The Dulwich Society Journal for Autumn 2022.
Now that a decision has been made on making the junction of Calton Avenue and Dulwich Village a permanent closure and discussion of the naming of the space ‘Dulwich Square’ ceased to become a taboo subject, residents will no doubt be interested in what happens next. A public consultation will be held on its design, the date of which is at present unknown. No doubt old wounds, recently concealed, if not healed, will re-open. As it stands, the space at present can only be described as a pig’s ear of a design, with redundant traffic lights hooded as if awaiting execution, ugly and makeshift planter boxes, hazardous tripping points for pedestrians, appealing slopes for ‘wannabe’ skateboarders, unclear paths for super-charged cyclists (not to mention future e-scooterists).
The last time such a ‘consultation’ was held was for the ill-fated, ridiculously expensive scheme to give cyclists (presumed) greater safety in their (assumed) west to east route. As a consequence, pedestrians found crossing Calton Avenue both circuitous and hazardous, cyclists ignored their new pathways and took the shortest route, motorists, frustrated at delays accelerated around the corners at alarming speed. Things can only improve.
What is needed is an aesthetically pleasing design, drawn up by an architect who has specialised in street landscaping who will take into account the list of preferences distilled from the consultation.
Of course, the matter of the design of the ‘Dulwich Square, will undoubtedly become the next battle-ground for local armchair street planners, let alone lexicographers seeking a more appropriate name for the newly-created space.
And what about the cost? Actually, that is the easiest of the problems to be solved. Either the Dulwich Estate should pay the bill in reparations for the appropriation of the original village green by Edward Alleyn in 1613 on which to build his foundation, or it should come from the £?m plus fines imposed by Southwark Council for infringement of the LTN. Either way, both are a form of highway robbery!
Your editor was asked recently if, in his 40 years of commenting upon local issues, he had ever come across anything as contentious as the Battle of the LTNs. Time, if not the great healer certainly has a capacity for diminishing ill feeling. Here is a list, which is not claimed to be a complete one, of past issues which have divided our lovely village.
Speeding traffic, culminating in a dreadful accident in Court Lane in which two schoolboys were seriously injured led to installation of the first speed humps in Dulwich. The speed humps were expensive and too high and had to be replaced. In the meantime, traffic diverted to Woodwarde Road to avoid them, leading to speed humps needing to be installed in that road.
Threat of the imposition of a permanent gypsy/travellers’ campsite on Dulwich Common by Southwark Council led to widespread alarm and protest.
The sale of ‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’ by Domenichino by Dulwich College Picture Gallery in contravention of its benefactor’s express wishes in order to save the Gallery from closure due to unsustainable running expenses. It led to widespread condemnation throughout the art world which pleaded for better funding for such institutions.
Perceived failure by the Dulwich Society in not taking stronger action against the Dulwich Estate over a proposal to turn the Crown & Greyhound’s pub garden into a car park. This led to the creation of the Dulwich Preservation Society, largely made up of dissatisfied residents immediately affected by the potential disruption.
Huge dissatisfaction with the Dulwich Estate including its ignoring of residents’ reasonable complaints over issues like arrogance, maintenance, and response times to problems. It led to a campaign by residents (headed by the Dulwich Society) and culminating in two public meetings chaired by the constituency MP. The governors, in retaliation, considered ‘walking away’ from the Scheme of Management.
Refusal of the Dulwich Estate to grant permission for building design changes to a house in West Dulwich to accommodate the needs of a disabled child.
New ‘real books’ reading scheme introduced in local infant schools to replace traditional ‘see-say’ method. Vigorously criticised by parents, leading to numerous public protest meetings and complaints.
Failure of William Penn School, despite its rebranding as Dulwich High School, led to public campaign to improve local state secondary schools. Culminates with the closure of the school and its rebuilding and reopening as the Charter School.
Disagreement among local residents over the proposed design of the new St Barnabas Church to replace the Victorian church destroyed by fire, descended into acrimony and was used by some as a coded criticism of the sexuality of the then vicar.
Mass protest over the threatened closure of the Dulwich Village Post Office.
Vociferous disagreement over the felling of the ancient tree at the corner of College Road and Dulwich Common - Zelcova Carpinifolia. Tree preservation order placed on the tree which was subsequently pruned.
In June the Society held a Special General Meeting with the intention of adopting new rules proposed by the executive committee that were designed to modernise the Society's functioning and to introduce more transparency and accountability. The subject matter was hardy thrilling, but the turnout was disappointing. The meeting was barely quorate and indeed would not have been quorate under the proposed rules. Whilst a majority were in favour, the required threshold of two thirds was not reached. We will now take a pause to consider and consult before reconsidering further changes. In the meantime, some of the required changes can be implemented via by-laws without the immediate need for another Special General Meeting.
