As a regular user of Dulwich Park I have a great appreciation of the lakeside Weeping Willows and their contribution to the landscape throughout the seasons. The same observation applies to this species in Belair Park, Sunray Gardens and the Mill Pond. Of course, elsewhere in Dulwich, there are isolated Weeping Willows, not close to existing open water, for example also in the Park and in the Long Meadow near the Gipsy Road roundabout. All of the waterside trees are respectably mature and some must date back to the first half of the last century. The willow species which I have seen in Dulwich, all appear to have been planted, though if left to nature an old willow would fall and replace itself in situ by suckers from the roots or new shoots from the fallen trunk. As institutional tidiness is likely to prevail here, thought should be given to the eventual replacement of these trees.
Willows show a number of interesting features, one of which is that botanists describe them as being dioecious as they have male and female flowers on separate plants. They also tend to be prolific in the production of shoots and the cut shoots normally root readily when they are pushed into moist soil, thus allowing easy vegetative propagation. The progeny are genetically identical to the parent and thus constitute a clone in the same general way used to propagate fruit trees and roses for example, but without the complexity of grafting scion or bud on to the rootstock. As a result of cloning and of the anciently established planting of willows for domestic and commercial purposes and rather more recently for amenity, some willow species do not show an even balance of the sexes on a local basis, though on a national basis there may be balance. Therefore the natural propagation of some species by seed may be rare or absent, due to a lack of male or female trees. However, given the opportunity, willows seem to hybridise readily. Clive Stace (who studied for his first degree at the King’s College Department of Botany in Half Moon Lane) stated in “The New Flora of the British Isles” (1991) that there are 59 hybrid willow combinations known in the British Isles of which 10 are hybrids between three species. The latter situation is presumed to have resulted from the cross between an existing hybrid and a third species. As far as I am aware, many of these hybrids are of natural occurrence. A botanist looking for hybrids would go to a location where two good species coexist and search for willows with intermediate characteristics.
The complexities brought about by hybridisation and the human exploitation of willows contribute to the difficulty of studying the genus and the identification of many of the 35 species and the hybrids which grow in Britain. In addition there are a number of introduced species which have become naturalised. DNA profiling should improve willow taxonomy and permit any necessary revision of the genus in floras and handbooks. However, to the field botanist, difficulties with identification are likely to remain, as for example one authority describes the Weeping Willows as a perplexing array of hybrids. The origins of the various ‘weeping’ clones found in cultivation are also obscure. As far as I can tell the Dulwich Weeping Willows appear to be Salix x sepulcralis nothovar. chrysocoma, a hybrid between the native White Willow and Salix babylonica, a Chinese species, and not Salix x pendulina, the hybrid between the native Crack Willow and the same Chinese species. In recent years other species of British willows have been included in tree plantings here, some under the auspices of the Dulwich Society via the Trees Committee and its then Chairman, Stella Benwell, and some by other public benefactors. Amongst plantings struggling to survive both human and canine attentions and establish themselves as shrubs or small trees in Belair and the Long Meadow are Osier (Salix viminalis) and the Eared Willow (Salix aurita). Osier is a native plant favoured by basket makers and often found growing near the relics of former cultivation.
In the past, when woodland was managed as a major economic resource, willows were important in the provision of ‘underwood’ for fuel, fencing, basket-making etc, by means of coppicing or, especially, pollarding. In coppicing the wood was cut back to a stool at ground level and the regrowth was harvested on a 5 to 10 year repeated cycle. Very large living remains of stools left by coppicing can still be detected in British ancient woodlands. Currently a mechanised form of coppicing is under development for biomass (bioenergy) production on a large scale and shrub willows are the crop of choice. Pollarding was used to prevent access to the regrowth by browsing livestock, by the removal of the top of the tree at a height of 2 to 5m., the new growth being taken on a repeated cycle. I have not noticed any signs of significant coppicing of any tree species in Dulwich, but there are some examples of pollarding, apparently adopted to limit the growth of individual trees, rather than the utilisation of the resultant underwood. A final point to note is that not all British willows are trees or substantial shrubs, there are for example two dwarf shrubs, respectively less than 10 and 20cm. in height and belonging to the arctic-alpine element of the British flora, which may have become extinct in Dulwich about ten thousand years ago as climate ameliorated.
Dulwich is that rarity among London’s urban neighbourhoods - a built-up area that retains big forest trees at its residential heart -and few of these trees are bigger or more forest-like than the horse chestnut. Aesculus hippocastanum in full regalia is one of the spectacles of a late English spring - a kind of cross between a castle and a Christmas cake - and we would be inestimably poorer without it. Yet in recent years its disappearance has been seriously mooted.
The horse chestnut is a native of the Balkans that arrived in Britain in the 17th century and was much planted in Dulwich, as elsewhere, from the 18th and 19th centuries onwards. Particularly notable are the chestnuts of Dulwich Village and College Road, where road width an large gardens give them the space they need. But over the last decade the horse chestnut has faced a series of threats which have led to concerns about its survival prospects.
Larger trees are already at risk in cities because of higher human densities and a safety-first compensation culture. Horse chestnuts face a new threat from bleeding or weeping canker, a bacterium that causes dark, weeping stains and a rash of rust-coloured pock marks, along with cracks in the bark, which effectively become open sores. Forestry
Commission research in 2008 suggested that three-quarters of trees in the south-east are infected.
More familiar in Dulwich is the second major new threat, the horse chestnut leaf miner, a moth the size of a full stop which may well be an ancient enemy of the horse chestnut but only arrived from the Balkans in the UK (in Wimbledon) in 2002. The moth burrows into the leaves, making them shrivel and turn brown and subjecting the tree to water stress, and turned up en masse in Dulwich some three or four years ago, probably imported by some unwitting driver.
