The Dulwich Society Journal for Spring 2017.
In December the Dulwich Estate agreed to a 25 year lease of the site of Beechgrove to the London Wildlife Trust. Formerly it was the home of speech therapist Lionel Logue and where HM King George VI was treated for his speech impediment which was the subject of the award-winning film ‘The King’s Speech’.
The future of the Beechgrove site had also been the subject of a long-running battle between the Dulwich Society and the Estate, the Estate wishing to develop it for housing and the Society seeking its reincorporation into Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Wood. Despite going to an appeal, the Estate lost their building application and the extensive area has lain dormant since the house itself was demolished over 30 years ago.
In this time wildlife in the former extensive garden has flourished and benign neglect, has allowed trees and plants to rejuvenate. It is therefore very good news that the Estate has taken the course of leasing the land to such a worthy cause. Volunteers are now being mustered to remove some dense stands of rhododendrons and cherry laurel from the area. The Trust has also said that it will ‘smarten up the roadside boundaries of Beechgrove in keeping with the rest of Sydenham Hill Wood’.
Now that the Dulwich Estate has leased the site of Beechgrove, it would make a lot of sense to off-load Dulwich Wood as well. In the distant past there was no boundary between what has come to be known as Sydenham Hill Wood and Dulwich Wood. It is an artificial distinction to differentiate between that part of the woods that the Estate has already leased to the LWT and the part it continues to manage itself. Sydenham Hill Wood is in reality made up of the sites of the 5 large houses and gardens which reached from Sydenham Hill almost to the former railway line.
Dulwich Wood, which is maintained by the Estate through the Scheme of Management, has always been managed woodland and its area is irregularly demarcated by a line of posts, roughly following the western embankment of the track-bed of the former High Level railway line to Crystal Palace. The track-bed itself is part of a nature trail established by the LWT. Naturally, before the railway line was laid down soon after the Crystal Place opened in 1854 and the houses built, the whole area was one wood.
Such a course would allow the LWT to consider the entire wood holistically, establish new trails, and extend its programme of walks and talks into what is, undoubtedly, truer woodland than the area it presently maintains. For the Estate, it would relieve its already overburdened Scheme of Management office of a task which some might consider to be out of its area of expertise. The proportion of the annual charge devoted to maintain the woods, paid by Dulwich’s freeholders to the Scheme could be diverted to the LWT.
Such a solution would save time, effort and money all round.
Just before Christmas the Dulwich Estate advertised for a ‘Media Relations and Communications Manager’. The advertisement in the Guardian said that the Estate was looking for someone who would develop, deliver and drive, with the Chief Executive and the Management Team, a comprehensive and cost-effective communications strategy which enhances the reputation and protects ‘the brand’ of the Charity. It then gave a long list of stakeholders, and it was good to see that residents were top of the list! The Society has repeatedly pressed the Estate to do something about its public persona and this is a positive step forward.
The Estate will certainly need some communications management on the Crown and Greyhound. The question most people ask us is when will it finally re-open? The dates have been put back from last summer to January, February, and now March this year. The Estate employs a project manager and other professionals on the project - how did they continue to get the completion date so wrong? Serious questions need to be asked.
At the time of writing at the end of January we had expected the incoming tenant to have started his fitting out contract but have now been told that this has not happened. It is not clear why. The latest information we have is that both the pub and hotel will open at the very end of March but we suspect it may be April. On the positive side, work is going well at the Half Moon Hotel, and it will probably re-open first.
The former Shepherds shop unit remains closed and the ‘pop up’ picture shop in the former post office unit also shut just before Christmas, citing a lack of trade and high business rates - which may yet affect other local traders as they are due to rise substantially in April. Two empty units in a prime village frontage is not good for either residents or beneficiaries. The Society raised its concerns at the last Advisory Group meeting in November, underlining how important it is to have a convenience store in the Village. We have been assured that the Estate is working actively on finding an appropriate tenant but, in the meantime, it is planning to put a short term ‘pop up’ into the unit while it alters the area behind to provide more storage for a potential convenience store operator. The tenant will be Stone Cold Clothing Ltd, a family run independent womenswear boutique.
