The Dulwich Society Journal for Spring 2016.
Dulwich Picture Gallery Exhibition - Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928)
Dulwich Picture Gallery is presenting the first UK exhibition of paintings and prints by Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928), one of Norway’s finest twentieth-century artists. Along with Edvard Munch, Astrup expanded the artistic possibilities of woodcuts to capture the lush, wild landscapes and traditional way of life of his home in western Norway, powerfully capturing the myths and folklore of the country.
The exhibition brings Astrup’s unique vision of Norway to London. Arranged thematically the show will highlight the artist’s radically innovative approach to landscape painting and printmaking. The parsonage where he grew up and his beautiful farmstead at Sandalstrand (now known as ‘Astruptunet’), along with the lake (Jølstravatnet) that lay between them and the mountains surrounding them inspired a unique and extraordinary body of work. Bringing together a focused display of over 120 oil paintings, woodcuts and archive material, many on public display for the first time, ‘Painting Norway: Nikolai Astrup’ (5 February - 15 May 2016) offers a unique opportunity to discover an artist driven by the desire to create a ‘national style’- something quintessentially Norwegian in feeling and in subject-matter.
Astrup was trained in the painterly naturalist tradition by fellow Norwegians Harriet Backer (1845-1932) and Christian Krohg (1852-1925) in Oslo and Paris but it was during study tours in Europe that he identified the importance of the innocent, untutored eye in recording truth in nature. His exposure to the ‘naïve’ style of Henri ‘le Douanier’ Rousseau (1844-1910) and Maurice Denis (1870-1943) reinforced this conviction and encouraged Astrup to return to his home district of Jølster where he would create his own individual response to the landscape, shaped by the impressions and images remembered from his childhood years.
After welcoming visitors to this beautiful slice of Norway with landscapes providing an almost 360 degree view of the area surrounding his father’s parsonage at Ålhus, the exhibition explores the radical innovations in printmaking and painting that came to define Astrup’s career, highlighting key motifs in his oeuvre, from the distinctive Northern light and atmosphere to the famous Midsummer Eve festival which informed his series of striking bonfire paintings.
Ian A. C. Dejardin, the Sackler Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery and co-curator of the show, said:
“Hailed even as an art student as the great new hope of Norwegian art at the turn of the twentieth century, Astrup deserves to be celebrated outside his native Norway. In painting he rejected the stylistic trickery of aerial perspective, resulting in canvasses of intense immediacy and brightness of colour; in prints he followed his own innovative path, laboriously reworking his woodcuts so that every print is a unique work of art, and - as a final work of art in its own right - he built himself a home, Sandalstrand, on the precipitous shore of the lake that must be one of the most beautiful artists’ homes in the world. A remarkable man, and a great artist - yet this is the first ever show in this country devoted to him. It will be, as we intend all exhibitions at Dulwich Picture Gallery to be, a revelation.”
The exhibition opens with the rugged, wild mountainscapes and lake that dominated Astrup’s home village of Ålhus counterbalanced with domestic views of his father’s parsonage, the garden and the farmstead. These works celebrate the specific qualities of the light of the north, notably the midsummer nights, as in the woodcut A Clear Night in June (1905-7), or inclement weather, as in Rainy Atmosphere beneath the Trees at Jølster Parsonage (before 1908). A deliberate flattening of the landscape and rejection of aerial perspective in works such as Farmstead in Jølster (1902) illustrate Astrup’s avowed determination to represent both foreground and background with equal intensity.
Printmaking was integral to Astrup’s artistic practice, to which he took a painterly approach, consciously blurring the boundaries between prints and paintings by adding texture and colour with a brush, sometimes all but overpainting his prints. He constantly strove to recapture his intensely-felt experiences of specific combinations of light, shadow and colour at given moments in the ever-changing climate of Jølster as seen in the many-coloured masterpiece A Night in June in the Garden (1909), a print which exists in a variety of impressions, two of which will be on display. This section will also look closely at Astrup’s largest and most ambitious print Foxgloves which, displayed alongside the original oil painting of 1909 will reveal his creative process.
Sandalstrand, the remarkable farm-garden and family home created by Astrup and his wife, Engel looks across the lake to the village of Ålhus. Together they transformed a barely habitable place into a richly planted oasis that came to embody Astrup’s personal vision of what a farm garden in Jølster could be. The result proved to be not only the most distinctive and important artist’s garden in Norway, but also a significant example of a garden used as an integral part of its artist-maker’s creative practice. It provided him with many artistic motifs which became the subjects of his paintings and prints such as Rhubarb (1911) and Spring in Jølster (1925). Fruits and flowers from the garden were also used to decorate the interior of the farm and to create his ‘interior still lifes’; examples on display include Interior Still Life: Living Room at Sandalstrand (c.1921).
The childhood sense of the landscape as a magical place of potential transformation emerges in many of Astrup’s works. In Grain Poles he evokes an army of trolls in painting the characteristic grain poles of rural Norway, making the likeness explicit with the suggestion of a face. Similar motifs appear elsewhere in his work, most obviously in the ‘troll’ tree and ‘Ice Queen’ mountain of Spring Night and Willow (1917). The final room in the exhibition also brings to London the most striking of all Norway’s festivals, Midsummer Eve, which Astrup painted with great intensity. His memories of watching the festivities as a child informed works such as Midsummer Eve Bonfire (1915) where couples whirl, dancing to the music of a fiddler. Blended with the great wafts of smoke and luminous flames, Astrup’s dazzling prints and paintings of the celebrations were to become arguably his most famous works.
The exhibition is co-curated by The Sackler Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, Ian A. C. Dejardin, MaryAnne Stevens, independent art historian, curator and consultant, and previously Director of Academic Affairs at The Royal Academy of Arts, and Frances Carey, independent curator and consultant, who was formerly Head of National Programmes, and before that Deputy Keeper of Prints and Drawings, at the British Museum.
Loans have been secured from a number of lenders from Norway including Astruptunet, Sogn og Fjordane Kunstmuseum (MISF); KODE, Bergen; The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo and The Savings Bank Foundation DNB as well as a number of private collections in Norway and the United States of America.
‘Painting Norway: Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928)’ has been organised by Dulwich Picture Gallery with Henie Onstad Kunstsenter and Kunsthalle Emden. Principal Collaborator: The Savings Bank Foundation DNB.
With Scala Arts and Heritage Publishing, Dulwich will produce a fully illustrated colour catalogue to accompany the exhibition. Exhibition co-curators Ian A C Dejardin, MaryAnne Stevens and Frances Carey explore the artist’s remarkable life including his place within the context of contemporary European art and the innovative quality of his printmaking.
50 years of change in Dulwich
By Angus Hanton
On my 56th birthday, I was asked whether much has changed in Dulwich over the last 50 years. A lot has. For a start, roads have become busier and cars bigger but they mostly travel slower. There are many more bikes, using bike lanes and bike racks - neither of which even existed in 1970. Traffic calming has tamed the car - gone are the days when Dulwich Park was a rat-run for drivers and cars would speed at 60 mph down Court Lane and Turney Road. The air, too, has improved with much better control of diesel emissions, fewer old bangers, and very few bonfires. Smokeless zones also eliminated smogs that I was just old enough to choke on in the mid 1960s.
