The Dulwich Society Journal for Winter 2017.
In this column in the Autumn issue, it was argued that as the celebratory year of 2019 - the quater centenary of the Alleyn Foundation approaches, the distribution of income from the Dulwich Estate to its beneficiaries is completely at odds with the apparent wish of the Founder, Edward Alleyn.
It was suggested that the Trustees of the Dulwich Estate should carefully examine the present unfair distribution of income and for the eleemosynary branch of the Foundation to have a greater share of the Estate’s wealth in order to expand in the field of care for the aged at a time when the need for this is greater than ever.
This argument has created considerable interest and the Estate’s Trustees letter of response will be found on page 9. The letter points out that the trustees are bound by the current scheme and while some individual members might be in sympathy with the current imbalance, they are powerless as a body to act..
This may well have been the same Catch 22 situation their predecessors found themselves in, in say 1995, or in any of the amended Schemes back to 1882. Therefore it was likely that it was opinion outside of the Board which brought the attention of the Charity Commission to the question of reform.
The Dulwich Society considers that there is sufficient interest in a proposal to reform the current distribution of income from the Dulwich Estate in a way that reflects the original wish of the Founder and the current needs of society.
Accordingly, it has arranged a Debate on the proposal on Tuesday 16th January 2018 at St Barnabas Parish Hall, Dulwich Village at 8.15pm The Debate will be conducted along the lines of the Oxford Union debates with two speakers each, for and against the proposal, with an opportunity for speakers from the floor to add their views. At the end of the debate there will be a vote. If there is a majority in favour of the proposal, then the Dulwich Society will approach the Charity Commission to request that it considers reform to the present Scheme.
Jane Onslow, a retired lawyer and former Chair of the Trustees of the Dulwich Estate and organiser of the St Barnabas Older People’s group has kindly agreed to chair the debate. Sir David Beamish, formerly Clerk of the Parliaments has kindly agreed to be the Administrator, responsible for the order of contributions from the floor and the management of the vote. Steph Harland, CEO of Age Concern, will speak for the proposal and confirmation is awaited from the other speakers.
Because of the limits on the capacity of the hall, the debate will be ticketed. Tickets will be free but should be applied for in advance, either through Eventbrite (to apply search “Dulwich Society” on www.eventbrite.co.uk.) or by obtaining a ticket from The Art Stationers, 31 Dulwich Village SE21 7BN. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door
Debate on the proposal to reform the distribution of income of the Dulwich Estate - Tuesday 16th January 2018 St Barnabas Parish Hall, Dulwich Village 8.15pm
In my last article I noted how Dulwich was experiencing a summer of road works. While we can argue whether we had the summer weather, we are certainly having the road works. Not only is the Dulwich Village junction being radically altered, new water mains are being installed in the upper part of College Road, and there are also ongoing major alterations at the two roundabouts where Fountain Drive meets Sydenham Hill. On the positive side, one piece of good news that has come though recently is that it does appear that there may be an acceptable solution to the problem of the coaches driving down Calton Avenue. It will not stop coaches coming through Dulwich but they will no longer drive through the way they do now. How quickly the changes will happen is down to Southwark, and the Dulwich Estate - who are reported to have been very helpful in sorting out the changes that will be required to the College Road/Dulwich Common junction.
Substantial roadworks, like those at the junction in the Village, take time to complete and have a wide impact, particularly when previous users find alternative routes. And this is what has been forgotten, the effect on the trade in our shops. We have all experienced the traffic delays, and the parking problems, and many will no longer go into the Village as a result. The contractor has taken up all the parking in front of the Commerce Place (one has to ask whether that was really necessary), and then there are the temporary barriers, and the difficulty in crossing the road - if you can go elsewhere you will.
The Society has surveyed the shopkeepers on how the ongoing works have affected their business and it is severe. Some takings are down 40%, the number of prescriptions filled at the chemist is down 30%, and there are certainly no queues at the Post office. Dulwich Books’ busiest time of the year is the three months leading up to Christmas. Further south, even the coffee shops have noticed a drop in their trade.
The Council will not be liable for their losses unfortunately - but here is a golden opportunity for the Dulwich Estate to show a little magnanimity - how about a rent reduction to reflect the lack of business? It must be in its interest to avoid any closures. - and there are fears that some shops could close. What is very clear, though, is that if residents want the Village to be full of shops in the future, now is the time to demonstrate our support for them, and use them. Make the effort, come to the Village and do your Christmas shopping there if you can.
McColls, the Village paper shop, finally closed on 17 November. The announcement in the Estate’s letter which came with the annual Scheme of Management bills in early September came as a surprise to everyone - not least the Society and, apparently, the shop staff. The closure was only finally confirmed to them by the area manager on 24th October. The reason for the closure is related to the Estate’s plans to carry out work in the shop as part of bringing the flat above the shop into beneficial use as a separate tenancy. It asked the shop to move into temporary accommodation while the work was carried out and offered them a new lease to return. Unfortunately, and the Estate should have seen this coming, the tenant then has the right to break the lease, and it took it. McColls have said that they are looking for a larger shop in the area as they are keen to continue the delivery service, but it is unlikely to be in the Village.
