The ceremony which saw the unveiling of the restored statue of Edward Alleyn and the display and installation of the Victorian Dulwich Village postal cart on 1st November was altogether reminiscent of a scene from Charles Dicken’s much loved Pickwick Papers. And why should it have not been? After all Pickwick Road was just a few yards away and along College Road was Pickwick Cottage.
So what were the similarities? Well firstly a couple of hundred villagers braved the threatening weather to witness the Dulwich Society’s President explain the story behind the restoration of the statue; the fact that it had been vandalised but that the figure of the ‘poor boy’ had been found nearby in the bushes by the wife of the Society’s Hon Sec. Some of the words the president uttered were lost on the wind, probably because he was more used to speaking to a hushed courtroom rather than through a loud hailer. The Vice-Chairman, who had been giving encouraging words of advice on how the president should use the device, decided himself to dispense with it all together and as a consequence even less of his speech was audible. Then the Chairman said some equally comforting words which were equally lost to all except those nearest. Fortunately, the Mayor of Southwark who had been invited to unveil the statue was used to dealing with hecklers and her voice was heard loud and clear.
Attention was then turned to the postal cart which Kenneth Wolfe explained he had discovered whilst on a post-dinner stroll with his wife Gillian, near Tower Bridge, in the yard of a rather run-down antiques emporium. It was then purchased by the Dulwich Society and restored by two of its members, Willis Walker and Graham Nash. To complete the scene, Frank Ralfe, a vice-president of the Dulwich Players dressed as a Victorian postman in a costume supplied by the National Theatre then seized the cart’s handles with such gusto that the two restorers dashed forward in alarm, in case irreparable damage was done to the object of their three years of labour. (see Post Cart Photos)
The assembled crowd, by then in great good humour crossed College Road from The Old College and followed the postal cart pulled by Postman Frank. The skill of handling the cart was clearly genetically founded because he confided in your editor that his grandfather had been a postman.
Many flashing cameras later, the post office was reached and the throng crossed the road for the installation where a beaming Mr Patel was waiting. For his defence of the post office against closure and his general helpfulness, Mr Patel was given a special cheer. Breaths were then held as the cart was wheeled up the ramp. Would it go through the door? With millimetres to spare the cart was eased through and mounted on its awaiting plinth during which time Mr Patel obligingly opened up his post office once again to dispense postage stamps to puzzled customers.
The crowd, by now pleased and satisfied with the morning’s events did what their forbears had done in earlier centuries and adjourned for refreshment to the assembly room of the Crown & Greyhound opposite where The Proceedings were Concluded to the Satisfaction of All.
It is wholly right and proper that the Dulwich Society should seek to preserve Dulwich’s heritage and enjoyable occasions such as that outlined above underline this important part of its remit. However most of its time is spent on other aspects of life in Dulwich. More attention is now being paid to licensing matters and environmental issues, the latter, partly due to the initiative of a sister organisation - ‘Dulwich Going Greener’, and there is mention in this Newsletter of a number of steps being taken to address green issues. The work of the Society’s Planning Committee in drawing attention to issues like infilling or poor design is regularly reported and there is a significant planning decision recorded in this issue. The committee has also been successful in bringing pressure to bear on Southwark Council to issue an order requiring an owner of a property opposite North Dulwich Station to carry out works to restore a listed wall.
As you will read elsewhere in this newsletter, wildlife issues receive a great deal of attention and the Society has funded so far this year the planting of more reed beds and a kingsfisher bank in Dulwich Park and the provision of bat boxes to encourage breeding, in Belair Park. The Gardens’ Group is to issue a free directory of Open Gardens in the area and is supporting the provision of a model allotment in Dulwich Park. The Society’s publication ‘Dulwich -The Home Front 1939-1945’ is now used by most local schools as a study-aid for World War 11. Its Trees Committee took the lead in confronting the problem of over-reaction by insurance companies to order the felling of trees near buildings from fear of subsidence and has been successful in ensuring a number of trees have a preservation order placed on them. The Traffic and Transport Committee have been active in persuading railway companies to improve frequency of trains to Dulwich stations and this is an ongoing issue which they are addressing. There has been a measure of success on its ‘walk to school’ initiative and as you will read, 40% of Dulwich residents now walk or cycle to work and school.
Post Cart Photos
First the good news - Beauberry House Restaurant withdrew its application for extended licensing hours after over 70 residents and residents’ associations wrote to the Council objecting. This clearly demonstrates that a strong co-ordinated response can have a positive impact. Active liaison between the Dulwich Society and the affected residents’ associations meant that a large number of people turned up to the public meeting - unfortunately this was then cancelled because of the Council’s concern over the validity of some of the objections - though it was subsequently confirmed that they were all valid.
It is clear that once Beauberry House realised the real level of local concern, they saw that their only option was to withdraw. However, it is also up to all the relevant local groups to follow this victory up and make sure the Beauberry House keep strictly to the provisions of their current licence, which some have argued, are already too generous. It is essential that any unacceptable activities or noise should be reported to Southwark.
There is also a wider point here, local businesses rightly expect support from local residents but it is also necessary for them to make sure that their activities do not unnecessarily impact negatively on people’s daily lives.
There are several current examples where local businesses are taking things for granted. One is the red vans that are parked in Croxted Road, Dulwich Village and elsewhere, advertising cheap removals. Not only are they an eyesore, they also take up valuable parking spaces that should be available to residents.
A similar situation has arisen at the end of Burbage Road where, for some reason, Wates Estate Agency has recently started parking all their corporate Volkswagen cars - some local residents have described it, tongue in cheek, as a ‘beetle infestation’. While the cars are clearly entitled to be parked on the public road, doing so in such large numbers, and in such a prominent place, suggests a lack of appreciation of the negative impact that it has on the local environment.
Another local business that needs to review its operations is S G Smith, the Audi garage in the Village. Residents in Gilkes Crescent have been complaining for some time that the company parks cars waiting for service in their road - this is not acceptable. If there is insufficient area on their site, perhaps the company should consider whether they are in the right location.
Many residents consider that this site, in the centre of the Village, might be better used for something else - perhaps a larger food store, and it would of course make a perfect location for sheltered/warden controlled housing for older residents - something which Dulwich has very little of.
