MATTHEWS, Samuel died 1802. ‘The Dulwich Hermit’. A jobbing gardener of somewhat eccentric character, he was much affected by the death of his wife and wishing to shun social life he obtained the consent of the College to dig a cave and erect a hut in the Dulwich Woods. He became known as the ‘Wild Man of the Wood’ and an attraction for visitors, who found him a harmless and gentle being, hospitably offering them beer. He was murdered in his woodland home on 28 December 1802. A reward of £25 was offered for apprehension of the murderer but no arrest was made. Years later an Isaac Evans claimed he was one of the party who murdered the Dulwich Hermit. Matthews was buried in the Old Burial Ground in Dulwich Village.

Patrick Spencer