When I was a teenager in the 1970s there was only one restaurant in the village: if you could afford to eat out the only option was the Dulwich Steak House, whereas today there are dozens of Dulwich eateries. Businesses selling real things like meat and vegetables have been displaced by supermarkets and the shops now sell services including, for example, many more estate agents. The houses are sold for eye-wateringly high prices but are mostly from the same old housing stock that existed 50 years ago but often transformed by modernisation. In the 1960s you would buy a house and just accept it as it was, but now people expect to remodel and extend their new house, adding loft rooms, extensions and new basements. Locally every road seems to have a skip parked somewhere for building works. But it’s not just about the housing stock - the type of person moving to Dulwich has changed with more city professionals and more working couples. Lace curtains have given way to shutters, black front doors to pastel coloured ones.
Even wildlife has shown shifts from the 1960s with more foxes and the arrival of parakeets. Many species have left London such as the sparrows, starlings and barn owls - which as a boy I would stay up late to listen to and occasionally actually see. And we’ve lost our old elm trees though a hedgerow of young ones still survives in Gallery Road. More domestically, dogs have changed - there are fewer stray dogs and more of those squat, pit bull types - also dog mess has mostly gone from our pavements, which was such a nuisance until about 1995. But I’ve always been slightly fearful of dogs ever since I walked to school on my own from the age of five, occasionally chaperoned by my seven-year-old sister - fewer young children walk to school on their own, and there are not so many full-time mums to collect them from the school gates.
The rise of the “superschool” has had big knock-on effects, with JAGS, DC and Alleyn’s increasing their size by taking younger children but also vastly increasing the facilities they offer. The geographic reach of the Dulwich schools has extended which in turn has brought in new residents and introduced an international dimension that was barely present in the 1960s. Secondary education outside the private sector has moved from being a desperate choice between various “sink schools” like the old William Penn to possibilities of very good community schools like “The Charter” at the same location - with the promise of another one later in 2016 at the East Dulwich Hospital site.
Several local facilities have been transformed and the outstanding one is the Dulwich Picture Gallery, moving from a sleepy backwater without so much as a tea shop to a place that is firmly on the map and whose exhibitions have made it a serious London destination. But other buildings too have been resurrected - Belair House has been rescued from being a virtually derelict building to a smart venue, the velodrome pavilion in Burbage Road will be rebuilt very soon and the Brockwell Lido in Herne Hill has been rescued and modernised.
The event I remember best as a child was the Dulwich Millennium organised by a young Brian Green in 1967 where adults learnt that Dulwich or “Dilwihs” got its name 1,000 years ago as the “field of Dill”, while children paraded, danced and played. Dressed as a court jester I was told to celebrate by going round hitting the maypole dancers on their backsides. A more regular event in the 1970s was the annual summer fete in the “archery field” by the Old Grammar School where plate smashing and sale of bric-a-brac were favourite activities. Whilst these fetes aren’t organised any longer there is a lot more going on today with the Dulwich Festival, the Dulwich Artists Open House fortnight and the various events at the Picture Gallery.
Public transport has improved hugely with ancient slam-door trains being replaced with cleaner, more reliable modern trains. Rail services also get you to more places, zipping up to the City and Victoria and more recently to East London on the new overground service. Such improvements easily go un-noticed but thinking back I remember the 37 bus route was legendary for its bunching of buses with three or four often trundling along together after long waiting times: now we have a much more regular service and in recent years electronics lets you know exactly when the next bus will arrive. Actually people nowadays don’t queue for buses as strictly as they used to, possibly because there are more different buses leaving from each stop but perhaps also because it’s now very rare for a bus to be so full that the people at the back have to wait for the next one.
We have of course lost some good things such as the Dulwich Travel agency and the electrical shop where I first stood and watched the miracle of colour television in 1969. We’ve seen two old Victorian churches burnt down but they have been replaced with far better buildings which can be used for local events - St Barnabas and All Saints. Other changes have definitely altered the feel of Dulwich - the social mix has been reduced as property prices have escalated and many of the houses that were used by Southwark Council as flats have been sold off by the Dulwich Estate mostly to well-off families. The increased wealth combined with two-career couples has meant that families are more likely to employ domestic help and the new “staff” are often from Eastern Europe.
Despite all this, many aspects of Dulwich remain much the same - white posts with linking chains, a strong local community, the influence of the Dulwich Estate, extensive green fields and, of course, Brian Green’s toy shop: it was there when my children were young, it’s still there today, and exactly 50 years ago I celebrated my 6th birthday by going to the Dulwich toy shop owned by Brian’s father to buy a teddy bear which I still keep by my bed. Birthdays make you reflect on both change and stability.
It must be the season for reminiscing. David Wales, who has lived in Dulwich for most of his life recalls:
As schoolboys newly back from evacuation in 1945 we used to go around exploring everywhere on our bikes (after school I suppose) and so I have quite a number of recollections of post war Dulwich and its bombed buildings. One memory is of the camp for German Prisoners of War in Croxted Road. So far as I can recall it was not far from where Tesco is now, opposite the end of Ildersley or Acacia Grove.
We used to put our bikes against the wire fence behind which was a yard and huts and grey clothed prisoners sitting or walking and generally pottering around. The most distinctive feature I recall was the model castle or castles they were building with small whitish cubes of some kind of stone; they were fairy tale buildings perhaps no more than three feet high and modelled possibly on Neuschwanstein or some similar place.
There were some of the more than 400,000 German prisoners of war (POWs) who were still being held in Britain long after the war ended, with POW camps on the outskirts of most towns. The British government, aware of the disrupted conditions and lack of any infrastructure in Germany and Austria considered it was the best course of action, despite possibly being at odds with the spirit of the Geneva Convention.
During 1946, up to one fifth of all farm work in Britain was being done by German POWs, and they were also employed on road works and building sites. In Dulwich, German POW’s were employed in clearing snow from post-war Dulwich streets. Fraternisation between the soldiers and the local population was strictly forbidden by the British government, and repatriation progressed extremely slowly. The ban on fraternisation was finally lifted - just in time for Christmas 1946. In towns across Britain, many people chose to put the war behind them and invite German POWs to join them for a family Christmas - the first the men had experienced in years..
By the end of 1947, around 250,000 German POWs had been repatriated, but 24,000 decided to stay in Britain.
The Dulwich Estate records show that on 13 November 1943 there was a report saying that the Lambeth South District Surveyor had said that houses in Croxted Road were to be demolished as they were too badly bomb - damaged to be worth repairing. A notice had already been served two months earlier and Willment Contractors carried out the work in October. The London County Council later requisitioned the vacant sites - telling the Dulwich Estate’s manager that they had been taken under Regulation no 51 of the 1939 Defence Regulations which allowed local councils to requisition properties in order to house people who had lost their homes due to bombing. When he phoned to get a bit more detail, he was told that the sites had been "taken for an important and urgent purpose connected with the prosecution of the war".
There is no specific reference to a prisoner of war camp in Croxted Road in the Dulwich Estate records, although the governors’ annual view of the estate in 1945 revealed that nos 61-67 Croxted Road and 61 Park Hall Road which were also bomb damaged had also been requisitioned by Lambeth Council for the purposes of erecting emergency hutments. The inspection revealed that ‘huts of some sort have been erected’. There is also a minute note saying that the sites of 51-57 (odd) Croxted Road were requisitioned on the 8 September 1944 for use as a POW camp. The prisoners left towards the close of 1947 and the site was returned to the Estate on 21 June 1948 - the Estate Manager reported at the time that he had submitted a claim to the Ministry of Works under section 2 (1) (b) of the Compensation (defence) Act, 1939, in respect of the reinstatement of the site, and had received a cheque for £1250.
