The Dulwich Society Journal for Summer 2019.
Cutting Edge: Modernist British Printmaking
19 June - 8 September 2019
This summer we shine a spotlight on a brief but intense period of inspirational printmaking during the 1930s, with the first major show of work by artists from the Grosvenor School, including the teacher and artist Claude Flight and his students Sybil Andrews, Cyril Power, Lill Tschudi, William Greengrass and Leonard Beaumont.
The school, which was founded in Pimlico in 1925, played a key role in the story of modern art and quickly became a leading force in the production of modern printmaking, in particular, linocuts. The students became renowned for their iconic, vibrant prints that championed the energy of contemporary life in the inter-war years. Whilst considering the radical expressions of the avant-garde values of Futurism, Vorticism and Cubism, the Grosvenor School brought their own unique nterpretation of the contemporary world, incorporating elements of art deco, a punchy geometric style and a vivid palette which went on to define the medium of linocut.
Arranged thematically, this show will focus on the key components which made-up the dynamic and rhythmic visual imagery of the Grosvenor School including speed and movement, industry and labour, wart, sport and leisure, whilst also looking at materials and technique. Vibrant and bold with saturated colours, the Grosvenor School broke new ground in the practice of the new block-print medium of the linoleum cut. The exhibition will feature original tools, lino blocks and studies showing how the school revolutionised the process which involved layering up vivid inks in order to produce their distinctive and colourful ‘pop’ version of modernism.
Highlights will include Flight’s seminal image of movement, Brooklands, which shows a racing car thundering around the Brooklands track in Surrey and several works depicting London transport including Power’s The Tube Station.
As part of the exhibition, Japanese paper cut artist, Nahoko Kojima will create a unique sculpture for the Gallery’s entrance hall. This installation will respond to the power of narrative and movement that is represented through the work of The Grosvenor School artist’s linocuts.
Sumi the crocodile
9 June - 8 September 2019
is an exciting new commission for Dulwich Picture Gallery by Japanese paper-cut artist Nahoko Kojima. Kojima's eight-metre-long crocodile, cut entirely from one sheet of paper, will hang suspended from the Gallery's entrance hall - a visual spectacle for all to admire. Championing the power of paper as a creative medium, Nahoko Kojima’s previous works include Cloud Leopard (2012), Byaku (2013), a swimming polar bear, and Shiro (2018), a life-sized blue whale. She is a key protagonist of the paper cut sculpture movement, renowned for turning majestic animals into works of art and questioning our relationship to nature.
“This incredibly resilient animal arose well before us and has outlived the dinosaurs by some 65 million years. Humans have destroyed many animals, yet every one of the 23 species of crocodile exists today.
My work is about a timeless beauty and a celebration of nature.” Nahoko Kojima on Sumi
Free with a ticket to Cutting Edge: Modernist British Printmaking
Unlocking Paintings: Artists in Amsterdam
6 August - 21 October 2019
Why were artists drawn to Amsterdam? During the 17th century, Amsterdam became a new economic superpower in Europe. This rapidly growing city provided a wealth of opportunity, with new patrons keen to buy artworks and exciting commissions available to ambitious young painters. Yet this sometimes came at a high price and some artists took the decision to leave. This display explores the personal stories of artists in Amsterdam.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By William Shakespeare
To be performed in the gardens of Bell House, 27, College Road, Dulwich, SE21 7BG
Demetrius and Lysander love Hermia. Hermia loves Lysander, but is betrothed to Demetrius—much to her dismay. And no one loves Helena, though her heart belongs to Demetrius. When Hermia and Lysander escape through the forest to elope, Demetrius chases them—and Helena chases him, only to find themselves in the midst of a Fairy King and Queen at war with each other. And when they, in turn, are followed by a group of amateur actors intent on rehearsing a play, the scene is set for a night of mischief, misunderstandings and merriment.
Sunday 16th June : 2pm and 5pm
Saturday 22ndJune : 2pm and 5pm
Sunday 23rd June: 2pm and 5pm
Tickets: £12 and £8 (under 18 years of age)
Dulwich Players Box Office 07936 531356
Online at www.dulwichplayers.org
and from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village.
Suitable for all ages. Some seating may be available to hire but audience are welcome to bring portable chairs and/or rugs. Sorry no dogs.
In the last year of the war, with everything very difficult to obtain, the Savoy Hotel printed its menu by means of ‘hectograph jelly’, not a dessert but a form of inking process involving a bright mauve colour. The carte was restricted by rationing and the menu measured rather less than the modern A5 size. As it was in French it still had a certain allure.
My friend, also named Brian, lived a few doors away from me in Glengarry Road and his father was head waiter at the Savoy. Every week Brian’s father brought home a stack of these menu cards which were made from a superb smooth white card just perfect for ink or pencil drawing. Brian, who was several years older than me, was a brilliant artist, even from a young age. He loved drawing seascapes, especially ones with galleons in full sail. To this day he still paints seascapes (see Brian Slack artist and sculptor).
Over the years we created a model alpine railway in my back garden; a process which took so long there was usually no time left to actually run the trains and it was also usual for the enterprise to end in an argument, at which Brian would take up all his track and return to his house in a huff.
A few years later the arguments would centre on art and the art of J M W Turner in particular. Brian adored Turner’s work and was indeed a later-day Ruskinite. I would argue with Brian that as Turner grew older, he ‘lost it’, in searching for the metaphysical in his paintings. Brian would have none of it, only agreeing that as Turner aged his painting changed. Thus I unknowingly shared some of the opinions of the Rev John Eagles, the art critic of Blackwood’s magazine - “Turner’s eyes must play him false, it cannot truly represent to his mind either his forms or colours - or his hallucination is great”. Like the general public of Turner’s day, I too regretted the change in style of my old favourite.