Early predictions of devastation have so far, however, proved unfounded. Forestry Commission reports indicate that some trees show signs of recovery from bleeding canker while Tony George, the Dulwich Estate’s arboricultural adviser, says the impact of the leaf miner moth has been diminishing over the last two years. Despite questions about whether Dulwich might be better served by trying other forms of (potentially moth-resistant) chestnut, the Estate, while it has planted some Indian chestnuts, is thus keeping faith with the “English” horse chestnut, at least in the village itself: it is, after all, tradition.
Bats and Planning Regulations by Angela Wilkes
Following a Judicial Review, the law relating to disturbance of bat (European Protected Species) roosts has been strengthened. It is now necessary for a bat survey to be undertaken BEFORE any planning application or works are proposed.
This applies to:
(1) Any proposed development which includes the modification, conversion, demolition or removal of buildings or structures (especially roof voids) involving
- All buildings with weather-boarding and/or hanging tiles that are within 200m of woodland or water
- pre-1960 detached buildings and structures within 200m of woodland or water
- pre-1914 buildings within 400m of woodland or water
- pre-1914 buildings with gable ends or slate roofs, regardless of location
- all developments affecting buildings, structures or other features where bats are known to be present
(2) Proposals affecting or near woodland, hedgerows and lines of trees
(3) Proposed tree work (felling,lopping) and/or development affecting old and veteran trees.
On the subject of Bats in Dulwich, it has become apparent that clear-felling and lopping of mature trees in the dark corridor in Belair Park and along the adjacent railway embankment has had a detrimental effect upon foraging bats in the area - a recent walk at which recordings were taken has shown a loss of Noctules and their replacement by the more disturbance- and light pollution-tolerant Leisner’s bats, a change noted by the Bat Conservation Trust.
Recent break-ins (for “raves”) inside the old railway tunnel in Sydenham Hill Woods (mistakenly considered by police to have been merely trespass rather than law-breaking offences) have caused harmful disturbance in this important mass hibernation roost.
The Wildlife Committee decided that (apart from installing some warning signage) it would be of value if the committee’s wildlife updates and records all info on local flora and fauna (including the results of bat, butterfly and plant surveys commissioned by the Dulwich Society and those bird sightings already contributing to the British Trust for Ornithology’s UK Bird Atlas) are submitted to the GIGL(Greenspace Information for Greater London) biodiversity data bank. This would ensure that Dulwich could effectively monitor its plant and wildlife populations and help guard against illegal acts that could destroy or damage them. (This will collate and efficiently store, in a detailed grid-referenced system, all the information we gather). On the subject of Bats, the Committee is delighted that the Dulwich Estate is to place Bat boxes around the Millpond.
The Committee is negotiating a timetable for putting the swift nest boxes up in Dulwich Park. Parks Manager Paul Highman is keen to install them on both Lodges once building repair works go ahead.
The Story of Eastlands, Court Lane by Brian Green with additional research by Hillary Rosser
In 1825 the Rev Phelps Butt then living at Portman Square was granted an 84 year building lease at an annual rent of £48 on a 3_ field on the east side of Court Lane to erect a a brick dwelling house within 12 months. As the photographs show, the result was a large and attractive family house with gardens of an intricate design and the frontage onto Court Lane equipped with imposing gateposts.
Phelps Butt was born in Finchley in1797 and graduated with a B.A. from Lincoln College Oxford in 1820 and an M.A. in 1824. He was priested at Winchester in 1822 and subsequently became chaplain to the House of Correction at Guildford. He was married to Mary Eddy, the daughter of the Rev John Eddy, vicar of Toddington, Gloucs. Phelps and Mary Butt went on to have a family of 9 children, of whom Mary was the eldest and 6 sons and twin daughters Almeria and Elizabeth.
It is probable that all the children were born at Eastlands and some will have benefited from the academy which the Rev Butt opened (as Dr Butt’s Academy) at the house. According to the nineteenth century Camberwell historian W H Blanch, the school attracted a number of pupils from distinguished families. At the time there were numerous small private schools in Dulwich and Camberwell offering a boarding school education. Some may have been the kind of schools which would provide Charles Dickens with much of his material.
For some reason Butt decided around 1840 to return to his native North London and took up residence at North End Stables, Hampstead and to let Eastlands for the remainder of its lease. At Hampstead, Butt appears to have recreated his Academy and in 1841 his boarding school had 16 pupils aged 11-15, presumably as well as his own four older boys who were then aged 10-14. In 1851 Butt had engaged a German couple as caretakers of Eastlands and was himself by then the chaplain to the fifth Earl of Bessborough, a Liberal politician serving under Lord John Russell and William Gladstone as Lord Steward of the Household. On the death of the Earl in 1860 Butt served as a replacement chaplain in Freibourg, Germany, a position which was later confirmed and in which post he remained until 1874, by which time he was aged 77. He finally assigned the lease of Eastlands in 1878/9 which meanwhile had served amongst other sub-tenancies as the summer residence of the Turkish ambassador.
The new lessee was Augustus Twyford, a prosperous solicitor living with his young family of two sons and two daughters at Wimbledon and employing a retinue of six servants. However, Eastlands tenants changed a number of times in the ensuing years. In 1889 Mr Randall Higgins a partner in South London’s largest department store located in Peckham took over the lease. Eastlands was a convenient distance from the store, although Mr Higgins retained his country home in Oxford.
Higgins was followed as occupant of Eastlands by Sir Frederick Hall in 1905. Hall was very much a ‘local hero’ who raised 17 batteries of artillery as part of the Camberwell Gun Brigade which he commanded in World War 1 and where he was awarded the DSO. He was friends with the Conservative politician Andrew Bonar Law and may have been instrumental in the latter’s adoption as candidate in the safe Dulwich seat following the retirement of its sitting MP in 1906 election. Hall succeeded Bonar Law as Dulwich’s MP when Bonar Law unsuccessfully stood for Birmingham in December 1910. Hall also served on the LCC and was a Dulwich Estates Governor. He was known “for his zeal in questioning ministers and for his ingenuity in devising ‘supplementaries’. He was a strong party man, and was accustomed to express his opinions with a vigour which sometimes aroused the anger of his opponents, though his genial personality made him genuinely popular.” _ He was made a baronet in 1923 and served as Dulwich’s Member of Parliament from 1910-1932.