At the north end of the Village the reduced footfall remains a problem for the shops there following the closure of S G Smith’s showroom. The Estate has recently raised rents in the shops and it should be doing something more to help. While giving the old showroom over to McCulloch Homes while they build the housing development behind, has some logic, it would be much better if the unit was let to an occupier who would attract people to the area. If the existing shops are not used, and they fail, they will be left empty or taken over by occupiers who can pay the rents - chains, coffee shops and estate agents. One of Dulwich’s selling points used to be the range of independent shops, it is the Estate’s job, whether they like it or not, to make sure they are retained.
The recent planning applications to install electric car charging points on several roads have been approved by the Council despite there being no consultation on their location or whether there is actually any demand. The potential loss of three parking spaces in Pickwick Road has reinforced resident’s concerns over parking in the road. In January, some national newspapers were talking about ‘car parking paranoia’ where some house owners feel unable to use their cars because they will not be able to park them when they return. It is clear that the new CPZ in the North Dulwich Triangle has impacted quite seriously on Turney Road, Aysgarth Road and Pickwick Road. - how long before the residents start campaigning for their own CPZ?
Last but certainly not least the Society wishes to record the sad death of former Southwark Archivist, Stephen Humphrey. Although his interests tended towards the north of the Borough he was the person who, in the 1980s, organised the rescue of a large number of old drawings and minute books that the Estate had put in a skip.
THE DULWICH SOCIETY ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING - 2017
Notice is hereby given that the 54th Annual General Meeting of The Dulwich Society will be held at 8pm on Monday 24th April 2017 at St Barnabas Church Community Lounge, Calton Avenue, SE21 7DG.
1. Introduction and welcome by President.
2. Minutes of the 53rd Annual General Meeting held on 25th April 2016 to be approved.
3. Chairman’s Report.
4. Secretary’s Report.
5. Reports from Sub-Committee Chairs.
6. Treasurer’s Report and presentation of accounts for the year ended 31st December 2016.
7. Appointment of Honorary Auditor.
8. Elections for 2017-2018. Officers, Member of the Executive Committee, Honorary Officers
9. Any Other Business.
Note: Nomination forms for election as an Officer or Member of the Executive Committee can be obtained from the Secretary. Nominations must be submitted in writing to the Secretary by two members not later than fourteen days before 24th April 2017 and must be endorsed by the candidate in writing. (Rule 9).
Susan Badman, Hon. Secretary,
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2016 and the Chairman’s & Committee reports will be available on the Dulwich Society web site www.dulwichsociety.com or on application to the Secretary from 27th March 2017. The Rules of the Society are available at http://www.dulwichsociety.com/about-the-dulwich-society.
Wine and nibbles will be served after the AGM and there will be a talk of topical interest.
Final Subscription Reminder
If you have not renewed your 2017 subscription, due on January 1st, then this journal will be the last you will receive. Reminders have been sent out to everyone (mainly those who pay by cheque) who have not paid and a final reminder will be sent out during March.
It would be much easier (and would save the Society almost £150 in postage of reminder letters) if subscriptions were paid by standing order. These can be cancelled by you at any time and the Society cannot change the payment due. Be assured no bank records are kept by the Society as the SO form is sent to your bank once a membership number has been inserted. If you would like to change to a standing order, then these can be downloaded from the Society’s website (it is in the membership leaflet) or contact the membership secretary on 0208 6936313 or
Dulwich Society contribution to planned works in Dulwich Woods:
The Dulwich Society’s Executive Committee has agreed to give just over £6000 to the London Wildlife Trust’s wide ranging programme of upgrading works in Dulwich Woods. The Society will contribute towards the installation of chestnut conservation fencing to an area on the slope at the entrance to Dulwich Wood from Cox’s Walk, as well as funding a part of the programme for the removal of invasive species. In addition, there will also be financial support for two guided walks in the Woods each year for the next three years.
Dulwich Society Supports Local Inclusive Cycling Charity
The Dulwich Society has donated £1,000 to local inclusive cycling charity Wheels for Wellbeing (WfW) for the purchase of a recumbent tricycle. Dulwich Society Chair Ian McInnes presented the cheque to Wheels for Wellbeing’s Director Isabelle Clement at the Herne Hill Velodrome, where the charity holds weekly cycling sessions for disabled and older people.