Contemporary fans of Turner’s work were the Ruskin family. John James Ruskin had started to buy the artist‘s water colours at the Royal Academy exhibitions and his enthusiasm for Turner was shared by his son John. So great did the young Ruskin;s admiration for Turner become that his indulgent father gave him Turner’s oil, The Slave Ship, as a twenty-first birthday present, buying it directly from the 1840 summer Exhibition.
Ruskin and Turner
It had been a review in Blackwood’s of the Royal Academy exhibition, four years earlier, in 1836 to which John Ruskin, then aged 17 was first roused to respond to by writing a letter to the magazine refuting its critic’s view. Perhaps it was fortunate that Turner’s opinion was sought first. In the event Turner replied that he took no notice of the views of his critics. Thus the letter was never sent. Eagles’ review had savaged Turner’s exhibit of a Venetian scene, Juliet and her Nurse as “perfectly unintelligible…Turner revels in fancy and in the splendor of his colours” The critic then posited his argument of the superiority of the Old Masters over the current British School of landscape painters.
John Ruskin himself had shown early promise of his talent in drawing, and he was encouraged by his father, who watched him draw, A particular memory he recorded in his unfinished autobiography, ‘Praeterita,’ was of his drawing of a bridge across the Effra stream in Croxted lane, being complimented on. Later the young Ruskin continued his art education under the tutorship of the artist Charles Runciman. Runciman initially gave the young Ruskin models to copy and by the time John was fourteen Runciman was sufficiently impressed to promote him to water-colour painting as a step towards the use of oils. John Ruskin never took to oils, he liked the immediacy of water colours and all his life continued to produce fine examples of the medium. However, his real love remained drawing and later, when he became engrossed in the details of architecture, pencil drawing and pen and ink were the mediums he used.
Early days in Dulwich
Croxted lane, was only a short walk from his home at 28 Herne Hill and was an area which would forever remain dear, and be an inspiration to him until it fell victim to villa development years later at the time he was writing his biography.
Although an avid collector of a plethora of items ranging from bird feathers to leaves, he was also a serious student of geology and over his lifetime assembled a large and impressive collection of rocks, often from his numerous expeditions with his parents. His early interest in nature was inspired by his frequent walks around Dulwich. These interests would later play a large part in his art criticism.
Until the arrival of the Crystal Palace in 1854, followed by the building of railway embankments and bridges ten or so years later, Croxted lane, Tulse Hill and Dulwich Common were areas of particular natural beauty. One of the young Ruskin’s early water colours, probably encouraged by Runciman and made in 1832 might well have been of one of the ponds on Dulwich Common such as one named the Witches’ Pond (now drained and turfed over) and shown here in a very early photograph. This was his first excursion into a style of painting called ‘picturesque’, it would be a style he would refute a few years later. The recent Ruskin exhibition at 2 Temple Place displayed another Dulwich tree sketch.
After his studies at Oxford, which were interrupted by a lengthy bout of illness, Ruskin’s drawing master was J D Harding, an enthusiast of Turner’s water colours who would be influential in Ruskin’s later criticism of Italian and Dutch artists; the same artists, particularly Claude who had determined a good deal of the British view of the picturesque and inspired wealthy landowners to simulate his style on their estates and views with Gothic ruins and classical statuary
Harding’s preferences were trees and foliage and the effects of light and shade, the very elements whose treatment Ruskin would soon espouse in Modern Painters. A drawing by the young Ruskin showing ivy growing around a tree at Tulse Hill was made during Harding’s tenure as tutor. According to W G Collingwood’s Life of John Ruskin. he noticed a tree-stem with ivy growing upon it, which seemed not ungraceful, and invited a sketch. “As he drew he fell into the spirit of its natural arrangement, and soon perceived how much finer it was as a piece of design than any conventional rearrangement would be. Harding had tried to show him how to generalize foliage; but in this example he saw that not generalization was needed to get its beauty, but truth”.
If Croxted lane or Tulse Hill were destinations for sketching en plein air, then Dulwich Picture Gallery was also a frequent place of visit made by the young Ruskin. It was not straightforward getting admission to Dulwich College Picture Gallery, its regulations obliged visitors to buy tickets from a handful of ticket-sellers either in Pall Mall or Threadneedle Street. Did young Ruskin plan ahead for his visits to the gallery, or did he, as seems more likely, choose to pop in when returning from some sketching expedition? If so, his ready entry to the gallery was facilitated by his acquaintance with Stephen Poyntz Denning, the curator.
Stephen Poyntz Denning, an artist in his own right and favored by the Royal Family was a member of what might be termed the Herne Hill Art Set (see Dulwich Society Journal winter 2014) which revolved around the wealthy art collector, Clarence Bicknell, and John’s father John James Ruskin, who lived almost opposite each other on Herne Hill, Bicknell occupying an estate now bounded by Casino Avenue and Frankfurt Road. Both men had started to collect Turner’s water colours and the artist himself was a frequent visitor. Also importantly, for what was soon about to occur, John James Ruskin also owned works by Samuel Prout and Copley Fielding - the former was a regular visitor to the Ruskins’ new home on Denmark Hill to which they moved in 1842, the latter, the most fashionable drawing master of his day and president of the Old Water- Colour Society had earlier given lessons to John over a two year period when John was aged 15.
Ruskin and Modern Painters
The Royal Academy exhibition of 1842 was the event which triggered Ruskin’s great campaign to champion Turner as Art’s greatest painter of landscapes. He had spent the summer on the family’s annual extended holiday in France and Switzerland and while in Geneva he read a review in The Times of the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy in which three of the five paintings which Turner showed were subjected to such criticism and ridicule that Ruskin once again decided to respond.
