South London Art Gallery
Nigel Cooke : A Portrait of Everything
Chain-smoking plants and sobbing vegetables are among the objects that British artist Nigel Cooke places against unsettling landscapes in new paintings in his solo exhibition from 30 March. Cooke's work combines painting conventions of the past with the illustrative styles of street art and children's books to create obsessively detailed fictional scenes.
The underlying theme in 'Portrait of Everything' is the tendency of the human imagination to provide objects with personalities. Inspired by the way in which inanimate objects come to life in children's stories. Cooke's paintings lend a darker edge by birds, flowers, brains and sunsets depicted as smokers and drinkers.
Nigel Cooke's work is held in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Museum of Modern Art New York, Guggenheim Museum New York, Tate Modern.
Nigel Cooke: A Portrait of Everything - South London Art Gallery 30 March - 7 May.
The Ionian Singers
The Ionian Singers, with Timothy Salter as conductor and organist, will give a concert in aid of Save the Children in St Stephen's Church, College Road on Saturday 11th March. The programme will include music by Brahms (How lovely are thy Dwellings from the Requiem) , motets by Bruckner, Verdi's highly-charged Pater Noster, two movements from Rossini's popular Messe Solonnelle, works by Stanford, and Mendelssohn's Hear my Prayer. The solo roles in the Rossini and Mendelssohn will be sung by the young American soprano, Emily Atkinson.
The Ionian Singers originated in Dulwich, the choir being formed by Graham Stewart in 1958, partly stimulated by a request for a choral group to be one of the evening classes at the newly built William Penn Comprehensive School. The nucleus of the group was largely from past and present members of the St. Stephen's Church choir, which had flourished in the early post-war years during the times of the Rev. Lionel Hart and, to a lesser extent Harold Little. In addition to their weekly duties the Church Choir gave monthly recitals after Evening Service, and other performances. There is even a vinyl recording on a Decca label of Webster Booth with the Choir providing the backing - light music outside their normal repertoire!
In 1972, when Graham Stewart's many activities became too much of a burden, he asked Timothy Salter, the then accompanist of The Ionian Singers, to take over as conductor. Since then the Choir, with a membership of about thirty-five singers, has performed regularly in London, the UK and abroad, and made commercial recordings of music from the Renaissance to the present day.
The Concert of 11 March has been organised in association with the Dulwich Branch of Save the Children. The Branch was started twenty years ago and has organised a impressive number of fund-raising events, ranging from carol concerts, craft fairs and plants sales to lunches, sponsored readings and garden openings.
There is clearly a continuing public fascination with the history of the First World War, not least caused by the thousands of war memorials scattered throughout the Nation, ranging from village memorials to bronze plate at railway termini recording those employees who made the supreme sacrifice. Prominent among local memorials are the ones located outside St Stephen's Church, College Road which records those of the parish killed in the conflict (together with the fallen of WWll). In the churchyard of St Peter's, Dulwich Common is the memorial and flagstaff to the ill-fated Dulwich Volunteer Battalion.
Recently, the Dulwich Society has been able to make a list of those soldiers who died from disease or wounds in the former Southwark Infirmary (now Dulwich Hospital) after it was handed over by the Poor Law Guardians to the War Office as a military hospital in 1915. The base of the memorial survives in the grounds and records the names of 119 men who died out of the staggering total of 12,522 who were admitted. In November, a poppy wreath was laid on the memorial, the first time for many years.
Information on the military hospital came from a press cutting, found by chance, dated 16 October 1920 reporting the unveiling of the memorial. In the same packet at Southwark Local Studies Library was another cutting referring to WWl .dated 14 August 1917. It is an extraordinary story and is reprinted in full. It concerns the son of Sir Evan Spicer, the owner of Belair until his death in 1936.
