The Dulwich Society Journal for Spring 2021.
Over the past year there have been many comparisons with what life was like during World War 2 and during the present pandemic. Looking at some of the local accounts, the evidence supports the belief that life under the pandemic does indeed show similarities with what was experienced between 1939-1945.
The first similarity was in the reaction of Dulwich people (and of course, elsewhere) at the start. From March, last year, big efforts were made to look out, on a regular basis, for the welfare of neighbours and offers of shopping for the elderly. Some of this continues but perhaps with not quite the same enthusiasm. The stop-start of lockdowns has perhaps diluted individual effort. Like wartime, a more resigned feeling has set in, as we realise that our lives and freedom will continue to be disrupted for some time to come.
In 1939 it was the same. Initially people flocked to ‘do their bit’, whether to enlist in civil defence, or other auxiliary services, knit socks for sailors, raise funds for new aircraft or ships. This initial enthusiasm was gradually replaced by a determination to ‘see it through’. Perhaps that is the feeling today.
That is not to say that then or now, a large number of local clubs and institutions have not come up with inspired ideas to continue to engage with their members in order to keep both morale and numbers up. The Dulwich Society has been in the forefront of such local efforts with a regular programme of well-received talks. These efforts continue. The pages of this Journal bear out a tangible sense of community. With more opportunities to observe local flora and fauna, new reports have flowed in. to be shared with the membership. The admonishments to ‘stay local’ has meant that more people are taking a closer interest in Dulwich itself; the Local History Group has attempted to answer a larger than usual number of enquiries about people and places. Gardening has of course been a positive feature of Dulwich life in the past year and it is good to report that, enclosed with this issue of the Journal, is the new Dulwich Open Gardens booklet for visiting gardens later this year when it is hoped conditions for easing restrictions will have improved. In this issue of the Journal, we also offer two novel features during these difficult times - a challenging and scenic eight mile route for walkers or runners around Dulwich’s surrounding hills and green spaces and a shorter family ’bubble’ Treasure Hunt (see pages 16 & 22)
Both The Arts Society and Dulwich U3A have continued to offer regular online lectures and classes while the Dulwich Players not only managed to stage an open air ‘actual’ production of Grimm’s Fairy Tales at Bell House last summer, but have also entertained its membership with a regular menu of quizzes, readings, and zoom dramatic performances. When lockdown restrictions closed local churches, they have turned to various online methods to stay connected with their congregations. The Dulwich Festival and Artists’ Open House both report a full programme of virtual events and exhibitions from May.7th - 16th.
As with all communities, however good relations are, there will be some instances of dissention. Nowhere has this been more obvious than in the ongoing battle between the opposing camps of those who are pro-traffic restrictions and those who are opposed to them. The latter body have been encouraged by a legal ruling that local councils’ actions in closing roads without consultation is unlawful. Certainly, judging by the number of vehicles oblivious to Dulwich Village’s Low Traffic Neighbourhood restrictions, something is clearly wrong with its implementation. Yet the new, quieter atmosphere in Dulwich, as people stroll. jog or cycle for exercise has much to be said for it.
As we remain in lockdown three it is good to be able to report how efficient and pro-active the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out in the Dulwich area has been. Local residents have two convenient locations, depending on the GP practice they are registered with. The two local primary care networks are working from either the new Tessa Jowell Health Centre or the Paxton Green Health Centre and it would appear that the number of vaccinations carried out is well ahead of the average.
Like other groups, the Society has pressed the Council to move forward on the promised plan to accurately assess the impact of the Dulwich Village LTN measures on both the centre of the Village, and the surrounding roads, and it would appear that progress is finally being made - by the time you read this it should have started. At the Council’s cabinet meeting on 19 January Dulwich Wood Ward Councillor Catherine Rose, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Environment and Roads, confirmed that consultations would begin early in February. She also reported that the Council is actively working on a number of changes to support Blue Badge holders and other vulnerable residents like those who need carers. The relevant part of the meeting can be found on the Council’s ‘You Tube’ account (between 8 & 17 minutes in)
The High Court judgement which set up the Scheme of Management in 1974 requires the Dulwich Estate to hold a formal meeting with four representatives of residents or local amenity societies at least twice a year - the Advisory Committee. In the past, the committee always met three times a year and intends to continue to do so in the future. For the past few years, the Dulwich Society has represented those amenity societies and has been successful in widening representation by asking members of local RAs to join it at the meetings. Following further discussion with the Estate this has been placed on a more formal basis with two of the four amenity society representatives coming from the Society and the other two representing RAs. Membership will be for a two-year term with two members rotating every year. The aim is to include a variety of RAs, both those from the more traditional streets and the 1960s estates to the south. The Estate recently wrote to a number of RAs seeking applications to join the Advisory Committee and James Thompson from the Springfield Estate RA and Martyn Deane from Peckermans Wood RA will be the first members. Sue Badman and Jeremy Prescott, two members of Executive Committee, will represent the Society.