By coincidence, in 1910 Sir Frederick Hall succeeded Randall Higgins in the occupancy of a house in Leigham Court Road after having followed him into Eastlands. In common with a number of other large houses, such as the Platanes on Champion Hill, Eastlands became difficult to let. Fashionable suburbia was moving increasingly westwards and well into the Surrey hinterland as rows of terraced semi’s encircled Dulwich. There are numerous long gaps in the tenancies of Eastlands after Hall left and as Ian McInnes demonstrates in the article following, this made the estate ripe for redevelopment.
Obituary The Times 29 April 1932
On the Street Where you Live - Eastlands Crescent - by Ian McInnes
As early as 1911, the Governors had been having trouble finding a tenant for ‘Eastlands’, a large house located between Court Lane and Woodwarde Road, and part of the land was sold off between 1912-15 to form the southern part of Dovercourt Road. The house itself became a residential hotel.
In September 1929 a Mr J G A Smart, builder of 63 Melbourne Grove, who had just finished three houses at the north end of Dulwich Village (nos. 3, 5 & 7), wrote to the Manager saying that he had been offered the lease of ‘Eastlands’, for the sum of £1100. He asked the Governors to grant him a building lease on the land and the allotments adjacent, but they declined.
However, it did not take long for the Governors to work out that, if one builder was interested, there might well be others, and that here was an opportunity to make some money. The income from ‘Eastlands’ was £150 per annum, with the lease expiring in Christmas 1934, and the adjacent allotments were let to the Dulwich Horticultural Society for £50 per year - their lease determinable at three months notice.
By December, the Surveyor had tabled an initial development plan and the Manager had had an initial meeting with Mr Hichisson, the lessee of ‘Eastlands’. They met again in January 1930, this time with the Chairman of the Board also in attendance, and Mr Hichisson agreed to surrender his lease, as long as the Governors released him from any liability for dilapidations. He promised to confirm his agreement in writing but failed to do so. Later in the year, in October, the Estate received a further unsolicited offer from another builder, Mr William Wilmot, who offered to take the site for a total of £204 in ground rent. From today’s perspective it would appear that he was acting on the basis of insider information as his father, Henry Wilmot JP (and member of the LCC), and also a builder, was an Estates Governor, representing the Borough of Camberwell on the Board since May 1929.
This offer encouraged the Governors to push ahead and early in 1931 they put the site out to tender seeking a ground rent income of £450.00 per annum. At the same time they had a schedule of wants of repair put together on the old house. It had not been looked after and the cost of putting it back into proper condition was estimated at £262 - too much for the lessee and he finally agreed to leave. In May, the Surveyor obtained tenders for its demolition - Messrs William Marshall (Contractors) Ltd won the project with a price of £142.10s.
Three builders submitted bids for the site. Mr William Wilmot offered to take the whole site on the general terms as set out in the particulars, and, if required, to deposit £2000 as security for carrying out the terms of the Building Agreement. W T Champion & Son of Peckham Rye were prepared to take the whole site upon the general terms while Mr G F Ellyatt, of No 1 Dulwich Village, was not so keen and couched his offer with 6 conditions “(a) Peppercorn rent for 2 years, with half the rent for third year; (b) total ground rent of £384 in lieu of the £446 10s required, with liberty to apportion rent; (c) freedom to commence on any plot of land; (d) selling price of houses with 3 bedrooms on plots 1-17 to be £1050, and on plots 18-31 to be 4 bedrooms at £1350 each, all with garages; (e) lease to commence as from date all services are completed; (f) pebble dash Atlas White cement or any other finish to brickwork but not roughcast.”
Unsurprisingly Mr William Wilmot’s offer was accepted and the Solicitor was instructed to prepare the draft Building Agreement as soon as possible. Prior to the discussion about awarding the contract the Board Meeting minutes noted that his father, Mr Henry Wilmot, left the room
The Wilmots, father and son, had been building in the Dulwich area since the early 1920s, at nos. 104-114 and 136-142 Burbage Road and nos. 14-22 in Dulwich Village. Henry Wilmot himself lived at ‘Warrigul’, no. 18 Dulwich Village. Their architect on all these projects was Tom Woolnough MSA PSI, whose office was in Old Southgate N14, and he was used again on the ‘Eastlands’ site. At the same time they were also building in Herne Hill and West Norwood and the Manager suggested that the Building Operations Committee go and review the houses currently under construction in Denmark Hill and Knight’s Hill “which are similar to those proposed to be erected at the ‘Eastlands’ Estate”.
Shortly afterwards the Surveyor received the plans “herewith submitted in the form of blue prints.” He noted that “Mr Wilmot wishes to emphasise the fact that these plans are only submitted for the criticism of the Governors and their surveyor, so that such modifications as may seem desirable may be embodied in the final plans, which will be submitted later for the Governors’ definite approval.” He had apparently met Mr Wilmot previously and agreed that there would be five different types of house, with variations in both plan and elevation, ‘in order to obtain variety’. Four of the five types had 4 bedrooms and every house had a garage. The prices ranged from £1280 to £1510. This met the Estate’s tender requirement that no house in the road should cost less than £1250.
The invitation to tender had also suggested that building should start at the Dovercourt Road end of the new road but the Surveyor now changed his mind. Instead, he proposed that building should begin at the Court Lane end, otherwise, he said, “having established a frontage building line at the Dovercourt Road end, the flankage lines of the two corner plots at the Court Lane end would have to be set so far back as to render them practically useless and unremunerative.”