Local tradition says that initially the POW’s were Italian and after the Italians were repatriated, German POW’s were moved in where they were occupied with clearing snow from the streets during winter. Meanwhile, on the other side of the wire fence and bordering Rosendale Road, other bombed damaged houses and former tennis courts were cleared and Nissen huts erected to accommodate those with young families from Lambeth who were living in cramped conditions elsewhere.
The area once occupied by the German POW camp and the Nissen huts is now covered with a low-rise housing estate built by Lambeth Council in the early 1960’s.
Kings College Hospital Ward Name Derivations
By Sharon O’Connor
King’s College Hospital was established in 1840 when the physician Robert Bentley Todd persuaded the Council of King's College London to spend £25,000 converting a workhouse on Portugal Street, near Lincoln’s Inn Fields, into a teaching hospital. It soon developed into a general hospital covering the slums in the nearby area and need was so great that patients soon slept two to a bed. In 1861 the workhouse was replaced by a new building costing over £100,000 but as the surrounding area was redeveloped the slums disappeared, leading to a decline in demand for the hospital so in 1913 King’s moved to Camberwell.
The new £500,000 hospital on Denmark Hill housed the latest innovations such as electric clocks, a telephone network and it also generated its own power. The wards were designed on Florence Nightingale’s principles as one large ward with smaller rooms attached such as a clinical room, a dayroom, side-wards, a kitchen and a sun-balcony. Attention was paid to every aspect of design. The wards were high-ceilinged, well-lit and well-ventilated with large windows which opened both externally and also onto the corridors. Each ward had a large central fireplace and there was plenty of space between the beds.
This article describes the origins of the ward and building names at King’s but is by no means exhaustive and more work is required for some entries.
Annie Zunz Ward
Annie Zunz (1845-1896) was born Anne Sophia Bassett in Dublin. She married Siegfried Rudolph Zunz, a German-born iron merchant with the metals firm, Henry R Merton, and a founder of the London Metal Exchange. They were very happily married for 22 years but had no children and when Annie died in 1896 Siegfried was lonely and heartbroken. He died just three years later, bequeathing his large fortune to hospitals all over London that they might build hospital wards, name them after his beloved Annie, and so immortalise her. King’s received a bequest of £10,000 and a year later the Annie Zunz ward was opened. The Royal London, Bart’s, Chelsea and Westminster and Evelina are just some of the London hospitals with Annie Zunz wards and at the Royal Free a plaque commemorates Annie as ‘The best of wives whose whole life was spent in helping and aiding others’.
Arthur Levin Wing
Arthur Levin (1913-1999) was the son of an antique dealer. He studied medicine at Cambridge and Bart’s and in WW2 was in charge of medical services for senior officers in the army. After the war he became a medical advisor in industry, advising companies such as Rolls Royce and Texaco before going on to plan the Wellington Hospital in 1974. He was a pioneer of day surgery, believing it meant surgical procedures could be conducted with much less trauma. He joined King’s in 1984 and developed the NHS’s biggest day surgery wing.
Belgrave Department of Child Psychiatry
Belgrave was the name of a children’s hospital which opened in 1866 in Pimlico, taking its name from Viscount Belgrave, one of the titles of the Duke of Westminster who owned the land it was built on. It moved to Kennington in 1903 and after WW2 became part of the NHS under the aegis of King’s. It was closed following the opening of the Variety Children’s Hospital in 1985 but its name lives on in the department of child and family psychiatry.
Named for the road it stands on, which in turn is named for Sir Henry Bessemer (1813-1898), the steel magnate who lived in Denmark Hill.
The famous Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) built bridges, railways, ships, docks and tunnels, including the pedestrian tunnel under the Thames from Rotherhithe to Wapping which now forms part of the East London Line. In 1855 he designed a 1,000 bed prefab hospital to be used in the Crimea which incorporated many of the principals developed by Florence Nightingale and subsequently used in hospitals throughout the land: open wards for easy monitoring, well-spaced beds arranged along the walls facing each other, windows on both sides for ventilation. His son, Henry Marc, attended King’s College.
The origin is unclear but as it was part of the original Variety Children’s Hospital it is likely this ward was named for Sir William ‘Billy’ Butlin (1899-1990), the founder of the holiday camps. He was three times president of, and an active fundraiser for, the Variety Club.
Lord Byron (1788-1824) was a leading poet in the Romantic Movement. He spent two years at Dr Glennie’s academy which was on the site of the Grove Tavern at the junction of Dulwich Common and Lordship Lane. The ward name seems to have been an attempt to connect the new hospital with South London.
Robert Cheere (1810-1876) was a barrister and solicitor to King’s College. After his death a fund in his memory raised £5,000 and enabled the hospital to open a convalescent home, later renamed Cheere House.
Sir William Watson Cheyne (1852-1932) was born in a storm at sea off the coast of Tasmania. He was brought up in the Shetlands and studied medicine with the idea of joining the navy but was talent-spotted by Lister and followed him to King's as house surgeon. Like Lister, he was greatly interested in bacteriology and studied under Robert Koch, translating his works from German and contributing significantly to the development of antiseptic surgery. He took over Lister’s positions at King’s when Lister retired, including professor of clinical surgery and was also consulting surgeon for the army in the Boer War.
Christine Brown Ward
Christine Brown. courtesy King’s College Hospital
Isobel Christine Stewart Brown, OBE (1924-1990) trained at Great Ormond Street and King’s and was chief nursing officer at King’s from 1970 to 1982 and president of the Nurses' League from 1970 to 1990. She masterminded the changes required to adapt nursing management following the first reorganisation of the NHS in 1974 and was also an adviser to the World Health Organisation.
Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care
Dame Cicely Saunders (1918-2005) trained as a nurse, medical social worker, physician and was a pioneer in the field of palliative medicine, being universally recognised as the founder of the hospice movement, opening St. Christopher's Hospice in 1967. The Institute is a partnership between King’s and her charity Cicely Saunders International and also houses the MacMillan drop-in centre, funded by MacMillan’s.
Malcolm Coptcoat courtesy BMA
Malcolm John Coptcoat (1955-1999) was a consultant urologist. He became one of the most proficient renal surgeons in Europe and pioneered ‘keyhole’ renal surgery. He was an outstanding teacher and a great lateral thinker and King’s named this ward in his honour as part of the celebrations of 100 years on the Camberwell site.
Leonard Cotton (1922-1992) trained, practised and taught at King’s where he was described as a superb surgical tutor. He was a consultant vascular surgeon and became dean of King's College school of medicine and dentistry in 1984, not only leading the successful resistance to the government recommendation that King’s be subsumed into Guy’s but also overseeing an expansion of the medical school. His wife, Joan, was a tireless fundraiser for the hospital, starting the ‘Kash for King’s’ lottery (‘win a King’s ransom’).
David Ferrier Ward
David Ferrier courtesy King’s College
Sir David Ferrier (1843-1928) was a pioneering Scottish neurologist and psychologist who studied medicine in Germany and Scotland and spent most of his career at King’s, joining in 1871 and creating the neurological department in 1889. Ferrier’s work had a direct bearing on the understanding of epilepsy but his research made extensive use of vivisection which was not without controversy. Ferrier was even brought to court at one stage together with other research scientists, though the prosecution’s case failed. He co-founded the journal Brain in 1878.
