On Saturday 9 October 2005 most of the strands that make up Dulwich life were represented at the unveiling of the statue of Edward Alleyn in front of the College he founded. It was appropriate that the 400th anniversary of his purchase of the Manor of Dulwich should be commemorated in this way, because without Edward Alleyn, Dulwich would not be the pleasant place it is today. It was also appropriate that the project for the long-overdue statue to this far-sighted man should be carried out by the Dulwich Society.
The Dulwich Society represents most of the varied interests of this unique suburb of London. Many of its members are closely tied to Edward Alleyn's Foundation, either as former pupils or governors of its schools or parents of pupils. Others have an interest in the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the existence of which is in no small measure the due to Alleyn's legacy. A great number of others have chosen to live in Dulwich because of its beautiful and well-kept open space, another legacy of the Foundation.
The cost of providing the statue, together with its plinth and inscriptions, far exceeded the original estimate of £30,000. This was largely because the Selection Panel chose a design which had two figures, rather than the expected one! The difficulties with site access also made the treatment of the plinth a much more complicated and expensive issue. Fortunately, the sums subscribed by thirty-five generous patrons, a large donation from the Dulwich Estate on behalf of all its beneficiaries, including the Foundation Schools, together with almost 100 donations from individuals almost kept pace with the costs. As a result, there was a shortfall of £1500 on final expenses of just under £50,000. Further donations to erase this small deficit would be welcome.
While the statue is, perhaps, the Society's most significant contribution towards the Dulwich scene, it continues its role of fostering and safeguarding the amenities of Dulwich as set out in its object. It is therefore equally important to note the work its members do in the sub-committees through which it functions. Major improvements to pedestrian safety have been achieved by the Transport and Traffic Group, details of which are reported elsewhere in this issue. The Local History Group has assisted with the itemising of papers passed on to Dulwich College's Archives by the Dulwich Estate and with the cataloguing of Bill de Baerdemaecker's collection of slides presented to Southwark Local Studies Library. The Trees Group has continued to plant trees to enhance the Dulwich landscape and with the Wildlife Group has made an important contribution to the dialogue on the re-ordering of Dulwich Park and securing areas for wildlife to thrive. The Garden Group continues its extensive programme of garden visits to members' gardens, a useful medium through which members are able to keep in touch. Finally, the Planning Group keeps a vigilant eye on development proposals which might impact on Dulwich, and next year plans an architectural exhibition showing successful examples of local building which have taken place in recent years.
All these sub-committees welcome new members from the Society. If you think you can make a contribution to their work through your own expertise or are interested in being of help, then do contact the chairmen each group whose contact details are printed on the previous page.
Report by Hilary Rosser
What would Dulwich be like if Edward Alleyn had not purchased the Manor 400 years ago this October? There is no reason to think that it would have been a centre for educational excellence, with three Foundation schools at its core, and therefore a magnet for house-hunting parents from a wide area. Those of us who were not drawn to Dulwich by the schools were probably attracted by its environmental advantages; the open spaces, the trees and the playing fields which would long since have been built over but for Alleyn's College of God's Gift and the Dulwich Estate.
Alleyn has a lasting memorial in the Chapel, Edward Alleyn House and the schools, but a physical reminder in the form of a statue was long overdue. At the instigation of the Dulwich Society and thanks to the hard work and perseverance of some of its members this omission has at last been rectified. An Open Competition was held in 2004 and the design of a local sculptor, Louise Simson was chosen. A life-size sculpture to that design was unveiled on the green fronting the Old College on Saturday 9 October by our local M.P., the Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell.
The occasion was blessed with fine, dry weather and was attended by around 400 people including many Dulwich Society members and other local residents. After Ms. Jowell had spoken briefly, we were treated to a colourful resume' of Alleyn's life as an actor, husband, entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist, delivered by Julian Glover, himself a former pupil of Alleyn's, where he received inspiration and encouragement for his subsequent distinguished acting career.
The three Foundation schools were in attendance: Alleyn's School pupils stewarded the event while music contemporary with Alleyn's time was provided by the Dulwich College Ensemble and the James Allen's Girls' School Ensemble and singers, enhancing the delightful nature of the occasion.
And what of the statue itself? It is a composition full of vitality, depicting a youthful Alleyn in doublet and hose bending towards a young boy who stretches out his hands in response, while Alleyn raises his other arm in the direction of the Foundation buildings. The sculpture claims the passer-by's attention by its sense of movement and by the engagement of the characters with each other.
Would Alleyn himself have approved? One suspects not! The self-image he was keen to promote once he had bought the Manor of Dulwich in 1605 and established his College of God's Gift some ten years later, was of a respected, philanthropic man of property. We are all familiar with this image through the portrait Alleyn presumably commissioned, which shows him as a soberly but richly dressed bearded man full of years and gravitas. Were Alleyn to have commissioned a statue of himself to stand in his College's grounds, it would presumably have been designed to convey the same message as his painted portrait. Such a statue, like many London statues of nineteenth century worthies, would have lacked vitality and hardly have prompted a second glance from passers-by.
