Farewell Zelkova

Like the obituary announcing the death of Mark Twain, the report in this column in the Spring of 2004, that Dulwich’s landmark tree, the Zelkova carpinifolia was to be felled was similarly premature. Passers-by of this giant Caucasian Elm have therefore had a further six years to admire this magnificent tree which stands on the corner of College Road and Dulwich Common.

Sadly, by the time you read this it will probably have been taken down. Although it had had a decided ‘lean’ for some years, causing the centre of gravity of the tree to shift 1.8 metres by 2004, this had increased appreciably in recent months and both Southwark Council and Transport for London agreed with the Dulwich Estate that it was dangerous and would have to come down for safety reasons. The Zelkova had a height of some 90 feet, an overall span of 75 feet and a girth of 15ft 8in. It was bigger than the other famous Zelkova at Kew. It was planted at the end of the garden of an eighteenth century house named Corner House which occupied the present green space.

It is hoped that some of the timber might be retained in order that a lasting memento might be made, although experts say the wood is extremely hard to work. The Dulwich Estate is to plant a replacement Zelkova. This will accompany a similar specimen planted a few years ago.

The Dulwich Pottery

Is any reader familiar with the name of The Dulwich Pottery who produced delightful figurines like the one illustrated between 1929-1937? The artists names were J S Bray and V Williams. Louise Irvine mailto:louise@pascoeandcompany.com would be very pleased from anyone one with information on the location, artists and dates.

Two lads and a dog

The Mark Evison Foundation has made its inaugural award to two young people at Dulwich College, Tom Davies and Luke Gbedemah. They intend to climb the four highest mountains in the UK, the ‘four peaks’(Snowdon in Wales, Scafell Pike in the Lake District, Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland, and Ben Nevis in Scotland) over four days with Tom’s dog Anvil. They will use public transport (trains, buses and ferries) between peaks, and stay in youth hostels or sleep on the ferries or trains. They hope to obtain further sponsorship which they will give to charity. They will make a film about their trip.

The two boys perfectly represent what the Mark Evison Foundation stands for. The Foundation is a registered charity providing funds which, in its words, ‘will enable you to stretch yourself constructively, and so gain more confidence, courage to try new things and self-reliance, as well as new skills.’ It encourages a can-do attitude, caring for others and mutual support, and team work: Funds are made available for projects which will contribute to the ‘personal, mental and physical development of young people particularly those who have less opportunity’.

The Foundation was set up following the Mark’s death from gunshot wound received in Afghanistan at the age of 26 whilst leading his men as a lieutenant in the Welsh Guards. It is a charity run partly by young people for young people. Both the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and HRH The Prince of Wales have been active in their support of it.

The Foundation wishes the two young men every success, and looks forward to their account of their adventures. We are grateful for the support of the Master of Dulwich College, who has been exceptional in his encouragement of both us and his pupils. After this trip Tom and Luke intend to describe their trip and show their film to other young people at local secondary schools as part of the Foundation’s ‘Heroes for Schools’ scheme.

The Foundation’s website is www.markevisonfoundation.org. If you are between 16 and 30 and would like to apply for a grant, please see the website: or if you would consider donating there are many ways in which you can contribute and help raise funds.

Tel: 020 8693 2254 - info@markevisonfoundation.org
PO Box 59519, London SE21 9AL
Registered Charity Commission Nº 1130281

Dulwich Garden Safari

This event, in aid of Dulwich Helpline was again a great success and in beautiful June sunshine some hundreds of visitors made their way around the five lovely Dulwich gardens. Over £3000 was raised for the charity.

In May fifty members of the Dulwich Society Garden Group visited Leonardslee Gardens near Horsham for the final visit to the gardens which are to be closed to the public. John Ward reports that the group saw a splendid display of rhododendrons, azaleas and bluebells and admired the lakes. Shortly after, another group toured the gardens of Buckingham Palace. It was a really interesting visit and the gardens were immaculate, but they were not at their best. It seems the gardeners have instructions to ensure that whenever possible, plants are in bloom in late June to coincide with Royal Garden Parties (about six weeks after the visit). However, everyone enjoyed the visit and the Palace shop did a roaring trade!

Creating the UK’s Largest Wildlife Garden

In May pupils from The Charter School began a chain of events set to lead to the creation of the UK’s largest wildlife garden - The Concrete Jungle. Members of the school’s environmental committee worked with local resident Jane Langley of Cool it Schools to launch the project. The aim is to give pupils the inspiration and information they need to transform a blank canvas of clay at the back of the school ground into a paradise for nature. With the help of the environmental charity Groundwork, pupils will design the garden. David Sheppard, the Headteacher says “Climate change had long been a topic of discussion and debate amongst our pupils both within lessons and in playground discussions. The opportunity to create something to highlight such a crucial issue and then to showcase it physically not only in our school but also electronically across the world was a chance too good to miss”.

The event coincided with the launch of the International Year of Biodiversity by the Natural History Museum. The Charter School hopes their project will inspire other schools across the UK to join the campaign to create wildlife gardens in their school grounds.

Southwark Heritage Plaque for Sam King

Former resident of Warmington Road, Herne Hill, Sam King was present when a Southwark blue plaque was unveiled earlier this year in his honour. Born in Jamaica in 1926, King began his distinguished career with active service ion the RAF. He organised the first Notting Hill Carnival and the first black newspaper, The West Indian Gazette. He and his wife moved into his house just off Half Moon Lane in 1958 and were residents for 26 years during which time he became a Councillor and Britain’s first black Mayor. He was also governor of three London schools and was awarded a MBE in 1998.

Dulwich Picture Gallery to close for a new entrance and shop

Dulwich Picture Gallery will be closed from 1 - 14 September 2010 while Small Back Room design and refurbish both the entrance and the shop. Small Back Room have worked with companies including Tate Modern and the London Transport Museum and have also been seen recently on BBC2’s Mary Queen of Shops.

The shop will be moved to the side gallery where visitors currently enter whilst the entrance will now be situated in the room in the middle of the gallery as originally intended, restoring the natural pathway approach up to the Gallery from the College Road entrance. The new entrance will provide improved ticketing facilities as well as room to cater for a new audio-visual guide programme ready for the Gallery’s 200 year celebrations in 2011. While the Gallery itself is closed, the Sackler Centre for Arts Education will be open, as will the Linbury Room for lectures, the café and the garden.

The Gallery will reopen on 14 September the day before the start of the next exhibition - Salvator Rosa (1615-1673): Bandits, Wilderness and Magic (see page 17).

The New York Times has reported that although the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art has completed a major round of layoffs (74 employees) and voluntary retirements (95), it has announced three curatorial appointments, including Xavier Saloman, chief curator at the Dulwich Picture Gallery who will become curator of European paintings in January 2011.