He and his parents had continued on to Chamonix, close to Mont Blanc, a particularly favourite area for him. His diary suggests that it was there that he appeared to have had an Epiphany moment while walking among the mountains where the natural beauty of the area impressed itself upon him, sharpened his observations of rocks, clouds, trees and flowers and erased his former regard of the ‘picturesque’. Forthwith truth to nature would be the criterion of beauty and in Ruskin’s opinion that was no better expressed in Art than by Turner. He later described that moment, how he watched the sunset on a stormy evening in the Alps…”The ponderous storm writhed and moaned….. the forests wailed and waved in the evening wind, the steep river flashed and leaped along the valley; but the mighty pyramids stood calmly - in the very heart of the heaven - a celestrial city with walls of amethyst and gates of gold - filled with the light and clothed with the Peace of God. And I learned - what till then I had not known - the real meaning of the word Beautiful.” John Rosenberg puts it well: Ruskin’s own direct experience of nature proved to him that Turner recreated beauty more truthfully than any other artist.
On his return to Denmark Hill he began to develop his riposte to the hostile reviews of Turner’s detractors, and of course had opportunity to view the criticized pictures themselves. Turner had exhibited two of his popular Venetian landscapes, Campo Santo and The Dogana, San Georgio, Citella from the steps of the Europa. No problem there then, this was the kind of picture the public had long applauded and to which the critics responded with unanimous approval. It was the three other works in what was termed by some as Turner’s ‘impressionist’ style and by others as ‘dissolving views’. which attracted widespread and virulent criticism. “One of the most wretched experiments at daubing paint upon a canvas that ever deformed the walls of a picture gallery”, thundered The Times; “We can call it nothing more than paint run mad. Year after year Mr Turner exhibits these insane productions” (The Globe) “This gentleman has on former occasions chosen to paint with cream, or chocolate, yolk of egg or currant jelly - here he uses his whole array of kitchen stuff.” complained a third.
The three pictures held in such contempt were Peace - Burial at sea, commemorating the death of his friend David Wilkie; War, the exile and the rock limpet, showing a lonely Napoleon, and Snow storm- steam boat out of harbour mouth making signals. The first was described as having “an object resembling a burnt and blackened fish kettle but meant to be a steamer”, the second described as looking like a lobster and the third as a scene depicting soapsuds and whitewash.
Ruskin originally planned that his response would be a letter to the Editor of the review in The Times, then he considered expanding that into a short pamphlet and finally into a full blown treatise on art, “because it advocated opinions which, to the ordinary connoisseur, will sound heretical”. Eventually, what had started as a germ of an idea expanded to the production of a discourse on art running to five volumes
It was not only the hostile reviews of the 1842 exhibition that Ruskin was reacting to; he had not forgotten the Rev John Eagles’ attack on Turner of six years earlier. and Eagles, was still pouring vitriol Turner’s way in Blackwood’s. Nor was Ruskin’s riposte polite - “Writers like the present critic of Blackwood’s Magazine deserve more respect - the respect due to honest, hopeless imbecility. There is something exalted in the innocence of their feeblemindedness…”
It is clear that in Modern Painters, Ruskin sought to rebut Eagles’ argument of the superiority in landscape painting of the Dutch and Italian Old Master over the modern, i.e living, painters of the British School, most especially Turner but also including Copley Fielding, Samuel Prout, David Cox and Clarkson Stanfield by critically examining the work of the particular Old Masters which Eagles had promoted. His central plank was, yes Turner did make mistakes, but so did all of the so-called Old Masters before him and he set out to point these errors out.
Ruskin and Dulwich Picture Gallery
According to W G Collingwood, while he was furiously writing away, Margaret Ruskin wisely prized her son away from the discourse in progress and out of his study in the afternoon and urged him to go for a walk and look at the Claudes and Poussins in the Dulwich Gallery. En route, Ruskin says that he again found inspiration from walking beside the Effra in Croxted lane.
In Modern Painters Ruskin argues that the “so-called Old Masters of the post-Renaissance artists “, were not ‘true to nature”. While he extensively criticised aspects of Claude’s The Mill in the National Gallery, most of the other Old Master pictures he deconstructs are to be found in the Dulwich Gallery. He also added a few Old Masters not on Eagles’ list to drive home his points - Cuyp, Ludolf Backhuysen and Wilem Van der velde. Perhaps it was just as well that Ruskin invoked some additional Old Master examples as two of his first choices for criticism - a landscape by Gaspard Poussin (Dughet) (DPG 30) and Salvator Rosa’s Landscape with Figures (DPG 457) have both been reattributed to ‘followers’ of the artists, rather than to the two artists themselves.
For Ruskin, the two great ends to landscape painting were the representation of facts and thoughts, success being determined by the test of truth. He argued that sincerity in a belief represented truth in its abstract form while facts were determined by their truth to nature. The facts that Ruskin considered most important and which demanded his criterion - truth, were the artist’s treatment of natural objects; trees, clouds, light, water, mountains and vegetation. The representation of thoughts validated Turner’s Romantic compositions of his ‘dissolving-landscape’ period. Ruskin also argued that colour was of less importance than form, that form was defined by the use of light and shade.
The original title for his discourse was to be ‘Turner and the Ancients’, but after showing the manuscript to his friend W H Harrison it was decided that this was not explicit enough and it thus received the title ‘Modern Painters: their superiority in the Art of Landscape painting to all the Ancient Masters, proved by examples of the True, the Beautiful and the Intellectual from the works of Modern Artists, especially those of J M W Turner’. As this title did not exactly roll off the tongue it became known simply as Modern Painters. The authorship was attributed as follows ; ‘A Graduate of Oxford’. It was just as well it did not mention that the degree of the said graduate was a Double Fourth; the result of so much absence through ill-health.