Sir Evan Spicer's Son
Writing from "Belair," Dulwich S.E. under yesterday's date, Sir Evan Spicer sends us the following letter: "On Aug. 10 I caused an intimation to be made in the obituary column of your paper of the death of my son, Second Lieutenant Frank Evan Spicer, having received an official notice from the War Office that he had died of wounds some days previously. On Saturday evening last received at Tunbridge Wells a letter from my son, written after his supposed death, and consequently on Sunday morning I visited officials at the War Office, who were exceedingly kind and sympathetic and who immediately telephoned to France, and in the afternoon I had the unspeakable joy of hearing officially that my son was alive, though seriously wounded, also that he had left for England. Later in the day I had a telegram from my son saying that he had arrived in England. As I have already received a very large number of letters and telegrams of sympathy, which I and my family have greatly appreciated, I shall be much obliged if you would kindly insert this letter in your paper, as I should like my friends, in all parts to know as quickly as possible the joyful news I have received."
The photograph on the following page was taken in the garden of 'Court Mount', 57 Dulwich Village adjacent to the Burial Ground in Dulwich Village. The corner of Dekker Road is visible in the photograph. It shows the two sons of the local builder and amateur artist C. B.Core. It was taken a few months before they were both killed. On the left is Private Cecil John Core (Jackie) Royal Warwickshire Regt. Born 1897 died 8 October 1917. Buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele. On the right is 2nd Lieutenant Charles Gooch Core (Dickie) Royal Fusiliers. Born 1885 died 10 August 1917. Memorial; Menin Gate, Ypres.
We asked Tricia Thorns, the well-known director of a number of impressive local productions including ' Passion Play 2000, 'Peer Gynt' and an open-aid production of 'Twelfth Night' how she came to produce her three series of World War I plays which received such critical acclaim in the national press.
How did I become interested in this period? My passion and pity was aroused in the theatre, when I was Acting / ASM. I was to be "on the book" for Journey's End by R.C. Sherriff - a very well-known play which you will probably be familiar with. It has had enormous success recently in the West End.
At that time, I didn't know it, didn't really know anything about World War I - scandalous! My History at school skipped from 1066 to the Fox-North Coalition of 1783 and the abruptly ended as I bypassed History and did a project on Egyptian Theology.
So I was 24 when I first met "our boys" in this vivid fictional - but oh so true - account. I wept through the rehearsals. I wept through the show, giving my professional calls - "Stand by Mr Cowley, this is your call Mr Cowley, thank you." My (not yet) husband was playing the young officer Raleigh. So I was touched through theatre, my great love and passion, which awakened me to the horror of this War and the day to day existence of the boys.
So, I felt, what more natural than to awaken others (if they needed it - no!) through theatre. Because although the account is fictional it is true. Let's do Journeys End again! But wait - are there other plays, undiscovered, contemporary to the War? So we went, Graham (now my husband) and I, to the British Library. And we found a treasure trove of plays, buried, not performed since the 1920s, and the first - excitingly! - repressed by the Government, because the truth about the War would be too dangerous to let loose on the British Public. Too morale-weakening. The truth must be suppressed - about the common humanity between the German 'Fritz' infantry and our Tommies. It was this fellowship that gave birth to the Christmas Day Truce in 1914. The swapping of Christmas puddings, the communal carol-singing. And the top brass suppressed it.
Strangely, our finding these plays coincided with the invasion of Iraq. The first two were by Miles Malleson - well known in his later years for being a sweet old actor playing, for example, the vicar in the film of The Importance of Being Earnest, but in his youth a firebrand, a tiger. He wrote two plays based on his own experience as a soldier: 'D' Company, set in a barracks in Malta early in the war, where the new soldiers are jingoistic and full of confidence; and Black 'Ell, set just after the Battle of the Somme, where he revealed the true horror of the war and his fellow-feeling with his German opponents.