The final drawings were received in July and the Surveyor confirmed that there would now be six different types of house, five semi-detached and one detached - though only five designs were actually submitted. He reported “In general characteristics the houses are similar being built of facing brickwork 14 in. thick up to first floor level, and 9 in. brickwork faced with roughcast above. The roofs would be of sand-faces tiles, and the bay windows on the first floor tile hung. Type AS is, however, treated with half timber work on the upper floor. The various types give plenty of variety in plan and elevation, and the rooms are of good size. Mr Wilmot also submits a lay-out plan, showing the positions of the various types and the run of the sewer.”
The final draft of the Building Agreement provided for 31 plots with a ground rent of £17 10s. each and this gave an overall ground rent income of more than £500, a considerable improvement on the £200 the Estate had been receiving from the old ‘Eastlands’ House and the allotments. Approval was given to proceed and work start on the road and sewer very soon after.
In early September the Estate received a letter from Mr Topham Forrest, superintendent architect to London County Council, asking the Governors to submit their preferred name for the new road the LCC’s consideration. The letter confirmed that the name ‘Eastlands Road’ was not already in use and might be considered acceptable but the Governors preferred the name ‘Eastlands’. Unfortunately the LCC did not agree and the compromise name agreed was ‘Eastlands Crescent’.
Later that month the outstanding house plans for the site on the corner with Court Lane were produced. The elevation was to be facing bricks on the ground floor and of brickwork covered with plaster on the first floor. The Surveyor thought that “some modification of the gable over the front bay might be desirable, and suggest as a possible treatment that the roof should be hipped back.” The minutes noted approval “subject to the dining room being made square, and the roof over the bay being hipped instead of a gable.”
Work began quickly and the Surveyor reported positively in May 1932 that “as regards the road and sewer, the road is constructed throughout its length and is of exceptional quality. The footpaths are finished up to the houses in the course of construction while the wood kerbing is fixed for the whole length of the road. Three houses in Court Lane are finished (nos. 91, 93 and 95), one other is roofed in, two other are more than first floor high, and three others are approaching first floor level. The whole of the work has been extremely well done”
Nos. 20 & 29 Eastlands Crescent were finished in July with nos. 14 and 16 in September, and Nos 13, 15, 17 and 19 in October. Nos. 6, 9, 18 and 23 were completed in September 1933, with nos. 3 and 6 in January 1934, no. 23 in February, nos. 1 and 12 in March, and no. 2 in July. Nos. 5 & 7 were finished in February 1935 and the final house, No. 89A Court Lane was handed over in March. Mr Wilmot had by then moved on to Lovelace Road where he completed Nos. 44-50 there the following year.
The December 1933 Board Meeting minutes reported that Henry Wilmot was very ill at his home, and he died early in January 1934.
My grandfather, John Charles Bishop was licensed victualler at the “Alleyn’s Head” on Park Hall Road for a period shortly before the outbreak of the Great War in August, 1914. He was an amateur photographer: I came across three views of the building whilst preparing a family tree and, although living in the West Midlands, thought that a few words would hold some interest for the Society.
I judge that the house was built in late Victorian times. The curve of the pavement, apparently into Croxted Road, indicates a desirable corner location, chosen to face southward for trade reasons. On Park Hall Road it is flanked by a row of sturdy working-class houses. To my mind it was an attractive establishment, with its façade of five tall arches and flower-bedecked balcony. The latter feature seems unusual as public houses of the period tended to be more functional in design and appearance. In these modern times, when traditional pub culture is slowly disappearing, it is interesting to recall that towns and cities commonly had a pub every one hundred yards. Three-storey pubs were quite common with the smaller rooms of the upper storey assigned to servants and the family children. In looking at Victorian census returns I am often struck by the large number of souls housed under one roof.
I had always thought of the “Alleyn’s Head” as a public house but its principal sign read “Alleyn’s Head Hotel: Worthington’s Pale & Burton Ales”. The property was owned by the Worthington & Co. Brewery, which, as a rival to the Bass & Co. Brewery, was famous for its draught bitter beers. One imagines that it’s public and saloon bars had leaded lights, leather seating, mahogany-topped tables with ornate cast iron bases, etched mirrors and, inevitably... the tang of cigarette and pipe smoke. The curtains at upstairs windows indicate affluence. Open windows, two splendid flags and Union shields suggest a warm summer’s day of national celebration such as the London coronation of King George V on June 22nd., 1911. A prominent feature of the façade is the great glass-sided lantern which hangs over the front entrance and clearly advertises the nature of the premises. Periodically this gas-burning device would have been lowered for cleaning. Town gas was, of course, the pre-eminent source of heat and light in those days. The left-hand archway doubtless leads to a stable yard as horses were still very much in evidence on London streets. Within the yard there is a carriage wheel and a large board carrying the name Gibson Green. All in all, the “Alleyn’s Head”, with its air of confidence and respectability, was a typical well-endowed public house of the period.
As a supplement to the above notes, some remarks on the circumstances of the family itself may be of interest. My grandfather John Charles was born in Bahia, Empire of Brazil, in 1873. His father James Bishop (1838 - 1917) was foreman of the local gasworks. By that time Britain provided industrial plant, know-how and technicians worldwide. By the late 19th. century, James and the family were back in Britain and living comfortably in Ellingfort Road, Hackney. In the early 1900s my grandfather, his eldest son, kept the “Admiral Keppel”, a large Worthington public house at 77 Fulham Road. My father, another John Charles (!), was the eldest of his four children. Business was obviously flourishing, as evidenced by the clothing of his wife Jessie and their offspring. To my mind, the old family photographs illustrate the life style of a prospering licenced victualler of the Edwardian era. Then, probably after 1910, my grandfather and his family moved to the “Alleyn’s Head”. According to family tale, this transition to a salubrious suburb of London owed much to the fact that grandfather’s older sister, Alice was married to Frederick C. Connolly, a director of Worthington’s!