David Marsden Ward
Charles David Marsden, FRS (1938-1998) was professor of neurology at King's and the Institute of Psychiatry at the age of 34. He was an outstanding scientist whose pioneering work into Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders and whose co-founding of the Parkinson’s Society brain bank greatly increased our understanding of many neurological conditions. His world famous reputation drew researchers from around the globe to work at King’s and his lectures were described as ‘marvels of lucidity and precision’ It was said that, though sociable and gregarious, he never courted any establishment connections, achieving his career promotions solely through the quality of his research. In Who’s Who he listed as his recreation ‘the human brain’.
As a WW2 prisoner of war, William Mackay Davidson (1909-1991) cared for his fellow prisoners for four years. The German medical officer in charge so admired Davidson’s professional expertise that he provided him with a microscope. After the war Davidson was pathologist to the war crimes board in Germany before joining King’s as a pathologist in 1946 and spending the rest of his career there. He was one of its first professors of haematology and had a particular interest in blood changes in pregnancy and immunology. He kept a goat on the roof of the medical school to provide him with the antibodies he needed for his research.
John Dawson courtesy British Medical Journal
John Leonard Dawson (1932-1999) was trained and taught at King’s. He was made a consultant surgeon in 1965 and had a particular interest in the causes of post-operative kidney failure, winning a Nuffield research scholarship to Harvard. He helped establish the international reputation of the liver unit at King’s where he was an excellent diagnostician and his post-operative care was said to be ‘sympathetic and meticulous’. He succeeded Leonard Cotton as clinical dean, was president of the surgical section of the Royal Society of Medicine and surgeon to the Queen and the royal household. He was also Serjeant Surgeon to the Queen, an appointment that can be traced backed to the time of Henry VIII.
Derek Mitchell Unit
Derek Mitchell, second from left, opening the unit. Source: ELF
Derek Mitchell’s wife, Isobel, was treated at King's in the 1970s for chronic myeloid leukaemia and from Derek’s gratitude grew a successful fundraising effort. In 1977 he set up the Elimination of Leukaemia Fund (ELF) from the upstairs room of his pub, The Change of Horses, in Farnborough, Bromley. In 1988 ELF established the Isobel Mitchell DNA laboratory and later a leukaemia treatment suite and the charity is still active today. Before ELF’s involvement leukaemia patients at King’s were treated in a general cancer ward with no specific facilities for blood cancer patients. Since then King’s has grown into a centre of excellence and is renowned worldwide for its patient care and pioneering research programmes. See also ELF & LIBRA ward.
Possibly named after the poet and dean of St Paul’s, John Donne (1572-1631), who lived for some time in Peckham and whose daughter, Constance, was Edward Alleyn’s second wife.
Edward Yates Ward Block
Edward Yates’ son left King’s £20,000, which at the time was the going rate to get a block of wards named after you.
ELF & LIBRA Ward
In recognition of the continuing support received from the Elimination of Leukaemia Fund (ELF) and the Lions International Blood Research Appeal (LIBRA) since the 1970s, King’s named this ward in their honour in 2014 as part of the centenary celebrations of 100 years since the building of the Denmark Hill hospital.
Notable Trees In Dulwich - Elms
By Jill Manuel
The photo shows the Wych Elm at the edge of the lake in Dulwich Park. Very small flowers appear first in March or April. They are light lime green 'samaras' with a seed attached, on a globe shaped disc. These are held in bunches along the twigs, and then turn brown before being shed. When flowering the effect is splendid.
So familiar in many old paintings of rural England, elms used to be one of the commonest features of the landscape. Most have succumbed to the Dutch elm beetle - not in fact from Holland but because it was first identified there. Recently we lost a superb specimen of Ulmus Sapporo Autumn Gold, although not from disease There are many variants of elm and this one was about 80ft tall with a dark straight deeply ridged bark, standing in front of Dulwich Hamlet School.
In just one day it was gone. It proved to have wrapped its roots round and through the six foot diameter of the brick built main sewage channel to the School and was causing great problems. Sewage lorries had to keep coming to pump out the system. Several answers to the dreadful problem were sought, including the necessity of large road works across the Village. Felling was in the end the only option. It is good to know that there is another specimen which can be found in the grounds of Christ’s Chapel, although it lacks the great trunk.
There was also a great elm next to the Old Grammar school which had to be felled some time ago. The woodman was persuaded to cut a very large 'slice' from near the base of the bole by the Dulwich Society, and with the help of staff and boys from Alleyn's School the surface was prepared and the rings which indicate the age of the tree were counted. The late Arthur Chandler suggested dates with local connections that occurred in its lifetime and these were engraved on medallions on the slice. This remarkable display can still be seen on the wall inside St. Barnabas Parish Hall.
Reports from the National Conservation Organisations including the RSPB, The British Trust for Ornithology and Local Wildlife Trusts are warning us that our wildlife populations are in trouble. In the first issue of a new year it is a useful moment to try and take a stock check and assess what has changed in and around Dulwich with experience that goes back to some forty years of reporting and perhaps add an analysis of some of the reasons for the changes.
Because of their mobility and visibility the most obvious signposts of change lie with our birds and by far the greatest part of our records lie in bird reports. Within this we have to take into account our residents, our summer visitors, our winter visitors , our passage migrants and what may be termed freak occurrences. This last category although often the most dramatic carries least significance. Such reports include a collapsed Hen Harrier in Oaks Avenue, a Grey Partridge in a garden in Half Moon Lane, a Woodcock that broke an upstairs window in Dovercourt Road and hid under a bed from which it had to be fished out, a Brent Goose on the Paxton Green roundabout that should have been in the Thames Estuary and a Quail in the Velodrome that may have been an off course passage migrant. We have never quite achieved a twitcher rush but as the unusual vagrant can occur at any time this is always a possibility.
Taking our resident birds there are many whose populations have remained unchanged. Great Tits, Blue Tits , Long Tailed Tits, Robins, Dunnocks and Wrens continue to grace our gardens, and wood and parkland birds such as Nuthatches ,Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers have remained unchanged through the years. The same is true of the larger birds such as Carrion Crows, Magpies, Jays and Wood Pigeons. However the major change has been the exponential rise in Ring Necked Parakeets. Forty years ago there was a small population in the grounds of the Bethlem Hospital in West Wickham, but in the last twenty years occasional visits have changed to a population explosion until they are now some of the most visible and audible birds in Dulwich. It is yet to emerge whether they are simply occupying an available ecological niche or whether they are going to have a significant effect on the populations of other birds.
The other major explosion over the last forty years, a mammal rather than a bird, has been the urban fox. In the 1970’s foxes were indeed starting to appear on our roads and in our gardens, but over the succeeding twenty years they became commonplace and totally adapted to our urban environment. During my childhood the fox was known principally as the scourge of the farmyard and the rabbit warren. By migrating into towns it has thrived as an urban scavenger and it has been able to withstand the mortality from the motor car. The hedgehog is less fortunate as rolling into a ball is the wrong strategy on roadways and its decline continues.
There have however been other losses among our residents, the most obvious being our House Sparrows. Forty years ago they were in every garden and now we have just a few remaining pockets. Although there are still rural populations the urban House Sparrow is becoming a rarity for reasons not understood though poor fledging success is clearly a factor. Less obvious has been the considerable decline in Greenfinch numbers and this is known to be related to a disease, Trichomonosis which may also be infecting our Chaffinches. Bullfinches ,regularly reported forty years ago are hardly ever now seen in Dulwich. This is compensated for by the rise in the population of Goldfinches which have been boosted by their liking for Nyger nut feeders. It is the one small passerine that has increased its urban population..