“This donation will make a real difference to the disabled and older people who cycle with us at the Herne Hill Velodrome” said Isabelle Clement. “We have a wide range of cycles at the session to ensure that anyone can cycle with us, but we did not previously own a recumbent tricycle. Recumbent tricycles are really popular as they do not put pressure on the knees in the same way a bicycle does, but still give the user the same exercise and freedom from cycling! The new bike will enable us to get more local people active and we are really grateful to the Dulwich Society for their generous support.”
Wheels for Wellbeing reach over 200 individuals a year at their cycling sessions at the Herne Hill Velodrome, and welcome anyone who faces barriers to cycling. It is an award-winning charity supporting people of all ages in south London to enjoy the benefits of cycling, regardless of any physical or mental barriers they may experience.
The award-winning charity offers:
- Regular inclusive cycling sessions at Herne Hill Velodrome
- Our Herne Hill sessions are every Monday 11am - 1.30pm (10.30am - 12.30pm during school holidays) at the Herne Hill Velodrome (104 Burbage Road, SE24 9HE)
- Outreach sessions across Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Croydon
- A wide range of two, three and four-wheeled cycles for use during sessions
- Advice and support
Wheels for Wellbeing leads the Cycling for All network in London; a Sport England-funded project increasing cycling opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.
The construction of retro-basements remains popular. Six are due to start shortly, two in College Road and one each in Dulwich Village, Frank Dixon Close, Gilkes Crescent and Court Lane. There are two new houses underway in Frank Dixon Way and another will start shortly in Frank Dixon Close. In Gilkes Crescent, a substantial extension and remodelling of an existing detached 1920s house has resulted in what appears to be a new house - it is very different in appearance from the original and there will no doubt be differing views on how well it fits in, or doesn’t fit in with the other houses in the street.
The application for a new house in the grounds of Oakfield, 41 College Road, the house on the corner with Dulwich Common, was opposed by the Society, not because the revised design was not acceptable (in fact it was rather good), but because such development would set a precedent. There is pressure in several areas in Dulwich for both old, and relatively new houses, on large plots to be demolished and the site redeveloped with two new, and much larger properties. The house next to the railway bridge across Alleyn Park is one, and one or two residents in Alleyn Road are looking at possible redevelopment in their rear gardens - with access from South Croxted Road. At the corner of Half Moon Lane and Sunray Avenue a planning approval obtained two years ago, for a single ‘eco-house’ is now likely to be three townhouses.
The new house on the corner of Turney Road and Boxall Road is now complete and is a considerable improvement on what was there before. A few metres along Boxall Road, the application for two houses in the back garden of No 60 Dulwich Village has also now been approved - another case of backland development perhaps - but one might argue that this particular road in the centre of the Village could do with some improvement. The Society has also asked the Council to look at the refuse storage problem here - the small front yards of all the houses are full of plastic dustbins, surely there must be a better way.
Roof extensions remain popular - although several residents still try to ignore the Estate’s clear guidelines on the size of new dormer windows. The proliferation of new ‘garden buildings’ and ‘garden offices’ is also sometimes a concern particularly where gardens are small and applicants are not always fully appreciative of the potential impact on their neighbours.
50th anniversary of Conservation Areas:
The Civic Amenities Act of 1967, sponsored by Duncan Sandys, encouraged the setting up of conservation areas throughout England. The Dulwich Village Conservation Area was one of the first, being designated in September 1968 - it was extended in 1971 and more recently in 2005. The Gardens Conservation area in East Dulwich and the Dulwich Wood Conservation area followed in 1988, and the two smaller conservation areas, Stradella and Winterbrook Roads, and the Sunray Estate, were designated in 2000 and 2009 respectively.
Conservation area status is not just restricted to buildings. Open spaces, cemeteries, a historic street pattern or local centre can have just as much architectural or historic importance.
