Dulwich and the Titanic
by Sharon O’Connor
The SS Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg on 15th April 1912. Five Dulwich men were on board the ship, four as crew members and one as a passenger.
Lawrence Beesley - The Passenger
Lawrence Beesley was born in Derbyshire in 1877. A prize-winning scholar, he took a degree in Natural Sciences at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge and during his post graduate work discovered a rare fountain algae which was named after him (Ulvella Beesleyi). In 1904, he became a science master at Dulwich College where he played a lively part in the life of the school, judging exhibitions and contributing to the Debating Society and he was especially praised for his biology lessons
His first marriage produced a son who would later marry Dodie Smith, the children’s author whose books include One Hundred and One Dalmatians and I Capture the Castle.
He became interested in Christian Science and began teaching it from his home. In 1911, having resigned his position at the College, he bought a £13 ticket and boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger.
Beesley was in his cabin when the collision happened. He went on deck and asked a steward what had happened and was at first advised that it was nothing. At the first sign of danger he went to his cabin, recited the 91st and the 23rd Psalms, collected the Bible and Science & Health and returned to the deck to wait his turn to be rescued. While watching the women and children being evacuated into the lifeboats, he noted that second class female passengers were not allowed to board first class boats but that steerage ladies were allowed into second class boats. He later surmised that this was the reason for the low survival rate of second class male passengers (of whom, of course, he was one). When men were allowed to board the lifeboats he jumped into Boat 13 and as it was rowed away he watched the Titanic sink and the “lights go out for good”. While on Boat 13 he comforted a crying baby by tucking a blanket under its toes and, getting into conversation with the lady holding the baby, he discovered that they had mutual friends in Ireland, a coincidence he found very striking. Boat 13 was subsequently rescued by the SS Carpathia and the survivors were taken to New York. After his rescue Beesley penned a beautifully written and poignant book, The Loss of the SS Titanic, about his experience, which includes many now famous scenes: the orchestra playing as the ship sank, the calm of the crew and passengers in the ship’s last hours and the eerily peaceful sea and starlit night. After returning to England he continued his teaching career and became a headmaster of a prep school. He also became something of a consultant to researchers and film-makers and he wrote an article for the Christian Science Sentinel, attributing his survival to his knowledge of Christian Science. Five days after the sinking he wrote a remarkable letter to The Times which gave an outline of the possible causes of the disaster together with recommendations for the prevention of a similar tragedy, eg every passenger and crew member being assigned a seat in a lifeboat, regular lifeboat drills and ships to slow down a few knots when in iceberg regions.
Having been widowed, in 1919 Beesley remarried and had three children. He became a keen golfer, entering the British Open several years running. His family said that the one time they went to the seaside, their father sat with his back to the water.
The novelist, Julian Barnes, met Beesley in 1964 and subsequently wrote about him in “A History of the World in 10½ Chapters”. There exists a small piece of footage reporting on the premiere of “A Night to Remember” which has Mr Beesley talking about the film. He had been to watch it being made and, keen to be one of the extras on board as it sank, he forged a union card, dressed up in costume and found a place at the rails of the ship. Just before filming began, however, the director spotted him and ordered him off the set. As Julian Barnes puts it, “for the second time in his life Lawrence Beesley found himself leaving the Titanic just before it was due to go down”.
He died on 14 February 1967 at the age of 89. In his book The Loss of the SS Titanic Beesley talks eloquently of the moment when the survivors learnt that the disaster had been avoidable:
“The beautiful Titanic wounded too deeply to recover, the cries of the drowning still ringing in our ears and the thousands of homes that mourned all these calamities - none of all these things need ever have been! It is no exaggeration to say that men who went through all the experiences of the collision and the rescue and the subsequent scenes on the quay at New York with hardly a tremor, were quite overcome by this knowledge and turned away, unable to speak; I for one, did so, and I know others who told me they were similarly affected.”
