The Dulwich Society Journal for Summer 2019.
A lot has happened in Dulwich over the last few months. The interim report on the results of the East Dulwich Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) Consultation showed that a substantial majority of residents to the east of Lordship Lane were against the plan, while a small majority of those on the west side were for it. The Council is now proposing a compromise solution for the area bounded around Melbourne Grove, with no impact on Lordship Lane. A very well attended Dulwich Community Council meeting on 27 April was generally critical of the report and the compromise - and it will be interesting to see what the Council does. Those who have a CPZ already, such as the North Dulwich Triangle, do find it hard to understand why East Dulwich residents remain content with a situation where it can be very difficult to find a parking space in one’s road, let alone outside your house, but it would appear that the decision has been made.
Almost at the same time the Council came up with a plan to charge for parking in parks. While there is some dispute as to whether the Council had trailed this plan beforehand, the fact is that to most residents it came as a total surprise. The Council have admitted that is a revenue raising exercise following further reductions in their Central Government grant - and there is no question that the Council have had to be more innovative in raising money (witness their much less controversial plans to charge an annual fee for taking away garden waste) but the implications of the decision could be quite serious for local residents who live near the parks - they will find more cars parking in their roads to avoid the charge. And it will impact on people who visit the park from other parts of the Borough.
A well-advertised public meeting on the subject in Belair Park on 13 April raised some interesting points. For those who live within walking distance of Belair ie most local residents, paying for parking would not be a problem, they wouldn’t need to. There was considerable scepticism over the Council’s view that the car park was extensively used by commuters, but the real impact was on parents who used the car park to drop of their children at either the Dulwich Prep Nursery or Oakfield School - and this brings up the point that, with so many private schools in the area, many of them depend on children coming to them from outside our area, and they will be driven here.
An article in the Times on 22nd April under the heading ‘School-run parents jam up roads for everyone’ confirmed what everyone in Dulwich already knows, that car traffic increases substantially during school terms. It quoted from a report that said in some areas 25% of the cars on the road in the morning were involved in the school run and that car journeys could take 50% longer. Yet when traffic restrictions and parking controls to reduce traffic levels are suggested, residents object strongly.
Councillors tell us that, when they knock on doors, one of the main complaints from younger families is that the Council is not doing enough about car pollution. The recent Bessemer Grange street closure experiment is a great start but it is a one off - how do you deal with the schools in Dulwich Village which are located on a main road? While the planned Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and electric cars may or may not provide a partial solution in the future, as things stand at the moment the only way to cut pollution is to reduce the number of cars and vans and, by implication, limit individual choice. Is that politically acceptable, probably not?
Funds for local projects
Grants have been made in recent years for a wide range of projects including the removal of cherry laurel and for labelling trees in Dulwich Park (both in association with Dulwich Park Friends); support for London Wildlife Trust’s Great North Wood project, digitalizing the historic court rolls and estate mmaps in the Dulwich College archives, providing conference fees for the local Safer Routes to Schools initiative, an interactive white-board for St Barnabas Parish Hall, a green ant-pollution screen at Goose Green Primary school and funding the poetry launch at last year’s Dulwich Festival.
Funds for permanent physical improvements may be available from Southwark Council under the Cleaner Greener Safer initiative which has funded many local projects - see www.southwark.gov.uk
Consideration is at present being given for a grant of 50% towards the cost of a survey by a consultant to seek ways to improve the quality of the water in Dulwich Park lake that it might better support wildlife, consideration for lake and rivulet planting and a survey of bio-diversity and wildlife in order to make improvements.
Whilst the Society’s own funds are limited, we welcome applications for suitable projects - see our website for more details. Applications should be addressed in the first instance to
Crime and Policing
Southwark and Lambeth police forces have now been combined as ‘Central South’ and the local Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) cluster, Dulwich Village, Dulwich Hill and Dulwich Wood, are now based at Gipsy Hill Police Station under their new sergeant Jonathan Adams. While there has been a small overall reduction, the levels of burglary, street mugging and car crime remain of concern. Through the Safer Neighbourhood Panel, the Society has been pressing for the police to be more forthcoming with information on arrests and convictions and we are starting to hear more positive stories. Recently a Dovercourt Road resident spotted someone trying to get into their vehicle around 5.30am. A prompt call to 999, with a good basic description, led to units attending the area where the individual was spotted and stopped on Lordship Lane. He was subsequently arrested, charged with vehicle interference and taken before Camberwell Magistrates Court. He was bailed to return to court in June.
