The Dulwich Society Journal for Summer 2022.
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is being marked by the Dulwich Society with the publication of an updated version of the Dulwich Tree Trail produced to commemorate Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee. A copy is enclosed with this edition of the Journal, but complimentary copies will be available at sites around Dulwich including Dulwich Park café, Dulwich Picture Gallery café, the Crown & Greyhound and Dulwich Library. A commemorative tree will also be planted in the garden of the Picture Gallery in the planting season this autumn.
In addition, Christ’s Chapel is staging a Platinum Jubilee Flower Festival over the Jubilee Bank Holiday to which admission is free. The Chapel is also marking the jubilee with a Service of Celebration. Further details may be found on page 15.
The Dulwich Society has recently been through a period of renewal. We have a new logo which many of you will have seen on our Twitter or Instagram feeds or in the eNewsletter and which is also introduced in this edition of the Journal. You may also have seen our new- look website with more colour, easier navigation and many interesting features including local news just a click away. We are also looking at bringing our administration up to date. With the passage of time, the Society's rules have become a little out of date and we plan to modernise them. We won't be changing anything in the mission statement of the Society, we will still do what we have always done and that is to foster and safeguard the amenities of Dulwich. The new proposed rules are available for inspection on the website and we will be holding a special general meeting of members later this month to consider and adopt them. The notice of the meeting is in this edition of the Journal.
In other news, the local history team at the Society have been active with their series of talks. As well as residents of Dulwich these reach a growing number of people further afield as we have had online attendees from Europe and the US. Some 3,000 people have attended and, in addition, many others have watched the recordings on YouTube afterwards. The talks have raised over £6,000 for local charities and also contribute to fulfilling the Dulwich Society's charitable objective of increasing awareness of what makes Dulwich special. The talks are researched and presented by members of the Society's local history group and are run in conjunction with Bell House, who provide the online platform. The speakers, Ian McInnes, Brian Green, Duncan Bowie and Gavin Bowyer, all give their time for free to maximise the donations to good causes. Thank you to everyone who has bought tickets. Look out for future talks which we publicise in our eNewsletter (please give your email address to the membership secretary if you do not get the eNewsletter) and on social media.
Some of you may remember that the Dulwich Society has developed a map showing the locations of defibrillators around the area. The map can be found on the Society notice board and on our website. These gadgets can be used by anyone, with no training, to save the life of someone having a heart attack. Dulwich has several of these little life savers but we did notice that the centre of the village does not have one. So, at the suggestion of a member, the Dulwich Society has purchased the decommissioned telephone box (outside 87 Dulwich Village). After renovation, we plan to install a “Community Public Access Defibrillator”, one that is available for public use 24/7 in the case of a life threatening emergency. We plan to register the defibrillator with the London Ambulance. The Society's purchase of the decommissioned phone-box also saves for the community this popular piece of our heritage which is a listed building and one of the iconic K6 types that were designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and introduced to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the coronation of George V in 1935. We will let you know via the eNewsletter once the defibrillator has been installed and is available for use.
With the Jubilee in mind, I wish you all a happy long weekend.
The Executive Committee's proposals for a new set of Rules
The current Rules, the constitution that governs the Dulwich Society, were adopted in 1964 and, together with some minor amendments, have served us well since. The charitable mission of the Society, “to foster and safeguard the amenities of Dulwich” has stood the test of time and will not change. However, the Covid lockdown triggered a review of our rules and we saw that there are several areas where our Rules need modernising. We are proposing to add new clauses to:
- allow us to sign up members via our website
- codify the holding of meetings over Zoom and to allow for electronic voting
- codify the making of urgent decisions of the Executive Committee by email
- authorise the Executive Committee to permit the use of proxies at general meetings
- make some of the notice periods more practical
- increase by two the number of permitted Executive Committee members to allow the diversification of our activities
In addition, we have sought to enhance transparency and accountability by:
- introducing retirement by rotation, the regular resignation of members of the Executive Committee with the possibility of re-election
- enacting into the Rules the decisions of the SGM of last year
- the setting of terms of reference for the work of sub-committees
- codifying the code of conduct of members
- requiring a policy for the safeguarding of members’ personal data
- clarifying the role of the president
- the elimination of the role of honorary vice presidents
THE DULWICH SOCIETY
NOTICE OF SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING at 8pm on 27 JUNE 2022
TO ADOPT NEW RULES FOR THE SOCIETY
To the members of the Dulwich Society
A review has taken place of the Society’s Rules. These were originally adopted in 1964 and were last amended in 2019. There is no proposed change to the Objects of the Society, but a number of changes are proposed to ensure its efficient running and long-term success.