The other Dulwich connections to the Titanic were the four crew members. Thomas Lahy, aged 32, who lived in Spurling Road, East Dulwich was a fireman/stoker on the ship. His body was never recovered. William Dashwood, aged 19, a steward, was born in Dulwich and his family lived in Pellatt Road. His body was recovered by the Cable ship Mackay-Bennett and Dashwood was buried in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Ernest Corben, aged 27, was also born and bred in Dulwich and was an assistant printer steward. His body was never recovered and he left behind a widow and a 3 year old son. Edward Hogue, aged 22 was a plate steward and lived in Allison Grove. His body was not recovered.
Thursday 8th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society – Lecture Medicine and the Human Body through the artist’s eye by Mary Acton 8pm James Allen’s Girls’ School 6th Form Lecture Theatre.
Friday 16th Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery 7.30pm Concert – An evening of Tales and Travel - Martin Martineau piano with Stephan Loges (baritone) songs by Schubert, Jacques Ibert and Vaughan Williams in the Gallery. Tickets £26 (includes glass of wine) from the Gallery Friends Desk.
Tuesday 20th Dulwich Picture Gallery Jubilee Series Lecture – The Royal Portrait –Image and Impact by Jennifer Scott 10.30am £10 Linbury Room.
Thursday 12th Dulwich decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture – The Ring Finger in Europe 1600-1900 by Judy Rudoe 8pm James Allen’s Girls’ School 6th Form Lecture Theatre.
Tuesday 17th Dulwich Picture Gallery Jubilee Series Lecture – Imperial Monarchy by Lawrence James 10.30am £10 Linbury Room.
Wednesday 18th Dulwich Park Friends – Review of the Year and AGM in the Francis Peek Centre, Dulwich Park 7pm
Thursday, April 19th Dulwich Society Garden Group. Talk by Gordon Lucas, Head Gardener, Horniman Gardens on ‘The redevelopment of the Horniman Museum Gardens’
7.45 for 8.00pm at the new Belair Recreation Centre, Gallery Road
Dulwich Players production of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde Thursday 19th – Saturday 21st April, 8pm Edward Alleyn Theatre Dulwich College. Tickets £8 from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village.
Saturday 5th Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery present A Childrens’ Puppet Show with Drew Colby Linbury Room 10.15am-11.45am. Fruit in the interval. Tickets £5 parents welcome. From the Gallery Friends desk
Tuesday 8th Dulwich Picture Gallery Jubilee Lecture Series – Kings and Queens – The Biblical Tradition by Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok 10.30am £10 Linbury Room.
Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture – Landscape, Poetry and Power: British Neo-Romantic Painters in World War II 8pm James Allen’s Girls’ School Lecture Theatre.
Friday 11th Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery 7.30pm Concert – St James Quintet perform works by Arnold, Barber and Mozart in the Gallery. Tickets £18 (includes glass of wine) from the Gallery.
Dulwich Festival and Artists’ Open House Commences
Saturday 12th Dulwich Society Tree Walk as part of The Dulwich Festival led by Letta Jones. Meet outside the College Road Gate, Dulwich Park 2.30pm
Sunday 13th Dulwich Society Local History Walk as part of Dulwich Festival led by Brian Green – The Old Village of Dulwich / Meet outside The Crown & Greyhound at 2.30pm. Walk lasts 90 minutes and is suitable for those in wheelchairs.
Sunday 20th Dulwich Park Friends Dulwich Park Festival Fair – falconry displays, steam fair, Vauxhall City Farm, Dog Show, music and dance displays, food craft and charity stalls.
Dulwich Society Local History Walk as part of The Dulwich Festival led by Ian McInnes. Meet at Wst Dulwich Station 2.30pm. Walk lasts about 90 minutes and is suitable for those in wheelchairs.
Thursday 24th Dulwich Picture Gallery Late Night Viewing 5-9pm Van Dyck in Sicily exhibition (closes 27th May)
Tuesday, June 19th Dulwich Society Garden Group visit to the Savill Garden including River trip, lunch and tea.
