The Dulwich Society Journal for Winter 2019.
Moth Report 2019 by Harry Rutherford
I’m now in my fourth year of running a moth trap in the garden, and I am still catching new Species frequently. I’ve had 46 new species this year, taking my garden list to 525 in total. And there are still plenty of relatively common species I haven’t had.
When I tell people how many species have occurred in the garden, they tend to be encouraged by it, as evidence of a healthy local insect population. I'm not so optimistic. Insect numbers are in decline in the UK and around the world, and the number of specie isn't the same as the number of moths; the abundance can decline dramaticall without any species disappearing completely. Driving through the countryside at night used to leave you with a moth-splattered windshield; it doesn’t anymore.
If you want to help insects, grow native plants. Species like laurel and rhododendron support no native insects at all, while rowan supports 28 species, hazel 73, hawthorn 149, and oak trees can support a remarkable 284 insect species, plus 324 species of lichen. The same applies to flowers; there is a lot of emphasis placed on growing plants which provide nectar and pollen for insects, but if you choose native species you also provide food for caterpillars. The achillea in our garden supports at least three species of moth on its own. The new wildflower planting around the bowling green in Dulwich Park has already attracted two day-flying longhorn moths which feed on scabious, including the very local Nemophora cupriacella.
I caught several species I had admired in the field guides, including Waved Black, Birch Mocha and Swallow Prominent. Perhaps the most glamorous was Leopard Moth, a large white moth with slightly metallic blue-black spots, whose caterpillars live for two or three years inside the wood of tree branches. Another particularly attractive one is Scarce Silver-lines, which is bright green with thin white diagonal lines running across the wings, although my specimen was unfortunately a little worn.
Perhaps the weirdest species I found in the garden was Luffia lapidella, one of the bagworms. They are called that because the caterpillars live in cases made by sticking together bits of Plant material, like terrestrial versions of caddisflies. The females are wingless, which is not unusual in moths: they just stay where they are, release pheromones, and wait for the males to come to them. But in the case of Luffia lapidella, in the UK they are also parthenogenetic; i.e. they reproduce via virgin birth, and the males are completely absent. The larvae feed on lichen, although they are easy to miss because they are 6mm long and their lichen-covered cases make them extremely well-camouflaged.
There were also a few rarities. There was an influx this year of the rare migrant Scarce Light Plume, with records across southern England. My one was probably the first for Surrey (natural history records still use the historic county boundaries, so Dulwich is still in Surrey for moth purposes).
The most surprising record was one which unfortunately has to remain unconfirmed. In August I found a caterpillar feeding on verbascum which appeared to be either Wate Betony, which is an extremely rare immigrant species with only a couple of confirmed records in Dorset since the nineteenth century, or Striped Lychnis, a very local species with the nearest population in the Chilterns. To confirm the ID I would need to rear it to an adult, and even then it would need to be dissected to confirm the species. I did try to do this, but unfortunately, /the soil I gave it to pupate in was too damp and it went mouldy. It seems unlikely that either species has established a previously undetected population in South London—perhaps it was a single wandering female—but I will be checking for the caterpillars again next year.
St Austins, the James Allen’s Girls School pre-prep department (JAPPS), was built in 1901-02, as a private house. It replaced a late eighteenth century property known as ‘The White House’ whose site stretched south along Dulwich Village as far as ‘Beech House’ (another large house next door to Dulwich Hamlet School) and west along Village Way. The builder/developer was Alfred C W Hobman, a successful south London tar paving contractor, and he agreed to pay the Dulwich Estate just over 5s 6d per foot run of frontage and to build five houses, the large one at the corner (St Austins), for his own use, was to cost at least £1500, and four others (Nos 4-10 Dulwich village), with prices varying between £1000-£1200. He was a prosperous man and St Austins was a large house, with a large hall, three reception rooms, a billiard room, and the usual kitchen offices on the ground floor, and six bedrooms, a bathroom, and servants’ rooms above. The Estate Minutes also noted that all the interior walls were in solid brickwork, and that the floors were to be ‘off fire-proof construction.’