New Website for Dulwich Society
The Society has a new and improved website. This may be accessed at http://www.dulwichsociety.com/
In addition to listing the aims of the Society, the names of its officers and executive committee and an invitation to join, the new website also has all the editions of the Newsletter on line. This has already proved useful to the descendents of a number of former residents who have been directed to articles referring to their ancestors by their search engines.
The Society has relied for many years on having its magazine hand delivered by volunteers. This is a very cost effective method and, if we did not do it this way, most of our membership income would go on postage. We now need more volunteers as several members who have done it for many years quite rightly want to retire. We have divided Dulwich up into 8 zones and we need both street distributors and zone distributors. The latter collect the magazines from the main distributor in Frank Dixon Way and hand them out to the street distributors who actually put the magazine through doors. The two zones that are currently in need of extra help are Zone C (the Court Lane, Eastlands Crescent, Dulwich Common zone) and Zone F (the Alleyn Road, Alleyn Park, Dulwich Wood Avenue zone). You don’t have to live in the zone and only need a spare afternoon four times a year.
If you are interested please contact Ian McInnes, the chairman, on 0208 693 6313.
Green Homes Concierge Service
As part of Southwark Council’s policiy to improve the condition of housing in the Borough, the Society was offered up to ten free home environmental audits from the Green Homes Concierge Service. These involve a specialist surveyor checking your house’s current environmental performance and making recommendations how it could be improved. This is not about solar heating or ground source heating, though it could be, but it is more about making sure that you have the correct level of loft insulation, an efficient boiler and good heating and hot water controls - and understand how to use then to minimise energy consumption.
The Society decided to offer these to members on a representative selection of homes, stretching from the 1890s to the 1960s, the aim being to obtain information and recommendations that could be used as a resource for all members who are thinking of upgrading the environmental performance of their homes whatever date they were built.
Houses were selected in the following roads and estates;
- 1890-1900 Stradella Road
- 1900-1910 Dovercourt Road
- 1910-1920 Burbage Road
- 1920-1930 Roseway
- 1930-1940 Eastlands Crescent
- 1950-1960 Frank Dixon Way
- 1960-1970 Ferrings
- Peckarmans Wood
(see page 25 for the results of the Dulwich Going Greener Survey)
Refusal on appeal for backland development at 9 Dulwich Village.
Development of a house on part of the garden at the rear of 9 Dulwich Village has been refused on appeal for the second time. The first refusal for a larger scheme was in 2005. This refusal was given in September 2008.
Local resident, Julie Greer says, “ It is my view that this is an important case for Dulwich Village generally, as there will be increasing pressure to build in rear gardens in the future, which would potentially compromise the open semi-rural character of the Village.”
The appeal application for planning permission was objected to by adjoining residents, whose gardens backed on to the site. Neighbouring houses in Gilkes Crescent, East Dulwich Grove and Dulwich Village would have seen the new house beyond their gardens.
This was an important point for Planning Inspector, R J Yuille, appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, in coming to his decision.
The Inspector comments, in his appraisal of the proposed development:
“ As the ( Dulwich Village ) Conservation Area Appraisal makes clear, an important aspect of Dulwich Village is its open character and well treed gardens. Indeed the appraisal makes specific mention of No 9 Dulwich Village which it describes as a competent example of 20 th century Neo Georgian design set in a very generous garden which enhances its setting. The appraisal also makes clear that it is not just front gardens that are important in giving the area its open nature; rear gardens also contribute to the awareness of open space and are important in establishing the semi-rural character of the area. It goes on to state that development within these rear gardens will not normally be acceptable other than that which is ancillary to the use of the land.”
He comments further,
“ However, the appeal scheme would result in a large house positioned at the very centre of an enclave of open garden land in the Conservation Area. While it is possible at present to see buildings around the perimeter of this area there are no buildings within it other than small structures such as garden sheds. If the appeal scheme were implemented the residents of the surrounding houses would be aware of the proposed house together with its courtyard, associated walls and parking area and this would, I consider, compromise the openness of this area and deprive it of its semi rural character.”
In conclusion he says,
“Nonetheless, I consider that the proposed house itself would have an unacceptable effect on the open character of the Dulwich Conservation Area when seen from neighbouring houses. In this respect the appeal scheme would run counter to Policy 3.16 of the Southwark Local Plan 2007 (the Local Plan) which reiterates the statutory requirement set out in Section 72(1) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 that within Conservation Areas development should preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the area.”
“In coming to this view I have taken into account that this building would be in a private garden that is not easily visible from any public viewpoints. However, it was pointed out to me by local people at the Hearing that the borrowing of views from neighbouring properties is a common feature in the Conservation Area and one which makes a significant contribution to the open character of that area. From what I saw of the Conservation Area generally at my site inspections I agree with this point.”
This decision is in line with the refusals for development on the garden behind the Listed Wall on Red Post Hill, next to Lyndenhurst and will present a serious impediment to future development proposals there or other backland within the Village.
Link to Southwark for the full appeal document : http://planningonline.southwarksites.com/planningonline2/DocsOnline/Documents/28933_1.pdf
David Lloyd Roberts
Garden Group’s visit to Lullingstone World Garden
Nearly 50 members of the Garden Group had a really interesting visit to Lullingstone Castle and The World Garden, near Eynsford in Kent in July. We had arranged for our party to be the only visitors, which gave our tour much more focus. After a tour of the grounds, we were welcomed to the house by Guy and Sarah Hart Dyke - familiar figures to most of us from the two BBC 2 TV series on Lullingstone’s World Garden, the inspiration of their son Tom. Tom conceived the idea for a ‘World Garden’ during his long captivity, after being ambushed by guerrillas while he was on a plant hunting expedition in Panama. Members will recall the riveting story he told us at our Garden Group evening in 2006.
Following a fascinating tour of the house, which was in very much more pristine condition than we had expected from the TV series, we were taken on a detailed tour of the garden by Tom Hart Dyke himself.
The garden is laid out with large flower beds representing the outline of each continent - 340 tons of different rocks were used to create the outline and contours of the continents. We could not have had a more enthusiastic guide! Tom was leaping from ‘continent’ to ‘continent’, showing us the magnificent specimens he had collected. Our visit ended with a tour of Tom’s splendid ‘Hot and Spiky Cactus House’.