My father, then in his teens, went to Dulwich College for a time. He had happy memories of Dulwich and would tell of cycling to distant Brighton on lightweight bicycles with wooden cane rims. For reasons unknown to me, the Bishop family left the “Alleyn’s Head” and moved to north London. My grandfather died in 1914 a few months before the outbreak of war and the family descended into comparative poverty. In 1937, after thirteen years as driver and instructor with the London General Omnibus Company, my father became a publican in the West Midlands and in time managed four public houses under various breweries (Ind Coope, Twist’s White Horse, Ansell’s, Atkinson).
To return to the “Alleyn’s Head”, nemesis struck in 1944, about a month after the Allied invasion of Normandy. As a result of a counter-espionage ploy, the Germans were persuaded by “turned” agents in England that the V.1 flying bombs were tending to overshoot central London. As a consequence, ranges were shortened and south-east London reaped the whirlwind. Dulwich suffered heavy damage from 42 V.1s and three V.2s. Officially, 93 died. According to records, at 4:26 a.m. on July 5th. 1944 a flying bomb struck the junction of Park Hall Road and Alleyn’s Road. The devastating blast wave from detonation of its charge of 850 kg of Amatol extended outwards for at least 300 - 400 yards. The “Alleyn’s Head”, roughly 100 yards from the point of impact, was totally demolished along with eight houses: forty other houses were badly damaged. Three people died. The site was re-developed and in 2006 occupied by a Majestic Wine Warehouse. A replacement public house was built on the opposite side of Park Hall Road, keeping the name “Alleyn’s Head” alive to this day.
Advice for beginners by Adrian Hill
March marks the start of the outdoor vegetable growing season. Over winter you may have prepared the ground, sowed broad beans and put in onion sets as recommended by David Smart in his article in the Winter issue but generally the soil will be too cold and wet at the beginning of the month to do much outside. To get a good start for the vegetable year, this is the time to sow lettuce and tomato seeds over heat in a propagator in a greenhouse or on a window sill and, if they had not been overwintered, broad beans. The lettuce and broad bean seedlings can be planted out later in March; the tomato plants, after transplanting into bigger individual pots (3.5 inch diameter), not until mid-May after the risk of a late frost. Except for trailing varieties, tomato plants need supporting canes to which they are tied. The side shoots should be pinched out when small and only two or three main stalks retained.
Digging is nowadays a controversial topic with many gardening writers advocating a no-dig approach. Personally, I favour digging to improve the drainage and consistency of the soil and to incorporate humous in the form of compost or manure to a depth of about 9 inches. In much of London yellow clay lies less than 12 inches below the surface and it is therefore best to do shallow digging to avoid bringing the clay to the surface. Clay is quite fertile but heavy to work and tends to produce deep cracks in dry weather allowing any watering to sink below the roots of many vegetables. If no digging has been done it will be necessary to prepare the surface before sowing seeds or planting out seedlings by breaking up the surface with a spade to a depth of about two inches, scattering on this some fine compost and and then raking with a strong rake to make a fine tilth.
For an interesting choice of vegetable varieties it is advisable to get a good seed catalogue; these also give advice on the cultivation and characteristics of the chosen plants. Good examples are Dobies (www.dobies.co.uk/0844 701 76230) or Marshalls (www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk/01480 44 33 90). English seed merchants these days can be very parsimonious on the quantity of seeds in a pack; Italian and French seed merchants are much more generous. A good selection of Italian seeds (Franchi ) is available from the Croxted Nurseries in Dulwich.
Before planting anything it is a good idea to sketch out on a rough plan the approximate position of the various crops you wish to plant. If the early maturing plants are removed after harvesting it is possible to replant the vacated space and have a second crop in the same place in the same season. Early crops that can be harvested by the end of July include lettuce, peas, dwarf beans, courgettes and early potatoes. These can be followed by beet-root, spinach, swiss chard (Bright Lights for a colourful display), leaf chicory and brassica (cabbage family), including quick maturing varieties of cauliflower such as Purple Graffiti, which if sowed in pots in June and planted out as seedlings in late July will produce fine purple cauliflower heads before the first heavy frosts usually not before December in London. Cavolo nero (black Tuscan kale) is a very hardy brassica and will usually survive the harshest winter to produce delicious tender shoots in the early spring. Before then the larger lance-shaped leaves can be food processed with pine nuts, garlic and olive oil to make an excellent substitute for pesto sauce for spaghetti. Many varieties of leaf chicory (such as variegated Castelfranco) are also hardy (though whether they survive the harsh weather of early January this year remains to be seen) and make excellent crisp winter salading, slightly bitter, but often very attractive in the salad bowl with red veining in the leaves.
Most gardeners with an allotment or a decent sized vegetable plot in their garden will wish to plant main crop potatoes, carrots, cabbages, leeks and onions. Some may say growing these vegetables yourself will not give you anything better than you can buy in the shops, but this overlooks the satisfaction and pride to be found in growing these basic vegetables yourself and the fact that you can know that poisonous pesticides and herbicides have not been used on them. Nevertheless, there is a lot to be said in favour of concentrating on vegetables where the freshness and flavour of just picked produce is distinctly better than anything that can be bought, such as sweetcorn, tomatoes (allowed to ripen on the plant), beetroot (including white, golden and red and white ringed (Chioggia) varieties), peas and all types of green bean. For peas a very good choice is snap peas which can be eaten pod and all when young and later very sweet peas with the pod discarded; they can be obtained in both dwarf and tall varieties, the later needing a supporting net. Winter squash (pumpkin family) are also worth growing and fun. A very good variety is Crown Prince which has a much better flavour than ordinary pumpkins and, after harvesting in autumn, will store well until March without losing its sweet flavour.