The house was complete by late 1902 with the others following on during 1903 but, unfortunately, Mr Hobman did not live there for long. He developed a serious mental illness and, as he was no longer able to control his own affairs, the Estate minutes reported that ‘the ‘Trustees in Lunacy’ had taken over his estate and endeavoured to dispose of the house, but without success, despite a very low reserve’. The asking price was £3500 and it was see advertised by Marten & Carnaby - with a masterpiece of estate agent speak
This very attractive modern residence, only 20 minutes from the city near the beautiful Dulwich and Brockwell Parks, 2 minutes from North Dulwich Station (L B & S C Railway) and within a few minutes’ walk from Herne Hill (with magnificent train services to City and West End from 3:15am); the motorbus route from Herne Hill to City and West End is within easy reach. The famous College and Picture Gallery are close at hand; near churches of various denominations - RC Church on Brixton hill, excellent shopping facilities at Brixton; post and telegraph office in Village; golf at Dulwich & Mitcham. Designed in red brick and roughcast, with tiled roof. Erected by the present owner for his own occupation absolutely, regardless of cost, but with a view of its being inexpensive to maintain in every respect, and this ambition has been realised. Replete with every modern luxury and convenience. It stands on its own grandly-timbered grounds in this popular and favoured residential district, with wide well-timbered and quite countrified roads, which is quite a pleasing feature, and secure seclusion to the property, approached by a double carriage way............. the house has electric light installed throughout. Is heated by hot water radiators, and is a fireproof construction. Great attention has been paid to ventilation. The reception and billiard room and three of the bedrooms have pitch pine floors. Good cupboards in most of the bedrooms. The modern stabling for two horses, with large paved coach house combined,35 feet long - but ample room is provided for accorded for construction of further stable accommodation, or motor garage. The charming pleasure grounds adjoin the well-timbered cricket ground and are adorned by some of the finest trees in the district, and disposed to great advantage in walks, with flower beds and borders, pleasure lawn, with artistic artificial pond, spanned by rustic bridge, grass and tar paved tennis courts, forcing house and vinery, the latter 40 feet long, both heated by hot water pipes. Productive kitchen garden, fully stocked and planted with standard fruit trees and seasonable annuals’; fruit wall. Brick dog-kennel and run. Range of very good brick-built and tiled poultry breeding houses and runs, and aviary.
It was finally sold in 1908 for £2850 to a William Cooper whose profession in the 1911 Census was described as ‘horticultural builder’. The description, though true in part, hardly did him justice as he was, in fact, the owner of Messrs W Cooper Ltd of the Old Kent Road, one of the largest manufacturers of prefabricated or temporary buildings, and conservatories in the country. He didn’t have much time for the niceties of dealing with the Dulwich Estate and assumed, as many did (and do) that once he had bought the house he could do what he liked. He was soon disabused of this and, in November 1910 had to apply for retrospective permission for a new greenhouse, the Surveyor reported that the building ‘was satisfactorily constructed. As it is an addition to the value of the property, I think the Governors may approve the work as carried out.’ Only a month later there was an argument about a trellis above a fence and a large rustic screen in the front garden - again erected without consent. This time the Estate Solicitor was told to sort it out.
Cooper was a fascinating character. Born in 1866, his name was actually William Busk. He was first a glass bender and then a carpenter before becoming a builder. In 1896, he acquired William Cooper Ltd, a manufacturer of wooden garden sheds and started calling himself William Cooper. Clearly a successful entrepreneur, he built up the company, adding other products, and running several factories on different sites in south London, at Peckham Rye, Thornton Heath and Brixton Hill. He even manufactured bicycles. But he also had another unusual business interest, Turkish baths. The Graphic of 2 April 1910: reported that ‘Mr Wm Cooper has acquired Turkish Baths all over London, and under the title of the Savoy Baths has equipped them with all modern conveniences’. In the four years leading up to WW1 he purchased a total of eight Turkish baths in London, his first acquisition being the Stamboul Baths in Brixton. The vendor was Henry Rance and Cooper also bought two others from him including the Savoy Hill Baths near the Savoy Hotel. The latter was probably the most lavishly equipped, as it was purpose-built and designed by C J Phipps, the architect of the Savoy Theatre. The association of the name Savoy with a quality hotel made it an obvious name for the new company. The only baths that Cooper actually built were at 120 Kensington High Street, but the chain was expanded by the purchase of three others from E H Adams, at Caledonian Road, Jermyn Street and Duke of York Street. The last two were situated around the corner from each other and the latter was for women only.
Turkish bath management brought William Cooper into contact with the law. As early as 1913 there was a Shops Act prosecution against the company over its use of the description 'Droitwich Brine Baths' for its own brine baths. The court ruled that Droitwich Brine Baths could only be obtained at Droitwich. Much later, in October 1931, he was successful in an appeal against the London County Council’s decision to revoke the licence of the Savoy Turkish Baths Ltd to ‘carry on an establishment for massage and special treatment’ at 92 Jermyn Street. The magistrate at the Marlborough Street Police Court awarded £10 10s costs against the LCC saying that he was not ‘in the least satisfied that anything happened which would justify either his or any other court taking away the licence’.