Gardens open for Charity 2009
Work on this new Dulwich Society Directory is progressing well. The Directory is designed to provide a central focus for information on local garden openings. If you plan to open your garden next year or are planning an event which involves gardens, and have not yet sent in the necessary information, please contact John Ward
(Tel. 020 7274 5172 Email.
Model Allotment for Dulwich Park
The park authorities have given permission for the Dulwich Park Friends to develop a model allotment in the Park and the Dulwich Society Garden Group is to support this project. The case for a well kept allotment on display as a resource and an encouragement cannot be disputed in these ecologically critical times. The success of the project will depend on volunteers coming forward to assist. David Smart, who is organising the development of the model allotment is a member of both organisations and is willing to assist volunteers who are gardening novices by showing them his own allotment in Dulwich Village. Please contact him at 5 Roseway, Dulwich Village SE 21 7JT, tel: 020 7733 8335, email:
Letter to the Editor - Solar Heating
I read with interest in the last Newsletter of your unsuccessful attempt to be a greener Green!
Last year I had an extension built on my kitchen in Dovercourt Road. At my suggestion the architect organized for a solar hot water system to be installed on the south facing roof of the extension at the same time as a new condensing gas boiler was fitted. Neither the Dulwich Estate nor my neighbours raised any objection. The company is based in Brighton and it took just two days for two men to install the system. I received an automatic grant of £500 from Southwark Council, and £400 from the government’s Energy Saving Trust, so the cost to me was just over £4000. I was told that at last year’s prices I would probably recoup the cost in ten years. Perhaps in less time, since heating costs have soared this year. I have certainly seen a reduction in my gas bills. There has been some sunshine this year.
I absolutely agree about the lamentable failure by local and central government, and, I have to say, the ‘green lobby’ to positively encourage us to look to this particular form of alternative energy to supplement our heating needs.
I’d be very happy to show interested parties the installation in my home although I’m not keen to answer any technical queries!
Yours sincerely Barbara Richardson
The Editor also acknowledges with thanks, letters from David Wells and Robert Holden who both forwarded leaflets on solar heating which had come through the doors at their homes in Lambeth. I received one myself a few weeks later. Barbara Richardson is in good company with her solar heating system; the Vatican has announced that it has installed solar panels on its roofs to supply heating and air conditioning needs. Perhaps the subject of solar heating is something the Dulwich Society should itself debate?
Herne Hill has in the last few years suffered some serious loss of amenities. Its sole surviving bank closed, so also its substantial post office and Royal Mail sorting/collection office. The post office is now in cramped quarters at the back of Costcutters in Norwood Road and those people who are obliged to collect mail need to make a trip to Station Road in Camberwell, a location that is not convenient to reach by public transport. The 5-way road junction by the railway bridge in the centre of Herne Hill frequently acts as a bottle neck, with long lines of stationary vehicles polluting the neighbourhood with their exhaust fumes. The area also suffers from being divided between two boroughs, Lambeth and Southwark, whose policies for it are not well co-ordinated.
Some relief from the traffic problems is offered by the Herne Hill Junction project designed by the Herne Hill Forum’s Junction Project Board and adopted by Lambeth Council, who have granted planning permission for it and are currently working on a detailed design for its implementation. This project should ease the traffic flow without seeking to increase traffic speeds and is to be funded by Transport for London in the interests of reducing the current delays to buses. It will also close off the southern end of Railton Road to through traffic. This should provide a start to the regeneration of Herne Hill.
Much more however needs to be done in the way of planning a vision for the future of the area. The Herne Hill Forum has grasped the initiative on this. It convened a meeting on September 11 at the Baptist Church to start process. This was chaired by its Chairman Giles Gibson and attended by about 65 people. Two introductory presentations were given to set the scene, one by Ludovic Pittie of Mouchel, a consulting group specialising in seeking solutions for urban problems, who showed with visual aids what had been achieved in regeneration elsewhere in the U.K. and on the continent, particularly in the Netherlands, including reclaiming streets for the residents, rather than for through traffic, by traffic calming measures, removal of clutter and general “greening”. The other was a spirited talk by Philip Kolvin, Chairman of the Civic Trust and a local resident, who with the aid of his own photos pointed out many of the best and worst features of present day Herne Hill, in order to stimulate ideas on what could be done to enhance the good and improve the bad. This was followed by a lively discussion, animated by the Giles Gibson, in which participants on the floor where invited to put forward ideas for regeneration of the area. Finally volunteers were asked to put themselves forward to serve on Management, Environment and Planning committees to carry the initiative forward.
This meeting was followed on Saturday 13 September by another event organised by the Herne Hill Forum, a daytime drop-in “blue-sky” thinking session held next to Herne Hill station at which attendees and passers-by were invited to write down on post-it notes, their comments, ideas and suggestions for how Herne Hill could look in a few years time. The aim of this, and of the preceding meeting, is to create a vision and planning document for the area that could be adopted by all the relevant agencies. About 1,078 contributions were received on the Saturday.
A major theme in the responses was that the area is run down, dirty and vandalised, with local shops looking shoddy or derelict, with rubbish dumped in the streets and excessive dog fouling. Many took exception to the state of the pedestrian tunnel under the railway station. More positively, there was strong support for the local shopping environment, with its diverse range of small shops. There was little demand for supermarkets or multiples in the area. On traffic, there was widespread support for pedestrians to have priority over vehicles and for safe pedestrian crossings; the biggest support was for a 20 mph limit across the entire area and especially any side street. There was much concern about the growth of the late-night economy and the need for the local licensing authorities, Lambeth and Southwark, to reduce current excessive opening hours for bars and entertainment joints and to refuse new licences. The loss of the sole local bank and of the main post office and the sorting office were seen as symptomatic of the decline of the area. Ideas for activities and events featured strongly: farmers markets, festivals and arts and craft events were suggested as being popular and key to creating an identity for the area.