Last but not least, it’s the time of year for membership renewals. If you have not yet paid, and want to remain a member of the Society, please respond to the membership’s secretary’s final reminder in this copy of the Journal.
Cox’s Walk footbridge
Southwark Planning Department have now rejected Southwark Highways’ most recent application to remove two oak trees at one end of the bridge to enable the remedial work on the bridge to go ahead. Instead, they issued a provisional group Tree Protection Order (TPO), covering all of Cox’s Walk and Sydenham Hill Wood. It was good to see the Council responding to the huge level of community support for an alternative proposal which would allow the two oaks to be retained. There were 177 objections to the application, two responses in support and one neutral, together with a petition with 6,692 signatures.
The officer’s report said that, on balance, it was considered that relevant national, regional and Southwark policies outweighed those of retaining highway infrastructure within ancient woodland, which is a priority habitat. The proposed removals were therefore incompatible within the context of recently adopted and emerging policy or practice. In particular, the benefits of the proposed bridge reconstruction did not clearly outweigh the biodiversity impacts or seek appropriate compensation. The report added that both trees were healthy, in good condition and as a keystone species within their habitat could be expected to grow for a considerable length of time and they also have a significant historical and cultural value as part of the Great North Wood. There was also a section about the relative costs of the two schemes and it noted that the Council’s preferred engineering design, although initially cheaper, did not take account of the net value of trees proposed for removal. When the actual tree value (Capital Asset Valuation of Amenity Trees) was discounted from the estimated full cost of the alternative design, it became the most economical and ecologically sensitive option.
Medieval Court Rolls translated
Dulwich’s Court Rolls, the earliest of which dates from the 14th century and which are preserved in the Archives Department at Dulwich College, are being transcribed and translated from their original Latin, written by scribes representing the Priory of Bermondsey, Dulwich’s medieval landowner, by Patrick Darby, a member of the Society’s local history group. Patrick has now completed the rolls up to the end of the 15th century. The rolls deal with local issues of land tenancy as well as disputes and minor criminal acts, all of which were recorded at the quarterly courts held in Dulwich.
Patrick’s earlier translations formed the basis for two accounts of life in medieval Dulwich which appeared in the 2017 Spring and Summer editions of the Journal. These can still be read online. It is also anticipated that the latest translations will also be made available online as well as forming a basis for further articles on this fascinating glimpse of Dulwich’s past.
Working from Home
The total number of applications to alter properties in Dulwich in 2020 under the Scheme of Management was 15% higher than pre-Covid with 186 applications compared with 161 in 2019. There was also a noticeable increase in applications to erect single storey ‘garden buildings’, a euphemistic name it is thought for home offices. Some applications for these have been objected to by the Dulwich Society’s Planning & Architecture Group, a sub-committee largely made up of local architects and planners, on the grounds that some of the proposed new buildings do not conform to the Dulwich Estate’s guidelines regarding the size of a proposed building in relation to the size of the garden.
David Roberts, who has chaired the Group for many years has retired from this post and has been succeeded by Penny Stern. David is to be congratulated on the part he has played in inspecting such a large annual number of applications, all of which require careful scrutiny. Where possible, he has encouraged applicants to modify their designs to comply with current guidelines. We are delighted to hear that David will remain a member of the Group’s committee.
Gardens and Gardening
Dulwich Gardens open for charity 2021
Enclosed with this Journal is a copy of our 2021 Dulwich Gardens open for Charity booklet, with details of over 40 local gardens that - subject to Covid restrictions - will be opening this year and that we hope you will take the chance to visit. These garden openings are one of the industries and marvels of Dulwich and a great source of ideas and inspiration, as well as raising significant sums for local and national charities. Further copies of the brochure are available in local garden centres and other outlets.