It is great to hear from members with their thoughts on so many topics that come into my inbox. It will not surprise you that the climate emergency is a topic about which many of you are passionate. Locally, what can be done? What are Southwark and the Dulwich Estate doing about the climate emergency? What are we doing as residents? More needs to be done and it needs to be done faster. After a summer which has seen the hottest ever UK temperature record (set only three years earlier) beaten by more than one and a half degrees Celsius, it is not a surprise that climate change is an accepted fact. What is more of a surprise is that the urgency of the situation does not seem to be appreciated as widely. This summer's wildfires, as close at hand as in Croydon, will hopefully focus attention on the emergency that we face.
The Dulwich Estate is beginning to develop a green strategy but needs to increase its aspirations and accelerate the pace. There needs to be a thorough review of the scheme of management guidelines as well as operational changes by the Estate as real-estate owner and landlord. Southwark needs to roll out more accessible on-street electric vehicle charging posts. We as residents need to move to electric vehicles, insulate our homes and take advantage of solar and heat-pump power. All this needs to happen at pace.
On a more positive note, Southwark's process of co-design of the public realm of the area where Calton Avenue meets Dulwich Village is well under way. Now that the traffic orders are permanent, the community can put the contentious issues of motor vehicle access behind us and concentrate on achieving a design that is commensurate with the quality of the area and one which will enhance Dulwich as a destination to draw in footfall for the benefit of local businesses. The Society is playing an active role in this important project at the heart of our neighbourhood.
Southwark Civic Awards 2022
Southwark Civic Awards, which ‘recognise excellence in active citizenship and exceptional achievement’, are the most prestigious the council can make and were presented to two Dulwich Society members at a ceremony held at Southwark Cathedral. The Freedom of the Liberty of the Old Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell was bestowed upon Ian McInnes, former chairman of the Dulwich Society, and Brian Green, editor of this Journal, by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Sandra Rhule. A local body also receiving an award at the ceremony was the Paxton Green Time Bank which received the new ‘Southwark Together Award’ for its work in brokering reciprocity and enabling practical help and support.
Traffic and Environment
The recent T&E meeting featured a large number of topics including the question of Vision Zero (working towards no traffic fatalities or injuries while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all) and it was agreed the sub-committee would look into it further. Disability access to trains and frequency of services was also discussed, as were ways of improving uneven pavements. Further discussion took place about plans for e-scooters (potentially coming soon to Dulwich, albeit with a question mark over suitable locations) and Santander cycles (likely over time to extend south to Dulwich but needing to cover Camberwell first). Finally, the co-design process which will take place later this year for Dulwich Square was discussed. The Society was informed this would not involve the principles of mobility through it but rather focus on how to make it a safe and attractive public space. Since the T&E meeting there have been developments regarding bus services which the sub-committee is monitoring.
Planning and Architecture
In the past few months 39 licence applications to the Dulwich Estate Scheme of Management were inspected and commented upon. Of these, there were 14 which were objected to, largely due to the applicants failing to observe the issued guidance or failing to provide sufficient information.
There was an objection to a large development in Fountain Drive of a new build 4 & 5 storey apartment building with roof terrace, comprising 9 x 2 bed flats with terraces, due to failure to adhere to both Southwark planning policy (notably exceeding the density of development for Suburban Density Zone South) and the majority of the Estate’s Development Guidelines for new-build properties. Particular concerns include excessive height and massing, out of character with the estate and immediate setting, loss of amenity to neighbouring residents (overbearing impact, sunlight, loss of privacy) and poor design quality. There was also Objection to front landscaping, including front parking area, due to failure to achieve 50% soft landscaping (and confusion about which parking layout applies) and Objection to rear landscaping, which is not proportionate to the size of the development.
The Dulwich Society also objected to the proposal to construct two new houses in the rear garden of a house in Wood Vale as being contrary to the Southwark Plan and the Dulwich SPD. The scheme is contrary to NSP Policy AV 07 (Dulwich Area Vision) in that it does not preserve and enhance the character of Dulwich. The SPD notes that Dulwich is not considered to be a suitable area for backland development due to the character of the area and large plot sizes. There would be a detrimental effect on residential amenity (privacy) of adjoining owners due to the raised floor level, proximity of the houses to site boundaries and overall height of the houses. There would be substantial loss of tree canopy from the scheme, and the access to the new houses takes up almost one third of the plot.
The Dulwich Society took a neutral stance on the part retrospective application for an outdoor nursery and holiday club at the Herne Hill Velodrome. It was noted that any planning permission should be subject to the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust Code of Conduct. It was also noted that further information was required on the potential conflict between the existing ‘off-road’ mountain bike / cyclo cross trails and the nursery / holiday club, to ensure that there is no loss of cycling facilities (and cycling-related holiday clubs). This should also include an assessment of health and safety and safeguarding issues for children attending both activities. Although the determination deadline was 19th January 2022, the application is still listed as under consideration / assessment.