No Jam and Jerusalem for East Dulwich
The unthinkable has occurred in trendy East Dulwich - a branch of the Women’s Institute has opened. Instead of being located in a local church hall, the members opted for the Magdala public house in Lordship Lane. A suggestion was made for a WI branch formation on the East Dulwich Forum website which led to it formation some eighteen months ago. It now has a membership of 60 with a further 35 on the waiting list and a regular attendance of around 30. It has enjoyed a monthly programme of the more usual kind of WI activities like modern flower arranging, decorating Easter eggs, cake making and ‘what to wear for autumn’. On the other hand it has also offered a croquet morning, a keep-fit tutored session, a picnic in Dulwich Park and being entertained by a magician. In 2009 the East Dulwich WI plans to make its ‘good cause’ the Dulwich Helpline.
‘Jerusalem’ is not sung at their at their meetings, nor does a cup of tea feature, instead we are informed that a glass of wine is preferred! For more information contact www.eastdulwichwi.co.uk
Tough Times for Village Estate Agents
The credit crunch is creating tough times for local estate agents. A sign in one agency window in Dulwich Village carried this notice - Give Blood! Cor! Things must be bad!
Message from the builder
Unless you are employing a Polish builder to carry out work on your home it is unlikely that a religious text will be left behind as a memento. However, in the case of a Dulwich Village house built in the late Georgian period , the carpenter left a biblical text written in an apparent mixture of Classical and Medieval Latin in heavily indented pencil on the reverse of a piece of wooden skirting.
The skirting was in one of the upstairs smaller rooms and is about 4 inches wide; considerably narrower than the 15 inch more detailed skirting in the rooms on the raised ground floor. It was probably the final piece of work to be done to complete the house. The inscription reads:
1826 Nulla igitur nonce eis qui Sunt in Christo Jesu qui non Secundum Carmen ambulant Sed Secundum Spirtitum ( which a local classicist has translated thus : “ Therefore no harm may there be to those who are in Jesus Christ who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit” Beneath it is written:
a Glorious Truth
Romans 8 Chapter 1 Verse
Thos. Griffiths Carpenter from near
Narberth Pembrokeshire South Wales
(Romans chapter 8 verse 1 reads: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.)
What else do we know of Thomas Griffiths? Unfortunately very little. We can deduce that he was taught grammar at school although the mixture of Latin is unusual. Griffiths is of course a very common Welsh name and in 1830, just four years later there were half dozen other Griffiths in Narberth. They were shopkeepers - a butcher, grocer, draper, ironmonger and a saddler in the village which even today only has a population of under 1700 persons.
In nineteenth century there was an increased movement of Welsh people to London, a movement which had started over half a century earlier and there was a Welsh church in Southwark. As Thomas Griffiths is keen to record the name of his home town in Wales on the inscription it is possible he was not a permanent Dulwich or even London resident in 1826. Nevertheless, we do know that a Thomas Griffiths, bookbinder, married Ann Rawlings a local teacher in 1845. Ann Rawlings was the teacher of the girls’ class at the Dulwich Free School (now JAGS) then located at the former French Horn inn in the Village (the site is next to Barclays Bank). She retired in 1855 after twenty years service and received a gratuity of £20 as a mark of long and devoted service to the school. The coincidence of the names is such to suggest that Thomas Griffiths the carpenter, had a family in South Wales which he brought to London, where, as the choice of the text suggests, he had been living on his own, and that Thomas Griffiths the bookbinder was his son.
Dulwich Festival 2009
The Festival will take place from Friday 8th May to Sunday 17th May, with an exciting mix of music, comedy, walks, talks, fairs and the Artists’ Open House. The Festival organisers are always delighted to be able to welcome new members to the team so if if you are looking for ways to become involved, why not consider helping with leaflet distribution or stewarding for an event, all offers gratefully received! Please contact
Dulwich Olympic Hero
Whatever happened to Mary Lines? We know she lived in Dulwich, that she attended James Allen’s Girls’ School and that she was the greatest women’s athlete of her generation. She won five medals at the first Women’s Olympic Games held in Paris in 1922 organised by the Fédération Sportive Feminine Internationale (FSFI). She represented Great Britain in what was called the Five Countries Games following the refusal of the International Amateur Athletics Association (IAAF) to add women’s games to the 1924 Olympiad.
In the 1922 Games Mary Lines gained a silver for the 60 metres sprint, a bronze for the 100yards, a gold for the 300 metres, a gold for the long jump and yet another gold for the 4x100 metres relay in which she was lead-off. During her career, Mary Lines simultaneously held six world records in different events. She set a world record for the 880 yards in Monte Carlo in 1921 and improved on her time of 2 mins 45 secs by 19 seconds a year later at Crystal Palace. She also participated in the Women’s World Games in Sweden in 1926.
Mary Lines then disappeared. What happened to her? Did she marry, did she continue with athletics? If any reader can throw any light on her subsequent life both this column and JAGS would be very interested to hear.
Anne Shelton Plaque Unveiling
The nomination for a Southwark Heritage Award blue plaque to commemorate the life and work of Dulwich singer Anne Shelton OBE (1928-1994) received over a thousand votes and a plaque on her former home at 142 Court Lane where she lived for some thirty years was unveiled by the Mayor of Southwark in October. Teresa Cahill, the opera singer and a friend of Anne outlined Anne’s career and John Brunel Cohen spoke of her connection with the Not Forgotten Association for whom she arranged annual concerts at Buckingham Palace over many years. A large audience witnessed the ceremony, which was highlighted by the presence of a Colour Party from the Royal British Legion and representatives from the Not Forgotten Association.
It is perhaps not realised today, what a major name she was in light entertainment during and after the Second World War. Her career began at the age of 13 with the Ambrose Orchestra with which she sang for six years. In 1942 she started touring military bases and the BBC soon gave her a special programme, entitled “Calling Malta”. The show ran for five years and was the only outside link for the besieged islanders. At the same time another programme “Introducing Anne” was beamed to Allied troops in North Africa and her signature song in the show was an anglicised version of Lili Marlene. In 1944 she performed in six shows with Glenn Miller and his Orchestra and in the same year Bing Crosby invited Anne to do a show with him for US troops stationed in the UK. She and Bing recorded the “Variety Bandbox” radio show with Tommy Handley and she went on to perform with Bing with two duets, “Easter Parade” and “I’ll Get By”.