The reinstatement of three local schools’ officers reported on previously has led to a reduction in youth on youth robbery. One covers Dulwich College/Dulwich Prep/Kingsdale, the second covers both Charter Schools and the third, JAGS and Alleyn’s.
A water main burst in Dulwich Village on Saturday 13 April came as a surprise to most people as there was a similar burst in almost the same place in May last year. Given the size of the hole and the length of the road closure then, we were re-assured that Thames Water had done a proper job but that is now in doubt. At least they were on site very quickly, unlike at the Croxted Road/Park Hall Road crossroads by the shops in West Dulwich. Despite repeated request from local councillors Thames Water took nearly six weeks to come to site and sort out what had become a major leak.
Council charges for Garden Waste collection
Everyone will have received a note from the Council about its plans to introduce a £30 charge for garden waste collection - or you can purchase a number of pre-paid paper sacks. Southwark has suffered from a substantial reduction in its income Central Government grant reductions and was one of the few Councils that still provided this service for free. A comparison with neighbouring boroughs shows that £30 is at the low end of charges and we can probably expect the fee to rise in the future.
Street cleansing and litter bins
The Council’s local street cleaning team has lost 6 members, as well as one of the area vehicles. This has impacted on the frequency that the team can remove bags and fly tips from the pavement areas. The aim is to make sure that all bags and fly tips are removed within a 24hr period - but the bin collection frequency has now been reduced from 3 to 2 times a week - along with litter picking of the pavement areas.
Dulwich Gardens open for Charity - peak season!
There are Dulwich gardens open for charity most weekends and other days in June and July, all inspirational and many with teas and plant sales. Full details are in the brochure distributed to members with the Spring Journal (copies are available in local garden centres) and a list is on the Dulwich Society website. They make for pleasant outings.
Visit to Dulwich College’s Historic Front Gardens
10.30am on Monday 8th July
The buildings at Dulwich College have been restored to their Victorian splendour over the last few years. The surrounding campus is also undergoing major investment and restoration starting with the restoration of the Historic Front Gardens, new plantings by Professor Nigel Dunnett and a major tree planting programme to celebrate the College’s 400th anniversary.
Our visit will be led by Rachel Reynolds, responsible for the design of the Front Gardens and recipient of the Society of Garden Designers’ Fresh Designer Award for the Tatman-Seth Memorial Garden at the College, completed in 2017.
Visit to the Centre for Wildlife Gardening, 28 Marsden Road, SE15 4EE
11am on Thursday 11th July
We are lucky to have the Centre for Wildlife Gardening on our doorstep. Created by the London Wildlife Trust from an old council vehicle depot, the centre is now a wildlife haven with demonstration wildlife-friendly gardens and mini-habitats hosting a wide range of insects, amphibians and birds. It’s a source of ideas for making local gardens easier for wildlife - even small changes can make a huge difference, and collectively these changes could help create a giant nature reserve. London National Park City, aiming to make the city greener, healthier and wilder, is launching later in July, so you will hear a lot more about this.
Our visit will be led by Sylvia Myers, senior site officer.
Both visits are free to all members of the Society - if you would like to come, please book through Eventbrite (search Dulwich Society). East Dulwich station is a five-minute walk and 40, 176, 185, 484 and P13 buses stop nearby. Numbers are limited.
Christ’s Chapel’s forgotten Bi-centenary
In 1816, the bi-centenary of the consecration of Christ’s Chapel, the completion of the almshouses, College and burial ground appear to have been celebrated by giving Edward Alleyn a new memorial stone, carved from black marble, in the nave of the Chapel and the ordering of a ‘turret clock to go eight days and chime the Quarters’. Not only that but the new clock was to be placed in the north tower instead of the south tower, where as a print of 1792 shows, a previous clock already existed.
The north tower must have been heightened to take the new clock and the work seems to have made the south tower redundant. It could of course all have been the first stage of the College’s surveyor, George Tappen’s overall plan to extend the chapel by adding another aisle while at the same time extensively remodeling the west wing once the six poor sisters - the almswomen, had been found accommodation in the new Picture Gallery.
The intricate machinery for the new clock was made by J Massey Bridge Road Lambeth, and was repaired a year later by another firm, R Rolfe of Clerkenwell. The same machinery is still in use today and at the beginning and ending of British Summertime, the Dulwich Estate’s surveyor, Sami Ceyhan, alters the mechanism. Age and expansion of the machinery inevitably means that the clock gains around five minutes over the period.