Well. It was, because Miles Malleson was more eloquent than me, and our first production was mounted quickly at the Soho Theatre, to sing our anti-war song. Our brief run sold out, and accolades from Harold Pinter and other theatre luminaries gave us encouragement to carry on. The first season, Forgotten Voices from the Great War, followed at the Pleasance Theatre, consisting of the two Miles Malleson plays and between them Brigade Exchange, a German play also written by an ex-soldier, also discovered in the British Library, and a most important injection because we saw the same war through their eyes - the dreadful, slaughtering English! It had never been performed on stage, being a radio play with some 25 characters. We did it and came to identify with their lives. Not German v. English - poor boys doing their duty, blindly, madly, following orders from the top that didn't know what was going on. By chance, the playwright's grand-daughter saw it, and we learned that he had escaped Nazi Germany to England in 1938, with his Jewish wife. She was amazed, and wept.
So what we're really doing in Two's Company is to bring back to life the treasure that we found in 2002 - 12 wonderful forgotten plays. The first two productions - Forgotten Voices from the Great War at the Pleasance and What The Women Did at Southwark Playhouse were both triple bills of short plays. They were followed in October 2005 by a full-length play, Red Night at the Finborough Theatre.
In rehearsal for the plays we had maps showing where the Front Line was and how it moved, books and tapes of old soldiers telling their true experiences, anything that would help the actors 'connect' directly. Old film footage of the battles of the Somme and the Ancre loaned from the Imperial War Museum were studied. Military advice and practice to show cast members how to march, crawl, hold rifles. I had a three day workshop before the last play when I loaded up the actors with 60lbs of bricks, the weight of an infantryman's pack, and sent them marching , running, lying down - so they would physically understand what it was like.
What the Women Did focussed on the women left behind and their own personal losses and tragedy: husbands and sweethearts dead - or no opportunities left for marriage, love, child-bearing. A whole generation of young men gone and a whole generation of loss for the women. One of the plays was particularly dear to me, Handmaidens of Death, about the munitions workers - the 'girls with yellow faces'. It's a strange and powerful play about these women (and their men), and I'm not going to give away the ending - because you have a chance to see it! We were sold out at Southwark Playhouse, and we are producing it again at 4.30pm and 8.30pm on Saturday 18th March in St Barnabas' Parish Hall in
Dulwich Village. Tickets £10 (concs £6) from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village.
For the future, many things - the letters home of a young officer, killed in 1917, two days after his 21st birthday, which I am adapting into a one-man play; and a surreal, operatic play, with original music, about a Red Cross nurse searching for missing men in 1918.
Dulwich inhabitants cannot fail to be aware of Dawson's Heights, the battleship-like block of flats that dominates the eastern sky-line from the Park or as one descends Dog Kennel Hill. I happened to see a reference to the engineering works that preceded its construction in some local publication and thought that readers of the Dulwich Society Newsletter might be interested in knowing why and how they came about.
As a child, I lived in Hillcourt Road, just at the foot of Donkey Lane, the muddy track that led up to the hill. The hill was a playground for my pals and me and many were the dug-outs we created from time to time. From there, I watched with my father Crystal Palace burning, and later, in 1940, I saw great formations of German bombers, harassed by RAF fighters, bombing London Docks.
Did my sins, ie. my excavations, come back to haunt me? I don't think so, but later, in my career as a Civil Engineer, I became responsible for running the contract for stabilising the hill. By this time, the houses that crowned the top of the hill, mainly built in the 20s and 30s had been compulsorily purchased. Indeed, many had become uninhabitable in any case due to the gross instability of the ground on which they stood. The whole hillside was on the move and houses at its foot in Dunstan's Road, now demolished, were literally being pushed over.
The hill was formed of London Clay, which, if waterlogged and over a certain slope, is very unstable. The instability had been exacerbated by the tipping of waste material at the top of the slope. It was obvious that something had to be done to stop the situation getting worse, especially as the crown of the hill was due to be developed. The firm of consulting engineers that I worked for were engaged to seek a solution.