Dulwich Trees - Persian Silk Tree, or Siris - Albizia Julibrissin
by Jill Manuel
In the last three or four years an unusual small tree has appeared outside the Crown and Greyhound, joined a year or so later by a companion.
It is the pretty pink ‘flowers’ that catch the eye in August and September, but they have no petals, but instead a tight cluster of pink stamens, looking like so many delicate soft brushes. The complex leaves are dark green, 20-45 cm long, arranged in pairs, and then each leaflet being divided again along a central vein.
The names are interesting, indicating the trees’ origins in the East and Middle East. The modern Persian name is SHABKHOSB, meaning Night Sleeper as the leaves slowly close at night, and under rain. It was brought to Europe by the Italian family Albizzi in the mid 18th century, hence ALBIZIA Julibrissin, the latter part being an attempt at the two Persian words for silk flower. In Japan it is known as the Sleeping Tree.
It used not to be considered hardy, but stronger strains have been produced which seem to tolerate frost, as ours did in the winter 2010-11. Interestingly it is not even mentioned in the well known Alan Mitchell’s earlier ‘Tree Bible’ ** but it is nowadays, being quite widely planted in gardens and as an ornamental roadside tree. It will not grow much over 10m, and after flowering produces flat brown seed pods, constricted between each seed. These can be planted in pots for a year or so, and then moved to grow on.
A grove of 4 dozen Persian Silk Trees has been planted in Hatcham Gardens, on the borders of Southwark and Lewisham
Correction: - At the time of writing about Catalpa trees in the Autumn 2011 issue, it was thought that the village tree planted in memory of Mark Evison was a Catalpa. It is now found to be a Paulownia, easily confused in the young state, and as such is rather more appropriate in the village position that it occupies. We can already see the buds of the mauve foxglove-type flowers, which blossom in May and are said to have a lovely scent.
Donate a tree to the Horniman Gardens
The redevelopment of the Horniman Gardens is now reaching the final stages and we expect it to be completed in late spring 2012. New ramps and paving has improved access to the Sunken Garden, the historic bandstand has been restored to its elegant 1909 condition with new glass screens, and the Learning and Community building – the Gardens Pavilion - is now complete.
We are now moving onto the planting stage and as the new areas begin to take shape, we are able to offer certain items for “naming” in return for a donation. You can donate a tree or picnic bench in memory of a loved one, in celebration of a marriage or simply to mark many happy years spent in the Museum and Gardens.
There are a number of items and areas you can ‘donate’. Included in the cost of these items is a discreet plaque acknowledging your support.
There are twelve new picnic benches located on the Bandstand Terrace. They cost £500 each to donate.
Eight plane trees are available on the Bandstand Terrace, which will provide shade on hot summer days. They cost £1200 each to donate.
A ‘Sound Corner’ beside the Bandstand Terrace features five sculptural musical instruments. A full list of the instruments and the costs to donate them are on our website.
More items will become available in the coming months so do keep an eye on the ‘Support Us’ section of the Horniman website. This is a wonderful way of supporting our redevelopment whilst you and your family can enjoy a lasting acknowledgment of your support for our much-loved Gardens.
by Peter Roseveare
A break-in by a Woodcock must be a unique event, not just for Dovercourt Road but anywhere. And even more amazing was that the bird was uninjured. Woodcock are seen in Dulwich from time to time as winter visitors, usually in the woods flushed by a dog, but never until now under a bed in a front room, amongst a sea of broken glass.
When Angela showed it to me it sat quietly in her cat box and allowed photography although well camouflaged by its leaf litter plumage. Indeed this is how most woodcocks spend their day coming up in the evening as crepuscular feeders probing for invertebrates in the woodland floor. Like the related Jack Snipe they lie completely motionless as you pass and it needs a very sharp eye to spot one on the ground. A day spent in Angela’s cat box was not greatly different to what it would have done anyway and gave us the pleasure of admiring its wonderful subtle camouflage.
Woodcock breed more commonly in the north of the country and they can be seen at dusk during the breeding season making a rock and roll display flight which is given the name “roding” and accompanying it with an unusual clicking call.