Modern Painters was reprinted with a second edition within a year and remained in print for a further fifty. The effect of the book was to launch Ruskin’s career as an art critic, make Turner’s ‘impressionist’ or ‘dissolving landscapes’ studies his most popular and ultimately the most collectable, and put Claude of Lorraine’s works out of saleroom favour for decades.
Ruskin’s latter days in Dulwich
In the 1850’s, when he was teaching at the Working Men’s College in Holborn, Ruskin would bring parties of his students to Dulwich for sketching classes and finish the excursion at the Greyhound, where, after a talk about art the group would enjoy afternoon tea. According to Tom Morris, a Dulwich resident, Ruskin and his students would walk from Denmark Hill to Dulwich Woods to gather specimens of leaves to draw. “He used to give me a call at Alleyn’s Cottages on Dulwich Common on their return from the ramble and have a little chat about Art. I would pay him a return visit at Denmark Hill, and receive lessons in painting flowers and fruit….I received many kindnesses and gifts of money from him to buy paints and brushes..” A letter from a ‘T Morris’ exists in the Ruskin archive at the University of Lancaster.
John Ruskin left Dulwich for the Lake District in 1872 following the death of his mother and his increasing distress at the way the idyllic locus of his childhood was being destroyed by the spread of suburbia. He had lived on Herne Hill and Denmark Hill for fifty years.
Most of the ‘lost houses’ in the Journal series have been destroyed by natural causes but one notable building near Dulwich College was among the very first victims of the Luftwaffe’s bombing of the village during the Second World War, the 80th anniversary of whose outbreak is marked this year. By a strange irony this house was the family home for more than a decade of William Joyce (1906-46), better known later as the notorious Nazi radio propagandist ‘Lord Haw-Haw’. The history of the Joyce family and Dulwich has been written about before in this journal and elsewhere, but the exact details of where and when they lived in Allison Grove, just off Dulwich Common, has remained unclear. Most accounts say that in 1923 they moved into No.7 Allison Grove and remained there until 1940. They had arrived after a circuitous journey which began in 1909 when the Irishman Michael Joyce (1866-1941), together with his English wife Gertrude (‘Queenie’, 1878-1944) and their first child, William (then aged three) moved from New York to Ireland where they spent the next 13 years. Then, in 1922, they moved to Oldham, Lancashire (near Queenie’s family) and then took up residence at No.7 Allison Grove.
These accounts also state that William had left Ireland earlier, in December 1921 (aged 15) and had joined the Royal Worcester Regiment at its barracks in Worcestershire, but was discharged in March 1922 when his true age was revealed (he had said he was 18). He then had also stayed briefly in Oldham (until August 1922) before coming to London where he had taken up lodgings near Clapham Junction while studying science at the Battersea Polytechnic Institute from September 1922. Then when his parents and the rest of his family had arrived in Dulwich from Oldham in the summer of 1923, he had joined them at No.7 Allison Grove.
This, then, is the currently accepted version. However, No.7 was not the first house in Allison Grove in which the Joyce family lived. The electoral roll records for 1925 and 1926 have them dwelling at No.3 and a letter from the Principal’s Office of the University of London in 1945, says that William left the Battersea Polytechnic Institute in the summer of 1923 (having failed his science exams) and ‘In October 1923 he registered as an Internal student of the University in the Faculty of Arts at Birkbeck College, giving as his address 3 Allison Grove, Dulwich Common, S.E.21.’
In fact the Joyce family are not recorded in the electoral roll records as living at No.7 Allison Grove until 1927. The records also state that the occupants of No.7 from at least 1925 until 1927 were a Scotsman, David Hay Peffers (1866-1941) and his wife.
So why did the Joyces come to Dulwich at all? Perhaps it was because of the opportunity of sending William’s younger brothers to Dulwich College or Alleyn’s, and his younger sister to JAGS? In 1923 Frank (1912-91) was 11 years old, Quentin (1917-89) was six, Joan (1920-78) was three and Robert (1922-86) was just one. Perhaps it was also seen as a useful base for William (then still only 17), thereby saving them the cost of his digs in Battersea if he continued his studies there.
Dulwich was also a genteel suburb, which would suit Michael Joyce, a formerly prosperous domestic-property landlord who had also been manager of the Galway Omnibus Company. As Rebecca West says in The New Meaning of Treason (1964):
Allison Grove is a short road of small houses which has been hacked out from the corner of the gardens of a white Regency villa in the greenest part of Dulwich. Not far off is Mill Pond, still a clear mirror of leaves and sky, and beyond it Dulwich College amidst its groves and playing fields. One side of Allison Grove had been built in Victorian times; the harsh red brick had been piled up in shapes as graceless as outhouses and to heights obviously inconvenient for the housewife. But the houses were amply planned for their price...’
Also No.3 appears to have been a bit run-down and might thus have been cheaper than its neighbours. This seems to be borne out by Ian McInnes’ article (‘On the Street Where You Live: Allison Grove’, Dulwich Society Journal, 2012) in which he describes the purchase in January 1925 by the Dulwich Estate of the freeholds of all the buildings in the road: ‘The old houses had not been properly maintained and, shortly afterwards, in April, the tenants of Nos. 1, 3, 9, 13, 14 & 15 requested external decoration and repairs to be carried out.’ (The houses were all part of a Victorian terrace, Nos 1-21, built by Abraham Tyler c.1875 on the west side of the road - the east side was then undeveloped.)
As Michael and his family were then still at No.3, he must have been one of those tenants who had asked for ‘repairs to be carried out’. The 1925 electoral roll shows that Nos. 1-15 were then still occupied. However, as No.7 is not included in McInnes’ list, presumably it was in reasonably good repair in 1925. (The Post Office Directory for 1878 states that its occupant that year had been the builder Abraham Tyler, so it may have been the best house in the terrace.)