Soft fruit is also a good choice. Home grown strawberries, picked ripe. can taste a great deal better than bought specimens and if early, mid-season and late varieties are chosen can be cropped over a long period. Strawberry plants lose vigour after two and a third of the strawberry bed should be replanted each year, removing the oldest first. Most varieties produce runners which can be spread out about a foot from the mother plant and anchored down with hair pins in late summer/autumn to produce strong plants for the following season at no extra cost. Other rewarding soft fruits are red and black currants, raspberries and raspberry/blackberry hybrids such as tayberries, but these all fruit on year old wood so there is little to pick in the first year after planting, though autumn fruiting varieties of raspberry will produce in the first year after winter planting.
Most fruit and vegetables can be frozen to extend their season of use, though defrosted strawberries and raspberries can only be used for sauces or jams. Tomatoes freeze well as whole fruit, without sticking to each other, but again can only be used for sauces or soups when defrosted.
Many people will of course not have gardens large enough to cultivate for many vegetables and allotments in the Dulwich area are currently difficult to obtain, with two year or more waiting lists. This does not rule out grow-your-own as many specimens can be grown in tubs or planters on a patio. This includes lettuces and other salad crops, dwarf beans, tomatoes, herbs and such like. Pot and container grown plants will however require more watering in dry periods than plants grown in the open.
For anyone interested in participating in the "Vegetable Year" and who perhaps has not got a garden or allotment but would like to be active and learn the subject, please contact David Smart 020-7733-8335, smart
The archives of the Old Bailey contain a number of cases involving criminal events in Dulwich’s history. The following case dates from 29th February 1836 and involves well known local people and places and illustrates the opportunities for corruption which existed at a local level.
SAMUEL THOMAS was indicted for feloniously discharging at Richard Thomas (no relation), a certain gun, loaded with gunpowder and divers shot, with intent to kill and murder him. 2nd Count, stating his intent to do him grievous bodily harm.
Messrs BODKIN, DOANE and CHAMBERS conducted the Prosecution. Mr PAYNE (In the spirit of “ Garrow’s Law “) conducted the Defence
RICHARD THOMAS. I live on Sydenham-hill, and am overseer of the poor of Dulwich parish, in Camberwell. I know the prisoner perfectly well - I have heard he has been in the police - he has not been chargeable on the parish since my time - he was employed on the parish roads to do work - I was on the committee of the highways - the sweepings of the highways were sold for the benefit of the parish and it was the duty of persons employed on the roads to put the sweepings in heaps and leave it for the contractors, who come and take it away- I saw the prisoner so engaged on Saturday fortnight - I think it was the 13th of February - he was in the company with a person named Dowse - I saw them wheeling the road-stuff off the road, towards the Greyhound- the prisoner had just returned- the other man had the barrow in his hand- seeing them so engaged, I first asked the prisoner where he was wheeling it- I understood him to say, “You may find it out”- nothing more passed between me and the prisoner - and I went a few yards distant and then asked Dowse where he was wheeling it - he pointed to the place where he had been - the prisoner might be near enough - Dowse did not say, to the Greyhound- he pointed to the place- I made a report of what I had seen to the Board- the result of that was, that the prisoner was dismissed by the chairman and the committee at large,(the committee of the highways)- on the following Monday- I left the vestry on the Wednesday evening, the 24th of February on horseback- I went in the direction of my house-when I got to East Dulwich Chapel, and the Plough public house, I observed something on the road-it was half-past eight o’clock and quite dark- immediately a voice called out to me, “Who are you? Or, “Who comes here” - I do not know which- I immediately drew up to the person addressing me, quite close- I could have touched him- I then saw distinctly who it was - it was the prisoner at the bar- I observed he had a gun in his hand- he said something, but I cannot recollect what- I was agitated and touched the mare very quickly, and when I got a short distance I turned my head, and saw the prisoner leveling the gun, presenting it to me- I immediately threw myself on the neck of the mare, and hung on- I got the distance of the mare, and then fell off on the road - I immediately scrambled and got up and ran off- I distinctly heard the snap of the gun - I am sure of it- I then ran on as fast as I could to the toll-gate I was about 300 yards from it- the keeper’s name is John Morris - I took shelter and remained there about twenty minutes- I saw the prisoner outside the gate while I was there- I heard him say to Morris he might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and was inviting me to come out- he was continually talking to Morris, but I did not hear what he said- he was a full twenty minutes outside the toll-house- I had him taken into custody that night- I saw nothing more of the gun till it was produced at Union Hall-that was Friday. I think- Simmonds, I believe, took him.
Cross-examined by Mr Payne. Q. How long before this Wednesday night was it that you made the report to the Board? A.. On the Monday night- I met Mr Hall on the Tuesday evening- I do not know how long it was before the dismissal was communicated to the prisoner- I saw him at work on Tuesday, in the middle of the day as usual- I did not see him on Wednesday working on the road- I have not been to the Board since- I told the Board that Mr Hall had given no orders for the road drift to be removed - I was about the length of the mare from him when he called “Who goes there?” - it was dusk- I could not see distinctly who it was- when I fell on the ground the prisoner was about two or three lengths of the horse- I touched the mare with my heel- I do not wear spurs- I distinctly heard the snap- the mare’s hoofs made no particular noise - not so much, I should think, as the click of a gun- the name of the place is Lordship Lane, Dulwich- I leaned forward and grasped the neck of the mare- I ran to the toll-house- I went home with a policeman - I did not see the prisoner again till he was at the office.
JOHN MORRIS. I am toll-keeper of the New-Road Gate (Court Lane), Dulwich. On 24th February, in the evening I saw Mr Thomas about half-past eight o’clock- he was on foot, running- I pushed him into the toll-house- I saw the prisoner following him about twenty yards- there was light enough from the room to see him- I had known him before for years-I did not shut the door- Mr Thomas slammed the door to himself- the prisoner came up- I went through the gate and stopped and talked to him- the prisoner was walking, and had a gun in his hand- I walked out, and then he stopped still - he said he would shoot Mr Thomas if he would come out- I said nothing to him about the gun- I was agitated- the prisoner remained there from twenty minutes to half an hour, Mr Thomas still continuing in the toll-house- the prisoner had the gun in his hand all the time- I did not notice the trigger - he made no expression, than that as Mr Thomas had taken away his bread from him, he might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb - he might as well be hung as starved to death- when the prisoner went, he went towards Sydenham- that is the direction for Mr Thomas’s house - they both live in the same direction- Mr Thomas shortly after left - I went in, and told him the prisoner was gone- the prisoner came again in about half and hour - he knocked at the door, and asked if Mr Thomas was there - I told him he was gone - he had the same gun - he was not in liquor, I am quite sure.