The booklet is thinner than usual and space for pictures is limited. However it is backed by a new website www.dulwichopengardens.org which has several pictures of each garden as well as information about volunteering, the allotments and related matters. If there are Covid-related restrictions on openings this year, we will publicise them on this website and on the “Gardens” section of the Dulwich Society website www.dulwichsociety.com .
Many thanks once again to Ann Rutherford for producing the booklet, to colleagues on the Gardens committee for help distributing it, and - above all - to the garden owners for their hard and inspiring work.
Traffic is, rightly or wrongly, the hot-button topic in Dulwich at the moment. There are strong views all round. Each side has valid points.
Restrictions on private motor vehicles may benefit some roads more than others; they may increase congestion and pollution in some areas; and they may cause delays for those who are entirely reliant on motor vehicles for transport or carers. It would be foolish to deny these in principle, though their prevalence and scale are empirical matters. On the other hand, these same restrictions promote active healthy travel with its concomitant well-being benefits; they reduce the scourge of air pollution (when traffic is reduced); they contribute to the global fight against the climate crisis (even just to show willing, which should not be underestimated); and they improve road safety for children on their way to school. Again, these cannot reasonably be denied in principle, although again they are subject to empirical evidence on their prevalence and scale.
We all place different normative values on these outcomes (and others - the above list does not pretend to be exhaustive). We evaluate any measures and the status quo in line with that normative weighting. But sometimes we seem to place such different values on these outcomes that it appears there is no middle ground, i.e. no shared conception of the ‘reasonable’ or the ‘just’. In such a context, how should we, as the Dulwich Society and as a community, conduct debate? I propose three key points.
First, there must be no assumption that the status quo is just. Our temptation as rational but lazy creatures is to use the yardstick of what we have experienced. The inconvenience caused by no longer being able to go directly from Court Lane to Turney Road in a car is clearly (all other things being equal) sub-optimal. But we must ask ourselves whether it was ever just for such a route to be possible, looking at it as a matter of principle and bearing in mind that all other things are not (and never have been) equal. The answer may be yes; it may be no. But the fact that it was once possible and is now no longer is irrelevant, save insofar as there was a legitimate expectation of things staying the same. To the extent that there was such a legitimate expectation, it is merely one factor to be fed into the normative matrix that constitutes justice.
Second, the appropriate normative weighting of any outcomes must be informed by their prevalence and scale. Prevalence and scale are questions of fact. We should be careful about asserting that the recent measures make walking and cycling less safe on all but a few roads, when there is academic evidence that the number of children cycling to school through Dulwich Square has risen sevenfold after its recent creation at the Dulwich Village Junction (1). On the assumptions that they also traverse other roads on their way to school and that parents are and have been reluctant to let their children cycle to school unless the route as a whole is safe, that creates a strong factual presumption that children cycling through Dulwich have grown safer as a result of the recent measures. Now, one might, on balance, assign a low normative weighting to a factually significant increase in child safety. One might even take the view that, although it deserves a high normative weighting, it is outweighed by difficulties caused to those entirely reliant on motor vehicles - such a position being all the stronger if one has concrete evidence that such difficulties were both large and widespread. But it is structured normative and evidence-based analysis that leads us to such considered views; that is undeniably better than gut-reactions in either direction.
Third, all must not merely be heard but listened to, provided they come in good faith. This ensures the free market of ideas, or what classical Indian thought encapsulated in the aphorism ‘truth alone triumphs’. Constructive criticism is an unalloyed good. But there must be no ulterior motives: if one’s chief objection to proposals is that a trip across Dulwich by car will take an extra ten minutes, this should be made clear. Nor must there be arguments made without full conviction: a sceptic might wonder how high a priority air pollution is to some parties given the number of wood-burning stoves and cars to be found across Dulwich.
The debate will continue. But perhaps such an approach would help us all understand what we’re really arguing about.
(1) Goodman A (2020) Examining the impact on cycling levels of Streetspace modal filters: a controlled before-and after study in Dulwich Village, London. Transport for Quality of Life
Harry Winter Chair Travel & Environment
Online Spring gardens talk - Nick Bailey: “Revive your garden in 2021: breathing life, style and good-health into your garden”. 7.30pm, Thursday 15th April 2021
Our Spring garden talk will be by Nick Bailey, a freelance horticulturalist, best-selling author and regular presenter on BBC Gardeners’ World, garden designer and speaker.