In 1951 Anne went on an eleven month tour of the United States, opening at New York’s Copacabana and playing there for four weeks. She toured abroad widely and at home she appeared in three Royal Variety Shows and continued entertaining servicemen. It was through this connection she began her long service with the Not Forgotten Association, the charity for disabled veterans.
The initiative for the nomination came from Mr and Mrs Jeremy Prescott who now live in the house and who hosted this delightful event.
Girl Guides to restore Crystal Palace Park Maze
Girlguiding UK has announced that having talked to a number of interested groups and organisations, including Bromley Council the freeholders of the Park, it plans to renovate the famous Maze by September 2009 to create a fun, interactive feature. It will include some aspects of trail and discovery, themed sections and elements within the hedging which would work well in winter months. The design would reflect not only the history of the Guides - at the Crystal Palace Scout Rally in 1909 a small group of pioneering girls stopped Robert Baden-Powell to demand similar opportunities for girls - but also link to the social history of the area. What a splendid way to celebrate the movement’s centenary.
It is quite incomprehensible that there should no longer be a pedestrianised crossing of the Lordship Lane/South Circular Road/Dulwich Common junction. Fast moving traffic, descending Lordship Lane and London Road turn left onto Dulwich Common at speed and pedestrians run literally for their lives. Considering that this crossing route connects Horniman Museum, Dulwich Park, Sydenham Hill Wood Nature Reserve and Dulwich Woods for pedestrians, the omission of a proper crossing is disgraceful. Our photograph shows that certainly in the 1940’s such a crossing existed - at a time, as it also graphically illustrates, there was very little traffic.
The Dulwich Almshouse Charity - Outreach Work
Although many residents in Dulwich may be aware of the accommodation provided at Edward Alleyn House (the building on College Road, facing the entrance to Dulwich Park) less well known is The Dulwich Almshouse Charity’s outreach work.
The Charity emanates from Edward Alleyn’s Foundation, established in 1619, and its objects, which continue to this day, were those set down by Alleyn - to relieve beneficiaries in case of need, hardship or distress, by the provision of almshouses ‘and otherwise’. This second element to the Charity’s activity takes two forms:
1. Grants to support local organisations (which meet the Charity’s criteria) and these include Dulwich Helpline (for its Neighbourhood Care Programme which provides friendship and support to isolated older people) and St Christopher’s Hospice (for its ‘@home’ scheme which offers palliative care to the sick in their own homes). Information on the work of these two organisations is available from their websites: www.dulwich-helpline.org.uk and www.stchristophers.org.uk
Financial assistance is also provided to the Bishopsgate Foundation and to Camberwell Consolidated Charities which pay small pensions to their beneficiaries.
2. Contact with outreach beneficiaries: the Charity Warden, Carol, as well as assisting the almshouse residents currently makes home visits to nine local people who range from 77 to 99 years. These individuals, where physically able, are encouraged to attend coffee mornings held in the Vestry at Christ’s Chapel in the Village and to join in other social outings and activities. These include a Christmas Lunch and a summer outing for both its almshouse residents and the outreach beneficiaries.
The Dulwich Estate funds the work of the Almshouse Charity through an annual payment of income and it has also funded improvement works to the almshouse buildings.
Further information regarding the activities of The Dulwich Almshouse Charity or indeed the conditions for entry to Edward Alleyn House can be obtained via the website: www.thedulwichestate.org.uk (under ‘Beneficiaries’) or from The Dulwich Estate Office (Mrs Veronica Edwards - telephone number 020 8299 5565).
To Blog, or not to Blog? That is the question
Dulwich OnView is an online magazine run by a group of Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery. It offers up-to-the-minute information on local events with articles on wine, quizzes, reviews, green issues and numerous other topics. It is non-commercial and run by volunteers. To find out more go to www.dulwichonview.org.uk and then to ‘Who We Are’. You will find out how to add your voice to this celebration of the Dulwich area.
Southwark Local History Library
This library, formerly called Southwark Local Studies Library, has temporarily vacated its premises in the Borough High Street in order that repairs to the building may be carried out. Until the middle of 2009 it is located at Peckham Library, 122 Peckham Hill Street, SE 15 5JR (telephone 020 7525 0232 email:
All of the material which was on open access at the Borough will be available at Peckham. Archival service is not for the moment available.
Dulwich Volunteer Battalion
In the last issue of the Newsletter we published a history of the Dulwich Volunteer Battalion, formerly the Dulwich & District Defence League, whose war memorial was restored during the summer from funds allocated by the Dulwich Community Council. Hilary Devonshire of Lovelace Road writes to say that her grandfather was a member of the Battalion. His name was William Gough Edwards and he was born in Llangwmn, Pembrokeshire in 1879. He was a teacher and moved initially to Beauval Road and after his marriage in 1909, to Carson Road, West Dulwich. During the First World War he was appointed headteacher at Devons Road School, Bow while continuing to reside in Dulwich. In 1926 he became headteacher at Rosendale Road School. As he was in a protected occupation, he was excused military call-up and instead joined the Dulwich Volunteer Battalion, a First World War form of Home Guard.
Continuing Brian Green’s reminiscences as a Dulwich shopkeeper for 50 years
She is short and slightly built and tends to scurry when she walks. She has two facial expressions. One is a wide grin, the other, a look which combines earnestness with urgency. I don’t know what Micky’s given name is; it might be Michaela or some other feminised appellation of the Archangel’s. Why should I imagine this? Well, both Micky’s parents were scholars in Italian and her father had translated a woven chronological text of the Gospels from its original Italian, into English. Which probably explains why Micky spent nine years as a nanny in Venice while her father performed these labours.
When the work was done the family moved to Pickwick Road and Micky turned her attention to photography. She is a talented photographer. The Wimbledon Tennis Museum retained her services for many years to produce a photographic record of the All England tournament for its archive and each year she was to be found amongst the press scrum around the Centre Court. She also became one of my suppliers of greeting cards. Her photographic flower studies were extremely popular, to the extent that in that pre-digital age, Micky could not keep up the production of her handmade cards. Friends and neighbours in Pickwick Road and around were dragooned by Micky into their manufacture, a labour if not remunerative (the costs of processing individual photographs being so high) was at least sociable.