One of the bells was ordered by Archbishop Laud in 1634 and bears the inscription ‘William Laud made mee’. The archbishop did not pay for it and the Master of the College had to find £10 with the college paying the balance of £3.13s. 5d. for the bell, wheel and new frame. Further expense came a few years later when the steeple collapsed and had to be rebuilt. The two most recent bells are in memory of Lieutenant John Morrice Maitland Marshall of the Essex Regiment who was killed during WW1, At some point the older bells, including Laud’s bell were recast. An error was made in the reinscription and it now reads ‘William Land made me’. The archbishop would not have been amused.
The sharp-eyed observer might note that the clockface has a stone surround bearing the date 1866, as also does the east wing. It seems likely that the 250th anniversary was marked by extending the almshouses, putting a new steeple on the tower and building the cloisters.
Organ Recitals at Christ’s Chapel
Sunday 14 July 2019 Dr Julie Ainscough (Surrey)
Sunday 15 September 2019 Alison M Howell (Bristol)
Sunday 13 October 2019 Anne Page (Cambridge)
Sunday 10 November 2019 Alana Brook (Ripon Cathedral)
The recitals take place at 7.45pm and admission is free. Recitals last between 40-45 mins and these are followed by an informal buffet to which all are invited.
This sportsground, the entrance being in Turney Road was formerly leased by the Borough Polytechnic, later South Bank University, from as early as WW1. In 2012 the university announced that they were giving up the ground, despite it having seven further years to run on its lease. There was concern about the future of this attractive ground with its iconic pavilion. Into the breech stepped a number of local interested residents headed by John Smith who lives in Turney Road. They convinced the Dulwich Estate that they were able to take on running of the ground and established a trust which now provides sporting facilities to users such as cricket, soccer and rugby clubs. Income from the users pays about 70% of the annual costs, largely made up of rent and ground maintenance, the balance being found in the rents obtained for a flat in the pavilion, the hire of a radio mast and income from a nursery built on the site four years ago. Both the installation of mast and the building of the nursery on Metropolitan Open Land were matters of great local concern but objections were over-ruled by the planning inspectors and the income is now central to the Trust’s business plan. The consortium which has an annual turnover of £ million receives no funding from local authorities or any of the national sporting bodies.
The trust was also invited by the Dulwich Estate to take over the adjoining ground in Gallery Road which had previously been the Pelo ground and once that of the Old Hollington Club (Dulwich College Mission). Once this was agreed the Estate granted Southwark Sports a 30 year lease from 2018.
During the week the combined ground is used for games by a Streatham school and every weekend the four soccer pitches are used in the mornings by youth boys’ and girls’ teams and in the afternoon by senior teams. King’s College, London uses the ground for rugby. In the summer months the cricket squares are used by some of Dulwich Cricket Club’s sides and as many as 550 youngsters taking part in cricket coaching.
John Smith is also president of Dulwich Sports Club in Burbage Road, an office he has held for almost 30 years. Dulwich Sports Club is made uo of cricket, squash, tennis and croquet sections. Dulwich Cricket Club has played on the ground in Burbage Road since 1885. It had transferred from its ground at the rear of the old Greyhound inn in the Village when the area was earmarked for housing to create Aysgath and Pickwick roads. It was founded in 1867 as the Aeolian Cricket Club by the Camberwell Music Society.
The South London Botanical Institute (SLBI) has been awarded £86,500 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to improve their future sustainability. The Institute, based in Tulse Hill, has received the grant for a much-needed project, ‘Botanical Education: Sustainable and Thriving (BEST)’. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the grant will enable the Institute to increase its fundraising activity and trial new methods of bringing in income, so that it can continue its important range of plant-related educational work into the future. The project will start soon and continue for 18 months.
The SLBI was founded in 1910 by Allan Octavian Hume, a dedicated social reformer, with the aim of bringing botany to the working people of south London. This aim continues today, with people from local communities and further afield able to explore the plant world, enjoy the botanic garden, library and herbarium and participate in a wide range of educational activities for all ages and levels of ability.
The new grant will build on the successful activities of two recent projects funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, during which the SLBI refurbished its lecture room and historic herbarium, developed a new website, introduced digital interpretation and welcomed a wide range of visitors to its events - including many school children. The new project will help to ensure that these activities and resources can be maintained into the future, through increasing and diversifying the Institute’s sources of income. Until now, the Institute has relied very much on grants and on a number of committed individual members, but it now recognises the need to diversify its income - from general donations, legacies, merchandise etc. The grant will also support the SLBI’s trustees in their general good governance, and will allow new opportunities for volunteering.