His illustrated online talk will provide a fresh approach to designing and planting gardens along with a host of tips on rejuvenating tired plants, lawns and patios. This coupled with a wide range of recommended plants for difficult situations will ensure that there is ample take-home advice for all participants. The talk will last for 45 minutes with additional time for questions.
The talk is being given in association with Bell House Dulwich, with any surplus going towards Bell House’s wildlife pond. Tickets are £10, bookable through www.bellhouse.co.uk/events
Notice of the Dulwich Society Annual General Meeting - 2021
The 58th Annual General Meeting of the Dulwich Society will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 24th May 2021 via Zoom teleconference.
1. Introduction and apologies for absence.
2. Approve Minutes of the 57th Annual General Meeting held on 24th September 2020.
3. Matters Arising.
4. Retirement of the President - Dr Colin Niven OBE
5. Chairman’s Report and Review of the Year.
6. Approve accounts for the year ended 31st December 2020.
7. Appoint Independent Examiner. Nominee: Sally-Anne Jeffries, Chartered Accountant.
8. Elections for 2021-2022. Officers, Members of the Executive Committee, Honorary Officers
9. Resolution - Approve updated Rules of the Society - Full details will be posted on www.dulwichsociety.com by 1st May 2021.
10. Any Other Business/Questions - please raise with the Chairman (
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 Society members not later than fourteen days before the AGM (i.e. by 10th May 2021) and must be endorsed by the candidate in writing. (current Rule 9). Candidates must be members of the Society.
All meeting papers including the Chairman’s and Committee Reports and the updated Rules of the Society (see item 9 above) will be published on www.dulwichsociety.com by 1st May 2021.
As we are unlikely to be able to conduct the AGM at an in-person meeting by May 2021, we are permitted under the Charity Commission guidelines to hold the AGM via digital means. This will be recorded in the meeting minutes.
Details of the Zoom link will be sent to members in the May enewsletter (published at the end of April), and will also be available on the web site. If you are not already receiving the enewsletter please send your email address to
Never used Zoom before? First-time Zoom users will find the following video useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh50kVaIdAY
Susan Badman, Hon. Secretary, Dulwich Society,
Publication Date of Notice: 1 March 2021
If you have not renewed your 2021 subscription, due on January 1st, then this journal will be the last you will receive and your name will be removed from the membership list on March 31st. Two reminders have been sent out to everyone (mainly those who pay by cheque) who have not paid and no further reminders will be sent.
It would be much easier (and would save the Society almost £200 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 for one on 020 8693 6313 or
By Malcolm Martin
Over the last few years there has been much disquiet about the way the leasehold system has applied to both flats and houses. It was originally reformed in 1967 for houses, then in 1993 for flats and again in 2002 for both flats and houses. Nevertheless, it has been considered by many to still be too complicated and, especially by leaseholders, to be too expensive to extend their leases or purchase the freehold of their properties.
Consequently, the Government asked the Law Commission to consider the matter again and it did so by way of three reports published 21 July 2020. The Government has now issued its Response, dealing with two issues:
(i) The re-invigoration of the ‘commonhold’. This is a system widely used elsewhere in the world, whereby each flat owner not only owns their flat without a lease but is also, in effect, a part owner of the freehold of the entire block. Thus, when a flat owner wishes to sell their flat there is no lease to sell, and no freeholder’s permission needed. Instead they sell their flat together with their ‘share’ in the freehold of the building direct to their purchaser.
Since this is not likely to have a major effect in Dulwich for at least two or three years (and then probably only on smaller blocks of flats or new blocks of flats). I will go no further on this aspect in this article.
(ii) The complexity and cost of obtaining a new extended lease or freehold.
At present (for flats and ‘high value’ houses) there are three elements that contribute to the purchase price of a new extended lease or freehold with all figures being calculated at the ‘valuation date’. (This date is normally the date when the leaseholder(s) inform the freeholder that they wish to extend their lease or buy the freehold.)