To assist with the preliminary investigation we obtained the services of an expert from Imperial College who knew a lot about London Clay. We had a couple of trial trenches dug, heavily propped because the clay was so unstable, so that he could examine the sides to form a picture of how the clay had behaved as it shifted down the slope. He got very excited about what he observed and went back and told his boss about it. This was the great Professor Alec Skempton, the leading geotechnical expert at the time, and certainly the man who knew the most about the behaviour of clay soils.
Following an investigation carried out by Skempton, it was decided to excavate what are called buttress drains, about 10 metres apart, and some 6m deep, running down the slope. These would be filled with granular material, free-draining, in contrast to the surrounding clay. Here we have to get a bit technical, because the water in the clay generated something called "pore-water pressure" which had to be reduced if the clay was to be stabilised. The buttress drains, filled with the granular material, would serve to reduce the pressure by gradually draining water from the clay. This water would flow to the lower end of the slope along the edge of Dunstan's Road and would be collected by a drain running parallel to the road into an intercepting chamber and then discharged into the sewer in the road. Installation of this drain, which was at some depth, caused me some worry. Digging a trench across the line of this grossly unstable slope was asking for trouble.
So, in the end, I specified that the drain should be installed by a process called "thrust- boring" which involved pushing a "mole", pulling a perforated pipe behind it, from a pit at the upper end of the drain to the interceptor pit , intersecting with the lower ends of the buttress drains as it did. It came out at more or less where we hoped. Thrust boring, especially in this sort of material, is not an exact science!
However, I've got ahead of myself. We had to get contractors willing to tender for the work. I got a few firms interested but I wanted them to be under no illusions as to how difficult the work would be due to the condition of the clay. So I decided to stage a demonstration on the site for tenderers to attend. For this purpose we had to bring an excavator to the site capable of digging the required depth, quite a large machine, especially in 1967. I tried a number of plant-hire firms but I could not persuade any of them to bring a suitable machine to site just for one day, certainly not at a reasonable price. However, thumbing through a paper devoted to the construction industry I chanced upon an advertisement by a major French firm of plant manufacturers for a new machine that they were just putting onto the UK market. They offered to bring this splendid machine to any site to demonstrate it at no cost! Manna from heaven! I contacted them and they were delighted to come. On the appointed day, they turned up with not one machine but two, one being a bit smaller. Just as well they did, because no sooner had the little machine driven off the low-loader than it got stuck and had to be rescued by the bigger one, which then proceeded to demonstrate its capabilities.
So the contractors went away, suitably impressed with the difficulties of the site which were reflected in their prices! However, the cheapest contractor got the job and bought one of the larger machines! Satisfaction all round!
Every time I drive down Dunstan's Road I take a sidelong glance up the slope to see if there is any sign of movement but, nearly 40 years later, it still seems OK. Incidentally, if any reader is concerned over the stability of Dawson's Heights on the crown of the hill, they are on very deep foundations well below any likelihood of instability. I specified those as well, just in case!
Knowing that the great inventor Sir Henry Bessemer lived in Dulwich in the nineteenth century, I was surprised to find the place name Besemer existing in Dulwich over 450 years ago. According to the Dulwich Court Rolls for July 1400, Ellen Ledes was ordered by the manorial court to scour her ditch at Besemeres bregge.
What was the significance of this name? I included it in a group of early Dulwich place names which I sent to the English Place Names Society (EPNS) for their comments, and I am very grateful for their help. They like to have an early version of a place name for analysis. They suggest that the elements in besemeres bregge are the Old English (OE) besma meaning broom, brush and the OE brycg meaning bridge. The besom or broom was made of twigs. It is possible that the bridge was a faggot causeway across a marsh, or it might be an actual bridge near to a place where broom grew or was collected. The name might also mean the bridge of the besom maker with an occupational name besomer, coincidentally also the origin of Sir Henry Bessemer's surname.
Where was Dulwich's Besemeres Bridge? Was it a bridge over the Effra? Was there marshland in Dulwich where there could have been a faggot causeway? The second part of the name Dulwich, wische in OE means damp meadow. The clay soil, prevalent in Dulwich, combined with water flowing down from the surrounding hills causes low-lying land to be waterlogged even now. The crossroads at the centre of Dulwich still floods in heavy rain. Certainly a faggot causeway could have been needed in 1400 in such an area.