In 1916, and nearer home, Cooper purchased the site opposite Brockwell Park, between Norwood Road and the the railway, which is now known as the Bath Industrial Estate. Since 1894 it had been the site of the ‘Herne Hill Rustic Works’, a small-scale manufacturer of greenhouses, pergolas and garden benches. The owner, H E Riley, had died in 1915 and Cooper bought the site initially to provide additional manufacturing space for his temporary buildings company now called T (as in Turkish) Bath & Co. After 1919 there was much less demand for his products and Cooper redeveloped the site with the shops and workshops that are still known as the Bath Industrial Estate today.
Cooper died in 1937, the short obituary in the London Gazette recorded him as the ‘governing director’ of T Bath and Co Ltd, the Savoy Turkish Baths Company Limited, and W Cooper Ltd. Shortly afterwards it became clear that he had never officially changed his name and nor had his wife. A short statement in the London Gazette in 1942 said ‘NOTICE is hereby given that EMILY ELIZA BUSK of " St. Austin's," Dulwich Village in the county of London Widow heretofore commonly known as Emily Eliza Cooper has assumed and intends henceforth upon all occasions and at all times to sign and use and to be called and known by the said name of Emily Eliza Cooper in lieu of and in substitution for Emily Eliza Busk and that such intended change of name is formally declared and evidenced by a deed under her hand and seal dated the 25th day of April, 1941’
The family continued to live in the house until 1941 when it was rendered uninhabitable by blast from a bomb in the garden. The house remained empty until May 1948 when, following Mrs Cooper’s death, Harrods sold the furniture and effects that were still in the house at an auction on the premises. The remaining 38 years on the lease were then acquired by a Dr Arthur John Ireland and his wife, with the Estate taking back much of the large garden. In September 1950 it let a large part of it to Sainsbury’s to add to the adjacent Griffin Sports Ground which they already leased. At the same time, the Estate Surveyor took the opportunity to check out how the house was being used and found that it had been split into flats, illegally as far as the Estate was concerned. Dr Ireland was threatened with court action and he approached Sainsburys who agreed to take over his lease and convert the house into residential staff quarters for the company, along with additional amenities for the Griffin Athletic Sports Club.
With thanks to John Cooper and Malcolm Shifrin.
Griffin Sports Ground, Dulwich Village
By Sharon O’Connor
Sports grounds funded or subsidised by an employer have a history stretching back to the nineteenth century and Dulwich is particularly rich in the number of sports clubs it hosts. Following the Industrial Revolution, increased income and leisure time helped create opportunities for workers to become involved in new activities. At the same time some companies tried to mitigate the more impersonal labour relations which resulted from fast-growing organisations by offering benefits such as sport and social clubs. Philanthropic employers like Cadbury, Rowntree and Boots first began to provide sports facilities for their staff in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and this had spread to banks, insurance companies and government institutions by the beginning of the twentieth. While there were undoubtedly altruistic motives, the organisations themselves also benefitted: exercise kept workers fit and team games like football and cricket engendered loyalty, thus lowering staff turnover. Interestingly many firms offered sport to both male and female staff right from the beginning. Changes in employment practice like the granting of a half-day holiday on Saturday afternoons provided the opportunity for workers to either play sport themselves or go to watch others.
In the early 1920s Sainsbury’s staff gathered to play football or cricket on their half day off, and this camaraderie led to the creation of their sports club in Dulwich in 1922. The club was named after the griffin which stands atop the Temple Bar memorial, near the Royal Courts of Justice. That it is, in fact, a dragon on top of the monument, and that there is little to connect Sainsbury’s to the Temple Bar (apart from being a London firm) does not seem to have bothered the man who proposed the emblem and was instrumental in getting the club started and funded by Sainsbury’s themselves, Mr W. H. Goldup.
An energetic character, Goldup also suggested the club’s colours of blue and gold and then, armed with permission and a budget from Mr John (members of the Sainsbury family were referred to in this way for many years), Goldup and Mr Alfred, a younger Sainsbury brother, proceeded to scour London for a site. Eventually an estate agent in Rushey Green suggested two fields in Dulwich with the possibility of an adjacent tennis club ‘that was in rather low water’. This was the Camber Tennis Club which had opened in 1913 and later had various Dulwich locations including its current home on Dulwich Common. Goldup recorded that the fields themselves had been allotments and were separated by thorn hedges and ditches.