However, the road was far from being a slum. The electoral roll for 1925 records that at No.9 lived the Newson-Smith family (presumably relatives of Frank Newson-Smith who would become Lord Mayor of London in 1943 and 1st Baronet Newson-Smith in 1944). Kelly’s Directory of Dulwich for 1928 also lists, at No.2 (one of the houses built opposite Tyler’s terrace in1927), Hugo Antona-Traversi (one of a famous Italian literary family), who worked as a translator for the BBC (in the 1939 census he is described as being in ‘Consular Service’). At the same address in 1939 was his son Derek Antona-Traversi (1912-2005), who went to Alleyn’s and later became a famous literary critic. In 1943 Derek’s sister Diana married Dr David Cushing FSA, the distinguished marine scientist, at St Barnabas’ Church, Dulwich, and in 1947 they themselves moved into No.2 (Hugo died in Dulwich Hospital in 1948).
It thus appears that a significant part of Lord Haw-Haw’s personal early history (1923-27) actually took place while he was living at No.3 Allison Grove, not at No.7 as generally recorded. This would include his final months at the Battersea Polytechnic Institute and the whole period of his degree studies at Birkbeck College together with all the dramatic events of his life that happened during these four years.
Amongst these was his brutal facial injury in a brawl. In 1923 he had become involved with the British Fascists (BF) group which canvassed for the Conservative and Unionist parties and acted as stewards for their meetings. In the run-up to the General Election of October 1924, Joyce was a BF steward at a rally at Lambeth Baths hall near the Imperial War Museum (now the site of Lambeth Towers) for the Unionist candidate for Lambeth North, Jack Lazarus. However, a fight broke out with Communist hecklers and Joyce was slashed by a razor (the wound to his right cheek required 26 stitches). The Evening Standard reported the incident on its front page on 23 October 1924, quoting Lazarus as saying: ‘The man Joyce, one of our supporters, fell down, his face covered in blood.’ The article continued: ‘Mr Lazarus vowed to have the Public Order Act enforced after these scenes of disorder, as a result of which Mr William Joyce, of Allison Grove, Dulwich, had had to be confined to hospital.’
While at Birkbeck William also joined the London University Officer Training Corps, contributed to the college magazine, acted in student drama productions, and became (after giving up the BF in 1925) Chairman of the Conservative Student Society (he had ambitions to become a Tory MP and by coincidence his home was almost opposite the future site of Hambledon Place where former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher would live briefly nearly 70 years later.)
On 30 April 1927, six days after his 21st birthday (and still living at home in Dulwich) he married a fellow Birkbeck student, Hazel Barr. After the ceremony he returned to live at his parents’ house until, in June 1927, he received a First Class honours degree in English. Soon afterwards he began a postgraduate course in philology at Birkbeck.
He and his wife then moved to a flat in Jubilee Gardens, Chelsea. By 1932 he and his family (which then included two daughters) had moved south of the river again and settled in a flat in Farquhar Road, Norwood. (Ironically, two doors away a Blue Plaque marks the childhood home of the actor and wartime anti-Nazi propagandist, Leslie Howard, who had attended Alleyn’s school while living there.)
While in Farqhuar Road Joyce worked as a tutor and, having given up his philology course, began to study part-time for a PhD in Educational Psychology at King’s College, London. Meanwhile, he joined Oswald Mosley’s newly founded British Union of Fascists (the Blackshirts) in August 1933 and when he was offered a well-paid job working for the BUF in November, he gave up his PhD and within two years became the BUF’s Director of Propaganda and deputy leader.
However, though as Mary Kenny says in her biography of Joyce (Germany Calling, 2003), the flat in Farquhar Road was ‘within walking distance of William’s parents in Dulwich’, this brings to a close William Joyce’s life at Allison Grove. Though he would come back to his parents’ house while organising rallies in Dulwich for the BUF and later his own breakaway group the National Socialist League, once he and his second wife, former BUF member Margaret Cairns White, moved to Nazi Germany in 1939 (his first marriage was dissolved in 1936) he only returned to London for his trial and execution in 1946.
None the less, though William had moved away, his family continued to live in Dulwich for some years. Most sources say that Michael Joyce ran a grocer’s shop in East Dulwich to make ends meet, but none of these say where it was. A quick scan through Kelly’s Directory of Dulwich (1928) reveals a ‘Joyce Michael F., grocer’ with a shop at No. 79 Whateley Road, East Dulwich (near the junction with Landcroft Rd), between a baker and a boot repairer. (Nos 77-85 were later demolished and became the site of the East Dulwich Police Station, now the Harris Primary School.) By coincidence, No. 211 Lordship Lane (now The Lordship pub), at the opposite corner of the block to Michael’s shop, was formerly The Magdala and was run for many years by Harry Weeks, whose daughter Lilian married Frank Joyce in 1938.
It is not clear where Frank or the fourth son Robert (1922-86) went to school but both had become engineers for the BBC at Broadcasting House in London by 1939. Their sister Joan (1920-78) attended Dulwich Hamlet School and Sydenham School for Girls before becoming a dressmaker. By March 1940 she was still living with her parents in Dulwich and working as ‘an assistant in department stores’. She was later employed at the Regional Food Office of the Ministry of Food and was then a tram conductor. In 1946 she married Ted Barker, a policeman.
The Joyces’ third son, Quentin (1917-89), went to the Mercers’ School (a charitable grammar school run by the Worshipful Company of Mercers) in Barnard’s Inn, Holborn, where he would have been a younger near contemporary of the composer and organist William Lloyd Webber CBE [1914-82] - father of Andrew and Julian. In 1935 he joined the signals section of the Air Ministry based in Bristol but was staying with his parents in Dulwich in 1939 according to that year’s census.