Former Holmhurst (46, Half Moon Lane)
Southwark Council is in the process of converting this building to a residential facility for Southwark residents with severe learning disabilities. Planned completion is this April and it will be run by Optima Care (www.optimacare.co.uk). Ten flats, together with supporting communal catering and social facilities, will be created, and 10-13 men will move in gradually - with the aim of reaching full occupation by August.
The Council’s aim is to help the residents to develop the skills to live safely and as independently as possible in the neighborhood. They will stay for a few years, in transition to independent living, and they will be supported around the clock by a team of professional staff - drawn from the local community where possible. Changes to parking arrangements and the building exterior will be minimal.
School Building Works
Not only will building work on the new Charter School East Dulwich start later in the year but all three foundation schools also have works ongoing. Alleyn’s School’s new classroom block replaces the old Lower School building at the front of the site and the new JAGS music School is now on site. Meanwhile Dulwich College has begun work on an upgrade of the main Barry Building (now nearly 150 years old). Essential refurbishment works to the exterior have started and will continue until January 2018. It includes terracotta repair & replacement, brick replacement, stone replacement, comprehensive cleaning and repointing, waterproofing works at high level, the overhaul & refurbishment of some windows, & temporary roof repairs to the North and South block. Internal upgrading of the 40 classrooms in the building will follow and be carried out between March 2017 and July 2018
Between January and July this year the College is also constructing a new link block between Orchard House and Old Blew House on Dulwich Common. It will contain a new Common Room for the Junior boarding house which occupies the two historic properties.
Electric cars come to Dulwich
Despite objections, the Council has approved points in Townley Road (5), Ruskin Walk (3), Pickwick Road (3), Eastlands Crescent (3) and Crescent Wood Road (3). The plans for the Estate controlled College Road and Hunts Slip Road were withdrawn - as was Woodwarde Road. The decision notice says ‘any planning consent granted should not be taken as approval to proceed with works on site. Prior to implementation it is necessary to follow the Council’s constitutional process for approval of traffic order changes. Changes to traffic regulation orders will be subject to separate approval by the Community Council for the area as well as the statutory process for order making.
Southwark Council's Transport team have also said that the current information is inadequate (which begs the question as to why the schemes were approved) and that any forthcoming design and access statements should include a parking stress survey and details of usage levels for similar facilities in the area.
Love West Dulwich competition
During December and January, ‘Love West Dulwich’, an alliance of West Dulwich businesses, invited entries from artists of all ages and experience with a connection with West Dulwich to submit artwork celebrating the spirit of the area. The winners were judged by a panel including Helen Hayes MP and representatives from Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Dulwich Society. The aim of the competition was to help create a clear, cohesive sense of visual identity for West Dulwich, celebrating the spirit of its local community and culture with the aim of installing up to 50 two metre banners featuring the winning artworks on lamp-posts throughout West Dulwich in May 2017 as part of this year’s Dulwich Festival.
Dulwich Gardens open for charity 2017
Enclosed with this Journal is a copy of our 2017 Dulwich Gardens open for charity booklet, with details of the local gardens that will be opening this year and that we hope you will take the chance to visit. Copies of the brochure are available in local garden centres and other outlets.
Many thanks to Ann Rutherford for producing it - and congratulations to her for opening her own magnificent garden in Dulwich Village again in 2017, for what will be its remarkable 20th year.
Spring talk - Matt Keightley on “The Chelsea experience”, Thursday 23rd March
This year’s talk will be by Matt Keightley on “The Chelsea experience”. Matt was awarded a Silver Gilt Medal at the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show for his “Help for Heroes” Show Garden. Working with Prince Harry for his charity Sentabale, he was awarded a second Silver Gilt Medal in 2015 for his “Hope in Vulnerability” Show Garden. The talk is in the Lecture Theatre, Alleyn’s School, Townley Road, SE22 8SU at 7.30pm on Thursday 23rd March, with the opportunity to meet Matt after the talk over a glass of wine.
Tickets are £8 each and can be purchased on the Eventbrite website (www.eventbrite.co.uk, search “Dulwich Society”) or from Jeremy Prescott, 142 Court Lane, London SE21 7EB (cheques payable to “The Dulwich Society” and a stamped addressed envelope please). Non-members of the Dulwich Society are very welcome.