So, not only is there no convenience store in the Village there is also nowhere to buy a paper. What can residents do? They can write to the Estate, and some have done so, but will emails or letters make them act? The advertisement for the new Dulwich Estate CEO talks about engagement with local stakeholders, perhaps this is finally the time for the Estate Trustees to make sure it happens. They should instruct the management team to prioritise securing a convenience store and a newsagent even if it means subsidising the rents.
Honouring Two Veteran Members
John Ward and Bill Higman have been made honorary members of the Dulwich Society in recognition of their work and long service both on the executive committee and as members of several of the Society’s sub-committees .
John Ward, a member since the 1960’s and a keen gardener, has for many years been a member of the Garden Group, becoming chair in 1994. At that time the main activity of the Garden Group was to persuade local garden owners to open their gardens for a visit by members. This was initially very successful, but as the National Garden Scheme became more popular it became increasingly difficult to persuade garden owners to open specifically for the members. The National Garden Scheme helped owners to promote their event, and appealed not just to members of the Group, but to everyone in the locality who had an interest in gardens. More visitors raised more money for the charities which the garden owners supported.
John had the idea of starting an annual publication to encourage and promote all local garden openings. First published in 2009 under the title ‘Dulwich Gardens open for Charity’, it has become a widely distributed and popular outreach of the Dulwich Society. Additionally, John headed the initiative to provide two coach outings to more distant gardens each year which are always fully subscribed
Bill Higman was Chairman of the Society from 1995 until 2000. He remained on the Executive Committee as Vice-Chairman until 2004 and subsequently as a member of the Committee until 2014. He played a major role in seeking to preserve the Scheme of Management when the Estates Governors’ announced in May 1990 that they intended to withdraw from the Scheme because it no longer served their interests. Consequently Bill became Secretary of a Joint Residents’ Committee set up to represent the three Dulwich organizations at that time; the Dulwich Society, the Dulwich Residents’ Association and the Dulwich Village Preservation Society, who were concerned with meeting different aspects of residents’ amenity interests. This joint committee progressed much of the way towards establishing a new Dulwich Conservation Trust which would, among its other amenity responsibilities, administer the Scheme of Management entirely by residents and on their behalf.
At that stage the Estates Governors decided that they could, after all, continue to run the Scheme of Management themselves. Although they had been keen to divest themselves of administrative responsibility for doing so, it appeared that they were less willing altogether to lose control. The matter was then brought to the Leasehold Tribunal in 1997 for the Scheme to be amended, to make its Managers more accountable to residents for its policies and decisions.
Subsequently, the two other Dulwich organisations, acting on behalf of residents, both transferred their responsibilities to the Dulwich Society, which consequently remains the principal body representing the interests of Dulwich residents to other authorities including the Estates Governors (now the Dulwich Estate), the local authorities and other public sector institutions.
400th Anniversary of the College of God’s Gift
Although the 400th anniversary of the consecration of Christ’s Chapel, Edward Alleyn House (Dulwich Almshouse Charity) and the Burial Ground have all been fully commemorated, the anniversary year of the receiving of the Crown’s official blessing through the issuing of Letters Patent in 1619 will of course occur in 2019. Both Dulwich College and Alleyn’s School will no doubt celebrate this important date from which their twin foundation can be traced.
In 2005 the Dulwich Society marked the quater-centenary of the purchase of the Manor of Dulwich by Edward Alleyn by inviting bodies involved in the Foundation as well as interested individuals to raise a statue to Alleyn and this was enthusiastically subscribed towards and the bronze statue by Louise Simson placed in the grounds of the Old College.
The Dulwich Society believes it right to further mark the 1619 anniversary. It has been suggested that an added amenity to Dulwich Park, the land for which was donated by the Foundation in 1885 would be appropriate and that some form of performance space be the object in view both of the amenity it would bring and the resonance with Alleyn’s career as an actor.
There is also precedence for this as readers will remember. A grass- tiered performance space designed by artist Ryan Gander was short- listed in the competition to replace the stolen Barbara Hepworth statue and was popular with the public. Furthermore, dramatic and musical performances already take place during the year in Dulwich Park and such a space would lend great benefit to these and to the comfort of spectators. Indeed, during the National Lottery bid for the restoration of the Park in 2005, the Friends of Dulwich Park highlighted the provision of a bandstand as part of the overall plan. The current preference is for the concept to be a performance space.
The Society, in conjunction with the Friends of Dulwich Park is exploring the best way forward to achieve this aim, possibly with an architectural competition sponsored by the Society.