Licensing - Patsy Bramble comments
One of the attractions of living in Dulwich is that residents are able to enjoy the green open spaces of our nearby parks. In recent years however, the parks have also become attractive venues during the summer months for promoters of festivals, including large music festivals with daily attendance figures between 10,000 (Peckham Rye Park) and 35,000 (Crystal Palace Park). The fees (amount undisclosed) paid to local councils provide them with a welcome, additional, source of income.
The work of the small Dulwich Society Licensing Sub- Committee ( all 2 of us!) is taken up with monitoring and making representations on premises licence applications for such events (some one- off, others time limited or permanent), as well as premises licence applications for restaurants, bars, cafes and sports clubs in Dulwich Village Ward and surrounding Wards.
Under the Licensing Act 2003 an applicant for a premises’ licence must demonstrate how they will satisfy the four licensing objectives, namely: prevention of crime and disorder; ensure public safety; prevention of public nuisance (including noise and light pollution) and protection of children from harm. Quite often the applicants address the objectives only in minimum terms
Southwark Council runs an excellent scheme in notifying amenity groups and residents’ associations of premises licence applications. In contrast, it seems that Bromley and Lambeth councils do not, so we are dependent on local intelligence to learn of applications which could adversely affect the amenity of local residents.
Typically, the Licensing Sub-Committee considers two or three applications each month. We review these to see if, in our opinion, the applicant has satisfactorily addressed the licensing objectives and recommend to the Society’s Executive Committee whether a representation opposing the application should be made to the relevant Council’s Licensing Sub- Committee. To alert residents to applications, such details we receive go into the Society’s monthly e-newsletter and we also notify relevant local residents’ associations so they too can take a view as to whether the amenity of their members will be affected.
If the Executive Committee agrees that a representation should be made, one of us attends the Council’s Licensing Committee Hearing of the application. These now tend to be virtual hearings - via Teams. Five days before the hearing date, the Council publishes papers for the hearing, including representations by the Responsible Authorities (including Police, Environmental Health, Licensing) and all representations (anonymised) received from local residents. These hearings frequently take several hours, (not just because of IT glitches!) and are occasionally adjourned to a second day. A decision is usually given on the day of the hearing, but a detailed written decision must be handed down within 5 days of the hearing. In the case of festival applications, (which local councils rarely if ever refuse), we attend regular stakeholders’ meetings, - monthly, in the case of large festivals, to discuss matters such as traffic management plans, noise nuisance etc - and also post event debriefing meetings to ensure “lessons will be learned”, and damage to the parks’ infrastructure repaired.
London Wildlife Trust/Sydenham Hill Wood appeal
The Dulwich Society contributed £5,000 of matched funding with a similar amount from the BigGive for LWT's "Green Match Fund" appeal for paths improvement following heavy footfall in Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Woods during the Covid emergency. A total of £23,000 was raised during the actual appeal week and to date LWT has raised around £35,000 towards its £50,000 target. They will be able to carry out work on the path improvements, but will need to fund raise again to complete the project.
Court Lane raised beds
It is hoped that a project to improve the planting and maintenance of these beds will be realised, as well as seeing what local support there is to help maintain them in association with Southwark Council, which is responsible for the beds. Discussions are taking place with local councillors. The project stalled over two years ago partly because Council staff suggested that costly repairs were required to the beds for which funds were not available (an award of £300 was made). Any CGS funding for the current scheme, which is still being developed, will be applied for by the Court Lane Residents' Association which is promoting the project.
Clarke’s Green double benches
Estimates are being invited to repair/repave the plinths on which the two sets of double benches stand in the ‘green’ island at the corner of Village Way and Dulwich Village, historically known as Clarke’s Green.
The Society is pressing for a planting plan for this important feature (and possibly refurbishment of the light) as a 2023-24 CGS project. Hopefully agreement for a maintenance programme with Southwark Council can be reached at the same time.
Local History Talks on Zoom
The Dulwich Society local history talks start up again this autumn. As usual they will be on the first Tuesday of the month at 8pm, on Zoom. Tickets are £5 with all proceeds to charity. The talks (to year end) are:
8pm, Tuesday 4 Oct: Dulwich Greatest Hits: a musical tour of Dulwich’s pop past with Patrick Humphries
8pm, Tuesday 1 Nov: The Decline of Farming and the Rise of the Sports Clubs with Brian Green
8pm, Tuesday 6 Dec: Georgian Dulwich: houses and histories with Ian McInnes
Tickets are available on Eventbrite which can be accessed through Bell House Events.
Richard Lewis (1935 - 2022)
The Very Reverend Richard Lewis was vicar of St Barnabas from 1979-1990 and Dean of Wells from 1990-2003. He was appointed a Canon of Southwark in 1987. Lewis was educated at the Royal Masonic School for Boys and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Ordained in 1960, he began his ecclesiastical career with a curacy in Hinckley following which he was Priest in charge of St Edmund, Riddlesdown. He then held the incumbency at South Merstham, Wimbledon.