The three elements are:
1. The current capital value of the annual ground rent. This is a ‘present value’ or ‘discounted cash flow’ calculation and is relatively easy to carry out. Where the ground rent is minor (eg £25 pa) this is a small component of the total cost payable. But where it is a significant sum (eg £250 pa, doubling every 20 or 25 years) and the current lease has more than 80 years unexpired, it can be the largest component of the price payable. Whilst the ground rent is fixed by the lease, there can be an argument over the rate of interest that is used to obtain the current capital value.
The Government here propose two variations:
(a) for the purpose of the calculation to cap the ‘ground rent’ at 0.1% of the freehold value of the flat. Whilst this may, at first sight, appear significant it is unlikely to have anything more than a minor impact on price payable for flats in Dulwich.
This is because:
(i) it will have no impact on those flats where the ground rent is nominal (eg £25 pa); and
(ii) where, for example, a flat worth £500,000 has a ground rent of £250 pa doubling every 25 years, the 0.1% of capital value is £500 pa. But that level would only have been breached at the end of 50 years, and due to the effects of time on these calculations, the total reduction in price at the valuation date is not likely to be significant in most cases. Where it will have a significant effect is on those leases where the ground rent doubles every 10 years. The second variation proposed by the Government in this part of the calculation is to prescribe the rates of interest that are to be used. The effect this will have on the final price to be paid will depend upon the prescribed rates (although where ground rent is minimal this will have minimal effect on the final price). The prescribed rates are said to be at ‘market value’. Since, however, the rate of interest used in this part of the calculation is already meant to be at ‘market value’ this aspect may have no significant effect on the price to be paid but will just reduce the time taken to agree that final figure.
2. The ‘present value’ of the property.
Under the current leasehold system, the property is meant to return to the freeholder (although there are statutory limitations on that). Thus the freeholder is said to get back the property worth, say, £500,000 at today’s figures. However, during the lifetime of the lease that £500,000 may reasonably be expected to increase. (One only has to look at property prices in Dulwich over the last 50 years to see this.) The question that the valuer has to answer is:
‘what price would someone pay now in order to get an asset at the end of the lease, the value of which at that date is unknown but which is worth £500,000 now?’.
That part of the calculation is carried out by taking a ‘present value’ based on the current value of the property (here £500,000) and using a discount rate of (normally) 5% for the number of years left on the lease. This 5% is meant to reflect the market rate for such a purchase and is made up of such elements as the cost of money, the expected long-term rate of property price increases, the illiquidity of buying property, and the risk of getting it all wrong. (The 5% was determined by the Lands Tribunal some time back in a case known as ‘Sportelli’ and is now generally applied throughout England and Wales.)
The Government proposal here is to prescribe a ‘market rate’. If it is higher than the Sportelli ‘market rate’ then the price of new extended leases and freeholds will decrease; if it is lower, then those prices will increase. There is no indication yet how the Government will actually determine this rate; or how and when it will be reviewed. It is feasible that it will be different for different areas eg 5% for Prime Central London (ie Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea); 6% for Greater London, 7% outside Greater London, but no details are known - and probably not yet decided.
3. ‘Marriage Value’
This is where the Government’s proposals will have the greatest effect, but only for those properties with less than 80 years unexpired, as ‘Marriage Value’ is only currently payable on those properties. ‘Marriage Value’ is calculated by ascertaining the total value of the freeholder’s and leaseholder’s interests after the transaction is done and deducting from that the total value of the freeholder’s and leaseholder’s interests before the transaction is done.
The difference between these two is called the ‘Marriage Value’ (ie the additional value brought about by the ‘marriage’ of the leaseholder’s and freeholder’s interests). Of that, 50% is payable by the leaseholder to the freeholder. This can be a substantial sum. So, for example, for a flat with about 40 years or so to run in Dulwich where a premium might be in the region of £100,000 or so, one might at present reasonably expect the 50% Marriage Value element payable to the freeholder to be in the region of one third (give or take). Thus, if the Government follow through with this proposal the future savings for leaseholders could be significant, running into thousands or tens of thousands per flat or house.