Members will be aware that earlier in the year the East Dulwich Society was subsumed into the Dulwich Society. Their remaining funds of just over £1100 also came over to us and those have now been used towards a Society donation of £3000 for the installation of a ‘green screen’ at the Goose Green Primary School. Part of the school’s playground fronts the heavily trafficked Grove Vale and the parents’ association is keen to reduce the amount of pollution coming on to their site. They have already raised a considerable sum, and, along with assistance from the Council’s CGS scheme, this donation should enable them to reach their target.
The Society has also given £1500 to the Horniman Museum to go towards its ‘Wall of Voices’ installation. The museum does a lot of work with local Dulwich schools and this is a very exciting project.
Dulwich Picture Gallery Pavilion
In response to the large number of Society members who applied to attend the event in the Dulwich Picture Gallery pavilion in June, the Society hosted an additional one in September. A slightly different format included music from local a capella group ‘The Cake Appreciation Society’ and a talk on Dulwich’s old farms, as well as an exterior tour of the building.
The pavilion was a temporary installation and it was removed as agreed early in October. The good news is that it is to be re-used by the Goose Green Primary School in Grove Vale in East Dulwich. It was always designed to be demountable and reusable so as to provide a sustainable legacy. The pavilion will be moved to storage until next summer when it will be rebuilt as a permanent outdoor play space. The architects IF_DO. will also be involved, and both children and parents will also be encouraged to have their say on how they would like the pavilion to be repurposed. While the timber roof is fixed, the flexible nature of the pavilion and its moveable panels means that the school should be able to create a bespoke space.
Dulwich Hospital War Memorial Awarded Grade 2 Status
Dulwich Hospital, the future site for the new Charter School has a war memorial commemorating the names of the 119 soldiers who died there, out of a total of 12,522 patients of many nationalities during WW1. The memorial has been scheduled by English Heritage as a listed building Grade 2 which will help to secure its future. The Dulwich Society paid for the landscaping and memorial garden around the cross which is in Carrara marble. The remarkable story of what for a time was named Southwark Military Hospital, can be found online or by consulting the Summer edition 2010 in the Journal Archive.
Dulwich Hamlet FC Planning Refusal
Following the refusal of Southwark council to allow the football club to renew its lease on its ground on Greendale, the developer Meadow Residential withdrew its appeal against the Council’s refusal to allow a housing development on the site of the club’s current football ground. This involved building a new pitch on Greendale which is designated as Metropolitan Open land (MOL). The Dulwich Society is one of several local amenity groups which were against the plans and this is a very welcome result. Dulwich Hamlet is a well-supported and popular part of the local community and everyone now needs to work together to make sure the club has a sustainable long-term future.
Planning rejection for proposed new Almshouse
After several months of deliberation, Southwark Council have finally rejected the Dulwich Estate’s proposed almshouse development on the open ground next to the Judith Kerr Primary School in Half Moon Lane. The main reason given was that, even with the limited supply of land for housing in the borough, the Council considered that safeguarding the open space in connection with the school was a more sustainable use of the site. They also quoted various London Plan and Southwark policies to back up their view that there was no evidence that the benefits of the scheme (new almshouses) would outweigh the perceived harmful aspects of the development (loss of play space), and that there appeared to be no other realistic opportunities for the equivalent re-provision of open space within the site.
Their second reason related to the provision of affordable housing - some might think that this was a slightly spurious point given that the development was for old people’s housing for rent, which would effectively provide social housing for poorer members of the local community. The existing almshouses have quite specific criteria regarding assets and income, and many of the current residents are living on housing benefit.
It is an unfortunate situation when we have to balance children’s play space against affordable accommodation for older people but that is the case we have here and, perhaps, in these circumstance, Southwark has to prioritise the school’s requirements. There are no other nearby locations for playgrounds for the school but, arguably, there are other sites for the almshouses.
This leaves the Estate with two options, it can appeal to the Secretary of State and the Planning Inspectorate will then make the final decision. Alternatively, it can accept it, but it then has a further problem about the lease. At the moment the school has taken a lease assignment from Kings College London which was agreed in the early 1960s and is due to run out in roughly 40 years, around 2058. Part of the agreement over the assignment allowed the Estate to apply for planning consent to redevelop the open site and, if they had obtained permission, they would have had to agree a 125-year lease for the school site. In the case of the Estate failing to obtain planning consent the existing lease would continue as it is, ie the school would potentially have to leave the site in 40 years time. This makes the amount of money that the school has received from the Education Funding Authority questionable as it was agreed on the basis of the much longer lease.
From a commercial point of view the Estate may be reluctant to extend the lease into the 22nd century but if they don’t they will undoubtedly be criticised - as a charity whose aims and objectives are solely to secure income for private fee-paying schools, it is effectively compromising the future of a state school. A dilemma - and it still has to find a location for the new almshouses.
Dulwich Estate Enforcement Action
Para 18 of the General Guidelines on the Dulwich Estate website says that, when an application is approved, this is in the form of a Licence which sets out ‘the works which have been approved’ and notes that ‘These must be completed within one year from the date of issue of the Licence, whereafter the Licence will lapse’. It then goes on to say ‘If previous, unlicensed works have been carried out to the property, as a condition for the approval of the current application, the Managers may require these to be modified’.