Enquiries to Jeremy Prescott ‘
Coach visit to the Oxford Botanic Garden and Waterperry, Tuesday 20th June
In the brochure are full details of our annual coach outing, which this year is to the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and to Waterperry on Tuesday 20th June.
Tickets are £30 each and can be purchased on the Eventbrite website (www.eventbrite.co.uk, search “Dulwich Society”) or from Will Anderson, 141 Rosendale Road, London SE21 8HE (cheques payable to “The Dulwich Society” and a stamped addressed envelope please).
Non-members of the Dulwich Society are welcome, and we suggest early application to avoid disappointment. Enquiries to Will Anderson
When Central Government suggests that it will offer tax incentives to manufacturers and suppliers of prefabricated or modular housing, you know there is a housing crisis. Every time one occurs, and the reasons are always the same - lack of product and an inability to build fast enough, prefabrication is seen as the answer. After WW2 it was complete houses (to be built using redundant aircraft factories), and in the 1960s and early 1970s it was the concrete panel systems to make building quicker. And yet every time you see a television programme or TV news bite it shows a couple of brickies’ building a wall in the traditional way. Why is this, why is prefabrication never quite the panacea it is supposed to be?
Surprisingly perhaps, Dulwich was at the forefront of the prefabrication revolution after 1945. Over 300 temporary houses or ‘prefabs’ were built in the area, 156 in East Dulwich (of which there are still two left - in Lordship Lane and Underhill Road), and 147 in West Dulwich. The largest number (90 units) were located at the junction of Rosendale and Park Hall Road - where the Rosendale Gardens Estate now stand - David Wales’ recent article on the post WW2 POW camp on Croxted Road described the site next door.
There was little room for 1960s high-rise flats in Dulwich, though there are several blocks on the perimeter, at Hurst Street in Herne Hill and between Romany and Hamilton Roads in Gipsy Hill. These were built using the Wimpey ‘no fines’ concrete system - the panels were cast on site and lifted into position by crane. The original appearance of the blocks has changed as they were clad with rendered insulation in the 1980s to overcome heat loss and cold- bridging problems. There is also another little-known example of prefabrication in Herne Hill, in Matlock Place off Poplar Walk, the pleasant tile-clad old people’s bungalows are one of the only examples in this country of the Dutch 4L heavy concrete panel system.
At the southern end of Dulwich, in Farquhar Road, the demolition of the Crystal Palace High Level Station in the late 1950s allowed the London County Council to use the site for another ‘prefab’ estate, and the temporary houses remained until the site was redeveloped in the 1980s with the award winning eco-friendly Spinney Gardens.
However, the future of prefabrication is definitely not large panel systems or probably whole houses brought to the site on the back of a truck - though there have been recent social housing schemes of this type in Merton and Lewisham. The future is the house kit, or in Ikea terms, the flat pack - why can’t houses be like furniture? The Huf houses in Woodyard Lane show how it could work - albeit at the rather less affordable end of the market. Think of a plastic model kit, you buy a bag with a series of parts in it and you put it together. In the case of the Huf house, you select the size and layout you want, where the windows are etc, the factory manufactures it (via computer), packs it on the back of a truck and transports it to your site - and best of all perhaps, a team of German engineers puts it together for you. While you have to put in foundations first and the range of actual designs are somewhat limited, it comes with all the services fitted and it takes very little time to assemble - just like furniture. If this type of system could be made more affordable it could be the way to go.
With the coming of Spring and some warmer weather, we can once again look forward to the Dulwich Festival, taking place from 12th - 21st May. Now in its 24th year, the festival continues to flourish, promising another jam-packed line-up of theatre, music and literary events.
This year’s festival sees the return of the internationally-acclaimed Tangram Theatre with the third part of their wonderful science trilogy exploring the life and work of Marie Curie, The Element in the Room: A Radioactive Musical Comedy about the Death and Life of Marie Curie. Their collaborative and irreverent approach to theatre takes the audience on an adventurous musical-comedy journey that follows Marie’s real-life journey across the USA. Get ready to join in!
Fantastic blues singer-songwriter, Adam Norsworthy, will delight with his mellow sounds during an intimate evening at Belair House. Known as the lead singer of British-blues rock band The Mustangs, this will be a chance to hear Adam’s impressive solo material.