When Richard Lewis arrived in Dulwich, he inherited a parish of two halves. At Christ’s Chapel there was an active and well-attended children’s church which catered for children up to the age of around 13 accompanied by their parents, and a slightly declining congregation at St Barnabas. He successfully amalgamated the two congregations and the younger element from Christ’s Chapel would provide the impetus for the increase in attendance and the addressing of other issues Lewis was able to stimulate.
An ambitious building plan to provide social space nearer the church than the existing parish hall in Dulwich Village was soon launched and the new vicar’s ability to recognise talents within his flock led to speedy growth. He expanded the already well-established choir and promoted a number of successful initiatives such as the ecumenical services which brought local churches together. He was an accomplished musician and while at St Barnabas conducted the annual Christmas music, often including a piece of his own. Under St Barnabas Studies, he initiated a programme of visiting speakers and opened the use of the church for local community events.
His elevation as Dean of Wells came as no surprise in view of his undoubted success in Dulwich, where he had also seen a re-ordering of St Barnabas’s interior and also acted on behalf of two successive Bishops of Southwark in handling delicate pastoral matters in churches elsewhere. At Wells he controversially but successfully brought girls into the Cathedral choir as well as using his considerable pastoral skills to lead a commission on behalf of the archbishops of Canterbury and York at the request of the deans and provosts to resolve a number of scandals including the proposed sale of Hereford’s historic Mappa Mundi to plug a financial hole, a dispute at Lincoln over doctrinal issues and misappropriation of funds at Exeter by the head verger.
For a few years after his retirement, he and his wife Jill moved to Great Malvern, but they returned to Wells after the appropriate period of distancing. Elected Dean of Wells Emeritus, he remained an active participant in arguments over the disposal of church buildings, in particular the recent plan to sell the ancient Deanery to a hotel group. He advocated that but should become a gallery. In their closing years, Richard was a devoted carer for his wife.
Platinum Jubilee Commemorated
Dulwich celebrated HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with numerous street parties, a flower festival at Christ’s Chapel and the Dulwich Postal Cart, suitably decorated for the occasion, became a favoured place for a photographic memento. A commemorative Jubilee Tree Trail Walk around the middle of the Village was published by the Dulwich Society.
Village Shop Celebrates its 75th Anniversary
The Art Stationers & Village Toy Shop, better known as ‘Green’s’, celebrates its 75th anniversary in September. Opened in 1947 by Ernest and Lilian Green, it took over an existing stationers and artists’ materials business which incorporated a printing works at the rear of the premises named The College Press, which had originally opened at the beginning of the century. In 1957 their son, Brian joined the business. He was later joined by his two daughters, firstly Sally and then Mary who currently runs the shop. What is remarkable is that in a challenging and changing retail environment this small family business still survives.
The ever-popular ‘Images of Dulwich Calendar’ for 2023 is now available at the shop and makes an ideal and inexpensive gift to send.
Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Tessa Jowell Centre
Bubble Dreams, a new digital artwork by artist Carolyn Defrin and set designer Paul Burgess, has been unveiled at Tessa Jowell Health Centre (TJHC) in East Dulwich. The immersive and playful artwork, which is on display in the Children’s Services area of the centre, invites service users to interact with a digitally enhanced mural.
Designed to engage children and families in multiple ways, the installation offers opportunities for choice and control that can sometimes feel out of reach within healthcare settings. The painted mural and ‘dream bubbles’ are displayed on the wall of the Children’s Services waiting room and respond to the natural movements of visitors and staff. Through interactive technology and instructional language, the installation immerses visitors in a range of calming and playful 'bubble dreams' and transforms the space into numerous portals to other worlds.
This is the second in a series of four art commissions that aim to embed art in healthcare and to enhance the healing environment at TJHC. It follows the inaugural commission, The Health Centre’s Quilt, a large-scale artwork by a collective of local artists; Bamidele Awoyemi, Farouk Agoro and Livia Wang, which was unveiled at the centre in summer 2021. The commission series is a partnership between Dulwich Picture Gallery and NHS South East London CCG.
An architectural appraisal by Ian McInnes
The new health centre has now been functioning for over a year and provides a comprehensive range of integrated health services for the Dulwich community. Located on the south east corner of the former Dulwich Community Hospital site or, for those of a more historical bent, the former Champion Hill Infirmary of St Saviour's Union, it has been many years in gestation. It shares the site with the new Charter School East Dulwich which has retained the former ‘Chateau’ block, the centre piece of the original Victorian hospital design.