The Scheme of Management Office now has additional staff and they are focusing more on rectifying unlicensed work - something Society members, and many other residents, have been seeking for some time. While the principle of rectification of unlicensed works as a condition for receiving consent for new works is reasonable on the face of it, it will need some occasional discretion to be exercised. Some of these unlicensed works are long standing and many will date from a time when the SoM was not carrying out the level of enforcement action that it should have been. Will it mean, for example, that approval of an application for a new loft extension is conditional on a full width front drive (installed in the 1970 or 80s perhaps) being altered to meet the current guidelines - which require 50% of front gardens to be planted?
Looking long term, more diligent enforcement action must be a good thing; there are several current cases where rear extensions have been built contrary to the approved drawings and these should be dealt with as they clearly impact on neighbour amenity. But there is a downside to this policy. Will owners be more likely to carry out works without SoM approval? Only time will tell.
Future of the Grove tavern
The Grove Tavern, the pub on the corner of Lordship Lane and the South Circular, has been derelict for nearly five years following a kitchen fire. The site, which includes a car park, is quite large and lies at a prominent location by an entrance into Dulwich. Much recent effort t has been put into enhancing the surrounding area. The historic ‘Concrete House’ is now back in use as social housing, the visual appearance of the Cricket Club has been much improved, and the St Peter’s Church boundary wall is also slowly being upgraded. The pub building, on the other hand, is looking more and more run down.
The tenant, Stonegate, has eight years left on its lease but is unwilling to refurbish the building and re-open it saying there is no demand. When they purchased it, they had to remove its former ‘Harvester’ branding and local gossip is that the pub’s trade fell off a cliff as a result. There is relatively little passing trade and, with the drink drive laws, fewer people drive to a pub for a drink.
The Dulwich Estate, the freeholder, did make some attempts to redevelop the site in 2013-14, even having a limited architectural competition to select a scheme. Unfortunately, preliminary discussions with the Council’s planners were inconclusive and it was soon clear that the Estate’s aspirations for redevelopment conflicted with the Council’s views. The Council is now saying that the existing building (built in 1923) has to be retained in any development, while the Estate has confirmed that it will only redevelop the site if it can be removed.
To try and break the deadlock, the Society facilitated a public meeting in November at the nearby Streatham and Marlborough Cricket Club pavilion which was attended by forty local residents. There was a high level of concern over the deteriorating condition of the building and agreement that either the tenant or the Dulwich Estate should, at the very least, maintain the site properly.. As to what should happen in the future, there was no consensus. The draft Southwark Plan’s current proposal to build over 60 flats was viewed with suspicion, both in terms of the potential end users and the impact of a large new building on the local environment. There was also some doubt that adding retail units or a small pub to the scheme would be commercially viable.
Re: Looking Around with the Editor - Autumn 2017
Your history of Alleyn's Foundation omitted to mention a significant date: 31 July 1995. On this day, the Charity's current Governing Scheme was Sealed by the Charity Commission, renaming what was previously known as Alleyn 's College of God's Gift at Dulwich as 'The Dulwich Estate'. The Dulwich Almshouse Charity was then established as a charity in its own right (as you mention, this was previously the eleemosynary branch of the Foundation).
It is the Estate's 1995 Charity Scheme which dictates to the Trustees who the Foundation may benefit (only those charities named in the Scheme) and the apportionment of the annual income distribution to the Beneficiaries. The Trustees are obliged to adhere to the provisions of the Scheme as they have no discretion to alter these, in terms of who may receive distributions of income or capital and in what proportion. The duty of the Trustees is to ensure that the Charity operates strictly in accordance with its Scheme. Whilst the current Board of Trustees may recognise the merits of increasing the distribution to the Dulwich Almshouse Charity, to pursue this would bring it into conflict with its duty to act in the best interests of all the Beneficiaries; the Board has to operate within the framework of its Charity Scheme.
The Estate Board is fully supportive of the work of the Dulwich Almshouse Charity and it endeavoured to enable that Charity to fulfil its aim of building a new almshouse to provide fit for purpose, lifetime homes, for the Charity's residents. The Estate was making available both land and resources to the Almshouse Charity and it is most disappointing that Southwark Council failed to give due weight to the opportunity to have 20 new homes (plus communal meeting rooms) for the elderly when determining the planning application. The Estate is committed to continuing to assist the Almshouse Trustees in this objective.
One further point of clarification, please: funds from the Estate to the Foundation Schools are applied towards bursaries; they are not used to partially subsidise the education of all other pupils.
Chairman The Dulwich Estate.
Please note that subscriptions for 2018 are due on January 1st. Subscriptions remain at £10 per household. Most members pay by standing order and if so, you do not need to take any action.
However, if you pay your subscription by cheque (or cash) then please send it, payable to The Dulwich Society, to me at the address below. To save on costs of posting reminders it would be appreciated if this was done promptly. If the Society has not received payment by the end of March then names will be removed from the membership list.