Croxted Road is an old name, which is listed in the EPNS volume for Surrey. Croxted Road was Crokestrete in 1334, 1419 and 1435. It was Crocksted lane in 1594 and Croxed lane in 1780. The first element is though to be the OE Crocc meaning a pot or vessel. The earliest forms combine crocc with the OE stede meaning 'place'. The EPNS suggest the interpretation is 'road/place by a place for making pots, or a place where pots were found'. This is an early indication of firing of the local clay, also used for the manufacture of tiles and later bricks.
In the highest sections of Sydenham Hill in the south of Dulwich are found the names of East and West Peckarmans Wood. Unfortunately we don't have an early form of spelling for this name The earliest we have, according to Patrick Darby in the Dulwich Society book 'A Gazetteer of Dulwich Roads and Place Names' is in 1621 when it was called Peckamins. In their comments the EPNS agrees with Patrick Darby that there may well be a relationship between Peckarmans Wood and the village of Peckham.
According to the EPNS Place Names of Surrey, the first element of Peckham is from peac (OE) meaning 'hill', while the second element is ham. The element ham in place names is now thought to date from the early years of Anglo Saxon settlement in England. The British Museum has not yet found any early Anglo Saxon material in Peckham but they have found some late Saxon pottery. Regarding the first element peac 'The Place names of Surrey' assigns the hill to Telegraph Hill (Pepys Road) but equally this could be One Tree Hill (Honor Oak) or Sydenham Hill (the hill of the Great North Wood). It seems possible that the peac of Peckham and of Peckarmans in Dulwich refer to Sydenham Hill.
There is an unusual name, Crongemaneslond, in the Dulwich Court Roll for October 1401. At the 1401 court, the ditch at Crongemaneslond is ordered to be scoured. The EPNS suggest that this name is the combination of the surname Crongeman with land. Crongeman would mean something like 'jolly person'.
Patrick Darby gives an early version of the name Spilmans. In 1404 it was called Spendelmanfeld. The names Great and Little Spilmans are found in 1659 when they were part of what became the Belair estate. The EPNS suggests that if Spendelman was the original name then it could mean 'maker of spindles'. But if Spilman was the original then it is a nickname meaning 'joker'. In the Court Roll of October 1333 there is mention of a certain Reginald Spyndelman who was fined 2d for allowing his mare to trespass in the lord's meadow. In June 1333 and April 1334 Reginald Spyndelman was one of twelve men giving evidence on oath in the manorial court. It is likely that Spendelmanfeld was named after this family. In September 1334, Reginald's surname was spelt 'Spyleman'.
An early version of the name Howlettes (as recalled in Howlett's Road, off Half Moon Lane) is found in the Dulwich Court Roll for December 1399. The court says that a ditch called Hewloteditch had not been cleared and seven inhabitants of Dulwich are presented in court for not clearing this, and other ditches. The EPNS says that Howlettes is a surname or personal name. In origin it is the diminutive of 'Hugh'. Patrich Darby notes that the name Howlett's was also given to land between Gallery and College Roads.
Local History: On the Street where you live - West Dulwich by Ian McInnes
The north side of Park Hall Road, from the corner of Croxted Road as far as the Alleyn Park railway bridge, was badly damaged by two V1 flying bombs, one on 5th July 1944 and another two days later on the 7th. The damage extended along Croxted Road into Ildersly Grove and included Alleyn Crescent on the corner of Alleyn Road. All the shops along Park Hall Road were flattened, as were the thirteen small cottages in Park Hall Road and the Alleyn's Head, at that time situated on the site of the former garage and petrol station (soon to be converted into a Majestic Wine Warehouse).