And then one day, long after her elderly parents had died, Micky announced that she was going to Venice to organise Vivaldi concerts in various Venice churches. We all thought she had gone mad, and indeed told her so too. But she went, staying I believe, with the family with whom she had been the nanny. Perhaps it was Micky who was responsible for the proliferation of performances of The Four Seasons in so many of Venice’s redundant churches and palaces. However, having tested the water, her plan was then carried a stage further. She would sell her house in Pickwick Road and buy a small flat in the centre of Venice where she would study the life of Vivaldi. Her friends repeated their earlier warnings, prophesising total disaster. But she sold the house in Pickwick Road and went to Venice.
The years went by, and every summer Micky would reappear in Dulwich during Wimbledon Fortnight to continue with her photographic assignment. Then the visits stopped. In 2001 I was staying in Venice, in a crumbling but lovely fifteenth century palazzo now doing service as a modest B & B. It was in a little square to the east of the bustle of St Mark’s. In a corner of the square was the small church S. Giovanni in Bragora. One morning, the door being open, I went in. There was Micky.
The church was where Vivaldi started his musical career as a choirboy and it was where Micky was working on his papers while repairs were being carried out at the better known Conservatory della Pieta on the Molo, where he was concert master and director for 40 years and produced most of his compositions. Micky is the Pieta’s official Vivldi researcher and the trustees would later provide her with a flat in the former church and there she continues to be immersed in study and translation of the Vivaldi archive. Her researches into the all-female choirs which Vivaldi trained at this refuge for unwanted babies have revealed that the women sang tenor and bass parts and some remained at the Pieta for their entire life. She is now a world, possibly the world authority on the composer (a biography of Vivaldi by Micky is in the pipeline) and when the BBC shows a programme about his life, there is Micky, with her urgent and earnest expression indicating some detail in the manuscript, before lapsing into her familiar grin as she makes her point.
In Dulwich Park, on the pathway around the lake is a wooden bench inscribed with “In Memory of Dick the Brick 1950-2000“. It does not say that the bench was donated in Dick’s memory by the regulars at the Castle PH in East Dulwich where he propped up the bar and ran the pub quiz and where he was held in such affection. It was his skill as a raconteur that won him his reputation as one of East Dulwich’s characters. His stories were told in a soft Devon accent and their humour was always directed towards himself. Dick was the most agreeable of companions on a stroll in the country or a drink at the bar.
Many of his stories were about his years at sea and he retained the rolling gait of a sailor all his life. Dick was born near Plymouth and he enlisted in the Royal Navy where he served as a gunner on Fishery Protection vessels during the almost forgotten Cod War with Iceland. When he was discharged from that service on health grounds he joined the merchant marine. It was between these two spells at sea that Dick took, at the suggestion of the RN, a course in bricklaying and it was to this trade he turned when he became disenchanted with life in the merchant navy.
Dick was a very good bricklayer when he put his mind to it. The problem was that he was not equipped by nature to put his mind to anything for long. Perhaps that’s why his marriage failed and probably explains why his career ceased in the Royal Navy and why his life ended the way it did. Dick was essentially a lonely man and craved company by propping up the bar for hours on end and getting steadily drunk. When a close friend died Dick imagined he might fill his former shipmate’s shoes. He prepared to remove to Scotland to look after the widow and her daughter. When this suggestion was rejected, quite wisely by the widow, Dick returned to London and his lonely flat, took a Stanley knife from his tool bag and cut his own throat.
Arthur Perry would be everyone’s idea of an old fashioned vicar - always wearing his clerical collar, to be seen in summer in a cream alpaca jacket and a Panama hat which he doffed to every lady he passed in the Village during his frequent perambulations. He invariably gave an impression of being surprised and amused and swept along by events, rather like the expression the Prince of Wales adopts. He was a keen crossword puzzler, and to his delight, twice winner of ‘ The Times’ crossword competition.
Yet Canon Perry (a title he explained to me one day as a kind of ecclesiastical OBE), had a less well-known side. He was a true comedian. Not the brash, in your face kind of comedian, but one of subtle timing and brilliant delivery. He might have been compared with a Jack Benny or a Bob Newhart. This aspect came to the fore one year when he attended the then annual clergy conference at a Butlin’s Holiday Camp, an odd choice of venue but generously offered gratis by Billy Butlin. Arthur entertained the attending serious minded delegates with a stand-up act accompanied on the piano by Michael Marshall, Bishop of Woolwich, also a Dulwich resident. His performance became a legend.
Arthur Perry arrived as a priest in the Church of England via a job in a shipping office in Liverpool. He was a low-churchman and well suited to St Barnabas when he arrived in the late 1950’s. Unlike its neighbouring Anglican churches, which had been built some thirty years earlier at the height of the Anglo-Catholic movement, St Barnabas was consecrated on the crest of a liturgical reaction against ritualism. Thus it should not be found so surprising how a series of Lent lunches which I attended, developed.
In common with many churches the Gospel of St Mark was selected as a text which might be studied and digested, along with a simple lunch once a week over the six week period of Lent. The lunches started modestly enough; after all there was expected to be an element of sacrifice and simplicity. Thus week one saw bread and cheese accompanying the story of the life of Jesus. The following week soup was added to the diet, the cheese still being retained. A week later a splendid pudding made by Rene the Vicar’s wife appeared on the table. In week 4, cream accompanied the pudding. By the last two weeks of our Lenten fast Arthur’s home made wine accompanied a now fully blown luncheon.
When he retired, Arthur’s modest salary did not allow opportunity for providing himself and Rene with a new home upon leaving his comfortable vicarage in Calton Avenue. His friend, Mervyn Stockwood, Bishop of Southwark, interceded and Arthur was offered a delightful cottage owned by the Church of England in Walsingham in Norfolk. The problem for Arthur was that Walsingham is the Anglican Church’s one and only shrine, a place of pilgrimage and veneration and therefore quite alien to Arthur’s concept of churchmanship. However, needs must and he and Rene moved in to their new home and in no time at all Arthur began ‘helping out’ with the many services at this unique place and eventually began to accompany some of the pilgrimages. God works in a mysterious way!