Forty years ago it was commonplace to see Starlings descend in flocks to rake our lawns for leatherjackets and although we see large spectacular rural flocks coming to roost, and some may remember there was once a massive Starling roost in Trafalgar Square, these are mostly continental winter visitors and we rarely see more than ten together in Dulwich of this once ubiquitous bird. Mistle Thrush numbers are much diminished and Song Thrushes are reduced by about fifty percent. Thrushes and indeed Blackbirds are cup nesting birds which may not be able adequately to conceal their nests from Magpies and Jays in the well kept garden and their fledglings are much at risk from our large numbers of cats.
The situation with Raptors is more interesting. Forty years ago practically the only bird of prey seen around Dulwich was the Kestrel with pairs nesting on several tall buildings. They are now reduced to a single pair still nesting regularly on St Peter’s Church by the start of Cox’s Walk. The evidence from the pellets from a pair once breeding on Dulwich College showed that a large portion of their diet was House Sparrow, now alas absent. However other birds of prey have benefited from the nationwide banning of toxic pesticides and rising populations are spilling into London. Our most common raptor is now the Sparrow Hawk, a far more efficient urban hunter than the Kestrel, sometimes soaring above us and sometimes in pursuit of our garden birds. Both Buzzards and Red Kites are regularly seen with Peregrine Falcons visiting from their nesting sites in central London. In the summer these records are added to by Hobbys which may also have started to breed here.
Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps are the summer visitors that have retained their breeding populations perhaps largely due to the favourable habitat of the woods, but the numbers of Swifts and House Martins are in decline which mirrors the situation nationwide. We have entirely lost Spotted Flycatchers as a local breeding bird and I have not had records of their being seen as passage migrants for some years. Willow Warblers once a common breeding bird are now seen only as passage migrants and we no longer ever hear the Cuckoo., of which there were records in the 1970’s and before. Other migrating birds on passage both in Spring and Autumn have provided records over the years. Ring Ousels,, Whinchats, Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers, Wood Warblers and even Golden Orioles are amongst the most notable. Many of these have declined in their breeding habitats elsewhere so the records here are now smaller in number.
Winter migrants provide a different picture and the pattern is far more weather related. If we get cold weather Redwings and Fieldfares can appear in large numbers to take advantage of garden berry crops and also the invertebrate food from the disturbed ground of sporting playing fields, but even in milder winters there are small numbers of Redwings in our woods and parks. Siskins and Goldfinches will take advantage of the Alders in Belair or the Birch trees in Dulwich park particularly if there is cold winter weather and these may be joined less frequently by Redpolls. In some years there have been Waxwing winters, most notably in 2010/2011 when hundreds of these spectacular visitors were seen. Firecrests once a rare record are now seen regularly in the woods as winter visitors and from time to time on a winter walk in the woods a Woodcock has been flushed.. Winter has often remained the most exciting time for our wildlife watchers as it is never predictable what may be seen.
It is however to the invertebrates that we must look to assess the health of our wildlife because herein lies the bedrock of the food chain on which so much depends. The most visible evidence is with the butterflies. Most of us continue to see the so called Cabbage White butterflies and Holly Blue butterflies are common in our gardens as their food plant, ivy is widespread. However during the 1970’s there were great numbers of Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks, (native non migratory butterflies) everywhere. These took a bad hit in some wet summers, but whereas they have recovered outside London in better years I have not seen similar recovery here and now some of our less spectacular species such as Gatekeepers and Speckled Wood Butterflies also appear to be declining. One of our signature species, not a butterfly, but a Stag Beetle is still with us but the number seen flying each Summer appear to be smaller. Last year I realize was the first year I failed to see a Grasshopper in my garden.
Some of this may make rather depressing reading but a great deal of the changes that we record reflect what is going on in the country as a whole. Agricultural practices have been aimed at invertebrates deemed as pests that have had the unintended effect of poisoning or starving the birds on which they fed as has the use of killers of weeds that provide a seed base for the feeding of winter and migrating passerines. With many species falling rural populations are mirrored in what we see here unless a species can find an urban habitat to which it can adapt. Additionally over the last forty years, there has been a steady trend towards warmer winters and hotter summers and this has also had its effect on what we see. Species such as the Jersey Tiger Moth, never seen forty years ago, now is common in our gardens in the late summer as its caterpillars are now able to hibernate safely, but the Willow Warbler has shifted its breeding range northwards away from us to where presumably its summer food supply is more appropriate.
These are factors that are beyond our control but we also have to face up to the hard fact that we are more crowded and the footfall around us is getting higher. We all need space for our lives and recreation and unless space is reserved it means that our wildlife is bound to be squeezed. All our species whether vertebrate or invertebrate need space to feed and breed and although our gardens may often be artificial nature reserves we also need wild places with rough grasslands, native trees and hedges that can encourage populations to find their habitats and can breed, eat or be eaten. We need to be aware that by spraying our roses and fruit trees, creating weed free lawns and poisoning snails we may well be removing valuable food sources. The planting of native trees is and should be a priority and it is to my regret that a not even a Grey Squirrel will be seen on an injudiciously planted Eucalyptus in my garden.
However, one of the major developments over the last few years has been the work of the London Wildlife Trust. The management of our historic native woodland is providing us with a resource that we can hope will last for many generations to come and the appearance of such gems as the Silver Washed Fritillary butterfly is an example of that which we must be able to treasure.
Their work in conservation of Bat species of which many of us were unaware by the provision of bat boxes and the preservation of traditional Bat roosting and breeding sites has been an example of species targeted conservation. This may be the key philosophy and process for the future if we can provide sites where other species may colonise and find habitat.
We are indeed lucky in having an expanse of native woodland and larger areas of parks and green spaces than much of London with lakes and ponds that have been able to provide waterways that have also kept the populations of the water loving birds , frogs and toads stable. It is the fact of Dulwich as a major oasis in London that enables the records of wildlife to go on and on.
We are always pleased when we receive photographs from readers of their Dulwich wildlife encounters. The accompanying photo contributed by Annette McClay of a female Sparrow Hawk that could be entitled Pigeon Carnage was particularly fine though some may find its subject matter gruesome. Sparrow Hawks are fast and efficient bird hunters and one can be assured that the pigeon did not suffer. Female Sparrow Hawks are noticeably larger than their males and are capable of killing prey as large as a pigeon whereas the males have to content themselves with birds the size of a Sparrow. In survival terms it means that the two sexes by eating different prey do not compete with each other to the benefit of the species. “Sparrow Hawks, Ma’am” was the Duke of Wellington’s solution to Queen Victoria’s complaint of Sparrows in the Crystal Palace. We do not alas have the sparrows any more but he could have offered the same solution for the pigeons, provided he chose females.
This mild wet winter has not so far given a fund of unusual records but some may have noticed up to six Shoveler Ducks that have been oscillating between the Dulwich Park Lake and Bel Aire. The drakes are strikingly coloured with green heads white breasts and a deep maroon belly. They get their name from the large spade like beak with which they filter foodstuff from water surfaces. The different sizes and shape of beaks are among the essential features whereby closely related species manage not to compete with each other. Hence we see the ubiquitous Mallards, when they are not eating bread, upending to reach food growing from the pond bottom. The Shovelers do not appear to be interested in bread partly I suspect they have migrated from climes where bread was not so readily available. They are of course truly wild duck that have like many species been gradually adapting to live without fear in urban environments and like the Black Headed Gulls coming into London for the winter.
A follow up came to the story of the juvenile Egyptian Goose found wandering last year in Alleyn Park. John Ward reported that a pair of Egyptian Geese had nested in the Golf Course and one of the two juveniles had gone missing. We do not know its eventual fate but it was perhaps the Alleyn Park bird.