A Special General Meeting of the Dulwich Society will be held at 8pm on Monday 27 June 2022 in the Function Room at The Crown and Greyhound, 73 Dulwich Village, London, SE21 7BJ to consider and, if thought fit, to adopt revised Rules reflecting these changes.
This is a meeting for members only and is not a public meeting.
1. Introduction from the Chair and apologies for absence
2. Proposal: that the Society adopts with immediate effect the new Rules displayed in draft on the Society’s website.
Questions and discussion
Vote on the revised Rules
3. Close of meeting
The vote will be for approval of the revised Rules in full. Amendments will not be taken either before or during the meeting.
Adoption of the Proposal requires a majority of at least two thirds of members present and entitled to vote. Voting will be determined by a show of hands, with one vote per household membership.
A set of revised Rules can be found at: www.dulwichsociety.com/society/constitution-and-accounts
Heather Stubbs, Hon. Secretary, Dulwich Society,
Memorable quotes on ‘Rules’
“If you obey all the rules you’ll miss all the fun.” Katherine Hepburn
“Life is short, break the rules.” Mark Twain
“If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.” Marilyn Monroe
“We started off trying to set up a small anarchist community, but people wouldn't obey the rules.”
- Alan Bennett: ‘Getting On’
New Dulwich Society Logo
Sharon O’Connor writes
For almost 60 years our logo has been a swan, taken from a woodcut by Thomas Berwick (1753-1828). It is thought to have been arbitrarily chosen by an editor of the Society’s then newsletter and its use has become increasingly outdated as swans have not been found in Dulwich waters for at least twenty years. When it was suggested in 2007 to reintroduce swans to Dulwich Park Lake or the millpond, this was not carried out as the water was not healthy enough at that time for the birds. Apart from the dearth of Dulwich swans, the intricate lines of the image do not translate well to modern use, causing our logo to look increasingly forlorn, especially online. We have therefore commissioned a new logo to better reflect our identity.
James Alexander of Jade Design has designed a logo that will help carry us forward for the next 60 years. James grew up in Dulwich and knows the area and the Society well. His company has been involved in many local projects, notably the design of the beautiful ‘Dulwich 400’, a history book produced to mark the quatercentenary of the foundation of Dulwich College.
For our new logo, James has used as inspiration ‘Two Forms (Divided Circle)’, the much loved and sadly missed Barbara Hepworth sculpture that was displayed in Dulwich Park for 40 years until it was stolen in 2011. The symbol in our new logo uses the Hepworth sculpture to inform the ‘D’ of ‘Dulwich’ and gives us a fresh, clean image which will work well in all formats both print and digital, including our social media. The Hepworth Estate were complimentary about the design and touched that we were remembering the lost work. Equally, the Friends of Dulwich Park are supportive of its use and think it is a wonderful link between the statue, the Park and the Society.
Of course, the logo needs to work for those who don’t know the sculpture and we believe it stands alone as a clear reference to the ‘D’ of Dulwich. It points the way to our future as a society that works to foster and safeguard the amenities of Dulwich, both in the interests of its residents and the wider local community.