There is, however, one fly in this ointment. That is, it has been suggested that the removal of this 50% of Marriage Value payment could be open to a challenge under Human Rights legislation This is as it would be considered, by freeholders, as ‘deprivation of [their] possessions’ without adequate compensation”. In the view of the writer (but I am not a lawyer!!) any such challenge will, ultimately, fail. This is because regulating the issue of housing between the competing interests of freeholders and leaseholders is dealing with a matter of social injustice in the public interest. This aspect was previously decided by the European Court of Human Rights in James v UK (1988) with regard to the Leasehold Reform Act 1967. In that case the Court held that non-payment of any ‘marriage value’ (there called ‘merger value’) was not a breach of the freeholders’ human rights - essentially because “Parliament’s belief in the existence of a social injustice was not such as could be characterised as manifestly unreasonable” Since this case related to high value houses in Belgravia, I find it hard to believe the same principles would not be applied by the Courts to flats and houses outside Belgravia.
The more interesting aspect, especially from the point of view of the Dulwich Property market is that I expect the value of those (relatively few) flats with less than 80 years left on the lease (known as short leases’) to start to rise (gradually) when compared to the prices of similar flats where new leases have already been granted (known as long leases’). This will be in line with increases in expectation that this legislation will be passed, and so the ‘50% marriage value’ no longer be payable. And, as the value of those ‘short-leases’ increases in comparison to the ‘long lease’ flats, so the difference between the two will start to decrease and so the actual ‘50% Marriage Value’ will also decrease. This will then eventually impact on the price payable for new extended leases, which in turn will further increase the value of the ‘short leases’ compared to the ‘long leases’. Indeed, whilst writing this article I have already received the first circular email seeking to buy ‘short lease flats’.
There are other aspects of the Governments Response - that new extended leases will be for 990 years, subject to breaks for redevelopment; that new leases will always be at nil ground rent and for certain ‘low value’ houses (which applies to virtually all houses in Dulwich) will still have a discounted form of valuation if they have not already purchased their freehold. But I think that is sufficient for this article.
Malcolm Martin FRICS FNAEA
Malcolm Martin is a chartered surveyor who specializes in leasehold reform matters, commercial rent reviews and lease renewals and niche propert investment. Previously a partner in Harvey & Wheeler before branching off on his own, he has dealt with leasehold reform matters throughout Dulwich, Prime Central London and elsewhere in England for the last 40+ years.
Newly Arrived in South London and reflecting upon municipal infrastructure, John Blakey offers this:
Quatrain - On a Pavement Medallion marking a Lost River
Down Norwood’s hills, through Dulwich haunts
By twists and turns (what’er its wonts)
In stillness still, as on it goes.
Beneath your feet the Effra flows.
John Blakey is retired and lives in Hickory, North Carolina. He is a lover of Dulwich, which he visits to see his daughter, whenever possible.
Within our medieval wood
Scattered stately standards stood
Amid a host of coppiced boles
That fed our fund of stakes and poles,
Without infringing Nature’s good.
The lofty canopy’s leafy hood
Rejoiced with birdsong in the spring.
The roots protected foxes’ holes,
With lithely squirrels clambering
Above the flower- carpet ground.
This gentle wealth of sight, scent, sound
Survived through centuries of time -
A sylvan scene sublime.
Coppicing’s a rhythmic cull,
A pulse that throbs each fifteenth year,
When woody stems grow ripely tall,
With bluebell clouds beneath their shade,
It’s time to cut them clear
And open up a sun-bright glade
Where bluebells disappear.
Strong sunshine wakens dormant flowers
That differ every year
Until deep shade again is made
And bluebells reappear
Then the Crystal Palace came
To crown the overlooking hill
And beckoned by that magnet name
The city spread its overspill.
Busy builders came and carved
Grand house-settings from the scene.
Our woodland’s green expanse was halved -
A wraith of what it once had been,
Nature’s sounds were muted there
And children’s laughter filled the air.
London’s fringes grew and grew
And one sad night in World War ll
An overflying hostile plane
Targeted our harmless lane.
Besides its massive crater scar
The social tide outdated far
The size of homes that people need.
The larger ones could not survive.
So levelling bulldozers freed
Space for a modern 45,
Close jostling and designed to give
A friendly place in which to live.
Each historic feature’s changed,
Every aspect rearranged1
Our remnant wood’s built all about
Its coppice boles are overgrown
The blossom sequence shaded out
And birdsong just an undertone,
Squirrel’s red replaced by grey
And refuse sacks now foxes’ prey
The Crystal Palace is long past;
Our skyline is a TV mast.
But one thing still remains the same -
“Giles Coppice” is our name!
Professor Alice Coleman is a retired Geographer. She lives in Giles Coppice.