This has been otherwise a quiet winter. As a result of the mild weather the large flocks of Redwing and Fieldfares have been absent and we have not seen any of the Waxwings which were such a feature of last year. Most of our small birds are still with us but as there is plenty of natural food they may be less in evidence on our feeders, although the increasing population of Goldfinches are seemingly addicted to Nyger seed.
Of other news, there is still a Little Owl in Belair park and two first winter young drake Shoveler ducks have taken up residence on the Belair lake along with the recently returned pair of Mandarins. Herons sit quite nonchalantly in Dulwich Park as occasionally does a Cormorant.
Keep watching and reporting any gems you might see.
Peter Roseveare Wildlife Recorder ( Tel: 020 7274 4567)
A Wildlife Rescue
by Angela Wilkes
My neighbour was in a flap. A bird - he didn’t recognise its species but it was “quite big” – had flown into the spare bedroom at breakfast time and would I please come and help catch it.
One glimpse of the blood-specked starburst in the window raised doubts that this wildlife rescue was going to have a happy ending. But there was no sign, living or dead, of the avian missile who had crashed through the glass with such a loud bang that the neighbour’s son, getting ready for school, had feared a gunshot blast. Window strikes by birds (perhaps caused by reflections of sky mirrored in the glass) often result in severe, often fatal, head trauma, with injuries including brain swelling and retinal detachment. And that’s for birds who hit a pane, then bounce off. This casualty was likely to have been cut by broken glass, too.
A precautionary closing of the curtains (so the bird did not try to exit through that wicked-looking zigzag hole) and the switching on of a light revealed – eventually – a large plump woodcock, its long beak pointing resolutely to the dark sanctuary beneath the bed where it was determined to hide. Amazingly, it was not only alive and kicking, but flapping and running, too. It – actually a young male, it transpired – was finally removed by one (thankfully unbroken and unbloodied) wing as it tried to cram itself behind a pile of books on the dressing table and slither down the wall.
A brief trip to the local vet’s surgery, crouched glaring in the wicker cat basket, gave the woodcock a miraculously clean bill of health. Nothing broken, no bleeding lacerations or embedded glass, although it had run over the splinters on the bedroom carpet. The vet thought that the length of the woodcock’s beak had offset the impact and flying speed (an estimated 25-30 mph reckoned the British Trust for Orthinology). After a few hours “chilling out” in a quiet, dimly-lit warm spot at home, (a few twigs and leaves added to the back of the covered basket to make the surroundings feel more natural), it strutted confidently and without a backward glance into the thick undergrowth at the edge of Belair Park. Cool.
Artists in Residence - The Fittons of Pond Cottages
by Judy Fitton
My brother and I were pre-war babies, born and bred to the sound of the Dulwich College clock. We consider that we had an ideal childhood. Our parents were happily married: I cannot remember them ever having a row or almost ever using bad language (the occasional expletive from my father when he thought we were out of earshot would give us enormous pleasure). We had meals together at regular times and of course in those days there was no television to disrupt domestic life. Later when TVs became commonplace, my father refused to have one until my brother had left school. We never had children’s birthday parties because our parents considered that the excessive gift-giving involved was bad for us. In fact they never threw parties beyond the occasional intimate dinner party, until they celebrated their golden wedding and invited all the Pond Cottages neighbours in for tea, cake and a glass of champagne. This may sound as if life was conventional and boring – conventional perhaps in some ways, but boring? No.
My parents were both artists, not ostentatiously so, but they were definitely distinctive figures. My father for instance didn’t see anything odd in venturing out in the evening to post a letter (the letter box was half way down Dulwich Common) in a full length red dressing gown. Sometimes he would dash down to the village to buy paints from Mr and Mrs Green (Brian’s parents) in a jacket covered in paint and a shirt with half the buttons missing, giving the impression that my mother didn’t look after us. He was quite tall with prematurely grey hair, strikingly blue eyes and a goatee beard, and he walked and talked at the speed of lightning all his life.