Sydenham Hill Wood - the Green Match Fund appeal 22nd - 29th April 2022
Sydenham Hill Wood and Dulwich Wood are much- used and important amenities of Dulwich. As is reported in Sam Taylor’s article (page 8), “lockdown” saw a near doubling of numbers using Sydenham Hill Wood to an astonishing 350,000 visits in 2020 and this, with the very wet winter, saw serious erosion and widening of the paths as well as compaction and destruction of the understorey and trampling of ground flora. This was reported in the Summer 2021 Journal, which flagged London Wildlife Trust’s need for funding to deal with the scale of the damage and the Society’s wish to help with this.
LWT applied for match funding from The Big Give for a Green Match Fund appeal for path improvements in the wood and was awarded £5,000 in late March 2022. The Dulwich Society agreed to provide the same amount so that total matching funds were £10,000 and the formal “Campaign Target” for the appeal £20,000. The Society also helped with local publicity.
In the event, the appeal raised some £23,000, which should enable LWT to complete priority path improvements and to continue its conservation work. The Society’s grant was one of the largest that it has made, reflecting the importance of the woods to Dulwich.
Dulwich Gardens open for Charity
Dulwich punches above its weight in the number and variety of gardens that open for charity, and these are now in full swing - this year there are over 30 separate gardens opening, some more than once and some as part of a group or safari. Most have refreshments and plant sales which, with the gardens themselves, make for an enjoyable outing.
Full details of the gardens are included in the brochure distributed to members with the last Journal. The brochure is also on the Society’s website www.dulwichsociety.com/gardens and available in local garden centres.
Dulwich Society coach visit to RHS Wisley & Polesden Lacey, Surrey - Wednesday 15th June
Our annual coach outing this year is to RHS Wisley and Polesden Lacey (National Trust) in Surrey. Full details are in the brochure Dulwich Gardens open for Charity 2022 and on the Society’s website www.dulwichsociety.org/gardens.
Tickets are £27 each and can be purchased through Eventbrite (www.eventbrite.co.uk - search “Dulwich Society”) or from Jeremy Prescott, 142 Court Lane, London SE21 7EB (cheques payable to “The Dulwich Society” with a note of your email address, telephone number and a stamped addressed envelope please). Please note that non-members of the National Trust will need to pay an additional £13 for entry to Polesden Lacey - this will be collected on the coach.
Coach departure from the front entrance to Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, SE21 7BG - 8.45am for prompt 9.00am departure, back around 5.30pm.
All members of the Dulwich Society and friends are welcome, but please do not apply for tickets for yourself or anyone else who has not been fully vaccinated. Enquiries to
Local History Talks
The Society’s online Local History talks started in January 2021 and have been very successful in a period of lockdowns and concern about gathering in large numbers. They reach a growing number of members, other Dulwich residents and even people further afield as there are even online attendees from Europe and the US. Feedback on the talks has been good and over 1,500 tickets have been sold, meaning that something like 3,000 people have attended, as many ticket holders watch with someone else. And this doesn’t include the people who watch the recordings on YouTube afterwards, who have numbered over 1,000 so far.
The talks have raised over £6,000 for local charities including £1,700 for St Christopher’s Hospice, £1,100 for King’s College Hospital charities and £2,200 for Bell House educational projects. The talks also contribute to fulfilling the Dulwich Society's charitable objective of increasing awareness of what makes Dulwich special.
The talks are researched and presented by members of the local history group and are run in conjunction with Bell House, who provide the online platform and sell the tickets for us via Eventbrite. The speakers, Ian McInnes, Brian Green, Duncan Bowie and Gavin Bowyer, all give their time for free, so the only costs are from the Eventbrite ticketing platform. Thank you to everyone who has bought tickets. Look out for future talks which we publicise in our eNewsletter (email the membership secretary if you don’t receive this) and on social media. Bell House also has a page on their website: https://www.bellhouse.co.uk/local-history
A Call from Down Under
The extent of the Journal’s online outreach is sometimes quite surprising. We have had a message from New South Wales from Russell Brown whose family have owned a 324 acre farm near East Gresford on the Allyn River called ‘Glenthorne’ since 1906. He discovered that the farm was created by the Rev. Alfred Glennie, who emigrated to Australia at the age of 17 in 1828. He was one of the twelve sons of Dr William Glennie who ran a small boarding school, at which Lord Byron was a pupil, on the site of the Grove Tavern on Dulwich Common at the turn of the eighteenth century. Mr Brown found the article, which appeared in the Spring 2020 issue, of great interest and says that Alfred Glennie’s farm still exists. The farmhouse with its original stone kitchen and outhouse was built by Glennie in 1838.