Last time I enquired whether anybody had seen any Hedghogs. Gladly there has been evidence that they are still alive and well in the allotments and there is evidence of them also in the woods with one venturing into the fortunately safe area of Peckarmans Wood. It is unfortunately less likely that we shall see them in our gardens where there is nearby road traffic.
At the time of writing we are beginning the winter’s first cold snap reminding us that Daffodils out in our January gardens do not mean that the winter is over and the Blackbird singing night and morning in Burbage Road has got it wrong. We may yet have some cold weather driven records and Redwings that were few and far between last year are now coming in to feed on our berry crop.
Peter Roseveare Wildlife Recorder
( tel: 0207 274 4567 email@example.com)
DAWN CHORUS WALK IN SYDENHAM HILL WOOD
Saturday 16 April at 4.45 - 7.00am London Wildlife Trust Free. Meet inside the southern entrance to Sydenham Hill Wood in Crescent Wood Road. More information telephone 07734 599 728
EVENING BIRD WALK IN SYDENHAM HILL WOOD
Thursday 19th May 7.00 - 9.00 pm Guided bird walk with London Wildlife Trust. Free. Meet inside the Crescent Wood Road gate.
Dulwich’s Murkier Past
by Michael Geoffrey Baron
‘Slave owners’ may be words too controversial for Dulwich (and Camberwell) today. But the two part TV documentary broadcast by BBC 2 in July 2015 ‘Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners’ may have prompted questions about Dulwich’s part, at some remove, from the ‘ abominable’ trade in human beings, which, according to some estimates, about 10 million men, women and children were transported from Africa to British colonies in the West Indies, and to the emergent United States and into slavery.
It was from ‘the heart of darkness’ that chieftains who brought in captives and others from tribal wars, to forts, operating as trading stations, on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and the Gambia aided by Arab middlemen from East African seaports. It is believed that about 4 million died in the forced marches to the African coast and while awaiting transportation across the Atlantic to labour on the plantations.
The market, that is to say, the plantations, demanded a supply of cheap, disposable and submissive labour. Britain had the ships, and the funds to finance the hugely profitable triangular trade. From the coastal ports of Bristol and Liverpool, and briefly from Whitehaven, came boats, masters and crews; and the manufactured goods to trade with Africa. Back from the West Indies came sugar and rum. From the United States came cotton.
In the West Indies, some plantations, were owned,either by inheritance or investment, by people living in Dulwich, and Camberwell and elsewhere. Most likely they saw themselves as paragons of moral probity. But they shared the interests of the plantation owners who formed a powerful lobby and were well represented amongst the bankers and merchants of the City of London . The trade, the system, and the plantations were and are the negation, in particular to men and women of colour, of the human rights which were to find expression in the animating ideals of the French Revolution in 1789. That revolution and its antecedents in the 1776 Declaration of Independence by the 13 American colonies were themselves products of the so-called Age of Enlightenment.
In England, not yet a United Kingdom, when the trade was in its early days, the Crown was a major player in the guise of the Royal Africa Trading Company. ……..It was led by James, Duke of York, Charles II's brother. Its original purpose was to exploit the gold fields up the Gambia River identified by Prince Rupert during the Interregnum, and it was set up once Charles II gained the English throne in the Restoration of 1660. However, it was soon engaged in the slave trade as well as with other commodities”. Between 1672 and 1689 it transported around 90,000 slaves. Its Secretary from 1719 to 1731, when the company abandoned slaving for ivory and gold dust, was Francis Lynn of Hall Place, Dulwich.
Francis Lynn’s Hall Place, formerly the Manor House, once one of the grand houses of Dulwich, is no longer. Demolished in the 1880’s the site is on the south-west side of the junction of South Croxted Road and Park Hall Road. ( I am indebted to Patrick Darby for this). Lynn seems to be the first identifiable Dulwich man associated with the ‘abominable’ trade. But by the time he became Secretary, the Royal African Company had long lost its monopoly in slaves. During the 17 years of its legal stranglehold over African and West Indian commodities (including human beings), considerable profits flowed into the City of London. Francis Lynn will not have been the only resident of Dulwich and Camberwell to have benefited from that largesse.
The West Indian historian, later prime minister of Trinidad, Eric Williams, claimed in his 1944 book “Capitalism and Slavery’ that slavery was ‘the engine that propelled Europe’s rise to global economic dominance’. Since then, historians have long challenged Williams’ thesis. An article published by the US Gilder Lehrmann Institute in January 2015, asserts ‘the combined profits of the slave trade and West Indian plantations did not add up to five per cent of Britain’s national income at the time of the industrial revolution’ . And ‘as late as the 1850’s the slave system in the United States was expanding and slave owners were confident about the future’. The article took no notice of, or was unaware of, the massive capital compensation paid and its reinvestment - £17bn in today’s money.
However, new research undertaken by a University College,London, team led by Professor Catherine Hall, principal investigator of the project Legacies of British Slave Ownership (2004-12), and its successor 'The Structure and Significance of British-Caribbean Slave-Ownership, 1763-1833 ‘ supports Eric Williams’ argument.
When Rachel Cook in the New Statesman on 17 July 2015 reviewed the BBC2 documentary, she was moved to write ‘ If it is unnerving to be reminded of the extent to which British wealth was built on the Caribbean sugar trade, it is downright painful to discover how many owners-spinsters, widows and even clergymen lived in Britain rather than on plantations, their slaves having been inherited or bought as an investment, like stocks and shares’.
Eric Williams may have been right after all, for the information gleaned by the University College team of researchers shows how wealth was channelled into productive UK investments. Of 671 investors, 526 individuals purchased shares in a plethora of railway companies. Other investments were in banking, insurance, mining, glass manufacture, ironworks, shipping and docks, sugar and rope.
The back story is that Parliament abolished slavery in its Caribbean colonies, Mauritius and the Cape in 1833. The trade had actually been abolished in 1807, twenty years after Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce started the abolitionist campaign . Nonetheless so active and influential were the vested interests of the slave owners that there was to be no freedom (of a sort) for Britain’s slaves without compensation. The state allocated £20 million to the Slave Compensation Commission, established in 1833, paying about half to owners in Britain, and the balance to overseas owners. In its account books there are 46,000 handwritten entries. The business of doling out the money was made easier by the existence since 1813 of registers of colonial slaves. Commissioners were sent out to the colonies to assist in the drawing up of detailed records of owners and plantations. Initially, freed slaves were tied to the land by a system of apprenticeship. This proved a failure and was abolished in 1838. By the end of 1845 any unallocated money reverted to the Exchequer and the Office of the Registry of Colonial Slaves was closed in 1848.
So who were those Dulwich and Camberwell residents who benefitted from the slave trade? Robert Hichens of The Grove ( then Baileys Grove),East Dulwich, who died on 20 March,1865, was an extremely successful banker and stockbroker and when, as trustee for the Stapleton Estate both he and his brother,William,claimed compensation for Stephen Blizard’s plantation in Antigua. For the 217 slaves enfranchised they received £2919.14.8. A very precise calculation, down to the eight pence,the award being worth around £195,573 today. Both brothers and their firm were heavily involved in promoting railways. William is recorded in 1837 as holding 15,000 shares in the London to Brighton Railway and 1000 shares in the London and Blackwall Railway and Steam Navigation Company.