William’s enthusiasm for fascist politics is well known. However, his family’s involvement has not been so well documented. After William joined the BUF his brother Frank (then living at No.7 Allison Grove) also became a member and spoke at party meetings in Dulwich, as recorded in The Blackshirt: ‘Dulwich. Good meetings at Dulwich Library and Triangle. Frank Joyce spoke’ (20 September 1936) and ‘Dulwich. Good meeting outside Library. Frank Joyce spoke’ (24 October 1936).
Then, when William left the BUF in 1937 to form the National Socialist League, Frank followed him and became a District Leader of the new party, and in 1939 Quentin would become its Treasurer. The NSL held a number of meetings in Dulwich on the corner of Calton Avenue and Dulwich Village, and outside Dulwich Library in Lordship Lane (and sometimes inside when permission for the use of St Barnabas’ Parish Hall in Dulwich Village was refused). Demonstrations were also held outside Camberwell (now Southwark) Town Hall in Peckham Road. As Mary Kenny notes: ‘William seems to have roped in his whole family. He even had his teenage sister, Joan, hand out Fascist propaganda leaflets at Sydenham School for Girls. He also dressed little Robert up in a black shirt. “Poor Mrs Joyce!” the neighbours in Dulwich used to exclaim. “With all those terrible children in their black shirts!” ’
By 1939 it seems that Michael Joyce’s grocer’s shop had folded. The electoral roll for that year records him as being a ‘vacuum cleaner salesman’ and a police report for March 1940 confirms this. By that time he would have been 73 years old. Queenie would herself have been in her sixties and, to help make ends meet, used to work as a domestic. Amongst her clients were the artists James Fitton RA (who by coincidence was born in Oldham, Queenie’s home town) and his wife Margaret. The Fittons had lived on the opposite side of Dulwich Common, at Nos. 10 and 11 Pond Cottages, since about 1928 (James was later a Governor of Dulwich College, and Honorary Surveyor to the Dulwich Picture Gallery). Both left wingers, in the 1930s they were active founder members of the anti-fascist Artists’ International Association (AIA). As their daughter Judy Fitton later recalled (‘Artists in Residence: The Fittons of Pond Cottages’, Dulwich Society Journal, 2012):
Against this background of the fight against fascism and mounting fear of Hitler and Germany, it is ironic that my parents should employ Mrs Joyce, a gentle Irishwoman who lived on the other side of the Millpond in Allison Grove, to help with their new baby. [Timothy, born in July 1939, five weeks before the outbreak of war.] Often Mrs Joyce would arrive with two of her teenage [sic] sons, Quentin and Robert [Quentin would then have been 22 and Robert 17], who would entertain the baby while she did household tasks. My parents thought the boys were extremely well mannered and pleasant and very good with the baby. Sadly, after the outbreak of war, it transpired that the boys were the younger brothers of William Joyce aka Lord Haw Haw and Quentin who by then was working for the Air Ministry was interned for the rest of the war. Mrs Joyce, who knew nothing about politics, and her daughter Joan, continued to live in Dulwich and to the credit of the local people, they were treated with the respect they had always received. Joan later married the policeman appointed to guard their house.
And so to the final demise of the two Joyce family homes in Allison Grove. Their first house, at No.3, was occupied by the Holt family in 1929 but was no longer listed as being inhabited in the 1939 electoral roll. So presumably it was either standing vacant or had been demolished by then. This seems to be confirmed by Ian McInnes in his article mentioned earlier: ‘By December 1938 it appears that Nos. 3 & 5 and 11-21 were empty, leaving only Nos. 7, 9, 23, 25 and 29-35 still occupied. Austin Vernon [the Dulwich Estate Surveyor] recommended that the empty houses be demolished and the vacant site be offered for rebuilding.’
So much for No.3 Allison Grove. The fate of No.7 was rather more dramatic. Its demise took place in the early hours of 29 August 1940 - by coincidence almost exactly a year after William Joyce had left England (on 25 August 1939) for Nazi Germany to begin his infamous propaganda broadcasts. The story featured on the front page of the South London Press for Friday 30 August under the banner headline: ‘Haw-Haw’s London Home is Damaged by Nazi Bomb.’ The article continued:
The house in which Mr and Mrs Michael Joyce, parents of Haw-Haw, live is the only one on that side of the road. The neighbouring houses had been demolished by the landowners. Mr and Mrs Joyce, sheltering in the cellar, were unhurt, but part of the house was demolished when a bomb fell nearby. Mrs Joyce told the S.L.P.: ‘We heard the bombs exploding and we heard masonry falling but apart from a shower of dust and debris we were unscathed. My husband and I were sheltering in the cellar.’
Rebecca West later described the house in The New Meaning of Treason:
Nothing remained of it except a hole in the ground beside the remains of a neighbour’s basement. At the time of [Joyce’s] trial long grasses, and lilacs and syringas grown wild-branched for lack of pruning, gave the place a certain elegiac beauty. The family lost all their possessions except a trunk full of old papers and a few pieces of furniture, and they went to live at a rest centre until they were found another house.
Michael and Queenie eventually moved to a council flat at 86 Underhill Road, East Dulwich, close to the childhood home of Old Alleynian writer C.S. Forester (see Dulwich Society Journal, Autumn 2017), whose parents still lived there.
The flat in Underhill Road thus became the third and final family home for the Joyces in Dulwich, though William himself would never visit it. Joan and Robert later joined their parents, who both died there in the early 1940s, and Quentin moved in after his release from an internment camp in 1943. Joan and Quentin both left when they married - Joan in 1946 and Quentin in 1950 (he then lived nearby in Sydenham Hill). (Frank and Robert served in the British Army during the war, Frank remarried in 1947 and moved to Sidcup while Robert moved to Hastings.)