The Society was saddened to learn of the death of Barbara Kley. Barbara will be particularly missed by the Journal as for many years she was the assiduous proof reader of the copy. A long-serving member of the music department of James Allen’s Girls School, she was also an active member of Christ’s Chapel’s choir.
The Journal is delighted to report that Jane Jones, who recently retired from a career in translation, has agreed to take on the important task of proofreading the copy. It also wishes to thank Christine Broomhead who stepped in at short notice to assist with proofreading the last issue.
Sam Taylor writes
Sydenham Hill Wood became the Trust’s very first nature reserve in 1982 having been saved from the threat of development after a determined campaign by local people, including the Dulwich Society who were instrumental in the campaign to safeguard this unique piece of ancient and secondary woodland, steeped in history. Since then, the Wood has been managed to conserve the diversity of flora and fauna and maintain the Wood as a welcoming place for everyone to enjoy. To do this we support a fantastic team of volunteers who help carry out a wide range of conservation tasks such as coppicing, wildlife surveying and litter picking.
At Sydenham Hill Wood, gate counters have enabled us to monitor visitor numbers and we have seen a dramatic increase in visits since the first Covid lockdown back in March 2020. Over 2020 there was an 80% increase in numbers compared to 2019 with almost 350,000 individual visits. 2021 saw a slight drop, but visitor numbers remain significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels (see graph). This is something to be celebrated as more people are enjoying the numerous physical and mental health benefits of the simple pleasure of being in nature. However, the popularity of the Wood also puts it under significant pressures. These pressures are by no means new, but certainly the recent surge in numbers has seen an escalation of the impacts.
Trampling of sensitive ground flora by visitors straying off the main path network can be a major problem if unmanaged. Plants such as bluebells and wood anemone make spring a wonderful time in the Wood but with increased footfall and associated trampling their populations have declined. It is not only the more delicate ground flora that is at risk. There are a few places in the Wood where the damaging impact of heavy footfall is obvious, creating patches of bare earth and exposing tree roots. Compaction of the ground also impedes tree regeneration and means fewer types of plants completely devoid of ground covering and shrub layer vegetation, vital habitat for invertebrates, small mammals and birds.
The creation of new informal paths by visitors through the relatively undisturbed parts of the Wood are increasingly fragmenting these areas and reducing their size. This presents challenges for wildlife. For example, shrub nesting birds such as chiffchaff, blackcap, wren and robin are easily disturbed by dogs and will abandon their nests if disturbed too often.
High footfall also causes deterioration of the main paths. As visitors attempt to skirt around bad patches, paths are widened and alternate routes are established as finding your own way becomes the easier option.
In the last year we have invested in resurfacing 150 metres of some of the worst sections of the path network. However, with over 2 kilometres of paths to be maintained there is still plenty more to be done. By making the main path network the easiest and most desirable way to walk through the Wood, we can reduce trampling and disturbance of areas off the paths and help protect what makes the Wood such a special place.
As of the end of April, our supporters have helped us raise over £22,000 as part of the BigGive Green Match Fund to restore 300m of path, bringing us closer to our goal of £50,000. Thank you to everyone who made that possible. Special thanks must go to the Dulwich Society who have worked hard to publicise the campaign and contributed £5,000 of match funding. We are continuing to raise money towards this vital, but costly, work.
Scan the QR code to donate to the Wood today or go to wildlondon.org.uk/appeals/sydenham-hill-wood. If you would rather donate in another way, please call us on 0207 803 4272 to speak to our supporter care team.