If you would like to start paying by standing order then please contact me at the address/number below for a form or download it from the membership leaflet on the Society website.
Diana McInnes, Membership Secretary,
11 Ferrings, Dulwich, London SE21 7LU.
020 8693 6313
If you have not told us your email address you will not be receiving the monthly members eNewsletter, which is becoming a very popular source of up to date local news. Your Journal continues to be sent on a quarterly basis. Please send your email address to the membership email address above.
WW2 Secret Agent Relates His Experiences
Bram Grisnight was twenty years old when he parachuted into German occupied Holland in September 1943. Last year, he related his experiences as a Dutch secret agent to journalist and historian Bram de Graaf and these were published in Holland. Bram’s story was so interesting that this year the book, Spion van Oranje (Spy of Orange) has been reprinted. He was one of the young men who lived and trained at ‘Glenlea’ (now Tappen House), Dulwich Common, codenamed Huize Anna, during WW2.
The book tells the story of Bram’s experiences of combat and capture and then imprisonment in Ravensbruck concentration camp. Bram, was one of the eighteen (out of 34) agents to survive the war. His mission was to liase with the Dutch underground but the Germans had detector vans that could pick up radio communication and after a gunfight he was captured.
Today he is aged 94 and still in good health. Although Bram has waited over 70 years to fully tell his story, he did, in the early 1990’s tell some of it to a Dulwich Society audience and in return the Society presented Bram with a watercolour of ‘Glenlea - Huize Anna’ by local artist Audrey Macleod. The picture still hangs on the wall in Bram and his wife Ann’s house in Holland. Ann Grisnight (neé Stone) was a former JAGS girl, who, as a sixth former, met Bram while he was at Glenlea. They were re- united after the end of the war and married at Emmanuel Church, West Dulwich.
There was great public consternation at the removal of the metal stretcher railings on the Dog Kennel Hill and other Southwark estates, possibly because attention had been drawn to them when Brian Green was interviewed about their historical significance by BBC London News only a few months before. The peacetime use of the stretchers, which had been used by Civil Defence during WW2 for air-raid victims, as railings, was an ingenious piece of re-cycling in a period of great austerity. However, over the 70 years since they were fitted many of the stretchers had rusted and been replaced with copies.
In the restoration of the pre-war Dog Kennel Hill Estate the railings have been removed and will be replaced with modern ones. The residents were consulted on this in 2013 and it was agreed that a short run of the original stretcher railings would be restored and retained. These will be fitted on the walls in Quorn Road, the site of an air raid during the Blitz in September 1940 which resulted in many deaths and casualties. The Dulwich Society placed a memorial plaque to the civilians killed there, on the railings. This plaque will be fitted to the restored railings together with an information board about the use of the stretchers during WW2.
Dulwich Estate CEO to retire
John Major’s announcement of his retirement at the end of the year as Chief Executive of The Dulwich Estate follows the completion of a number of the Estate’s development projects. These include the new pavilion at the Herne Hill Velodrome, the Half Moon Hotel, the Crown & Greyhound, and the doctors’ surgery, shops and flats at the former Dairy Site in Croxted Road.
John has been Chief Executive since January 2003 - the first non-surveyor to hold the post. Under his leadership, the value of the Charity has nearly tripled to over £300 million. During this period, the annual income distribution to the Beneficiaries increased from £4 million to almost £7 million.
He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales and after qualifying in 1977, he worked abroad in the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong. On returning to the UK in the mid-1990s, he joined a ground handling company operating at airports throughout Europe, spending two years in Madrid and then, from the UK, oversaw operations in Europe. He has two grown-up daughters (one of whom lives in Australia) and a grandson. John, who lives in West Norwood hopes to assist a charity in his retirement.
The Never Ending Game
Four friends from their schooldays at Dulwich College, now approaching their fiftieth birthdays, continue to play the fantasy role playing game Dungeons and Dragons they started when they were 12 years old! One series ran from 2000-2009 amounting to 68 monthly sessions, the next from 2009 to 2015 which reached 65 sessions and the ‘game in progress’ from 2015 has reached 25 sessions. The second series was set in Parsantium, the city created by Richard Green and published as a role-play source book by Ondine Publishing.
Restaurants in Dulwich and TripAdvisor
In the last issue we bemoaned the fact that Dulwich, East Dulwich, Herne Hill, Peckham and Crystal Palace make up what can only be described as a culinary desert as far as TripAdvisor is concerned. TripAdvisor’s score depends on the number of favourable reviews it receives. Susan Badman, our Secretary says, “Basically customers in Dulwich need to get reviewing and putting up reviews of local restaurants on TripAdvisor and Hardens.”