The SLBI is open to the public for free on Thursdays 10am-4pm, for frequent and varied events and activities and by appointment (subject to volunteer availability). It runs a wide-ranging botanical and environmental programme of educational and social activities for many ages and levels of knowledge. SLBI collections are used for research and in the online Herbaria@Home. SLBI and its collections help understanding about botanical collecting and how botanical discoveries fuelled developments in medicine and agriculture.
A year after the Rosendale Road GP practice moved to its new, purpose built premises on Croxted Road in February 2018, practice staff and patients led by Dr Rosemary Leonard met informally to explore how the garden spaces incorporated into The Dulwich Estate's development at the former Unigate Dairy site might offer potential for an inclusive, multi-sensory space to be enjoyed all year round, promote well-being and perhaps even forge greater links with local community groups who don't have gardens.
From this, the Old Dairy Health Centre (ODHC) Gardening Group was born: a group of patients who dedicate some of their time voluntarily to develop and tend the spaces. The group's initial meetings have resulted in swift progress, thanks to the excitingly varied range of skills, backgrounds and enthusiasms contributed to date by members -- from garden design planning that has given shape to members' vision for how the remodelled gardens might look; year round planting knowledge, and social media expertise that has helped the group keep in touch between meetings, to good, old-fashioned digging and weeding muscle, donations of compost bags, the loan of a wheelbarrow to remove debris and the planting of primulas in the front entrance spaces to add a splash of initial Spring colour.
At the time of writing, the central garden space within the complex has been cleared and measured out, and raised beds have been constructed and put in place. It is hoped these can be used for growing vegetables -- helping to promote not just gardening for exercise and well being, but also healthy eating choices.
"I really enjoy our gardening sessions, sharing experiences and learning about things like garden design and planting with people from all different walks of life," said group member Jorges.
Dr Rosemary Leonard added: "It’s been really exciting, watching the garden take shape and developing ideas for how it might be used inclusively. We hope it can become a lasting community asset for Dulwich".
More information about the ODHC Gardening Group can be found at: https://theodhc.co.uk/odhc-gardening-group/, including the plans for the gardens and the date of the group's next meeting. If you are interested in getting involved, please come along -- the group welcomes volunteers with lots, little or no prior gardening experience. It would also love to hear from local community groups who might be interested in using the gardens.
Bell House is hosting a small exhibition looking at the year 1871, a key moment of change in South London. This coincides with the Impressionist painter Pissarro’s Dulwich College coming to Dulwich Picture Gallery. This free exhibition at Bell House, 27 College Road, Dulwich SE21 7BG, is on 8-9 June and 15-16 June, between 10am -5pm and by appointment 10-14 June 2019.
Sharon O’Connor, historian at Bell House, said “Bell House has brought together fascinating early photographs and images of Victorian South London, including local Dulwich paths which are now roads where people live, to show how this part of South London changed during the period. We have original souvenirs from the Crystal Palace and Victorian artefacts found in the cellar of a Dulwich grocer including a stoneware ‘R. Whites’ lemonade bottle”.
Dulwich was a rural retreat at this time and at the front of Bell House you can still see the ‘ha-ha’, a sunken wall designed to keep out the sheep that were driven along College Road. It was transformed by three major developments: the relocation of the Crystal Palace to Sydenham in 1854, the arrival of the railways, and London’s expansion south. The railways paid for the new Dulwich College and made the area more accessible, encouraging development. Pissarro was fascinated by such turning points and captured the area in this transition, painting not only the new College but also the Crystal Palace and Lordship Lane station.
Bell House residents were also affected by Dulwich’s transformation. George Widdowson,a silversmith, exhibited at the Crystal Palace Exhibition and must have been thrilled to see it relocated just a short distance from his front door.
For a list of all events at Bell House visit the website www.bellhouse.co.uk
To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Dulwich College, Dulwich Picture Gallery will host a special display until 4th August, focusing on Camille Pissarro’s view of the school’s main building, painted in 1871. On loan from the Fondation Bemberg, Toulouse, the work returns to Dulwich for the first time since it was painted.
This display is made possible by the generous support of Peter Mudge, OA Fellow.
Serious concern has been raised by residents of the danger caused by the removal of the pedestrian refuge in the bottom of Court Lane at its junction with Calton Avenue. Pedestrians have to negotiate this busy road with dangerous blindspots making them vulnerable to traffic which moves at a fast rate around the junction turning up Court Lane.
Cyclists have expressed their concern over the narrowing of Dulwich Village at the junction which squeezes them into the path of over-taking vehicles at the traffic lights on the north side of the junction.