The rectangular plan has part two floors and part three floors and is laid out around a central landscaped courtyard. The welcoming naturally- lit main entrance atrium is highlighted externally with metal sheet cladding and strong vertical fins to emphasise its location. The elevational design is of its time. Crisply detailed brickwork with a flat ‘green’ roof and a thin metal coping is the go-to solution for many buildings today, but the choice of a sympathetic red brick relates well to the historic ‘chateau’ block and also gives the new building an impression of solidity - the setting- back of the ground floor and the use of different cladding material there also helps. The blank screen wall to the right of the main entrance, with its alternate projecting brickwork, is particularly successful in enlivening what is a large expanse of brickwork, and the recessed detailing around the windows on the front elevation adds some subtlety to the coverall composition. Environmentally, the design meets the ‘excellent’ BREEAM 2014 standard.
From a user’s point of view, the new building appears to fulfil the design brief which required a flexible building with a modern fit-for-purpose clinical environment, a welcoming and therapeutic atmosphere for patients and easy navigation and intuitive way finding for all users. It was also designed to allow for the possibility of future extension. Designed by architects Murphy Philips and built by contractor Willmott Dixon under a Department of Health LIFT contract, this very welcome addition to local health services cost £17m.
Ian McInnes is chairman of the Twentieth Century Society and a retired architect.
The festival was back (live and in- person) for the first time in 3 years, with a new Festival Director (Annie Mitchell), taking over from Alpha Hopkins after 18 years in the role.
Annie was supported by a wonderful team including many festival team members who have participated in the past, as well as new team members including 2 x new Artist Open House Coordinators and 2 x Goose Green Fair Coordinators.
The festival ran from the 13 - 22 May, and included:
44 x ticketed events at venues across Dulwich Village, Herne Hill and West Dulwich.
- Popular events included the HandleBards picnic performance of Twelfth Night on the Jags playing fields, Clare Chambers talking about her book ‘Small Pleasures’ and the ever- popular Festival Ceilidh.
- Dulwich Society members also ran very popular events, including Brian Green’s talk Hell’s Bells - Dulwich Picture Gallery & WW2, and Ian McInnes’s Mid Century architecture walk, both sell- outs.
- This year saw the launch of the festival pop- up of festival clubs: A comedy club at the Crown and Greyhound, a jazz club at the East Dulwich Tavern and a wellness hub at Oru Space on Lordship Lane.
- The festival also included a ‘Family Day’ in the village, with many free and ticketed events for people of all ages. The Children’s Classical Concert and Family Magic show were very popular
Artists’ Open House
- 4 days of Artists Open House, including over 400 visual artists and 139 venues
- There were 17 different artforms including - Ceramics, Crafts, Design, Fine Art, Furniture, Glass, Illustration, Interiors, Jewellery, Performance, Photography, Prints, Recycling, Sculpture, Street Art, Textiles and Upcycling
- Bell House curated a wonderful show ‘Ways of Seeing Green’ hosting 30 artists
- Dulwich Prep London hosted the former international fashion designer turned sculptor Nicole Farhi
- Pawel Wasek was our front cover artist
7 x Free fairs/open days/family days
- This included Dulwich Park Fair, Goose Green Fair, West Dulwich Street Fair, South London Makers Festival, Dulwich Picture Gallery Open Day, London Wildlife trust Orchard Day and the Dulwich Festival’s first ever children’s art exhibition
- The Children’s Art exhibition was hosted generously by Belair House. 400 children from across the area submitted artworks to reflect the theme of ‘awakening’
- The fairs were all a big hit and provided wonderful FREE entertainment across the weekends.
3 x community engagement programmes, including an art competition, Flash Fiction and a Youth Musical Gala at Kingsdale School.
Audiences and involvement
The people of Dulwich came back in droves, with many events selling out well before the festival started. In terms of involvement, there were over 100 locals who were key contributors. The festival saw 3000 active participants in the form of performers, stall holders and artists. And over the 10 days, we saw an attendance of 50,000 people.
Huge congratulations and well done to everyone who was involved.
The festival was a wonderful success on all counts, and the team are now focussed on planning for the 2023 event, which will be the 30th anniversary.
Four cameos from Bell House’s long and fascinating history will be told in promenade performances this Christmas. Christmas Eve 1772 will amusingly recall a musical evening in the same room in which it originally took place. Below Stairs, allows a peep into the preparations taking place in the original kitchen for an anticipated celebration in 1865. Elegy 1919 sees authors, G K Chesterton and Maurice Baring joining Nan Lucas, then owner of Bell House, at Christmas and remembering Nan’s brother and their great friend killed in 1916. Coronation Day 1953 hilariously relates the story of how the Dulwich College housemaster and his wife contrived to watch the events of the day on the then boarding school’s 9” TV without interruptions from the boys.
Friday 2nd December 8pm, Saturday 3rd December 8pm (Gala night), Sunday 4th December 3pm and 7.30pm. Tickets (from Bell House website Events, £18 (to include punch and cake). Children over 8 £12 (to include drink and cake) at Bell House, College Road SE21
Please note - Tickets are strictly limited at each performance. Early booking is advisable.