It was not always like this. Older members will recall Chez Nico back in 1976 in Lordship Lane. Fantastic food - but when the restaurant was ‘discovered, the outside menu was taken down and a notice was inserted in the frame. “We do not serve prawn cocktails, steak well-done and we only serve lamb pink - if you want to see our menu, read the reviews”. The owner-chef, Nico Ladenis (born 1934) of Greek extraction soon abandoned Dulwich and went on to win three Michelin stars in 1995, by which time he had opened a number of restaurants under the Nico brand including the Grosvenor House Hotel. He was famous for erupting from his kitchen and berating a customer on the receipt of a complaint.
Nico handed back his stars in 1999 stating that “you cannot fool around in a restaurant if you have three stars and I want to make it more relaxed.”
Sadly, there is no Nico Ladenis in the Dulwich area today.
Lloyds Bank West Dulwich Closure
Online banking has succeeded in doing what the bombs and V1’s of WW2 did not manage to do - close Lloyds Bank in West Dulwich (see photo opposite). A decline in the number of people using the bank caused the branch to close in September. It issued an explanation which showed that 6% fewer customers were using the branch compared with 12 months earlier and that the branch had 52% fewer customers than a typical Lloyds Bank branch. Only 12 customers used it on a weekly basis and 239 on a monthly basis. However, for business customers the branch enjoyed 7% more counter transactions than other typical branches. The profile of the ages of its personal customers reveals that 28% were aged up to 34; 39% aged 35-54; 33% aged over 55.
Music for Advent
The excellent DULWICH CHAMBER CHOIR, conductor Richard Mayo, will perform Handel's MESSIAH on Sunday 3rd DECEMBER, 7pm, Christ's Chapel, Dulwich, SE21 7DG Tickets on the door: £20, £15 concessions
Dulwich Christmas Cards
Two new designs of Dulwich scenes on Christmas cards are on sale at the Art Stationers, Dulwich Village. A water colour of the Village by Avril Sleeman and the winter scene photograph of Dulwich Park reproduced on the cover of this Journal. The popular Dulwich Scenes 2018 calendar is also available.
William Marshall responds
Brian Green’s typically well-researched article on poetry in Dulwich (Whatever Happened to Poetry in Dulwich ? The Dulwich Society Journal 193 Summer 2017) described the flourishing Dulwich poetry scene in the 1940s and 1950s, with regular meetings at the Crown and Greyhound organised by the Dulwich Branch of the Poetry Society. Poets who were household names (at least in poetry-aware houses) read at the meetings, including Dannie Abse CBE, Paul Dehn, Stephen Spender and Laurie Lee.
However, the group withered in the later 50s, and although it was briefly revived in 1960, could not be sustained. Further efforts were made in the late 1980s, led by local poets Wendy French and Hylda Syms, with regular readings, usually with musical interludes, being held once more at the Crown and Greyhound. These evenings typically featured a well-known poet (including Wendy Cope, Maura Dooley and Moniza Alvi) together with ‘open mic’ sessions for aspiring poets to read their works in public, often for the first time. But running regular events requires a surprising amount of organisation, and despite Wendy’s and Hylda’s best efforts and reasonable audiences, a monthly programme could not be sustained and once again public poetry readings in Dulwich came to an end. A Dulwich Poetry Festival and competition was held a while ago, but was a one-off.
As Brian Green pointed out, Dulwich has a thriving art scene, and books by local authors feature regularly in our two excellent independent book shops (both of which stock a good selection of poetry books). Music and drama flourish too, with frequent high quality performances by local ensembles and the Foundation schools. So what has happened to poetry?
It is certainly not dead. There are at least two published, prizewinning poets in the area - Kate Miller won the 2017 Seamus Heaney Prize, and Wendy French was second in the 2017 Torbay International Poetry Festival, having previously won the inaugural Hippocrates Poetry in Medicine Prize. There may well be others. A group of poets meets regularly at the Gipsy Hill Tavern and there are at least two local self-help groups who meet regularly to criticise their own and other poetry - ‘Perplexed’ and ‘Southwark Stanza’. Within an evening’s return journey, there are regular poetry readings at the Troubadour in Earls Court, and various venues in Greenwich, and at the Poetry Society in central London.
I understand that the Dulwich Society is considering organising a poetry event for 2018. This is excellent news and I would encourage the organisers to consider doing this in the context of a poetry competition. Although there are many of these up and down the country, they are invariably well-subscribed, and budgeted for appropriately, should be cost neutral or even generate a small surplus - which could perhaps be used for promoting future events?
The year, as I reported in the last issue, has continued to have mixed fortunes in the local wildlife with some interesting records some of which that were perhaps weather related and some significant absences. Perhaps most surprising is that the Water Rail that was featured in the winter issue last year has remained with us and can if one is lucky be seen from the board walk across the lake in Dulwich park, and was included in Dave Clark’s biennial park bird count. As far as one can tell it is a solitary bird so there is no likelihood of its having bred, but who knows, there is always next year if it can attract a mate.
We have had other unusual records. A migrating Arctic Tern was spotted flying over the park lake on October 11th. This is of course a coastal bird which breeds farther north in this country with large colonies in the northern isles and Iceland. It undertakes the massive migration to the Antarctic, farther than any other of our migrants. It is hard to distinguish from the Common Tern which does breed in inland waters including the London Wetland Centre, but this bird was identified by its call and its date which was judged too late for a remaining Common Tern.