Peggy was beautiful, with long black hair worn up and had very fair skin, she wore longer than fashionable, exotically coloured clothes and was altogether very glamorous. She is perhaps best described by Jacob Epstein (who wanted her to sit for him) as a Best Period Renoir. She was very shy, but very intelligent and an exceptional painter - Anthony Blunt, who was at the time, the art critic of the Spectator, picked her painting Ironing and Airing as being The Best Painting in the 1939 Royal Academy Exhibition. Alfred Bestall, a wonderful artist, best known as the creator of Rupert Bear, was also a long-standing admirer of both her and her painting.
We lived at Ten and Eleven Pond Cottages, a pair of 18th century cottages standing on their own, hidden behind the cottages that face the pond. They were, and still are, captivating. Surrounded by banks of trees which lead to fields and eventually woods and a golf course, you could be in the middle of the countryside. Initially my parents moved into number ten which was in a sorry state - ‘You can move into the workman’s cottage now but it’s in a slum condition ‘- said the Dulwich Estates. It certainly was DIY with a vengeance. They began life there filling in holes in the wall with newspaper and had to use one of the tiny low-ceilinged dark bedrooms as a studio. After several years Percy Houghton, the artist in number eleven, moved out and the College Estates gave permission for the party wall to be demolished to make it into one house. There was more room of course and it was wonderful not to have the inhabitants of number eleven (however pleasant) walking through the garden path in front of the windows on the way to their front door. However it was still pretty primitive, there was no central heating, the French stove had to be sifted out every day and my father still had to use a bedroom as a studio. The two front doors facing the garden, let cold air in every time they were opened (we only used number ten during the winter) but it was a wonderful home to us and our friends. Sometimes, during term time, my brother’s Dulwich College school friends would be seen creeping in the (usually) unlocked door, on the way to the tiny bedroom upstairs to pad themselves with underpants, as armour prior to a beating awarded to them from the school.
Margaret and James (Peggy and Jim) came from very different backgrounds. Jim was born in dusty smoky Oldham, the son of mill-workers – his father, who began work aged seven cleaning the machinery, was an engineer and his mother was a weaver. His precocious passion for drawing first manifested itself when he was hospitalised aged eight after a botched mastoid operation, performed on the kitchen table. In a letter home to his parents he wrote.”...Be sure and bring my paints and paper and my bag of boiled sweets or I shall be vexed”. When Jim left school aged fourteen, having missed a great deal because of hospital treatment for his ear, his headmaster told his father.”.. He’s no good at anything except drawing and that’s women’s work”.
Determined that Jim should not work in the mill but unable to afford to send him to art school, his father took him for an interview with a calico printer where he was taken on as an apprentice. He then enrolled at Manchester School of Art for evening classes as a non fee paying student. Although he was only fourteen, he was allowed to attend life classes, usually forbidden for one so young, until a surprise visit one day from the Bishop of Manchester and other civic dignitaries who, on discovering his age, ordered him to be withdrawn immediately. He was allowed to resume the classes on his sixteenth birthday.
Whilst at evening art school, Jim met fellow student L.S. Lowry who was nearly twice his age and the two began what was to be a lifelong friendship. Later, when Jim won a scholarship to study full-time, he took on night work in the docks, arriving at art school somewhat bleary-eyed the next morning. Lowry on the other hand, who no longer attended classes, would paint all night until his father dimmed the light and would arrive similarly bleary-eyed the following morning at the office where he worked. At weekends, the oddly assorted pair would meet in the afternoon to go sketching together or, if it was raining, to a matinee ‘...We got on a tram, and he took me to the Hulme Hippodrome, a music hall in the poor part of Manchester to see Fred Karno’s Company in The Mumming Birds... which pulverised Lowry with laughter’.