By Brian Green
This year, the Dulwich Club celebrates its 250th anniversary with a dinner in the Great Hall of Dulwich College. Founded in 1772, the club today comprises a maximum of fifty members who are residents of Dulwich and six members who are non-resident. Members are elected with an understanding that they have great affinity with Dulwich.
Dulwich, at the time of the Club’s foundation, was a place undergoing considerable change. It was partly a rural agricultural community, continuing to lease farmland from Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift (now the Dulwich Estate), but also becoming an embryo commuter suburb whose newcomers were heads of manufacturing businesses in the City and Southwark. These, together with a smattering of lawyers and civil servants, brought a new type of resident. All were attracted by the beauty of the ‘village in the valley’, its clean air, accessibility and orderly management.
It is not surprising that such a coterie were usually at ease with one another, willing to gather socially with their equally comfortably off- neighbours. They brought considerable benefit to the existing, less well-off, long- term residents whose livelihood would be threatened by changes in farming methods. Farm labourers could be taken on as gardeners, even as coachmen, their wives as laundresses, their daughters as maids in the new brick-built houses springing up. Local tradesmen like carpenters and builders found their order books nicely full with the spate of house-building then underway.
The new residents brought with them a culture of allegiance to organisations, most commonly the City’s livery companies and guilds. The era was also the golden age of the foundation of clubs to cater for all whims and interests, from chess playing to music. Men (and it was invariably men) would ‘club’ together to share the expenses of meeting. And it was always in taverns that even the grandest of clubs met. Certainly, Dr Johnson considered the atmosphere of the tavern ideal for such gatherings and defined clubs as being "an assembly of good fellows, meeting under certain conditions." These ‘certain conditions’ determined the conduct of meetings; for example: who was to organise and supervise them. Such persons were generally termed ‘stewards’. Lists of rules, determining the number of members, the location of meetings, frequency and times of dinner were similarly introduced. Whilst conversation was the life-blood of such meetings, formal speeches constituted an essential part of the event.
According to the diaries of Richard Randall, the College Chapel organist from 1763 to 1783, there were several clubs already in existence in Dulwich before the arrival of the Dulwich Club. As Dr Johnson noted, their meetings were held in taverns, which in Dulwich’s case included the French Horn and the Greyhound. Randall informs us that in 1768 there was a singing club called a ‘catch’ club which met at the Greyhound, where rounds were sung. Randall also went to the Disputing Club, probably in London, where he might have been employed as a singer. There were monthly Assemblies in Dulwich where dances were held and whist was played.
In 1768, Robert Boxall, mine host of the Greyhound and local developer, sent the following petition to the Surrey Justices of the Peace:
The Humble Petition of Robert Boxall
That your Petitioner has been an Inhabitant of Dulwich in the Said County for some years and your Petitioner has lately at a great Expense fitted up a large commodious Room in his House the Greyhound there fit for the entertaining a large Number of Gentlemen and Ladys.
That your Petitioner has been lately greatly favoured with the Countenance of the Gentlemen of the said Village and
That your Petitioner has great Reason to believe they will honor him in Subscription to an Assembly for Music and Dancing at his House the next Summer provided this honourable Court will favour him with a license for that purpose and in Testimony of his Character your Petitioner humbly begs leave to refer to the Paper annexed Signed by all the Gentlemen of the Place.
Your Petitioner therefore humbly prays this Court will be pleased to grant him a License and he will be Duty bound to Pray & etc.
We whose Names are hereto subscribed
Inhabitants of Dulwich do recommend Robert Boxall Master of the Greyhound Inn there as a Sober industrious careful Person and fit to be intrusted with a License for an Assembly at his House Given under Our Hands this 12th Day of September 1768,
Wm Swanne, Brass Crosby,Thos. Williams, Edw. Russell, Geo: Thorp Thos. Treslove, Richd Randall, Tho: Adams, Wm Heathcote, C Lawson, Rob. Woodmass Wm. Watts, Sam. Waring, Wilm. Kay, Joseph Waring jnr, Tho. Bullard, John Waring Tho. Allen, Jo. Carey, R Taylor
(The list of Robert Boxall’s supporters includes the Warden of the College, together with the 1st Fellow (preacher), 2nd Fellow (schoolmaster) and 4th Fellow (organist). Some of the other names will also strike chords for local history buffs, such as Edward Russell who applied for, and was granted permission to fish in the Millpond in 1764 at a rental of 2/- p.a. or the Warings who invited Richard Randall to their ‘Harvest Home’. Or Brass Crosby who became Lord Mayor of London in 1770.)
Not everyone who lived nearby was so enthusiastic about the marketing of the Greyhound’s new facilities; Edward Browne who lived opposite to the inn (in a house still standing) complained in a letter to the College in 1776 and requested that ‘trees be planted in front of the inn to screen it’. Boxall was swift to respond saying that it would prevent people seeing the inn. In the event a clump of trees was planted.
