosive bombs and countless incendiaries fell on our small community; they were followed by 35 V1 flying bombs and three V2 rockets. Where possible, the plaques were unveiled by survivors or descendants of those killed and they bear the names and ages of those killed. This leaflet provides a guide to those memorials: PDF Download
'Pond Cottages', the picturesque cluster of houses lying to the immediate south of the Mill Pond adjoining College Road, Dulwich, were not originally intended for residential use, as might be deduced from their somewhat eccentric lay-out and lack of any coherent style of architecture. Comparison of old leases reveals that from 1663 (and possibly much earlier - there were at least four 'tylemakers' in Dulwich between 1400 and 1420) until the 1780's the site was used for manufacturing tiles and, later on, bricks. In his 1808 Report, the College Surveyor William James wrote: "It would be advisable to give every encouragement to Builders, and for that purposes I recommend the College to allow the Tenants to make Bricks on their Land, free from Royalty, to be employed only on the College Estate".
".... today, parts of the ancient village, which goes back beyond Domesday Book, are reminiscent of the battlefields of France in the last war." It is difficult to imagine that this could ever have been a description of Dulwich, but it comes from a booklet, The Wardens' Post, published during Spring 1946, after the end of World War II. The editor was George Brown, sometime Warden of Post 60, a well-remembered local resident, Dulwich historian, and former editor of The Villager. The booklet, dedicated to "all our comrades who wore the silver and gold of London's Civil Defence", is one of a number of records of the Air Raid Wardens' Post 60, which have been presented to the Dulwich Society.
The Census return for 1851 gives a fascinating picture of Dulwich before the impact of the railways and the Crystal Palace, when it was still part of the administrative county of Surrey and a village in every sense. The census enumerators took their own idiosyncratic route in carrying out their duties, so that it can be difficult to link households with particular buildings. Occasionally houses are named, and it would be possible (although this has not been done for the purposes of this survey) to arrive at definitive answers to such problems of identification by consulting College leases. Allowing for a few houses which may have been included incorrectly, this appraisal is concerned with the Village, the Common, Half Moon Lane, Dulwich (now Red Post) Hill, Herne Hill, the west side of Lordship Lane, and the Penge (now College) Road, in other words the College Estate excluding Sydenham Hill.