In 1920, James Fitton senior, an active member of the early Labour Party, was appointed National Organiser of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, whose headquarters were in Peckham and soon the family exchanged life in Oldham for one in Woodbine Cottage Dulwich Village. The move proved a violent culture shock for the family, especially the well- stocked garden, full of flowers shrubs and fruit trees, in contrast to the backyard with privy ‘up North’. Jim was then twenty one and began the arduous task of trailing around London with his portfolio looking for work. He was initially engaged as a studio assistant with a firm of printers and received his first commission designing a lithograph for a golf club match box. A more prestigious commission followed which involved designing a mural for the British Gas Association’s stand at the Ideal Home Exhibition. At the same time, he enrolled for evening classes at the Central School of Art where he met his future wife Peggy Cook.
Peggy was a full time student and, in contrast to Jim, came from a family with art and music in its blood for generations. Both of her parents were painters: her grandfather and great- uncle on her mother’s side were composers, and another great-uncle founded the prestigious Cook School of Art in St John’s Wood. The family lived on the border of Hampstead and Kilburn in a rambling, rather dilapidated house, full to the brim with paintings, pottery wheels, and animals, not all of which were typical household pets. The menagerie included tree frogs and parakeets allowed out of their cages (Peggy’s mother was a member of the Zoological Society). Jim was fascinated by the family, particularly Peggy’s creative mother who was always learning new skills - she taught herself to do miniatures in her sixties and subsequently had them accepted for a Royal Academy Exhibition.
Jim and Peggy became, in modern parlance, an ‘item’ quite soon after meeting and left art school at roughly the same time, whereupon Peggy found work as an illustrator at Frederick Warne the publisher. They continued living with their respective parents at opposite ends of London, unable to afford to get married until Jim, worn out by the daily demands of freelancing, with the continuing worries over where the next commission might come from, took a job with an advertising company where he later became Art Director. As soon as he had a steady income, they decided to get married without delay, so quickly in fact that one of Peggy’s uncles withheld his wedding present for nine months suspecting a ‘shot gun’ wedding.
Once established in Ten Pond Cottages, Jim was able to begin painting seriously in the evenings and Peggy painted when and where she could, while they adjusted to married life. Peggy had been obliged to leave her job with Frederick Warne on marriage, as was customary in those days and, being a North Londoner, felt somewhat ‘cut off’ and lonely in the early days in Dulwich. However, with artist friends Margaret and Henry Hoyland living nearby in Pickwick Cottage and upon whom she could call on en route to the village shops, she soon settled in.
In the early thirties in the climate of poverty, unemployment and strikes, Jim was invited to become a founder member of an artists’ pressure group formed in an attempt to promote the working-class and the position of artists in society. Later, with the rise of fascism and the threat of war, it broadened into the Artist International Association (AIA), an anti-fascist movement. The members included Augustus John, Laura Knight, Duncan Grant, John Piper, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Margaret Cook (Peggy). Every artistic group from the Royal Academy to Unit One was represented. They contributed posters, sculptures, drawings, paintings and cartoons - the first exhibition being held in a motorcycle stadium and the second coinciding with the Italian invasion of Abyssinia. Jim also did sets for Collins Music Hall which featured Tommy Handley, and contributed cartoons and drawings to other publications such as Time and Tide, Everyman and Left Review. In 1934 a collection of his drawings was acquired by the Museum of Modern Western Art in Moscow and featured prominently in an exhibition there.
Against this background of the fight against fascism and mounting fear of Hitler and Germany, it is ironic that my parents should employ Mrs Joyce, a gentle Irishwoman who lived on the other side of the Millpond in Allison Grove, to help with their new baby. Often Mrs Joyce would arrive with two of her teenage sons, Quentin and Robert who would entertain the baby while she did household tasks. My parents thought the boys were extremely well mannered and pleasant and very good with the baby. Sadly, after the outbreak of war, it transpired that the boys were the younger brothers of William Joyce aka Lord Haw Haw and Quentin who by then was working for the Air Ministry was interned for the rest of the war. Mrs Joyce, who knew nothing about politics, and her daughter Joan, continued to live in Dulwich and to the credit of the local people, they were treated with the respect they had always received. Joan later married the policeman appointed to guard their house.
Next Time: The War Years, Dulwich Picture Gallery, The Royal Academy and Lady Churchill comes to tea.