John Watson Borradaile lived at 7 Park Place, Camberwell Grove, between 1841 and 1851 and was a City merchant, a director of the London Assurance from 1819 to 1857; and a wealthy man. In 1851 he was living at Park Place, then labelled Dulwich though actually in Camberwell, with his family (his wife, Ann, 4 daughters and a son), and 4 servants - a butler, cook and 2 housemaids, He was born in the parish of St Gabriel, Fenchurch, London. When the long established firm of West Indian merchants D &H Rucker went bankrupt in 1831, he, together with a former partner in the firm, Joseph Ediman, acquired its assets which included 99 slaves on Yeamans plantation on Antigua; 681 slaves on four plantations on St Vincent, and 79 slaves on the Dunvegan plantation on Tobago. For all these ownerships he received a total of £21,909 compensation, or today £146,790. He was the brother of William Borradaile who invested, from his compensation for slaves on another St Vincent plantation, £2000 in the Diss and Colchester Railway. This is another example of how slave owner money went towards investment in the burgeoning railway networks crucial to industrial development. If slavery and the trade were ‘a stain on the nation’, it would certainly have been an unlikely topic of conversation at 7 Park Place. Nor would William Pitt’s speech in the House of Commons in June 1792 been recalled, especially his closing words, ‘some of us may live to see a reverse of that picture, (of slavery) from which we now turn our eyes with shame and regret. We may live to behold the natives of Africa engaged in the calm occupations of industry, in the pursuits of a just and legitimate commerce. We may behold the beams of science and philosophy breaking in upon their land, which, at some happy period in still later times, may blaze with full lustre."
Much further down the scale than the Hichens brothers and the Borradailes was Mrs Charlotte Carter (formerly Adcock) of 5 Sherwood Cottages, Albany Road, Camberwell. The account book records her as a ‘legatee’ of 29 slaves. Her payment was £1400. Mrs Carter does not, from her address, sound like an exceptional heiress, maybe just one of those widows who struck lucky with a nice untaxed capital gain. Judah Cohen, another West India merchant of Herne Hill did better, receiving 45 awards for upwards of 400 slaves which he had acquired through buying assets -debts and mortgages- of unsuccessful merchants.
These slavery links, whether for individual benefit or as executor/ trustees, are the local snapshots from a colonial picture album conveniently forgotten or concealed from public view until the extensive researches by University College,(without which this article could never have been written) and the subsequent television documentary. Yet another illustration of the fact that we are not quite what we seem; that the sources of wealth are never free from stain, whatever purpose to which these are put in pursuit of gainful investment.
Ties of Blood and Marriage
By Patrick Darby
Francis Lynn of The Manor House, Dulwich, who played an important role as Secretary of the Royal Africa Company in the preceding article, reappears in a different role in this account. Quite a feat for a seventeenth century Dulwich resident!
[Saturday] 11 Nov. 1713: William Lowndes [Chief Secretary to the Treasury] to Samuel Hunter, Esq.: “My Lord Treasurer has appointed Mr. Roope and Mr. Layton as Commissioners in the new Commission for disbanding the Marine Regiments. They are to set forward immediately for Exeter to reduce Col. [Charles] Churchill's Regiment there. You and Mr. Fra[ncis] Lynn are to meet the said Commissioners at Exeter on Saturday next to concert proper measures for the reducement of said Regiment and of Col. Goring's at Plymouth.” [Treasury Books, vol. 27, Warrant Books November 1713, 1-15, Out Letters (General) XXI, p. 71.]
There is no evidence that, prior to travelling together by stage-coach (as one supposes they did) from London to Exeter, in mid-November 1713 - which, weather permitting, would have taken four days - Samuel Hunter and Francis Lynn had more than a nodding acquaintance, if that. Perhaps it was during this journey that they discovered the extraordinary connection between them, and established the unlikely friendship that was to last for the rest of their lives.
To explain how this came about, we need to go back to the 1660s, when the lessee of the imposing mansion Hall Place in west Dulwich (demolished c.1882) was a London merchant, Nicholas Thurman. When Thurman died in 1671 he left other properties to Mary, his only child (born in 1659), but the bulk of his estate, including his lease of Hall Place, to his wife Elizabeth, Mary’s mother.
Elizabeth Thurman soon re-married, to Robert Thompson, who on the accession of Charles II in 1660 had been appointed as one of his Grooms of the Privy Chamber, a post he was to hold until 1694. Thompson, his wife Elizabeth, his eldest son Robert, Elizabeth’s daughter Mary, and his or their sons Levit and Thomas and daughter Elizabeth (until her marriage), all lived at Hall Place. Thompson procured a position as an Assistant Groom of the Privy Chamber for his son Robert in 1663, but either from choice or necessity Robert junior soon exchanged his royal livery for naval uniform, and by 1673 was a Lieutenant, stationed at the new naval dockyard at Sheerness in Kent.
Meanwhile Samuel Hunter, born in Durham in 1651, had moved south and worked his way to Queenborough on the river Medway, less than a mile from Sheerness (where he was ‘Clerk of the Cheque’), as a ‘Waiter and Searcher’ reporting to the Customs Commissioners on the quantities (and liability to taxation) of cargoes landed thereabouts. At Sheerness his path must have crossed that of Lieut. Robert Thompson, who by now was married with a baby daughter (another Mary), and who no doubt introduced Hunter to his young step-sister, Mary Thurman. Romance blossomed, and on 10 May 1676 “Sammuel” Hunter and Mary “Thurnman” were married at Rainham, not far from Queenborough where Hunter’s job required him to live. He was 25; she was 17.
From moving references to his late wife in his Will, written nearly fifty years later, Hunter obviously held her in deep affection. His less-than-warm feelings for her older step-brother may be gauged from the fact that on 11 June 1678 Samuel Hunter and Lt. Robert Thompson fought a duel at Sheerness, in which Thompson was wounded. After lingering for several hours, he died. In the meantime Hunter had fled, and only days later Robert Thompson
senior, using his privileged access, successfully applied to king Charles II for his son-in-law Samuel Hunter’s property, worth about £56 a year, to be forfeited to himself.
What prompted the duel is not known. It may have been the behaviour of one party to the other, or to the other’s wife. Whatever it was, it must have been considered to be ‘a matter of honour’ for Samuel Hunter to have escaped prosecution for the killing, as apparently he did. The authorities were often more lenient in such cases than perhaps they should have been.
After a period of lying low, Hunter resumed his career with the Admiralty, and continued to progress. Mrs Elizabeth Thompson evidently looked on him more favourably than her husband did, and in 1684 she obtained from Dulwich College a further lease of Hall Place for her “son” (actually son-in-law) Samuel Hunter. Once the Thompson family had moved out, he took up occupation and remained there (when he was not staying in rented Admiralty property in London, for which he received a generous housing allowance) for the rest of his life.
Robert Thompson senior continued living at Hall Place until his death late in 1697. His Will, made earlier that year, gave legacies to a named granddaughter and to the named children of his surviving sons, as well as to Levit and Thomas themselves, with the residue going equally between his widow Elizabeth (who survived him, but died two years later) and his daughter Mrs Elizabeth Banks.
By November 1713 Samuel Hunter, now 62, had risen within what we would now call the Civil Service, and was one of eleven Commissioners for Victualling the Navy. The similar career of Francis Lynn, some years Hunter’s junior, had also progressed well, and in addition to being Secretary to the Commissioners for Sick and Hurt Seamen, personally disbursing very large sums of money, he was responsible for provisioning the garrison at Annapolis Royal (in Nova Scotia). Britain’s part in the War of the Spanish Succession had effectively ended, and the Marines were now considered surplus to requirements. Their regiments were to be disbanded or converted to Regiments of Foot, and Hunter and Lynn were engaged to assist in that process.