Cross-examined. Q. You say it was a moon-light night? A. Yes; I should think there was light enough for a person to see another at a mare’s length- I could myself- I should think if he intended to shoot him, and not merely frighten him, he could have seen him sufficiently without calling out to him at a mare’s length - I did not say anything to the Magistrates about the prisoner saying that Mr Thomas had taken his bread from him, and he might as well be hanged as starved to death- they did not ask me so many questions - the prisoner went away of his own accord.
CHARLES SIMMONDS (police-constable P 153) On the evening of Wednesday the 24th, about a quarter before nine o’clock, I was going on duty from my own house - I met the prosecutor just as I got out of the door- in consequence of what he said, I took the prisoner into custody at the Crown public-house in Dulwich- I had another policeman with me - I told him he must go along with me to the station-house - he told me he knew it; he expected it - there was a person in the room named John Jones who said, “I did not think you meant it, though you said it” - I had not at that time said what I took him for- on the road to the station-house he asked me what he was being taken for- I said “For attempting to shoot Mr Thomas” - he told me he could not attempt to do that, as he had nothing but a piece of wood to do it with- I found no gun on him - when he got a little further, he laughed and said, although it was a gun, he had got nothing in it. On the next day I met John Jones- the prisoner was not with me. I got the gun I now have in my hand from Mrs Dowse, who lives on Dulwich Common. I got it on Friday morning about ten o’clock - I examined the gun - it was not loaded - I examined the pan and touch-hole and there was black powder - it presented the appearance of having been recently discharged.
Cross-examined Q. A man of the name of Jones said he did not think he meant it, though he said it? A. Yes- I got the gun from Mrs Dowse on Friday, at ten in the morning.
ANN DOWSE. I am the wife of Thomas Dowse: the prisoner worked with my husband on the road, I remember Wednesday the 24th- about five o’clock in the afternoon, the prisoner came and asked me if my husband was at home - I said no, he was gone to London - he said he wanted to borrow his gun - I lent him the gun - this is the same gun I lent - he went away - that was about five o’clock - I saw him again between nine and ten o’clock that evening - I heard the report of a gun just as I opened the door, and he said he had brought the gun - there was a knock at the door - the report was before the knock - I asked him if there was any danger - he said no, he had just let it off - I gave the gun to the policeman on Friday morning.
Cross-examined. Q. When was your husband discharged from working on the roads? On Wednesday morning he knew it - he came back about ten o’clock.
COURT Q.. Do you happen to know whether it was loaded when you gave it to the prisoner first? A. It was not loaded - we never keep it loaded - I have seven children.
ELIZABETH BEAMSLEY. I am a shop-keeper, and live at Dulwich: I knew the prisoner perfectly well for a great many years. On Wednesday evening of the 24th of last month, he came to me for an ounce of gunpowder and a quarter pound of shot- I served him - he paid me 2_d. The shot was No. 6 - I counted it out on the scale, put it into the bag, and gave it him with the bag.
Cross-examined. Q. Had you known him long? A. Yes - my house is a quarter mile from his.
WILLIAM EVAMY. I I live at Norwood, and am an occasional waiter. I remember, on Wednesday evening the 24th of February. I was at the tap-room of the Crown Inn, Dulwich, between seven and eight o’clock - I saw several persons there, and among them the prisoner at the bar - when I went in, he was sitting down - he had a gun with him - I saw him get up, and take the gun with him to another part of the room, and do something with it - I saw him take something out of a bag with the bowl of a tobacco-pipe, and put it into the gun - he then put something in to the pan of the gun; and when he had done, he sat down again - when he put something in the gun, I heard it make a grating noise, as I conceived, against the tobacco-pipe - I did not notice that it made any noise in the gun - someone said, “Are you going a-poaching?” or something like that- he said, “A man has shot a man, and I am going to shoot a man.”
COURT. Q. Did you not say before the Magistrate that he said, “A man has shot me, and I am going to shoot a man ?” A. That was my evidence before the Magistrate - after that he said Thomas had shot Thomas, and Thomas would shoot Thomas- I said, “I hope you are not going to commit any act to get yourself unto any trouble.”
Q. Did you not say “That is your joking way?” A. Yes, he is a jocular man at times - he made some short reply, that that was his business, or something - he went away in about a quarter of an hour, or twenty minutes - he said, “Good night, gentlemen” - he took the gun with him.
Cross-examined. Q. How many other persons were in the room? A. There might have been eight or ten - they were all about talking, not paying any attention to him - I was a small distance from him - I was not paying particular attention - I was showing some books - I thought it was only his jokes.
WILLIAM OUZMAN. I am a journeyman butcher, living at Dulwich. I was in the tap of the Crown with the last witness, on Wednesday the 24th - I was near the prisoner - I observed him put the ram-rod into the gun, and ram something down - I do not know what - he looked at the lock of the gun, lifted up the pan, and put it down again - I heard him say, when he sat down, that Mr Thomas had shot him, and he intended shooting Mr Thomas.
Cross-examined. Q. Did you ask him where Mr Thomas wounded him? A. No - I knew Mr Thomas - I was about a yard from the prisoner when he was ramming something down.