On the same date two Bullfinches were seen on the lake island. In the 1970’s Bullfinches were one of our local residents but with the national diminution of finch populations they are less usually seen. Greenfinches and Chaffinches are now reduced in numbers and the flocks, traditionally known as Charms of Goldfinches seem smaller in number here. The Dulwich Park count this Autumn failed to reveal any Song Thrushes or Mistle Thrushes although Blackbirds and Robins are maintaining their numbers as are Tits and Wrens. Firecrests continue to thrive in Sydenham Hill woods and a total of four birds have recently been seen which may be the result of the breeding report reported in the last issue. Global warming is thought to be responsible for bringing more Firecrests into southern England which can be most easily distinguished by walkers in the woods from the much more common Goldcrests by their prominent eyestripe. Both species favour coniferous trees as food source.
Peter Frost, a regular reader, reported that he heard a Chiffchaff in full song in October. During October migrating Chiffchaffs will regularly join the Tit feeding flocks. The trigger for song as is the urge to migrate is the length of day, which in the autumn crosses over with the spring equinox. It is particularly Chiffchaffs that are still around at this time and this appears to stir the hormones into a mini breeding mode and they are frequently heard to sing.
Egyptian Geese are clearly colonizing us in greater numbers with a flock of eight being the largest group seen. They are of course not native and come from ornamental collections as many years ago were Canada Geese but are more decorative and so far less intrusive. That other non- native, the Ring Necked Parakeet is still growing its population and Daniel Greenwood reports his bad sight of the Autumn being a Parakeet removing Grey Squirrel kits from a Woodpecker hole. Species competition for holes may well become a wildlife issue.
Butterflies this year have also had a mixed record. Most evident in our gardens, particularly those with Buddleias have been Red Admirals, but these are largely migrants from the continent. Conspicuously absent have been Peacocks and Tortoiseshells and there have been very few Commas. These are our native breeders and it appears that they have once more had a bad year. Readers may also have noticed that there have been fewer of the usually abundant Holly Blue Butterflies in their gardens. This I am told is a cyclical phenomenon due to parasitism by a small wasp that itself then diminishes in number when it has exhausted its supply of host butterflies which then recover. We can therefore expect to see Holly Blues again in a year or two.
I see that my suggestion in previous issues that reduction in our small bird populations may be due to reduction in numbers of flying insects on which they feed is now being backed by some hard evidence. A lack of flying insects also means a lack of larvae on which our small birds need to feed. Whereas for example we have seen a few Daddy Long Legs (Crane flies) it is some time since I remember the well known Autumn plague of these insects. Of course their larvae are the Leather Jackets in our lawns much beloved by Starlings. And where are the Starling flocks that would descend in numbers for a leather jacket feast?
At the time of writing the season has suddenly switched to Autumn and the first flocks of Redwing have already arrived from Scandinavia. Perhaps with the variously named hurricanes that are regularly forecast there will be some wind- blown extra records. Having written this, a last minute record has come in, not strictly a Dulwich bird , but an Osprey was seen on 19th October flying over Forest Hill being mobbed by a Peregrine Falcon. Having become established as a breeding bird in the northern half of the country, migrating Ospreys are regularly reported in southern Britain in the Autumn. Here they will always be overflying so it helps to look upwards when opportunity permits.
The Dulwich hedgehog project continues and some of us may have heard Emma Pooley get a national radio item on a Saturday Today programme. She will welcome any records of hedgehogs seen during the year as she is hoping to establish corridors between populations to encourage successful mating. Her contact e-mail address is
Wildlife Recorder Peter Roseveare (020 7274 4567)
Harry Rutherford reports
The moth season is tailing off now; I might get 15 species on a mild night in October, compared to 60 or 70 in June or July. It never completely stops, though. Just like butterflies, many species overwinter as adults, and will emerge from hibernation if the weather is unusually warm. But there are also some true winter specialists, like Winter Moth, November Moth and December Moth.
Still, this seems like a good moment for a yearly round up. The headline is that, in my second year running a moth trap, the new species kept on coming. I ended 2016 with my garden list on 301 (plus a few that I can’t identify without dissecting them). I’ve done slightly better this year, with 343 species so far; partially that’s because I started earlier in the year and added some spring moths to the list. 98 were new, taking the garden total to 399.
The most exciting moment was in March, when I caught a small moth that didn’t quite look like any of the pictures, until I was browsing on a German moth website and found it was a good match for Caloptilia honoratella, a Macedonian species. Which obviously seemed unlikely, but further googling revealed it has been spreading recently, and has been added to the German, Italian, Spanish and French lists in the past ten years, and was confirmed in the Netherlands just last year. So I had a potential new species for the UK… but unfortunately I only had a photograph, and given its rarity, the county moth recorder wasn’t willing to accept the record without an actual specimen. Which was a bit disappointing, but what I expected, really. It’s a pity not to be able to claim it, but if it is spreading into the UK, sooner or later more will turn up and it will be vindication of a sort.