An Unlikely Father Christmas
In case, dear Reader, you might think I have run out of stories about my fellow shopkeepers, let me assure you that I would be surprised if Fate could have provided a more unusual bunch. Take Wally Burt for instance. Wally was the newspaper seller when the Village (and elsewhere) used to support one. He would be at his stand at North Dulwich Station in the mornings selling his ‘dailies’, and in the evening greeting the same but now more weary trainloads of commuters with the choice of three London evening newspapers. His favourite greeting was “Buy a paper, have a read”, uttered in a barely inviting base tone.
Wally I think, always resembled a cheerful Fagin. For about nine months of the year he dressed in the same sort of well-worn overcoat Fagin might have sported. Newspaper vending was not the extent of Wally’s business life. In the hours between the morning and evening trains Wally was a bookie with a legitimate stand at all the South-east England racecourses. In the days before betting shops Wally was never averse to taking a bet at the same time as handing over a copy of The Times.
I cannot recall how or why I suggested Wally might be an ideal Father Christmas at the Village Infants’ Christmas party. As deputy chairman of the governors I suppose I had some kind of role in the management of the party at St Barnabas Hall. Wally was enthusiastic about the idea. A Father Christmas outfit was obtained and the day of the party arrived and almost two hundred excited infants awaited the arrival of Father Christmas aka Wally. The tea came and went but still no Wally. In desperation and feeling responsible, for this, my only contribution to the party, I donned the Father Christmas outfit and filled in as a poor substitute for the absent Wally. As the party was ending and parents collecting their children, Wally arrived. Red-faced and breathless and clutching 200 copies of The Dandy and The Beano which he had intended to give to the children he apologised for the vagaries of British Rail which had cancelled his train to Dulwich from his home in deepest Surrey.
There was more than a passing resemblance between Elizabeth and Margaret Rutherford. Indeed, Elizabeth could have been cast as Madame Arcarti any day with her scarves and large shopping bag, the latter having wheels for easier transport in Elizabeth’s later life.
Elizabeth was always cheerful and well-dressed. Her peroxide hair often semi-contained by a brightly coloured beret and her lipstick carefully applied. She was to be seen at all hours of the day and night, trundling her wheeled bag back from her frequent visits to the English Speaking Union in Charles Street where she often lunched or attended lectures.
Elizabeth was an avid lecture attendee. Whatever the subject, Elizabeth would be there. However, every chairman’s heart would sink when Elizabeth was espied entering the hall and taking up her favourite position in the front row where her striking presence was guaranteed to put the lecturer off-balance. What rattled the chairmen of such functions was Elizabeth’s guaranteed habit of being the first to ask a question in that doubtfully useful period at the end of some interesting talk when most of the audience are anxious either to head for home, an awaiting glass of wine or cup of coffee.
It mattered little if the lecture was about growing vegetables in Sumatra or the latest archaeological find, Elizabeth’s questions were always framed in such a way that while she initially addressed the subject of the lecture, by the end (and it was not reached for some time) she would have diverted it to her favourite topic - education. Education, in her opinion, had gone to the dogs. At other times and in private conversations and in hushed tones Elizabeth would often introduce her other pet subject - the presence of strange and powerful forces at work. I cannot remember if these forces were of a domestic or an alien character but imprisoned behind my counter I was frequently warned by Elizabeth that: “They are listening to us you know”.
Dulwich and Nico
In the 1970’s, when I was editing another community/church magazine for Dulwich, I was approached by the owner of a new restaurant in Lordship Lane, close to Townley Road, who was interested in taking a third of a page of advertising space. At the time there actually was no space available and so I had to apologise and explain that should there be in the future I would let him know. The reputation of the restaurant grew and I decided I would impress my bank manager by taking him there to lunch and at the same time repay him for his hospitality on a previous occasion.
It was a splendid lunch and the service was unobtrusive. Shortly after the restaurant was ‘discovered’ by Time Out and all changed. The menu outside disappeared. In its stead was a notice which said “We do not serve prawn cocktails or well-done steaks and we only serve lamb pink. If you want to know anything more about this restaurant, consult the guides.” The media began to carry long reports in bold type about the new enfant terrible of the culinary scene, who, upon a complaint would emerge raging from the kitchen. It was not long before Nico Ladenis shook the dust of Dulwich off his pots and pans and up-spooned for Battersea and onwards towards Park Lane, the stratosphere and three Michelin stars and in the process cued in the long line of celebrity chefs which pepper (sic) our TV screens and newspapers.
If there is a future Nico Ladenis opening a local restaurant, let me say that we do have an eighth-page space available for an advertisement.
At least two Dulwich Heads are retiring during this academic year. We asked the Revd Nick Earle, who taught at Dulwich College and JAGS and was Headmaster at one time of Bromsgrove School, what problems incoming Headteachers are likely to face.
Every school is different; all schools are the same. This is the paradox which confronts every headteacher when he or she takes up a headship at a new and relatively unknown school.
All schools are the same because all are composed of four constituencies: the governors, the staff, the parents and the pupils. Each understands the school in its own way; the governors understand it as a financial responsibility, the staff as a means of livelihood and, if they are fortunate enough, as an opportunity to fulfil a lifelong vocation. The parents, on the other hand, see it as a means of advancing their children’s ‘life-chances’ and perhaps their own prestige while the pupils, who of course are the ones who know what is really going on, see ‘school’ as the first step towards the freedom which they crave.
But every school is different because the influence which such constituencies exert can vary widely from school to school and the headteacher, whose job it is to keep the tensions created in some kind of equilibrium, must decide how much and what kind of attention must be given to each.
How much must Governors be listened to? To rank and file governors probably very little, but to the Chairman a good deal (though even Chairmen have been known to be erratic!)
In the case of the staff, a Headteacher will listen very attentively to some and less so to others. But which ones and which others? One’s own judgement and that of a reliable deputy will be the best guides.
Unless he or she is very unlucky, the majority of parents will give a new Head little trouble. They will know from their own experience of bringing up a family that the foundation of any successful community is trust and will guess, correctly, that a Head has to be half parent and half king. But a few will enjoy making a fuss and they, like one or two of their counterparts on the staff, will have to be brought into line - preferably by the exertion of peer pressure but in the last resort by confrontation. And this should be the very last resort.