After the war William Joyce, ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, was put on trial and executed for treason in Wandsworth Prison on 3 January 1946. By a strange quirk of fate the Chief Prosecutor was Old Alleynian Sir Hartley Shawcross (later Chairman of the Board of Governors of Dulwich College).
As you meander around Dulwich Park during the year, enjoying its ever-changing sights throughout the seasons, you may be unaware of the work by volunteers that help make that a continuing reality.
At a time of ever more cuts to local authority budgets, a group such as Dulwich Park Friends plays an important role in liaising with Southwark Council over changes to the management of the park and their proposals for its use. The Friends also corral bands of volunteers - for example, for their ‘Dig the Park’ initiative that takes place on the first Saturday of most months, from 10am-1pm, or to provide support to the Council in their delivery of the Dulwich Park Fair on the last Sunday of the Dulwich Festival in May.
Visitors to the park enjoy the more obvious evidence of the Friends’ work in planting over 200,000 daffodil, bluebell, alium and other bulbs over the years, but will be less aware of other essential work they have carried out, such as cutting back and pruning within the village copse (planted as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund works in 2007). Some of the biggest projects promoted by the Friends - such as the outdoor gym equipment, the Winter Garden and the village copse - were sparked by members’ ideas, which are always welcomed.
Much also happens behind the scenes. The Friends are on the Council’s list of park stakeholders to be consulted on proposed events within the park. To limit the cuts to the general parks’ budget for the borough, not surprisingly the Council would like to generate revenue by hiring out public spaces. For example, readers will probably be familiar by now with the annual trio of open air film shows by La Luna Cinema, in late summer.
Whenever the Council notify the Friends of a pending event application, the Friends do their best to influence the way in which the proposed event will be set up - the scale, where in the park it should take place, and how it should be implemented. The Friends are mindful of the Council’s need to derive income from public assets, but always remind them that there is a balance to be struck. Recently they persuaded the Council to re-orientate a children’s open air film week planned by La Luna, so as to lessen the noise impact for Court Lane residents. They have also successfully opposed large-scale events in the past on the basis of being inappropriate to a heritage park.
A recent proposal undergoing public consultation at the time of going to press relates to the introduction of parking charges within the park. After meeting councillors and consulting their members, the Friends concluded that objections to charging as a principle are unlikely to succeed, but there could be scope for modifying the impact, such as free parking between certain hours. They will be making a formal submission to the consultation, the outcome of which will be reported in the next edition of this journal.
After almost seven years as Head Gardener, Gerry Kelsey left in March to take up an exciting post in charge of horticulture at the Olympic Park. His temporary - possibly permanent - replacement is Natalie Meredith, who came through the ranks from an apprenticeship in 2012. Both she and Gerry have worked regularly with the Friends in a relationship of mutual benefit.
In addition to the roles mentioned above, the Friends’ committee, chaired by Emily Montague, operate alongside the group’s wider membership and park users as extra sets of eyes and ears for the park management - be it reporting a fallen tree, a rogue dog or overnight graffiti. Having good lines of communication means that problems are usually responded to quickly.
Encouragingly, the Friends committee has taken on five new members in recent years (three in 2018-19). However, the hunt for new committee members is an evergreen process. If you have skills you could bring to the group - for example about the horticulture or the flora and fauna in the park, or in relation to the organisation of the Friends, including IT - they would welcome your approach. Contact details can be found on their website www.dulwichparkfriends.org.uk, where you can also join as a member. Keep an eye out there for notices of initiatives for which you might like to help, to keep the park as magnificent as it currently is.
The Friends are also on Twitter @DulwichPark and Instagram @dulwichpark_friends
Notable Trees of Dulwich - The Hawthorn
by David Beamish
The old saying “Ne’er cast a clout till May is out” has been the subject of controversy as to whether the reference is to the month of May or to the may tree more often known as the hawthorn. Perhaps it does not matter much as the hawthorn, although a widespread tree native to the British Isles, attracts relatively little attention except while its splendid flowers are in bloom in late April and May - which is presumably the source of the name “may tree”.
Similarly well-known is the reference to the “darling buds of May” in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18:
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:”
That reference was made the more familiar by its use as the title of a 1958 novel about the Larkin family by H. E. Bates, and even more so by the ITV comedy series in the early 1990s featuring David Jason and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
The common hawthorn Crataegus monogyna is the most common of a large number of species of thorned trees belonging to the Crataegus genus. Others which may be seen locally include the broad-leaved cockspur thorn Crataegus persimilis ‘Prunifolia’, of which there is at least one in Ruskin Park and two, newly planted in April 2019 following a bid by the Dulwich Society for “Cleaner Greener Safer” funding, in front of Dulwich Library.
The distinctive features of the hawthorn, in addition to its flowers, include the fruit from which it takes its name - the bright red haws generally appear from August to October -and the deeply lobed leaves.
A second species of hawthorn, the Midland hawthorn Crataegus laevigata, may be distinguished by its rather less deeply lobed leaves, and, while the flowers of the common hawthorn may be pink rather than white, has variations with more deeply coloured crimson flowers. But (to quote Paul Sterry in Collins Complete Guide to British Trees) “Common Hawthorn hybridises readily with other Crataegus species and identification can be difficult”.
Hawthorns are perhaps most widely seen in hedgerows, where the thorns help to keep in livestock and the berries can be an important food source for birds and animals. In Dulwich hawthorns are widely found, for example, on both sides of the South Circular Road south of Dulwich Park, and in Grange Lane on the southern edge of the golf club.
Hawthorn has gone out of favour as a street tree. Paul Wood, in London’s Street Trees, suggests that this may be because of their habit of leaning markedly. But there remain quite a few on Dulwich streets, and several in Woodwarde Road and Bawdale Road.