The Hotel at Spy Corner
by Brian Green
In Dulwich, along Dulwich Common and within a distance of no more than seventy five yards three different nests of spies existed in World War 11. One of these was set up by the Dutch Government in exile and were of course allies. We will leave aside the story of the Dutch agents at Glenlea (now named Tappen House), indeed The Dulwich Society presented a painting of their ‘safe house’ to a surviving agent, Bram Grisnigt, many years ago and the story is told in Dulwich – The Home Front 1939-45. Even the existence of a second network is not unfamiliar to older residents as it concerns William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw Haw whose life and fate is now part of the history of World War II. However, what follows concerns not only William Joyce, but mainly his brother Quentin, and the part he played in the story.
The Crown and Greyhound Hotel
By Ian McInnes
By the end of the nineteenth century there were two pubs in Dulwich Village, the Crown Inn and the Greyhound Inn. Both had been built in the early eighteenth century and by the late 1880s were in poor condition - contemporary photos show them looking very run down. The Crown Inn stood on the site of the current Crown and Greyhound and the Greyhound was on the other side of the road, roughly where Aysgarth Road is today. The latter was the more upmarket establishment, noted for its public dinners (the Dulwich Club was founded there in 1772) and its cricket pitch - its large grounds were bounded by the line of the modern Burbage Road to the south and Turney Road to the west. The Crown Inn catered for a more working class clientele and was probably more successful commercially. The Crown Inn’s lease was due to run out in 1894 and the Greyhound Inn’s in 1907.
In April 1892 Mr Jennings, licensee of the Crown Inn, wrote to the Dulwich Estates Governors about his lease renewal. They were receptive, as the date was imminent and, after some Board Meeting discussion, decided to take a more holistic look at the long term future of the pubs – not so much because they were concerned over the drinking habits of local residents but to see whether the pub sites could be used more profitably for housing development. A London estate agent and surveyor was commissioned to make a report on the terms to be asked for lease renewal in each case “together with the pecuniary results of closing one or all of these houses”.
Mr George Bell of the Greyhound Inn wrote to the Estate offering to pull down and rebuild his pub saying “the original building is a very old one, and although altered and added to at various times, is still most inconvenient and incapable of alteration and meeting the requirements of the present time.” He added “I need only say that the buildings are in part constructed in wood; that the rooms are very low; the urinals and lavatory very badly placed under the private sitting room; and the bedrooms in the top storey being only 6 ½ ft high are unsuitable for letting to visitors, who have frequently to be declined in consequence. There is only one WC in the houses and no bathroom.”
The surveyor, Mr Miles, delivered his report, spelling out, and costing, the various options, by which time there was also talk about a reduction from 7 day to 6 day licenses – presumably the Governors thought that it was inappropriate for local residents to drink on Sundays - they were certainly not allowed to play any games on Estate land on Sunday, even as late as the 1940s.
In February 1893, the Manager had a meeting with Mr Jennings and put forward a proposal to renew the Crown Inn’s licence for a short period so that it would line up with the Greyhound ie 1907 - and on the basis that the pub be closed on Sunday. Mr Jennings was uninterested. The Manager then discussed taking back the Greyhound Inn lease from Mr Bell and providing a new one which would exclude the cricket ground. Again the answer was no.
After further discussion, and despite a report from the Surveyor, Charles Barry jnr., that the sanitary condition of the Greyhound was not that bad, the Governors agreed to demolish the Greyhound as it was a better development site.