There are at least five Montessori nurseries in Dulwich, in Barry Road, College Road, Croxted Road, Dulwich Wood Park, and Upland Road - and there are two more less than a mile away, in Half Moon Lane and on Herne Hill. Few people will appreciate how appropriate it is to have a large number of such schools in the area, as Dulwich was where Montessori education started in Britain. As many will know, the Montessori education system is a child centred learning environment and was started by Dr Maria Montessori in 1907 in Rome when she opened her ‘Casa del Bambini’ or ‘Children’s House’ in a low-income area in Rome. Her 1909 book ‘Il Metodo della pedagogia Scientifica applicato all’educazione infantile belle Case dei Bambini’ proved very influential, even more so when it was translated into English in 1913 under the rather more saleable heading of ‘The Montessori Method’.
The growth of Montessori in Britain was down to two influential ladies, one British and one Australian, Elizabeth Southern ‘Belle’ Rennie and Lillian de Lissa. Belle Rennie was the step-daughter of a wealthy doctor in Harrogate. and she developed a keen amateur interest in nursery education into well-informed and authoritative knowledge. She visited the Montessori Institute in Italy in 1911 and played a key part in organising the British ‘Conference of the New Ideals in Education’ conference at East Runton, near Cromer in Norfolk, in 1912, and Stratford upon Avon in 1915. It was here that she, and other like-minded and wealthy friends, suggested that a college for the training of Montessori teachers should be set up to reflect their views on nursery-infant education - and this is where Dulwich comes in, as Dulwich Wood Avenue and Kingswood Drive were the sites of the Gipsy Hill Training College, where most early English Montessori teachers were trained.
The selection of Dulwich was largely because there were a number of readily available substantial houses in generous grounds, many of which had already been converted into private schools. Belle Rennie’s first purchase, in January 1917, was Woolsthorpe, No. 10 Dulwich Wood Avenue, where the Estate agreed to grant a licence to use the house ‘as a college for the training of young children and students in the Montessori system of education.’ Her standing in educational circles was such that she was able to secure glowing references from Mr W C Kimmins, Chief Inspector of the LCC Education Department, and Dr Michael E Sadler CB, Vice Chancellor of Leeds University. The original plan was to provide places for about 20 small children from the neighbourhood, with two permanent staff and six student teachers.
Prior to this Belle Rennie had persuaded Lilian de Lissa, who she had first met at East Runton. to become its principal. The latter was an Australian and had been taking time off to travel through Europe to study the Montessori methods in more detail. She had been a founder member of the Kindergarten Union of South Australia, in 1905 - its aim being to establish free kindergartens in the poorer parts of Adelaide; and she was also later involved in the formation of the Kindergarten Union of Western Australia. She had been trained at the Sydney Kindergarten Teachers College, where she was influenced by the principal Frances Newton, an American from Chicago, who was a devotee of the methods of Friedrich Froebel, a German educator who based his educational philosophy on the recognition that children have unique needs and capabilities, and coined the word ‘kindergarten’. Lilian de Lissa travelled back to England in early 1917 just in time to take up her new post. She served as principal for 29 years and published several widely regarded books on early-years education including Life in the Nursery School (1939) and Life in the Nursery School and in Early Babyhood (1949).
Meanwhile in Dulwich, Belle Rennie had the funds and the Dulwich Estate were keen to let other large houses, and in June 1917, the College acquired the lease of Beaumont House, No. 1 Kingswood Drive - the site is now Baird Gardens, almost directly opposite the current Little Fingers Montessori Nursery. In 1918 it also took over No 38 Dulwich Wood Avenue to use as a student hostel, the Estate Minutes noting that there had been no complaints about the activities in the other houses already let to the College. ‘Homedale’, No 44 Dulwich Wood Avenue, on the corner with Dulwich Wood Park, was their next property - this house had been in educational use for some time being run as a ‘finishing school for the daughters of gentlemen’ by a Miss Anita Henkel. It had become the Lambeth Local Hospital in 1916, run by the Red Cross, and despite attempts to turn it into an army children’s home in 1919 (which the Estate rejected), it was happy for the College to take it over. The College also acquired No 40 in the mid-twenties and continued in Dulwich until, on the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, it was evacuated, first to Brighton, and then to a large house near Bradford.
There were some discussions about returning to Dulwich but the leases were almost up, and the houses were in poor condition - Nos 40 and 44 Dulwich Wood Avenue had been seriously damaged by a bomb which fell nearby, and the amount of money that would have had to be spent on them was prohibitive. In 1946 the College found a more suitable property on Kingston Hill and, in 1975, it became part of Kingston Polytechnic, later Kingston University.