For classical music fans, a highlight will be a performance, in the spectacular surroundings of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, of ‘Façade’, William Walton’s setting of Edith Sitwell’s poem sequence, by the Bloomsbury Ensemble of London with Julie Berry and Paul Guinery narrating.
The ever-popular Artists’ Open House takes place across both weekends of the festival, celebrating painting, photography, ceramics, jewellery and illustration. Over 200 artists, across Dulwich, Herne Hill, Nunhead, Peckham and Forest Hill will be opening their homes and studios, so don’t miss the opportunity to meet the artists and discuss their work with them.
There will be walks aplenty, with the ever popular tree walk, bat walk and street art walk, as well as an architecture walk with Ian McInnes, a local history walk with Brian Green and a wonderful early morning birdsong walk with Daniel Greenwood.
Fun for all the family can be had at the festival fairs, which will be back in full swing, with the Love West Dulwich and the Dulwich Park Fair confirmed for the final weekend of the Festival.
This is just a taste of what is on offer over the 10 days of this year’s Festival.
With such a range of events across all aspects of culture there will certainly be something for everyone. Please let us know if you would like to help out as a volunteer at the Festival. Details of how to contact us, and further information on all Festival events, venues and dates can be found on our website: http://dulwichfestival.co.uk
Giles Waterfield, the fresh-faced, smiling young man who came to Dulwich Picture Gallery as its first Director in 1979, stayed sixteen years and brought a breath of fresh air to what was a stagnant and sparsely visited institution. He infused it with humour, enthusiasm and knowledge, all qualities which through his engaging personality transformed the gallery, those who worked there and those who came to love it as one of the growing number of Friends.
The Gallery’s existing condition was not entirely the fault of those responsible for running it before Giles arrived. The cash-strapped Picture Gallery Committee appointed by the governors of Dulwich College had carried out restoration of many of the pictures after the end of the Second World War, when the best pictures in the collection were returned from their imposed evacuation to Wales back to the rebuilt gallery. It had struggled to provide free-opening, added artificial lighting to offset the dark days of winter and re-hung the collection in the then current fashion of spaced out, eye-level height pictures under the guidance of Sir Gerald Kelly.
What Giles succeeded in doing was to put Dulwich Picture Gallery firmly on the map of London’s art scene. He did this by starting to stage temporary exhibitions which later would become an important aspect of its success. He also opened the door to the supremely successful education programme by appointing and supporting Gillian Wolfe to run it. Giles also harnessed a desire by many residents and others to be involved in the potential artistic life of the Gallery. The Friends had already been founded but under his guidance it rapidly flourished. Garden parties, talks and music became successful ingredients to make the Gallery a focus of Dulwich life and provide valuable financial support. However, his greatest achievement was to pave the way to financial independence and give it a life of its own.
The huge numbers of people at his memorial service in St Martin-in-the-Fields in January speaks volumes for other aspects of Giles’ remarkable talents which touched so many people; his devotion to architecture and country houses in particular, his skill at communicating his knowledge through his lectures at the Courtauld and the summer school he ran for museum curators at Attingham. He never forgot his happy time at Dulwich, serving as president of Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society for many years and even remaining a regular reader of this Journal.
Giles Waterfield’s successors at Dulwich - Desmond Shawe-Taylor and Ian Dejardin were able to build on the success he made of it although they did not have any less a difficult time; overseeing the closure and transformation of the Gallery with the building of the Rick Mather addition which added modern essentials of toilets, a shop and café. Both men set in train an outstanding series of temporary exhibitions, the former with Pieter de Hooch and the Dutch Flower paintings and the latter with Arcimboldo and Eric Ravilious.
It is pity but understandable that Ian Dejardin now seeks pastures new after spending nineteen years at Dulwich, seven years as curator, and twelve years as director. During this time he has ‘discovered’ North America, initially with Winslow Homer and Norman Rockwell, then pushing further north into Canada to strike a rich vein with the Group of Seven and Emily Carr. Ian’s campaign to highlight the work of forgotten or lesser known artists, gave us Escher’s incredible drawings, the Age of Brilliance and currently Vanessa Bell. He also pulled off the remarkable coup to celebrate the 200th anniversary with Director’s Choice, a monthly masterpiece borrowed from great galleries around the world. We will be everlastingly grateful to him for bringing the unexpected to us and wish him well in his new role as Executive Director of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Toronto.