The Estate's Building, Ways and Means, Committee visited the site on the 7th July 1945 'to inspect the result of the bomb damage' and, on 8th September, Austin Vernon, the Estate Architect and Surveyor, wrote proactively to the Chairman of the Estate Governors saying 'With regard to the land from Ildersley Grove to the Alleyn Park Bridge, I am of the opinion that owing to the size and shape of this land, it should best to use it for housing as it was previously.
In view of the present great shortage of houses of the smaller class in Dulwich, it occurs to me that the Governors might consider a proposal to develop this site themselves, and make arrangements for the preliminary work of plan preparation to be commenced, War Damage compensation to be assessed and other matters of negotiation to be dealt with With this in mind I have prepared a draft scheme for redevelopment of the site which I would like to lay before you for consideration at an early date. I have assumed that the site of the Alleyn's Head public house would be available and that arrangements made with Mr Carnaby to acquire the narrow strip of land in Acacia Grove, so that the tiny shops that existed previously were not replaced. The scheme shows two terraces of cottages each with a living room, a fair sized kitchen with a dining recess, three bedrooms and a bathroom. Each cottage will have a small garden, an out-building for fuel, bicycle or a pram, and a separate back or side entrance.'
The letter finished on a persuasive if not patriotic note ' I put this scheme forward in order that it may be discussed as it occurs to me that the Governors would be well advised to take up the matter of housing seriously and endeavour to assist the country's building programme.'
Interestingly the Manager had already reported to the Board meeting on the 21st July that he had started discussions with Messrs Worthington & Co about the reconstruction of a new Alleyn's Head on a site on the south side of Park Hall Road on the corner of Alleyn Park. Clearly the Manager and the Surveyor had already put their heads together and were working on a two pronged plan to persuade the Governors to do something. Austin Vernon may have been a gentleman architect of the old school but he was also very keen to create work for himself when he saw an opportunity.
The cottages proposal moved forward very quickly. Design drawings for eight houses and eight flats were approved on the 10th November and initial London County Council planning approval was received on 26th January 1946. Nine tenders were received on 27th April, the lowest being from W J Mitchell & Sons of Dulwich Village in the sum of £23,833. At this point, however, everything stopped while acceptable terms were negotiated with the War Damage Commission - during and after the War the Government compensated owners of bombed houses for their losses in two ways; for houses only partly damaged there was the 'cost of works' scheme where they would pay for repairs but to a fairly basic level 'the proper cost of restoring it to its original condition before the damage occurred or to its reasonable equivalent'; where a property had been totally demolished, there was a total loss payment based on the pre-war value of the land.
In August 1946, Camberwell refused to issue a building licence for the cottages because their projected cost, at £1300 each, was in excess of the likely war damage payments. Austin Vernon persevered and, by October 1947, he was able to report that nine of the thirteen bombed cottages would be covered by 'cost of works' payments while the other four would by total losses.
There had also been a slight hiccup when, midway through 1946, Camberwell Borough Council issued a list of sites that they considered suitable for compulsory purchase for housing and this included the site adjacent to the cottages where the Governors intended to build a new shopping centre. Indeed by the end of the year, Gollins Melvin & Ward, the architects acting for Camberwell, produced a layout for council housing on the whole site. This forced the Governors hand and Austin Vernon expanded the cottages scheme to include a new shopping area (not actually completed until 1958) which he presented on the 8th February 1947. In a subsequent meeting with Camberwell, the Governors persuaded them not to compulsorily purchase the site on the basis that the Governors had their own plans for redevelopment.
In August 1947 the War Damage Commission pointed out that 'the scheme provided for some dwellings which differed in character from those before the damage'. Austin Vernon responded by redesigning the scheme to provide ten cottages with no flats and, following further LCC approval, a building licence authorising expenditure up to £23,267 (slightly less than the original tender figure) was finally issued on 24th September 1948. The agreed War Damage Commission contribution was £14,700.