Another notable arrival was the notorious Box Tree Moth, whose caterpillars wreak havoc on box hedges. It’s an Asian species which has only become well established in London in the past three years; last year I had none, this year I’ve caught 98 of them, as well as finding the caterpillars in the garden.
This year, as well as the adult moths I have started recording leaf-mines. The most visible example of leaf-miners around Dulwich are the Horse Chestnut Leaf-miners, whose caterpillars live inside the leaves of horse chestnuts and leave them covered in brown blotches. The moths are only a few millimetres long, but present in staggering numbers — I had 390 in the trap one night this year.
There are lots of other leaf miners, though, and many of them can be identified by a combination of the host plant and the shape of the mine. Admittedly, leaf-mines are a pretty nerdy hobby, even compared to moth-trapping; but it has the basic pleasure of listing, plus an element of detective work, and it gives you an extra something to look for when you’re out walking. I’ve recorded 49 species as leaf mines so far, including for example 15 species in Brockwell Park, 7 in Belair Park, and so on.
At some point the new species will be arriving much less frequently, and I don’t know whether I will still be motivated to drag myself out of bed early in the morning when that happens. But there were still lots this year, and there are still plenty of common species I haven’t recorded. So it will be interesting to see what 2018 is like.
Suggests Jeremy Prescott
Trees are amongst the jewels of Dulwich - but there is a dilemma about planting them. Whilst well-chosen trees do not cause problems, put it in the wrong place and within a few years a raft of fiercely tree-protecting rules and bureaucracy kick in, which can cause prolonged misery and cost for the planter or - more likely - their successors.
What are the rules?
The regulatory system is unhelpfully asymmetrical - no licence is needed to plant, but rafts of protections apply thereafter.
If you are in Southwark’s conservation area, as much of the Dulwich Estate is, permission is required for all work on trees over 7.5cm diameter at breast height - that’s just 3 inches in old money, a tree of perhaps only ten years old. “Work” includes removal. Permission is always required for work on trees subject to a tree preservation order. More information and an application form is on Southwark Council’s website.
Householders within the Dulwich Estate’s Scheme of Management require additional, written permission (by way of a licence) for work on all trees other than fruit trees, shrubs or seedlings, with no size specification. More positively, the Scheme’s Tree Consultant is available to provide advice - free of charge - on householders’ trees, including pruning, shaping and the selection of new or replacement trees.
What’s the problem with trees?
The sub-soil in Dulwich is heavy clay, which shrinks in dry periods. This can cause subsidence - normally in very long dry spells during the summer months - and structural damage which can be aggravated by tree transpiration and root activity. Other problems include damage to or blocking of drains, particularly older drains with poor seals, and physical damage such as lifting and falling branches or structural failures of the trunk. Shading and overhanging can also be an issue.
The RHS rule of thumb is that soil drying for high water demand trees will extend outwards to a distance equivalent to the height of the tree, and perhaps half of the height for intermediate or lower demanding trees. Root systems can extend much further.
Tall hedges can also contribute to soil drying, where it is suggested that the height of the hedge is kept below its distance from the building.
Choosing new trees
In choosing a new or replacement tree, do please make sure that you are aware of its mature size of and choose one appropriate to the space available in your own garden - and you need also to consider the impact of the fully-grown tree on your neighbours and their properties. Unless you have a larger garden, “forest” trees such as oak, beech, horse chestnut, cypress, ash and plane, all with large branch and root systems, should be avoided, as should eucalyptus, willow and poplar trees which have extensive, water-seeking roots that can seek out and access drains, and all high-water demanding trees (most of the foregoing).
Advice on what trees (and hedges) to consider is available from Dulwich Estate’s helpful Tree Consultant, from garden centres (but do read the label and do your own research as well) and from the RHS. Please make sure your garden designer is abreast of the issue. Google “RHS trees for smaller gardens” for practical advice and considerations (height and spread/season of interest/lowering/fruiting/foliage/colourful stems or bark/weeping, particular locations, containers) and an extensive range of specific ideas.
Tree, hedge and building issues?
Issues with trees and subsidence can prove a nightmare, involving your own or your neighbours’ insurance companies, tree experts and the protecting bodies, and disputes with neighbours.
A now departed neighbour of ours planted a Dawn Redwood (metasequoia) about 15 feet from our property. Only discovered in China in the 1940s, it was a popular tree in the 1970s when I suspect he planted it. It’s now 20 metres high with a wide - and widening - buttress. Specimens in cultivation have grown to 40-45 metres so far with the potential to grow to even greater heights, 60 metres (200 feet) being mentioned. It’s the sort of tree whose label the now departed neighbour cannot even have glanced at.
The Society encourages residents to plant trees, which are very much help preserve Dulwich’s heritage and reputation - but please do choose and position them with care.