By David Beamish
The species known rather charmingly as the Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima, is said to derive its name from its tendency to grow to a great height. Its generic name Ailanthus is related to an Indonesian word meaning “a tree reaching the skies”, and altissima is Latin for “highest”. It is a deciduous tree originating in the Far East, with pinnate leaves - leaflets either side of a stalk, like the ash, rowan and walnut - readily identifiable by a distinctive single tooth on each side of the base of the leaflet. The small yellowish-green flowers appear in clusters in mid-summer.
The species was introduced to Europe, initially in France, in the middle of the 18th century. In 1751 seeds were sent from there to the superintendent at the Chelsea Physic Garden. It is usually dioecious, that is to say with male and female flowers on separate trees.
There are several examples to be seen in Dulwich. A large mature example is on the western (Delawyk Crescent) edge of the grounds of the Judith Kerr School in Half Moon Lane. There are three or four in Dulwich Park, of which the easiest to find is perhaps the young tree just opposite the car park entrance. There are also examples in some Dulwich streets, including Friern Road (outside Nos. 295-341) and College Road (at the junction with Stonehills Court).
While a mature Tree of Heaven can look impressive, the species generally gets a bad press. Wikipedia refers to it as “a noxious weed and vigorous invasive species, and one of the worst invasive plant species in Europe and North America”. It spreads aggressively both by seeds and vegetatively. The sapling in the photograph was spotted beside College Road in autumn 2021. Collins Tree Guide describes the leaves as “malodorous” and the male flowers as “stinking”. It is perhaps understandable that it no longer seems to be commonly planted in London parks or streets.
Reframed: The Woman in the Window 4 May - 4 September 2022
Reframed: The Woman in the Window, uses the Gallery’s most famous work, Rembrandt’s Girl at a Window in what is described as ‘the first exhibition to explore the concept of the ‘woman in the window’. Ranging over several thousand years and represented in numerous mediums, from oils to light boxes, the show seeks to portray women over time as invariably domestically imprisoned and certainly looking out of windows.
The British Museum as well as many familiar galleries have been plundered for examples. Does it work? Well, the show certainly brings together a wide range of artists which includes Gerrit Dou, Walter Sickert, Degas, Picasso, and David Hockney. Not only is Dante Gabriel Rossetti represented but a Botticelli he owned hangs close by. To say the exhibition is eclectic is an understatement, it is unlikely that you will ever see such a diverse collection again. This is not to criticise it, the show is beautifully presented and is a pleasure to see, the viewer, however, will quite likely suspect that its curator, Jennifer Sliwka, a specialist on Italian Rennaisance and Baroque art is furthering an additional interest. She has in recent years been exploring transhistorical studies and making connections between historic and contemporary art. Certainly, she has used the shutdown of galleries and institutions during the pandemic to scour their catalogues and rummage through their collections to further this new interest by searching for artworks which include windows.
So, rather like the riddle of the chicken and the egg,did Dulwich Picture Gallery suggest that an exhibition might be created with Rembrandt’s famous Girl at a Window as a theme or did Jennifer Sliwka alight upon the work as an inspirational starting point for the subject of women in windows? It really does not matter; both sensibly used the enforced closure to offer a most entertaining show.
Dulwich Picture Gallery is also exhibiting Unlocking Paintings, an ambitious series of displays that presents new perspectives on the Gallery’s collection, inviting artists and thinkers to interpret historic themes for contemporary audiences. Devised by the Gallery’s recently-appointed curator, Helen Hillyard, the series starts with a bold interrogation of the 17th century artist (and potential plagiarist), Philips Wouwerman, and invites visitors to cast their own judgement. True Crime: The Case of Philips Wouwerman explores the meeting of true crime and art history.
According to 18th century gossip, the Dutch painter Philips Wouwerman (1619-68) was a plagiarist. It was said that the painter stole the drawings of the dead artist Pieter van Laer most successful artists of his generation creating over 600 paintings.
Featuring works by Wouwerman and Van Laer, as well as expert testimony from the past and present, True Crime: The Case of Philips Wouwerman will present the evidence and ask the visitor to decide: what is the line between imitation and appropriation, inspiration and crime? Is Philips Wouwerman guilty or not guilty?