And the pupils? Well, a modern school has to be large, if only for financial reasons, and a Head will be very fortunate, and very exceptional, if he or she knows all their names. So each Head must decide whether or not to establish a School Council if one does not already exist, and again the senior staff will be the best advisers as to what form it should take and what weight it should be given.
When I became an headmaster, a long time ago, I was surprised by the comparatively few initiatives I needed to take, at least during the early years. More suggestions came from the staff than I had supposed possible and my job was to respond with a ‘no’ only if really good reasons existed for doing so, but otherwise with a ‘yes, but…’ which enabled me to introduce my own views. What I also discovered very quickly was that a Head, like a parent, was judged less by what he or she said and did and more by what he or she was perceived to be.
This discovery led me to the formulation of my five Golden Rules, which I now set down in writing for the first time and for what they may be worth.
1. Keep fit.
2. Keep solvent.
3. Keep cheerful.
4. Keep in touch.
And, most important of all,
5. Keep out of the way.
by Nick Earle
Saturday 6th Dulwich Choral Society Concert - Carmina Burana by Carl Orff and The Passing of the Year, a virtuoso showpiece by the British composer Jonathan Dove at 7.30pm at St John’s Church, Auckland Road, Upper Norwood. Tickets available on the door.
Thursday 11th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture Glory to the New Born King: Depictions of the Nativity in European Art by James Lindow. James Allen’s Girls’ School 6th Form Lecture theatre at 8pm (coffee from 7.30pm) £7, students £1
Tuesday 16th Concordia Chamber Choir present a programme of Christmas Carols and Readings. Christ’s Chapel, Dulwich Village at 7pm. Entrance free - Retiring Collection for the Kingfisher Charity.
Monday 22nd Dulwich Choral Society - A programme of Christmas Music from across the ages at 6.30pm St Stephen’s Church, College Road, South Dulwich. Retiring collection in aid of St Christopher’s Hospice.
Thursday 8th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture Rebels and Martyrs- the Image of the Artist in the 19th Century by Lois Oliver. James Allen’s Girls’ School 6th Form Lecture Theatre at 8pm (coffee from 7.30pm) £7, students £1.
Monday 19th Dulwich Subscription Concert at 7.30pm in the Old Library Dulwich College. - The Court Lane Ensemble led by Simon Hewitt Jones - Mozart, Vivaldi and Imogen Holst. Tickets £15, £10 concessions, £5 students. (tel: 020 8761 6659)
Thursday 12th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture The Barbizon School and French 19th Century Paintings by Kathleen McLauchin. James Allen’s Girls’ School 6th Form Lecture Theatre at 8pm (coffee from 7.30pm) £7 students £1.
Sunday 8th Dulwich Society Garden Group. ‘Pruning Clematis’ - demonstration, discussion, information with Denise MacDonald, committee member British Clematis Society. Wet or fine, in the garden of 137 Burbage Road. Free. With a cup of tea round the kitchen table (space permitting!). Put the date in your diary, to-day.
Thursday 12th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Art Society Lecture The World of Carpets by Roderick Taylor. James Allen’s Girls’ School 6th Form Lecture Theatre at 8pm (coffee from 7.30pm) £7, students £1.
Wednesday 18th Dulwich Subscription Concert at 7.30pm in The Old Library, Dulwich College. Jane Friend cello, Tim Barratt piano. Programme to be announced. Tickets £15, £10 concs, £5 students Tel 020 8761 6659
Thursday 19th Dulwich Society Gardens Group illustrated talk “London’s lesser known Public Gardens” by Colin Jones. At the St Barnabas Centre, Calton Avenue, 8pm. Free
Music has always played an important part in the life of Dulwich, largely through the Foundation Schools (Dulwich College, James Allen’s Girls’ School and Alleyn’s School.) There has also been a long tradition of church music at Christ’s Chapel, which has been taken up by the local parish churches since their establishment in the late nineteenth century.
The Dulwich Choral Society was founded in 1944, first as a local authority evening class which rehearsed at Dulwich Hamlet School. In the 1970’s it became an independent society under its long-standing conductor Graham Stewart, who was also director of music at St Stephen’s Church and the Alleyn Chorale.
The Dulwich Choral Society has about 80 members and gives three major concerts a year, mainly in churches in the Dulwich area, though it has also appeared in such venues as St James, Piccadilly, Southwark Cathedral, St John’s, Smith Square, the Fairfield and Blackheath halls. At most of its concerts the Society performs with members of major London orchestras, using top class soloists. The Society has now inaugurated the practice of singing in a Dulwich church at Christmas in aid of a local charity.
The Society’s present director of music is the distinguished young conductor, Aidan Oliver, who is also director of music at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster, the Parliamentary Church next to Westminster Abbey. Aidan is also the founding chorus master of Philharmonia Voices, a professional chorus which performs with the Philharmonia Orchestra. The Society’s Honorary President is the eminent soprano Dame Emma Kirby.
The Society presents a wide repertoire of choral music; recent performances including Haydn’s Creation, an Elgar 150th Anniversary Promenade Concert, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and The Song of Moses by Thomas Linley the Younger (whose portrait hangs in Dulwich Picture Gallery) and The Pilgrim’s Progress, a dramatic sequence of words and music devised by Aidan Oliver. These concerts have been very well attended and much appreciated.
Over the last ten years the Dulwich Choral Society has undertaken singing tours to Paris, Prague, Venice, Leipzig and Estonia and a visit is now planned to Latvia.
The next concert will consist of performances of Carmina Burana by Cark Orff and the Passing of the Year, a virtuoso showpiece by British composer Jonathan Dove at St John’s Church, Auckland Road, Upper Norwood on Saturday 6th December at 7.30pm In addition the Dulwich Choral Society will be presenting a programme of Christmas music from across the ages at St Stephen’s Church, South Dulwich on Monday 22nd December at 6.30pm when there will be a retiring collection in aid of St Christopher’s Hospice. A performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah is planned for Saturday 28th March 2009 which will mark the tercentenary of the composer’s birth.
The Dulwich Choral Society always welcomes new members. If you are interested in joining, please contact the Membership Secretary, Jo Merry on 020 77737 3169 or email