Dulwich parks have a good number of examples, notably in Belair Park around the water’s edge, and in Dulwich Park, mostly around the edge of the park. There is a fine example between the lake and the playground, albeit rather dwarfed by some of its neighbours.
2019 has so far been a year of high temperature records. We had the warmest ever February and more recently the hottest ever Easter Monday. Besides the recreational benefits it brings us it also brings on the wildlife. Summer migrants arrive early and hibernating creatures wake often prematurely which may or may not be a good thing. In February there were records of Brimstone butterflies on the wing and there were national records by March of Sand Martins and even Swallows having crossed the channel.
To my great surprise on 20th February I observed a Humming Bird Hawk Moth hovering and feeding off the nectar of my neighbour’s flowering Daphne bush. This early record excited the south west London and Surrey entomologists to record it in their annals of first year sightings. Humming Bird Hawk Moths are normally recorded as migrants appearing in mid summer from the continent. It is now recorded that they are able in our warmer climate to over winter here and hibernate in crevices, exceptionally for a macro moth species which usually pupate and survive as chrysalises. This moth is notable for its remarkable resemblance both in appearance and behaviour to the Humming Birds of the New World. But unlike America, Africa and Australasia Great Britain and Europe lack specialist bird pollinators so evolution has slipped these moths into the role and their shape follows their function, a phenomenon often described as convergent evolution.
With the warmth of the Easter Holiday Spring came on in earnest and Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs had arrived and were in full song. The early Butterflies, yellow Brimstones, Orange Tips, Holly Blues and Speckled Woods were in gardens, and the good news is that although local Peacock and Comma populations have crashed in recent years there was good enough hibernation under the bridge in Sydenham Hill Wood to provide a base for recovery. Our one pair of Kestrels are reported once more to have taken up residence in St Peter’s church in Cox’s Walk and Tawny Owls are again reported calling in Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Wood. A drake Mandarin Duck has been seen on the lake in Dulwich Park, a welcome return after an absence of several years and a pair of Little Grebes are once more courting.
Claire Kelly has provided us with this photograph of a Jackdaw in Dulwich Park. They have aroused some interest as unfamiliar local birds having only taken up residence in Dulwich in the past two or three years, surprisingly as unlike that other green local invader they are well known European native birds. However Jackdaws are probably here to stay as being well adapted to us and already breeding both in the parks and the woods.
It is well worth particularly in early and late summer keeping our eyes and ears open for the unusual as rarities do turn up. I heard that in the migration season two years ago a Grasshopper warbler was singing in a reader’s garden and this was a first for Dulwich as far as I know, distinguished by its extraordinary song that sounds like a continuous fishing reel. It would otherwise have been seen as a rather boring brown bird. I once heard it said that British Warblers were boring birds with beautiful songs but American Warblers were beautiful birds with boring songs. Perhaps we should stick with our own, so do keep your records coming.
Peter Roseveare Wildlife Recorder (Tel: 020 7274 4567,
There have been winners and losers over the past year’s wildlife calendar - and some valuable leaders which should jog us all into action to make the future brighter.
The Society were among organisations backing London Wildlife Trust’s Great North Wood Living Landscape project in south-east London. Just under £700,000 was raised overall, the majority coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has resulted in the creation of new footpaths in heavily-compressed sites within Sydenham Hill Wood and its next-door neighbour, Dulwich Wood. Uncontrolled footfall - yes, you can love your local wildlife ecological gem a bit too much - has eroded soil, heavy rainfall has washed layers away. Temporary fencing is protecting known wildflower areas, allowing tree roots to breathe and enabling our local hedgehogs and birds to forage and feed without disturbance.
Big urban areas like ours are surprisingly rich in flora and fauna. Our green spaces and gardens brilliant oases. Yet some of the best bird watching in recent months has taken place in the busy car park of a large local supermarket. Rare Barbastelle bats have been found in London for the first time in 50 years, and the Brown Long-Eared bat, which doesn’t normally nest near people, was recorded both in Sydenham Hill Wood inside the old railway tunnel and in Dulwich Park. The tunnel is too cold and damp to make an ideal roost, even though it is now closed and secured. Cracks in a real, old mature tree make better homes for bats, birds and insects and LWT are recording Ancient and Veteran trees across the whole area so that they can be best managed to maintain them as healthy, living wildlife habitats.
The cold Spring of last year made life difficult for birds. The conditions produced large numbers of incoming Redwings - flocks of about 50 in Dulwich Park, 80 Fieldfares on Dulwich College playing fields. A big colony of toads and newts were discovered at the rear of a house in College Road, living in a large undisturbed compost heap with a big old pond nearby. Our Wildlife Recorder, Dr Peter Roseveare, heard a Mistle thrush (very few notes, very strident, a species that has been decreasing) at the top of a tree. Goldfinches were seen to be doing well, Chaffinches and Green finches less so.
Mid-year 2018, butterflies were sadly lacking; no Tortoiseshells, Peacocks, Red Admirals and Commas in what should have been an ideal summer. The ‘Beast from the East’ and April snow would have killed our native butterflies emerging from hibernation. Migrants were notably absent, recovery likely to take years. But there were plenty of Dragonflies recorded.
Worldwide insect decline, poor air quality, an ever-expanding human footprint, climate change, wildfires, floods and other manifestations of Nature’s destructive powers continue to give all life on earth challenge. As Sir David Attenborough said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year, there have never been more people out of touch with the natural world. Its future, he said, was in our hands. “We can wreck it without even knowing we are doing it.” We need to value, respect and protect our important local green spaces and aim to improve them. But first and foremost, we must try to Do No Harm. That includes not putting on major works or music events, with loud, continual amplified, round-the-clock sound and bright lighting in public green spaces during the bird nesting season, i.e., March through to July.
Angela Wilkes, Chair Wildlife Group