While assemblies at the Greyhound became a regular feature of village life, a rival and grander establishment was built soon after and named Great Denmark Hall and stands on the site of the present pub, The Fox on the Hill, on Denmark Hill. This was an enterprise by the possibly shifty but certainly talented woodcarver Luke Lightfoot. Lightfoot was anxious to capitalise on the mania for assemblies which were a feature of London’s emerging West End. At these assemblies card playing, as well as dancing and music was another essential ingredient of success.
It is therefore no surprise that wealthy newcomers to Dulwich in the second half of the 18th century formed a club. It met four times a year and so was named the Dulwich Quarterly Meeting. Over time, probably because of the pressure of business of its members, it reduced its meetings to three times a year and so changed its name to The Dulwich Club. The first meetings were held at the French Horn (opposite the Fountain roundabout in the Village) but soon transferred to the more commodious and, due to its extensive refit, the more attractive venue of The Greyhound after 1776.
The arrangements for the dinner were laid down in the club rules and remain the same to this day. The responsibility for the dinner belongs to the two balloted stewards at each dinner. The rules require a number of speeches to be made and on occasions entertainers might be engaged for added enjoyment. Membership was originally restricted to twenty-one, but guests were, and remain, a key element of the club.
A menu dating from 1782 is reprinted. This kind of Bacchanalian feast actually was short-lived; the level-headed businessmen among the club’s number voted to restrict the number of dishes placed on the table, to put back the time for dinner from the original time of 3.30pm, in stages, until 6.30pm, presumably, to allow them to conduct their businesses.
Although the frequency of its meetings was limited, and its membership small, nevertheless the members of the Dulwich Quarterly meeting were seemingly often quarrelsome, and the original club was dissolved and reconstituted in 1791. In 1807 there was sufficient disagreement amongst its members for ten of the then twenty-one members to resign. Perhaps they fell out over an early version of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood!
Minute books covering the long history of the Dulwich Club survive. From its pages we learn that however serious the disagreements might have been, in times of crisis its members often took a lead in organising solidarity among all the inhabitants of the hamlet. Thus during the French Revolution -
December 15th 1792
Proposition recommending the inhabitants of Dulwich form themselves into an Association upon the plan of those that were daily forming up in the Metropolis and its Environs for the purpose of testifying their loyal attachment to the King and Constitution.
6th December 1800
Resolved unanimously that the members of the Quarterly Meeting and other gentlemen residing in the Hamlet now present do pledge themselves to each other, to observe strictly in their respective families, the exhortation and injunctions contained in His Majesty’s Proclamation dated 3rd day of this instant December recommending the greatest economy and frugality in the consumption of bread and in the use of every species of grain.
Resolved: That the gentlemen here present will do their utmost to enforce in the neighbourhood the observance of the existing law to prevent the consumption off bread.
(On December 3rd 1800, King George III issued a Proclamation requesting families ‘to practice the greatest economy and frugality in the use of every species of grain and to reduce consumption of Bread by at least one third consumed in ordinary times’ and ‘being persuaded that the prevention of all unnecessary consumption of corn will furnish one of the surest and most effectual means of alleviating the present pressure’).
After fourteen more years of hardship and the final victory over Napoleon in 1814 the “gentlemen of the Dulwich Quarterly meeting resolved unanimously to entertain the Ladies of the Hamlet with a Ball and Supper at the Greyhound in consequence of the late auspicious Peace and that a committee of seven persons members of the same and also other gentlemen of the Hamlet to cooperate with them in carrying the resolution into effect.”
Around the middle of the nineteenth century the membership numbers increased substantially, the name changed to the Dulwich Club and some dinners were held outside Dulwich with Greenwich and Richmond being favoured as a summer excursion; a horse-drawn omnibus being hired for transport. After the opening of the Crystal Palace in Sydenham, thirty members of the club enjoyed a dinner there in 1857. Moral obligations felt by its members towards the community led to frequent gifts of coals to the poor in this period. With the opening of the ‘new’ buildings of Dulwich College in 1870 and the consequent increase in population, such was the pressure on the club to accept new members that it formally voted to limit the membership to the present total of fifty plus a further six who might reside outside of Dulwich.
In 1894 the club’s final dinner was held at the Greyhound, the old inn being demolished soon after to make way for the building of Aysgarth and Pickwick Roads. With the arrival of the new century and the influence of the Suffragette movement there was pressure on the club to invite ladies to dinners and not just to the occasional (but very well-attended) ball, and ladies became invited guests to one of the meetings each year.
Although the rules of the Dulwich Club did not actually restrict membership solely to men, in practice ladies had never been admitted. In 2022, in acknowledgement of the ambiguity of its position, the current membership voted to formally extend membership to women and rephrased one if its toasts from ‘The Hamlet of Dulwich and the Ladies thereof’ to ‘The Hamlet of Dulwich and the Residents thereof’.