Austin Vernon was very confident that the final cost would not exceed the original contract figure, despite the change in the number of houses and their appearance (revised elevations for the cottages were still under discussion as late as October 1948), and he convinced the Governors to carry out the job in two stages, with a new Bill of Quantities being prepared for the amended above ground works while the foundations were being constructed. The Building Committee inspected the site to see construction in progress on 9th October 1949 and the cottages were complete by April 1950. A further site inspection on 17th June saw the Governors 'inspect the completed cottages and the layout of the gardens in the front.'
During July 1949 Eng. Rear Admiral Goodwin, one of the Governors, had suggested that the names of the proposed tenants should be submitted to the Board for approval. The cottages were to be let at 33s per week and first refusal was given to those who had previously lived in the original cottages, as long as they could pay the new rent. The selection of tenants caused a certain amount of local dissatisfaction. On 5th March 1951, a meeting of the Dulwich Leaseholders Association, an anti-Estate pressure group then recently set up , wrote a letter to the Governors which imputed 'improper behaviour by the Manager as their servant or agent with regard to the letting of the new cottages in Park Hall Road'. The Estate Solicitor confirmed that the letter was libellous but Counsel advised that it might be unwise to go to law, it would be best to ignore the organisation, which is what the Governors did.
However, it was not so easy to ignore another complainant, Dulwich College, who were particularly concerned over the lack of residential accommodation for assistant masters in Dulwich. In a letter dated 9th May 1952, The Clerk to the School Governors wrote 'My Governors are anxious that fresh consideration should be given to the difficult but vital question of the provision of accommodation for assistant masters on the EstateÉ...It is the Master's opinion that the row of new cottages built near the Alleyn's Head would have been ideal for some of his younger masters and it is felt that in at least two cases here the prior claims of masters were not considered.' He went on 'Many masters, moreover, have claimed recently of their inability to secure an interview with you personally when they called at the Estate's office to submit details of their requirements, and have, in some instances, been interviewed by one of your subordinates'
The Manager responded immediately pointing out that of 44 Estate properties let since 1944, 24 had been let to assistant masters, and it seems that, while there had been some correspondence in 1946 between the Chairman and the Schools Governors agreeing that all possible priority would be given to the requirements of the College, this information had either not been passed on to the Manager or he had been aware of it but not actually implemented it. At a subsequent meeting with the Clerk on the 28th June it was pointed out that it was the primary duty of the Estates Governors to secure full economic rents for all their properties and they could not agree to subsidise rents for College Masters. The compromise agreed was that some of the new houses shortly to be built in Allison Grove and Frank Dixon Way would be reserved for the College.
The current planning application for change of use by SG Smith & Co who has already removed the petrol pumps from their garage at the southern end of Calton Avenue is only the most recent change to this little patch of the Village.
In the 19th century, there was a little road just there: Elms Road, now Gilkes Place. The 1876 map of the Dulwich Estate shows a short road with medium sized houses with small gardens. Yet the 1891 Census returns for that area make fascinating reading. It was a real mix of occupants. And it is amusing to speculate how they came to live there, and how such a diverse mix of people ended up living in this short stretch of urban London.
One of the houses was rented by Charlotte Russell, aged 49 who gave her occupation as dressmaker. She was either not very successful, or had hit upon a good way to add to her income, as she had six boarders. There was a family of four called Neale, father aged 50 from Margate, presumably a widower, unemployed, and his three student sons aged 20, 18, and 16, all born in Liverpool. The fifth boarder was Percy Young, also from Liverpool, I would guess a nephew who might have been placed in Mr Neale's care to receive the good education of Dulwich. The sixth was a 45-year old single woman surnamed Insole from Sussex. Finally, to look after this large household was one girl servant, aged 16, who was born in Sussex.
Next to Charlotte lived the Rev Charles Hartley, aged 58, clergyman, from Cornwall, married to Hannah from Peckham, and their two sons: Alfred aged 25 was a student, Arthur aged 21, described as a brewer, a strange occupation for a clergyman's son. They were served by 16 year old Martha Trigg from Herts, where both boys were born. So one can guess that the Rev. Hartley had a parish there at some time. He does seem to have come down in the world in this less than select part of Dulwich, a professional man would not usually live amongst clerks and dressmakers.