JOHN JONES. I am the driver of a fly, and live at Dulwich, I was in the Crown tap on that evening - I saw the prisoner there- he was sitting with a gun- I saw him take something from a bag, and put it into the gun, which rattled down like shot, but I cannot say it was- I heard him say Thomas had shot Thomas, and Thomas would shoot Thomas- he left between seven and eight- he came again about twenty-five minutes before eleven o’clock- I and another were drinking, and we asked him to drink with us - he asked if it was porter or half-and-half, and we said porter- he said he would drink with us, as, perhaps it might be the last time- I saw Simmonds and Wilks come- Simmonds said, “I want you to go with me”- the prisoner said, “Very well,” he was waiting for him, he expected him.
Cross-examined. Q. You drive a fly? A. Yes, in constant employment- I work for my brother, Jones, of Dulwich- I cannot say how long I had been in the public house - I had been there about an hour before I saw the prisoner with his gun- I saw the last two witnesses there- I was about one yard from him when he put something into the gun - there were many persons talking in the house- there was a buz, but I heard the rattling in the gun- I saw no ramming, and nothing about the lock.
CHARLES COBDEN. I am one of the beadles of Camberwell parish. I knew the prisoner about three years and a half- he was at all times resident in the parish - he has lately been working on the roads - he received 14s. a week - he was discharged on Tuesday evening, the 23rd - he told me so when I saw him next morning- he gave his tools up to me- he walked with me round the end of the house to the gate, and then said, “Well, now I will go and get some powder and shot, and to a-shooting” - and then I said, “That will be but a very poor game, you will not kill enough to pay for powder and shot” - he said, “Oh,oh! I shall kill all that I want to kill” - and then he left me.
Cross-examined. Q. You are beadle of Camberwell parish? A. Yes; I do not know who contracts for the road drift - I had no idea that Mr Thomas was contractor at that time, but I have since heard different - I have since heard it was his man.
JOHN PETTY. I am a labouring man, in the employ of Mr Thomas, the prosecutor. I remember on Wednesday the 24th, being at my master’s house- I saw the prisoner call about a quarter before eight o’clock in the evening - he asked if my master was at home - I told him no- he asked me what time he would be at home - I asked the female-servant, and she told me, and I told him she expected he would be rather late- I asked if he had any message- he said no, he wanted to see him- I did not notice whether he had anything in his hand.
Cross-examined. Q. What servant are you? A. A day servant - I have nothing to do with the road -drift- one of his men has.
MR. PAYNE to RICHARD THOMAS
Q. Were you on the Saturday fortnight by yourself, or by your servant, the contractor of the road-drift? A. I was the sub-contractor - I was interested in it - I represented to the Board that the prisoner had been removing the drift contrary to the orders of Mr Hall.
VERDICT: NOT GUILTY before Mr Justice Park
People around Britain have heard of Peckham through watching the comedy series Only Fools and Horses and because of the murder of Damilola Taylor. However, the vast majority of people who are aware of Peckham’s existence have no knowledge of its rich history. Many London residents do not know where Nunhead is, so have missed the pleasure of visiting its Victorian cemetery.
Though a large number of books have been written on the history of SE15, the approach of this book is new for Peckham and Nunhead. Not only is there a link between the two pictures on each page, an old one taken over the past century and a modern day view of the same spot, it is also possible to walk or cycle the route of the pictures at the top of the ninety pages.
The old photographs illustrate how SE15 has changed considerably during the last 100 years, from when the two villages were in the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell, through the war years, up until 1965, when the London Borough of Southwark was formed. However, many of the features of Victorian Peckham and Nunhead still exist, if you know where to look, and this book shows that both areas ooze with fascinating history.
Published by Amberley Books £12.95
Are you a writer? Are you a published author - or have you struggled to get published?
There are far more stories and novels written than are accepted by publishers and - what is worse - a huge percentage of those books that do get through the barriers to publication don’t sell much and are heavily discounted, remaindered or pulped.
Why are these things true; and why is it so hard to get anyone even to look at your work - never mind publish it? Well…it is, I believe, due to a number of reasons. It seems to me that being published is as a result of one or more factors: you are already famous; you have ‘connections’; or maybe you win the literary version of the X-factor. Alternatively it is a fantastic stroke of luck in that you happen to land on someone’s desk at the right time and hit their sweet spot. Even then many publishers cannot get it right and choose books that don’t sell.
Of course there is the issue of the quality of the writing - and you can’t argue with that; or you wouldn’t if you felt that the manuscript had at least been read, and if the quality of those books published was always excellent.
I am a published author - having had some 13 books published. These were, however, all non-fiction; mainly business books, text books or on subjects of interest such as growing food. Non-fiction is a (relatively) easier market to break into as the publishers usually focus on segments, know them well, and have experience of what sells. The fiction market is, however, totally different.
By way of example: I have written a John Buchan type adventure novel; a Sci-Fi trilogy (with my children); a collection of short stories; and I am working on other novels. Despite having spoken to a couple of agents and publishers in the non-fiction field, who really liked the work, I have found it impossible to get agents who deal with fiction to look at my work. Their replies show that they hadn’t even read it: and as for publishers…they won’t even accept manuscripts any more; having outsourced it to agents. In addition, due to the stranglehold that large book stores have on the market where they insist on payment to ‘promote’ books as ‘staff recommendations’, publishers play safe and stick with branded names.
A drawer full of formulaic rejection slips containing bland, nebulous statements can be very depressing!
Others have gone down the self-publishing route - but have found it very difficult to sell many books once published.
So what can be done?
I feel that, given the large pool of talent in the Dulwich area, there is something more that we could do for ourselves. I propose a literary self-help group. This would include published authors, budding authors of novels, short stories, poetry, non-fiction; and also anybody with experience in publishing and book-selling - even agents!
We could meet say, once a month, and explore ideas, connections, offer helpful critiques and generally support each other; and share ideas and experiences of what has worked and what has not. I have, for example, set up websites for two of my books. This is not very expensive, nor very difficult - but, as yet, has to prove its worth.
I wondered if anybody would be interested in such a group? If so do please get in touch.
43 Elmwood Road SE24