By Brian Green
Rembrandt’s masterpiece, Girl at a Window painted in 1645 which is showcasing the new exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery - Reframed: The Woman in the Window, is not all what it seems. Its history is even more mysterious than the identity of the girl herself.
Between 1945 and 1946 the painting, which had been safely stored in the vaults of the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth during the Second World War, was cleaned by Dr Johannes Hell, a picture restorer and an expert on Rembrandt’s work. Favoured by the President of the Royal Academy, Sir Gerald Kelly, and recommended by the Surveyor of the King’s Pictures, Anthony Blunt, Dr Hell found that a later hand had painted a green curtain in the background of Girl at a Window. Kelly said at the re-opening of the Gallery after it was partially rebuilt and restored after war damage in 1953, that “Behind her was a foolish green curtain so regular and insensitive that it looked like a coil of hot water pipes. This came away and revealed Rembrandt’s original background.” And that is not all. Kate Hell, the restorer’s wife later wrote that when her husband cleaned the picture the girl at a window was shown to have blue eyes, rather than the brown before the cleaning took place.
Nor was Dr Hell afterwards free from care of this work. In the early hours of New Year’s Day,1967, a band of South London art thieves stole to order eight of Dulwich Picture Gallery’s most prized works. It was, at the time, the biggest art theft in history. A team of twenty-one detectives recovered the stolen pictures within a couple of days, following a tip-off. Five were found wrapped in a brown paper parcel under a bush in The Rookery, Streatham Common. The remaining three, Girl at a window, and Portrait of Titus also by Rembrandt, which had been cut from their frames with a knife specially bought by Michael Hall aged 32, the only one of the thieves to be caught, were found at his home on Knight’s Hill, together with The Three Graces by Rubens. Apart from the two paintings which had been cut from their frames, the others were undamaged.
Dr Hell was immediately summoned to repair the damage to the two Rembrandts. Girl at a Window’ was restored within a couple of months and displayed in a newspaper photograph between Johannes Hell and Gerald Kelly at the Gallery on 3rd March 1967. Kelly took the opportunity of all the publicity to successfully appeal for funds for the Gallery.
Michael Hall was sentenced at the Old Bailey to 5 years in prison. Many years later he claimed that seven of the pictures were stolen to order at the request of a Polish couple who offered £100,000 for them. He also said that an English collector of Rembrandts had offered £30,000 for the artist’s portrait of Jacob III de Gheyn. Hall made several reconnaissance visits to the gallery prior to the robbery both to identify the pictures and look for an entry point. In 1981, Michael Hall said that the Polish couple had disappeared and that the English collector had emigrated to Australia. After his release from prison in 1970 he returned to Dulwich Picture Gallery and gave advice on security, saying that trip wires should be fixed to the backs of the pictures and wired to an alarm. For this advice, which the Gallery at the time failed to take (Rembrandt’s, portrait of Jacob III de Gheyn would be stolen - and recovered - twice more), Hall was presented by the Gallery with a reproduction of Girl at a Window, which he proudly displayed in his tiny flat in Lansdowne Way. He soon returned to art theft and was caught red-handed. He was sentenced to a further seven years in prison. In 1981, in an interview in the South London Press, Hall said that after his release from prison the second time, in 1974, that he had renounced crime and had since worked as a security guard in Kings Cross “and devotes a lot of his time to Age Concern”.