What did Hunter and Lynn talk about on the long journey? They had business to discuss, of course, but one imagines that Samuel Hunter may have hinted at his deep religious faith - again, evident from his Will - and disclosed some details of his past life. Any mention of Hall Place would have startled Lynn if he had not known of Hunter’s connection with it, for his own wife’s family, if not she herself, had lived in that very house. On 12 April 1697, less than two weeks before her grandfather Robert Thompson signed his last Will, Mary Thompson had married Francis Lynn. She was the fatherless granddaughter named in the Will as Mary Lyn.
So, the respected public servant with whom Francis Lynn was sharing a stage-coach or chaise on that journey to Exeter was in fact the killer of the father-in-law he had never met.
Whether Lynn already knew the story, and whether Hunter knew that the Mary Thompson for whom his late wife had been godmother was now Lynn’s wife, before each stepped into the coach, must be matters for speculation. What we do know is that when Samuel Hunter, who had no children, died in June 1725, he left his lease of Hall Place to “my friend and relation Francis Lynn Esqr. … to the intent he may make the better provision for my Wifes God-daughter Mary”. Perhaps he felt that before he met his Maker it was time, after nearly fifty years, to make atonement.
On The Street Where You Live - College Road (from St Stephen’s to Kingswood Drive)
By Ian McInnes
Many people are aware that TV pioneer John Logie Baird lived on Sydenham Hill but few know that Guy Brandis Davis, an advertising broker, and the owner of 118 College Road from the 1930s onwards, bought one of the first television sets to be sold in the UK. It was the seventh Marconi television set to be manufactured and he paid £99 15s (equivalent to almost £4,000 today) in November1936. It was a type 702 - with a 12-in screen sitting in a walnut and mahogany case with the picture reflected onto a mirror that opened from the top. Unfortunately Mr Davis and his family were not able to watch much television as the transmitter burned down just three days after he bought it
No 111, on the corner of Low Cross Wood Lane, has recently been refurbished and was originally designed by architect E Stanley Hall, son of architect E T Hall, sometime chairman of the Estate Governors before WW1, and architect of the Memorial Library at Dulwich College. Edwin Stanley had been head boy at the College and one of his earliest projects was the 1910 design of the new galleries at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Hall’s firm also designed the house next door, No 113. It was built as the St Stephen’s Vicarage and cost £2500 in 1929.
This section of College Road seems to have had a particular attraction for architects. The site for ‘Roath’, No 98, across the road, was leased in the summer of 1925 by Frederick A Llewellyn, an architect working for His Majesty’s Office of Works. He was in no hurry to proceed as, at that time, there were still steam trains running and the smoke drifted across the site as the engines exited the tunnel below. Although the line was electrified in 1926, it took four years to resolve problems over the drainage from the church and LCC queries over the building line - he finally moved into his £1500 house in 1931. It had slight ‘arts and crafts’ overtones, as did one or two of his post office designs, particularly Dagenham and West Drayton. His architectural tastes were eclectic and he was happy to build in the more conventional neo-Georgian, but was also responsible for the art deco Langham-Museum Telephone Exchange by the Post office Tower, the huge post office in Gerrard Street in Soho’s China town, plus the streamlined modern style post office in Beckenham.
On the other side of the former vicarage, there were fields until 1914. These provided open views down towards Kingswood House and past owners had leased the land as part of their grounds to prevent any building affecting their pleasant view up to the Sydenham Hill woods.. Instead the field was sublet to the St John's Institute in Camberwell as a sports ground.
In the summer of 1914 local estate agent, Martin & Carnaby, secured an offer for the sites from Mr Wilfred Gover Pascall (1878-1958), a director of Pascalls, the well-known confectionery manufacturers. He was the son of James Pascall (1838 -1910) who, after working as an agent for Cadbury's, had established a successful confectionary business with his brother Alfred in London in 1866, first in a shop in Wells Street and then in a large factory in Blackfriars Road. Pascall agreed to build two detached houses to cost not less than £1200 each. In November plans prepared by his architect, W Sydney Jones, were approved. His own house on the corner (No 120) had 5 bedrooms, a billiard room in the loft, and was faced with red brick and rough cast under a tiled roof.
WW1 put paid to any further development along the road but the very wet autumn of 1915 showed up another problem in the area, the lack of an adequate surface water sewer in College Road. In the spring of 1923 Lord Vestey, who had purchased Kingswood House in 1921, tried to buy the field for his own development but balked at paying the 7s a foot the Estate thought it was worth. Shortly afterwards, in June, the site next to the old vicarage (by then the Sydenham Court Hotel) was bought by E S Hall for his mother. He paid 9s a foot and built a substantial property for her - hardly downsizing in the accepted sense! The house, ‘Hillcote’, cost £2500.
The site next door, No 104 (Homewood) was purchased by Arthur J Owen at the end of the year and No 106 (Budleigh) was bought at the same time by Mr Ernest Allen who employed McCollough brothers, a local builder then active in Court Lane, to build his house. Arthur Owen used an architect, Swan & Norman, for his project - they were later better known as the architects of RADA in Gower Street. The next site to be purchased was No 112. it was acquired by wealthy Covent Garden butcher, James Portwine. Architect Henry J Binns designed his house and, after a failed attempt to acquire the site to the north to extend his garden, the same architect designed a similar house for his friend, a hay merchant called Frank Farnham. Portwine was both a rich man and a motoring enthusiast. He had purchased his first car in 1901, an American steam driven ‘Locomobile’. It was started with a small spirit lamp and every twenty miles the water tank had to be refilled - he lived in constant fear of an explosion. After driving licences were introduced in 1903, he held licence No. 4 but his real claim to fame was as the founder and financial backer of the AC Car Company. He employed mechanical engineer John Weller, who had a small factory at Thomas Place (later Waylett Place) in West Norwood, to design the car and the first one, a 20 HP touring car, was displayed at the Crystal Palace motor show in 1903. Portwine thought the car would be too expensive to produce and encouraged Weller to design and produce a little three-wheeler delivery van. Called the Auto-Carrier, production started in 1904, and the vehicle caught on quickly and became a financial success. In 1907, a passenger version appeared, called the A.C. Sociable, with a seat in place of the cargo box. This car was described in a review of the 1912 Motor Cycle and Cycle Car Show as ‘one of the most popular cycle cars on the road, both for pleasure and business’.
Portwine sold his share of the firm after WW1 but engineering must have been in his blood because in 1922, his daughter Elsie married Guy Fountain (1898-1977) the inventor of the Tannoy public address systems. Born in Selby, Yorkshire, he came to London during the First World War, and opened a workshop in Tulsemere Road to make battery chargers for wireless sets. He used a rectifier of tantalum and lead alloy, hence the trademark ‘Tannoy’. The Fountains lived in the house until the 1970s.
Last but not least we return to No 120 (Broadmead), the first house to be built, and a story that would not be out of place today. Mr Pascall had sold the house to a Mr Pearce who had taken a job as managing director of the Aerated Bread Company (ABC) in January 1927 at £2000 a year plus a 2% profit share. In December 1929 he had been sacked and he sued the company for wrongful dismissal. Awarded £15,000 plus costs, a substantial sum for the time, and probably three times the value of his house, the newspaper report noted that he agreed to withdraw his comment that the chairman was actuated by personal malice towards him.