The Governors then sat tight and waited for Mr Jennings to come back to them. Over the next year he made several alternative proposals and, finally, in November his solicitors wrote asking the Governors views on the retention of only one pub in the Village. As the Governors were hoping, he offered to acquire the Greyhound Inn site and surrender it to them if they would then allow him to redevelop the Crown Inn as he wanted. The principles were agreed in April 1894 and in October the lease was ready for signing. At this point permission was required from the Charity Commissioners who, unhelpfully, queried whether the loss of income by closing one pub was such a good idea. Charles Barry jnr produced a report which set out the value of the various options which satisfied them and, finally, In February 1895, the building agreement was signed. The lease was to run for 84 years from Lady Day 1896 and require Mr Jennings to pull down the existing Crown Inn within 2 years and “erect and complete a new tavern to be called the ‘Crown Inn’ with requisite and proper offices, at an expenditure of £4000 at least in accordance with plans and of the materials to be approved by the Surveyor to the Governors.” He was also required to purchase the existing lease (and licence) of the Greyhound Inn without ‘pecuniary consideration’.
Mr Jennings mortgaged his building agreement to a Col. Wetherley of 133A Blackfriars Road, and employed well known London pub architects, Eedle and Meyers, to prepare designs but soon after he suffered a serious accident. He transferred his licence to Mr Robert Brinckley and the Governors allowed Brinkley to transfer of the existing licence to the Cannon Brewery Company in order to secure a mortgage.
Work progressed through 1896 and on into 1897. In February Charles Barry jnr reported that the building was progressing quickly and that he had received more drawings from Eedle & Meyers showing an additional storey to a part of the building at the back. Apparently Mr Brinckley was anxious to have a few additional bedrooms – and these were to be obtained by putting a flat roof in lieu of the pitched one at first intended.
On 27th May the Estates Manager reported that the ‘Crown Hotel’ was approaching completion and was likely to be opened in June. In the mean time Eedle & Meyers had asked permission to
add some stable buildings and a skittle alley in the rear. Mr Brinkley wanted a quick decision but the Governors decided that he should wait until they had visited the new building as part of their mid-June annual review. Following the visit they agreed to the proposal “subject to the removal of the manure pit from the position shown on the plans to a site to be fixed by the manager, and to the skittle alley being kept for the use of subscribers only”.
In April 1898 Mr Brinckley finalised the purchase of the Greyhound Inn lease and handed the site over to the Governors who demolished it shortly afterwards. The same month he received permission to assign his lease to the Cannon Brewery Company Ltd who took over the running of the new pub. The Cannon Brewery were very commercially aware and, having seen the success of the ‘Plough’ on Lordship Lane as a bus terminus, they responded positively to the London General Omnibus Company’s proposed inauguration of two new omnibus services from Dulwich Village to Farringdon Street (via Brixton) and Liverpool Street (via Tower Bridge). In June 1900 they made an application to remove the existing stabling and build new ones. The single storey building would provide jobs for 50 workmen but would cover most of the garden. There would have been stall accommodation for 214 horses, with 10 loose boxes, a harness room, surgery, office, farrier’s shop, and living rooms for a yardman and large yard covered by a glass and iron roof. The Governors were underwhelmed and, having successfully stopped the development of any tram routes on the Estate they were not minded to allow buses to run from or through the Village – only with the more recent introduction of the P4 have buses finally done so.
We all know that we enjoy music and what kind of music we enjoy, but why is that?
Listening to music in the comfort of our own homes is one thing, but what draws people together to listen to music and discuss it with others? The chance to go a little bit deeper into our understanding?
Many people who join our class say it’s because they’ve always enjoyed listening to music and wish to know more about why they enjoyed it so much. So what’s it like once you have braved the outdoors and are sitting listening to music in a small like minded group.
“Everyone is so friendly and we all enjoy the music but in such different ways; there are endless things to discuss. Our tutor gives us helpful pointers and each week our understanding of what we are listening to grows.”
“I always loved music but knew nothing about it and certainly didn’t understand the power it has in our lives. Now I am beginning to delve more into how composers manipulate us!”
“The discussions we have are fascinating and every week the tutor has something different planned for us – sometimes an in depth study of one work, or of one composer and their works, another week we bring our own choice along. We also have visiting musicians who demonstrate their instruments. This class has revolutionised my ability to appreciate music”
The Talking about Music class is held at the Copleston Centre, Copleston Road, SE15 4AN at 1.30pm on Friday afternoons. The class is led by an experienced musician and tutor.
Contact Frances Barrett -