Crystal Palace Concert Bowl Crystal Palace Park, London
The South Facing Festival returns for its 2022 edition
Friday 1st July 12.00 - 22.30
Wireless Line Up Includes: A$AP Rocky - Headliner The Kid Laroi, Lil Uzi Vert, Don Toliver, Trippie Redd, Ski Mask the Slump God, Fivio Foreign, Sleepy Hallow, BIA, Rico Nasty, Nardo Wick, Snoochie Shy, Kenny Allstar
Sunday 3rd July 12:00 - 2200
Wireless line-up includes Tyler, The Creator - Headliner Roddy Ricch, Baby Keem, Kali Uchis, Little Simz, Snoh Aalegra, Ghetts, AG Club, Miraa May, Bakar, Knucks, Sainte, Berwyn, Skiifall, Snoochie Shy, Kenny Allstar
Friday 29th July 17:30 - 22:30 - London Grammar
Featuring: London Grammar, George Fitzgerald, Tora-I + Oklou (DJ Set)
Saturday 30th July 14:00 - 22:50 - Jungle
Jungle take to the stage
Friday 5th August 17:30 - 22:30 - Bombay Bicycle Club
Featuring: Bombay Bicycle Club, Jordan Rakei, Nilufer Yanya
Saturday 13th August 13 15:00 - 22:30 - Kamasi Washington
Featuring: Kamasi Washington + Ezra Collective, Nala Sinephro
Saturday 20th August 17:30 - 22:30 - Becky Hill
Featuring: Becky Hill, Ella Eyre, Sinead Hartnett
Music writer Patrick Humphries reviews Dulwich’s popular musical past
While the history of Dulwich itself is rich, its role in popular music is… limited. But broaden the horizons and there’s fertile territory to be ploughed. Even while growing up in the 1960s, you could not help but appreciate just how seismic those changes rocking society were, and the soundtrack to those changes is still with us today.
In the pre-rock & roll era, Dulwich resident Anne Shelton (1923 - 1994) was fondly remembered. As a teenager she began singing on BBC radio and performed alongside Bing Crosby and Glenn Miller. Along with Vera Lynn, Anne was “the forces sweetheart”. After the war she began establishing success on the American charts, and in 1956 enjoyed a UK No.1 with her signature song, ‘Lay Down Your Arms’. A long-time resident of Court Lane, her house now has a plaque honouring her.
Another Dulwich resident, this time of Frank Dixon Way, was Brixton-born Jess Conrad. He enjoyed considerable UK success in the early 60s as a singer, his ‘Mystery Girl’ was a Top 20 hit in 1961, Sadly, though Jess is probably best remembered when his ‘This Pullover’ was voted one of the world’s worst records in a Capital radio poll! Like so many of the solo singers, Jess’s career was overturned by the arrival of The Beatles.
Try as I might, I can find no direct link with Dulwich to the Fab Four, apart from everyone buying their records when they were released. The closest the group got to Dulwich was playing shows in Tooting, Croydon and Lewisham.
Dulwich College famously educated Phil Target-Adams, who felt that his mother’s maiden name had a more rock & roll feel when he became Phil Manzanera and joined Roxy Music, who this year celebrate their 50th anniversary. Phil was also in an early College group, Quiet Sun, featuring the school’s Bill MacCormick on bass and Charles Hayward. Bill went on to play with Robert Wyatt’s Matching Mole and Random Hold. The latter group included David Rhodes who went on to become Peter Gabriel’s long-serving guitarist.
Another pupil at the school was Ian MacDonald; Ian went on to edit New Musical Express during the glory days of the 1970s and later wrote one of the most-acclaimed books on The Beatles, Revolutions In The Head. Pop trio Right Said Fred took their name from a short story by Old Alleynian P.G. Wodehouse.
Pink Floyd had a good SE London connection, the legendary band’s first photo session took place at Ruskin Park in 1967. They went on to play at the Crystal Palace Bowl in 1971 - the crowd was delighted to see a sea monster rising from the lake during their set. Between 1971 and 1980 a number of classic acts also played at the Bowl, including Elton John, Yes, Santana, the Beach Boys and Bob Marley.
The following website has some lovely first-hand memories of those shows : https://www.ukrockfestivals.com/Garden-party-71.html
Happily, after an enthusiastic campaign from local residents, the Bowl is back in action. See https://southfacingfestival.com for details of this summer’s event.