Dulwich has also lost its chief curator, Xavier Bray who has become the Director of the Wallace Collection. Few will forget his memorable, bold (and expensive!) re-setting of the Gallery into the Seville Church of Santa Maria la Blanca to display the wonderful collection of Murillos. Xavier is a specialist in Spanish art and last year curated the hugely popular Goya exhibition of portraits at the National Gallery. Expect to see him on television one day. It is his ambition to communicate an appreciation of art through the small screen.
And now, it is In with the new, and goodness what a change. For the first time Dulwich has a woman as director and a woman as chairman of the trustees. Both are highly motivated and experienced and both are specialists in the Renaissance. Jennifer Scott comes to Dulwich as director following two successful years at the Holburne Museum, Bath. Before that appointment she was, for ten years, curator of the Royal Collections. She is a specialist in Royal portraiture and Dutch and Flemish art. In 2007 she worked with Desmond Shawe-Taylor on a book on the works of Rubens and Breughal.
The new chairman of the trustees, Professor Evelyn Welch is professor of Renaissance Studies at King’s College and Vice Principal of Arts & Sciences. Clearly they will make a formidable team. Whilst they are ideally suited to keep building interest in the permanent collection of Old Masters in fresh ways, many will hope that they will continue to plough the rich furrow of undiscovered artists begun by their predecessors.
The ‘Dulwich Pavilion’
As part of their June celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the Picture Gallery opening to the public, the Gallery partnered with the London Festival of Architecture to run an architectural competition for the design of a temporary pavilion to be located in the grounds. 75 entries were received and a shortlist of 4 presented their ideas at the end of January. The winner is IF_DO, a young practice based in Camberwell. Their design, ‘After Image’, is a lightweight structure featuring a timber truss roof overlaid with a mesh veil to create a canopy-like environment designed to respond to the solidity and monolithic nature of Sir John Soane’s gallery building, and the porous, ever-changing nature of the landscape around it.
The pavilion, funded by residential developer Almacantar, will provide allow an ambitious celebratory programme of exhibitions, events, lectures and learning activities. It will also be an important venue for the 2017 London festival of Architecture in June, which explores the theme “memory” - at Dulwich and many other venues across the capital.
Jim Hammer and Angus Hanton have given us interesting recollections in recent issues of the Journal about Dulwich in the thirties and sixties. I came to live south of the river in 1957 and found a very different community from the northwest London area which had been my home from childhood.
As an historian I loved living in an area with so many historical connections but I also found it very friendly. In those days few mothers worked so a network of friends was important. There were of course coffee mornings galore many in aid of charities such as Shelter. And we gathered round the school gates and chatted. None of us drove to school of course as we were all local.
Nowadays home deliveries are normal but it wasn't so very different then. If I was kept at home because of children's illness then I could ring Mr Bartley the greengrocer or Cullens the grocers or the butchers and have food delivered. Otherwise shopping was done every day and you had to remember to take your shopping basket with you just as we do now that plastic bags are being phased out. For items other than food then the Bon Marche in Brixton or Pratts in Streatham would deliver.
We spent a lot of time in the Park but not much at the Gallery which was then rather gloomy (no electricity) and certainly not welcoming to children. It is very different now since the reopening in 2000 and the development of the Sackler Centre for Education.
Looking back I suppose we were naïve compared with today. When we bought our house we asked for the back door key but were told that they never locked up. When the first supermarket opened in Forest Hill I used to leave the baby in the pram in the front garden and ask a neighbour to keep an eye on him. And I well remember leaving my eldest in the pram outside the hairdressers whilst I had my hair done. I certainly wouldn't do any of those things today!
The greatest change I have seen is the development of the Village into an alfresco dining room. We would never have considered sitting outside on the pavement to eat and drink. That was for holidays in France not England.
But what a pleasure it is on a sunny morning or warm evening.