Next to them was another dressmaker, Elizabeth Pheddy, aged 56, from Dulwich. In the house lived Sarah Vivash, aged 59, also Dulwich born and described as 'Assistant'. There were two boarders, Thomas Lovegrove, 36, a stockbroker's clerk from Shrewsbury, and William Wright, 25, a member of the Stock Exchange. They had a male servant, Reginald Ogg, aged 27 from Putney. Those of us who love Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, will remember how important male servants were to all female households, when crime was so much feared. And there was a crime panic at the end of the 19th century, 1888 was the year of Jack the Ripper. However, a male servant must have been a bit of a worry to the other households, who must have feared that this single man would distract their girls from the housework, let alone been liable to marry one of them, thus causing the great inconvenience of having to find and train a new girl; see Cranford again.
Next to this busy household lived a young couple, William and Marion Morris, aged 33 and 30 respectively, and their one year old son William Junior. Mr Morris is described as a Commercial Clerk (London, and particularly South London was a veritable city of clerks at that time) born in Lambeth, She comes from Staffordshire, but their son was born in Dulwich. William senior was still making his way in the world, they had no resident servant and must have used local women for the rough work, whilst Mrs Morris presumably did quite a bit around the house as well as looking after her men.
The next house sheltered a large family, the Prescotts. Edgar, 42, was a stockbroker from St Pancras, his wife Jane, 40, was born in St Marylebone. They had four sons, aged from 15 to 8, and two daughters aged 5 and 3, all the children were born in Lewisham. So the move to Dulwich must have been fairly recent. One wonders how they all fitted in the house, especially as they also had 2 live-in servants, Jane Mason, 24, and Elizabeth Jelley, 17, born in Paddington and Leicestershire respectively. Those poor girls must have had a pretty hard life.
The last house mentioned in the 1891 Census housed the Goodall family, father John, aged 56, a Civil Service Clerk born in London, his wife Frances, 50, born in Surrey (at that time Dulwich was in Surrey), and their 3 children, Thomas, 24, an artist painter, born in Anerley, and Lucy, 17, together with Arthur, 10, both born in Dulwich. Again the family had no live-in servants.
Taken all together, with children going to school, men going off to their various occupations, women going to the shops or to visit friends, dresses being made and tried, servants going on errands, boys delivering from the local shops, Elms Road was a busy little corner of Dulwich in 1891! Now it is a very select and sedate area, except during the twice-daily madness of the school-run!
In the last issue of the Newsletter we included a piece on the famous film start of the 1940'-50's - David Farrar, who lived in Alleyn Park. This has prompted two of his former neighbours to recall those days. Gill Baird (née Peapell) and her sister Patsy Stephens write:
Your article about David Farrar brought back many memories of the times my sister Gill and I spent with his family when they lived in Alleyn Park. They lived in a huge house - probably number 14 (possibly the site of Rouse Gardens). It had a lovely garden with a grass tennis court. We often played tennis and David Farrar sometimes joined us. As their daughter, Barbara was an only child who did not attend school; Mrs Farrar was keen for her to have local friends. Although she was younger than us, she was so used to adult company that she seemed older in many ways. She was a demon at Canasta!
The basement of the house was where Barbara had a little theatre. We used to make up plays and once we performed at one of Barbara's parties. I remember being the Mad Hatter and Gill was the Dormouse (guess who was Alice?). On another occasion Mrs Farrar took us to the cinema. We walked down the end of Alleyn Park and caught the bus to Crystal Palace. As we walked down Church Road I could see the enormous photos of David advertising the film ' Cage of Gold'. As Mrs Farrar was paying for the tickets I kept thinking this is odd - surely she should get in for nothing! During the film whenever he kissed someone I looked at Mrs Farrar to see her reaction - disappointingly there was none. The film was too old for Barbara and I fancy we left before the end!