Sydney Carter (1915 -2004) was a songwriter and lived in Holmdene Avenue, best known for ‘Lord Of The Dance’, which has been recorded by Donovan, Martin Carthy and the Dubliners. Sydney also collaborated with Donald Swann on a series of songs after the pianist’s partnership with Michael Flanders ceased. I believe Sydney lived in Herne Hill…
A definite Herne Hill connection can be established when U2 played at the Half Moon on 11 July 1980. Their Concert File calls the gig “a landmark, as it’s the first time they’d sold out a concert in the United Kingdom”.
The Half Moon has another strong musical connection: a former manager of the pub was Frank Sinatra’s chauffeur on occasions when Frank appeared in the UK. His former wife Mia Farrow was pictured enjoying a glass in the pub, and rumour has it that Ol’ Blue Eyes even popped in for a pint!
While we’re on urban myths, and off at a bit of tangent. Herne Hill’s The Commercial was the home pub for supporters of the London Welsh rugby team. One of the team’s erstwhile supporters was the poet Dylan Thomas (from whom Robert Zimmerman later took his name). After a drink at the Commercial, the ‘original’ Dylan was said to have made his way home, along Milkwood Road…!
Still in Herne Hill, in September 1978 in Brockwell Park Elvis Costello rocked out in a Rock Against Racism event… While Brixton’s Effra Road was where ‘punk poet’ John Cooper Clarke shared a flat with ex-Velvet Underground diva, Nico… On a sadder note, AC/DC’s Bon Scott was found dead in December 1980 in a car on Overhill Road, East Dulwich…
Of all the South East London musical connections for this article, the strongest was that of The Artist Formerly Known As David Jones. David Bowie was born in Stansfield Road, Brixton in 1947, where he lived until he was six. The family then loved to Plaistow Grove, Bromley where Bowie lived until he moved to Haddon Hall in Beckenham. It was here that Bowie hatched his plans for superstardom; it was in Beckenham that Major Tom took off on ‘Space Oddity’, and from where Ziggy Stardust was launched. Following the Ziggy explosion, Bowie moved to Chelsea, then left London behind in the mid-70s. For many though, his best, and one of Bowie’s own favourite albums, was 1993’s The Buddah Of Suburbia. It was a return to the suburbs which had spawned him, and while David Bowie may have moved into the rock pantheon, as someone once observed: “You can take the boy out of the suburbs…”Before Ziggy there was Arnold Corns, a group of Dulwich College pupils (Including Mark Pritchett and Tim Broadbent) who Bowie recruited for a one-off single in 1971. Bowie would later record ‘Hang On To Yourself’ and ‘Moonage Daydream’ on his breakthrough Ziggy Stardust… album the following year.
I used to see Bowie on Sunday nights at the grandly titled Beckenham Arts Lab, actually the back room of the Three Tuns pub on the High Street. It is now a Zizzi’s restaurant with a plaque acknowledging Bowie’s link, if they had any sense, they’d have a pizza called ‘Zizzi Stardust’.
I would welcome any memories or anecdotes or confirmation about this article… Folk clubs, legendary musical sightings, local gigs, like… were you there the night Frankie played the Half Moon?
Visit my website www.patrickhumphries.co.uk for bits of my 40 years of rock & roll writing.
Christ’s Chapel Celebrates the Jubilee
There will be a Service of Celebration for HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at 2pm Thursday 2nd June conducted by the Rev Tim Buckler, Chaplain of Dulwich College, together with a Jubilee Flower Festival (admission free) during which Marilyn and Norman Harper will play the 18th century organ. Brian Green will lead short historical tours of the Chapel. Dates as follows:
Thursday 2nd June 2pm Celebration Service. Flower Festival open until 5pm. Tour 3pm
Friday 3rd June Flower Festival, Open 11am - 4 pm. Organ music during the day. Tours at 12 noon and 3pm
Saturday 4th June Flower Festival Open 11am - 4pm Organ music during the day. Tours at 12 noon and 3pm.
Also on view will be an art installation inspired by the stained glass in the Chapel window, Instruments of the Passion by W Carter Shapland, by local artist Angela Wright. She has fulfilled three commissions at Southwark Cathedral and a number of other churches.