The Dulwich Club meets at least once a year in Dulwich and once a year elsewhere, usually in London. At its last dinner the guest of honour was former resident and head of MI6 2014 - 2020, Sir Alexander Younger. He amused his audience by recalling that the security services had considered his home in Frank Dixon Close vulnerable to attackers and moved him and his family “to the safer environs of Winterbrook Road!”
The third quarter of the year is always the quietest for new records and this year is no exception, although the heat of the summer has reached new heights with no significant rain since March. Our soils are now bone dry with grasses a uniform brown. Many of our garden birds do retreat into shade at this time of year while they moult, but with slim pickings from open ground, they will hopefully continue there to find their invertebrate food. In 1976 a Minister for Drought was appointed, and it immediately started to rain. Perhaps Boris missed a trick.
Particularly pleasing this year is a record of the sighting and photography by Trevor Moore of a Little Owl in Dulwich Park where it had not previously been seen. This gives hope that the park may be a new breeding site for these birds which have lived somewhere in Dulwich for many years. A more familiar pair of Little Owls were recorded in the region of Grange Lane where they nested this year. One of these birds was photographed by Margaret McHugh several years ago and we include this as the Dulwich Park bird photo was too distant. Unlike Tawny Owls, Little Owls regularly appear during the day but will mostly hunt at night. A strange bird call heard overflying at night may well be a Little Owl.
Little Owls are not in fact native to Britain but were introduced from Holland by several enthusiastic Yorkshire naturalists first in 1842. They became widespread by the turn of the century and fitted into the British ecology around farmland and parks where there was hedgerow and old trees. In Greek mythology, apparently the Little Owl was sacred to the goddess Pallas Athene, the goddess of Wisdom and was held in great reverence in Athens where Athene’s moderation was in contrast to the revelry of Dionysus. Hence its Latin name Athene noctua and the association with the “wise old owl”.
Amongst our Summer records each year we have been following the numbers of Swifts that we see. This year the numbers though not large, have been consistent with previously and they have been nesting in some of the Swift boxes in East Dulwich. Steven Robinson successfully hand reared a young Swift that had fallen from its nest with great success. It required much dedication with the giving two hourly insect feeds. He proceeded to relocate it into an occupied nest to achieve fostering. The good news is that this was successful and it departed for Africa on 31st July. It will be on the wing for at least the next two years before it comes to breed. A talisman for the “Save our Swifts” campaign.
I particularly enjoyed receiving an account a few weeks ago from Alex Hamilton of the wildlife he had been seeing in his garden in Woodwarde Road in the first part of the year. This has prompted me to suggest that readers of my articles might make monthly wildlife diaries and submit them to the society E-mail wildlife site. A call has also gone out in the Society’s E- Newsletter which many will have read. We are living in unprecedented climatic times and wildlife of all sorts will be needing, as are we, to adapt. Our insect life is particularly important, and the presence or unexpected absence of certain insects are indicators of what is happening to our natural world and whether our own urban ecology is particularly vulnerable. Have we for instance been seeing Ladybirds, Crane Flies (Daddy Longlegs), Lacewings or Shield Bugs and were there a lot or less than usual?
The messages this year to the wildlife subcommittee were that it is once more a poor year for butterflies but as the sunnier weather took over Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and Small Skipper butterflies have emerged in numbers. Their caterpillars are grass feeders and it will be a matter of interest to know whether our parched grassland will be a problem for them.
We still have Holly Blue butterflies and Commas but this year I saw no Orange Tips and so far no Peacocks or Tortoiseshells. However, it is good to report that the Jersey Tiger moth continues to thrive in SE21.
I shall look forward to reading what society members have been able to record.
Peter Roseveare, Wildlife Recorder Tel: 020 7274 4567
The warmer the night, the more moths you tend to catch; so it was not surprising that the hottest night ever recorded in the UK brought me a record haul. I had 91 species in and around the trap, a total of 488 moths - plus many hundreds of Horse Chestnut Leaf-miners and Apple Leaf-miners, which I didn’t attempt to count.
Even with 91 species in the trap there was only one new for the garden. After six years running a moth trap, I get new species less often; even so, I’ve had 21 new species in the garden in the last 12 months, bringing the total to 623.
My best new species so far this year, though, was not in the trap. I’ve always loved examples of animal mimicry: fish that look like floating vegetation, or praying mantis that look like orchids. There are lots of UK moths that look like dead leaves, wood or lichen. A surprising number of them look like bird droppings. There are some caterpillars that look extraordinarily like twigs. Maybe the most remarkable, though, is the Hornet Moth, a day-flying species which looks amazingly like a large wasp, but is actually a big fluffy moth that’s trying to scare away predators.
The caterpillars live inside the trunks of mature poplar trees for two or three years, and you can often find the large emergence holes at the base of the trunk. There are lots of these holes on some large hybrid poplars at the southern edge of Dulwich Park. And if you check the trunks in the mornings in late June or early July, you may find the empty cocoons or, if you are lucky, the adult moth. Which is how I found one this year.