This has been a good summer for the Garden Group. A wide variety of local gardens were opened for our members and we are truly grateful to the owners for all the work that they put in to prepare them for our visit and for the helpful advice they give. One garden had a large- scale model railway, which appealed not only to the children - a 90 year old was spotted taking a ride! A number of charities benefited from these openings, and our plant sale organised by Sylvia and Ken Daniel raised £220 for the Mildmay Mission Hospital.
Every year we hold a competition. This year, to celebrate the Group's 25th anniversary, it was for the best silver (or white) flower. The winner was Judith Ward with a splendid Begonia, closely followed at joint second by Maureen Springbett with an outstanding Hydrangea and Eric Hamilton with a most unusual and attractive Clematis.
The weather was perfect for both of our full day outings. The first was to two of the finest gardens in England, Sissinghurst and Great Dixter. More recently we had a thoroughly enjoyable day at Kew, which included a particularly interesting guided tour.
John Ward (Chairman, Garden Group)
A number of improvements in road safety have recently been achieved by the Dulwich Society through the "Walk to School Campaign" promoted by Transport for London (TfL). These improvements followed consultation by the Society with local schools, Southwark Council members and officers and TfL. The places identified by the Dulwich Society and where work has been carried out include new zebra crossings built across Burbage Road and outside Alleyn's School in Townley Road and the entry treatment at the junction of Woodwarde Road and Calton Avenue. These measures will make it safer for children to walk to and from the Village schools as well as JAGS and Alleyn's.
The new speed table and crossing on Red Post Hill makes it safer for pupils from roads on the west side of Red Post Hill, including those in the North Dulwich triangle to get to school. It also slows the traffic in Red Post Hill, which was a big problem for residents there. The Dulwich Society worked with the Red Post Hill Residents' Association to achieve this change.
In the Village, changes to the layout of the roundabout at the south end are an improvement with the new island and cycle slip slowing southbound vehicles, but there are still conflicts between traffic coming from Gallery Road and traffic coming round the roundabout.
Finally, as the Newsletter goes to print, a new crossing is being built across the South Circular Road near the Queen Mary Gate. There, road crossing has previously been very hazardous for people alighting from buses and wanting to reach the Park or various sports grounds as well as for residents of Hambledon Place attempting to cross the road.
Alastair Hanton (Chairman, Traffic and Transport Group)
Cycling has now returned to the Velodrome but local residents have been concerned over the management of events. In one recent case, the track's managers, the Velo Club de Londrés, failed to open the gates to allow cars to park on the site. This caused chaos in Burbage Road and considerable annoyance to everyone in the area.
At the same time the Society understands that the Estate is continuing negotiations with Citygrove Estates to look at various development options which might provide a more secure future for the track. Both the Society and local residents' associations have reminded the Estate that any development not directly related to cycling will be unwelcome.
Southwark recently refused applications for a mast on the corner of Allison Grove and Dulwich Common and hopefully they will do the same for one in Alleyn Park by the railway bridge. Lambeth has also turned down a proposal for a mast on the corner of Rosendale Road and Lovelace Road.
A large number of people objected to the proposed mast on the Pelo Sports Ground, the subject of a recent consultation exercise by the Estate, and the Society awaits alternative proposals on suitable sites which will not impact on schools and homes.
Southwark's proposed extension of the Controlled Parking Zone in Burbage Road, Carver Road and North Dulwich is rapidly turning into a consultation disaster. Despite requests for further discussion, the Council's consultants have consistently refused to meet local residents' associations and we understand that even Councillors are having trouble in finding out what is actually happening.
S G Smith's application for Planning and Conservation Area Consent to remove the old tyre bay building on Gilkes Crescent, and demolish the canopy over the petrol station and turn both into car parks, has been turned down by Southwark on design grounds. The Council considered that the scheme did nothing to maintain or enhance the character of the conservation area.
Unfortunately the petrol pumps have already been removed - their retention is not a planning matter, and the site is being used as a car park for cars waiting to be serviced.
There has been a recent application to Southwark to demolish an existing 1950s house in Frank Dixon Way and replace it with a larger mock- Georgian style house. The architectural character of the road has always been medium sized detached houses on relatively wide plots. Over the years many houses have been extended but generally in such a way that the overall appearance has been preserved. While the Society is not against demolition in principle it is concerned that the new house will be much larger (to justify the costs of the site) and that this will impact upon the open character of the area. The society has objected to the current application.
The spate of residents carrying out unauthorised works on their properties, particularly to hard standings, continues. The latest problems have been in Red Post Hill, where the garden walls that protected the listed village mile post have been removed leaving it exposed and a prime target for reversing cars.
There was no response to the note in the last magazine about the growing problem of the impact of the green and brown dustbins on front gardens. Are residents generally happy with the visual clutter caused? Are they happy to trip over the bins left on the pavement? Do they not consider that there may be a better way?
In association with Margaret McConnell, the Dulwich Society has provided a fine wooden bench-seat in memory of the late Brian McConnell QGM, the erstwhile editor of this Newsletter and distinguished Fleet Street journalist who died aged 75 in July 2004. The inscribed seat is located outside the College Road Gate of Dulwich Park.