Alfred Carver

CARVER, Rev. Alfred James 1826-1909. Master of Dulwich College. Carver was educated at St Paul’s School and Trinity College, Cambridge, and was therefore an undergraduate when Joseph Romilly (qv) was a Fellow of Trinity. He was an accomplished classicist who was elected a Fellow of Queen’s College, Cambridge 1850-53. He was appointed Sur-master (deputy head) of St Paul’s School in 1852, a post he held until his appointment as Headmaster of the Upper and Lower Schools of Dulwich College in 1858.

From the start it was Carver’s ambition to create a public school which would rival those institutions known as the Great Schools. The number of boys in the Upper School, located in various parts of the Old College in the village rose to 150 and put tremendous pressure on space. Fortunately, two railway companies offered to buy 100 acres of land on the Dulwich Estate for their expanding rail networks. With ample funds now available, new buildings on a grand scale designed by Charles Barry Jr [qv] were opened in 1870.

The new school’s academic success was enhanced by the number of boys proceeding to university, some being financially supported out of Carver’s own pocket. Such was the success of the Upper School that the Lower School, whose pupils paid far lower fees, had to remain in the Grammar School and buildings of the Old College. In 1876, with the futures of both the Upper and Lower Schools uncertain, Carver successfully appealed to the Privy Council for a new scheme of administration for the charity. This was achieved in 1882, securing the future of the two schools as Dulwich College and Alleyns and making provision for James Allen’s Girls School to benefit from the growing income of the estate. Although Carver resigned as Headmaster when the new scheme came into effect, he continued his long association with JAGS. In 1858 he had become a trustee and was Chairman of the Governors until his death in 1909. He did as much to establish that school as he did for his more acknowledged services to Dulwich College.

Brian Green