The Griffin Club officially opened on Whit Monday, 5 June 1922. Cricket, dancing and an alfresco concert were available and music was provided by a Royal Artillery band. Employees paid a membership fee to use the grounds but the firm was very supportive and provided funds to clear and improve the site including a single-storey brick clubhouse built in 1922 in the ‘colonial pavilion’ style. The range of sports quickly expanded from the original football and cricket to include tennis, bowls, hockey, netball, cycling, darts and even a Griffin Rifle Club. The Griffin Opera and Dramatic Society (later renamed the Stamford Players) was founded there.
The club proved extremely popular with Sainsbury's staff in London and the ground was very well-used with, for example, cricket played on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The club hosted an annual sports day at which members could show off their skills to family and friends. The nearby Velodrome was also pressed into use when large attendances were expected. One worker who had joined Sainsbury's aged 14 had very fond memories of the Griffin, which he described as having ‘one of the finest cricket pitches in the south of England’. He recalled walking from Blackfriars to Dulwich to play there as he couldn't afford the bus fare.
During the Second World War the ground was covered by a barrage balloon unit and grazed by a flock of sheep. The long grass was sometimes cut by a cow-keeper from Peckham who had hungry cows and access to a reaping machine. In 1953 celebrations for the Queen’s coronation were a huge affair. Held over two days, the Sainsbury’s Dulwich Coronation Fete welcomed 2,500 employees and family members over the last weekend of August 1953. The weather on the Saturday was ‘the English summer at its worst’ and forced most visitors into the marquees to enjoy the horticultural shows and handicrafts displays. 2 Dulwich Village (now James Allen’s Pre-Preparatory School) which was also being leased by Sainsbury’s, was opened for chess demonstrations and matches. The two-shilling lunch seems good value: cold meats, green salad, potato salad and dessert (‘children half-price’). As night fell, a floodlit display of archery, dog shows, dancing and the pipes and drums of the London Scottish Regiment kept everyone entertained. Families were an important part of the club from early on and family fun days were held every year until 1988, with fun fairs, marquees, displays, bands and of course matches aplenty.
By the 1980s the club was becoming less and less popular. Sainsbury’s believed that changing social conditions such as the increasing importance of the nuclear family, the rise in both parents working and subsequent pressure on precious leisure time was making it difficult for the sports club to recruit new members and attract people to group activities such as the Family Fun Day. More widely, in society at large, corporate sponsorship of staff clubs came to be seen as paternalistic, and company mergers in the financial sector saw corporates divesting themselves of surplus sports grounds. Rocketing land prices in the London suburbs meant that many sports grounds were also sold for housing development, though in Dulwich grounds remained as playing fields. Lloyd's Register ground in Gallery Road is now used by Dulwich Prep London; Johnson Matthey's ground in Grange Lane/College Road is now used by Dulwich College and its Kindergarten; and the Camberwell-based paper manufacturer, Samuel Jones & Co, had a ground on Dulwich Common that is now Peckham Town FC. All these playing fields add considerably to the amenity of the Dulwich area.
In 1990 Sainsbury’s announced the closure of the Griffin. They said that the growth of the firm outside London meant that a diminishing proportion of its staff were able to take advantage of the Dulwich facilities. The subsidy received by the Griffin was reallocated to individual branches. After its closure Sainsbury’s ‘swapped’ the Griffin with King’s College, London. King’s acquired the Griffin lease while Sainsbury’s took the lease that King’s had given Dulwich Hamlet FC on Dog Kennel Hill, building a supermarket and a new ground for the football club. Old habits die hard however, and a group of Sainsbury’s veterans still met at the Griffin for many years after. Calling themselves the Tuesday Club they met weekly and for Christmas get-togethers, paying a small annual subscription to King’s for the use of the pavilion. Today, the ground offers three grass pitches, two for football and one for football or rugby, two mini-football pitches and two netball courts which can also be used for tennis. In the summer two cricket pitches are available.
With thanks to the Sainsbury Archive, Museum of London, for permission to use the images.
26 February - 17 May 2020
In February 2020, Dulwich Picture Gallery will present British Surrealism, an ambitious and wide-spanning survey of the origins of surrealist art in Britain, and the first to trace its root ack to 1620 through supporting archive material. Marking the official centenary of surrealism, when founder André Breton began his experiments in surrealist writing in 1920, it will present a fresh take on this revolutionary movement, through over 70 eclectic works. British Surrealism will explore the contribution and responses that British artists made to the movement, whether they were involved directly as surrealists, or were significantly influenced by it. Bringing together over 40 artists, including Leonora Carrington, Edward Burra, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Ithell Colquhoun, John Armstrong, Paul Nash and Reuben Mednikoff, the exhibition showcases paintings, sculpture, photography, etchings and prints made between the years 1783 and 1952. Revelatory works from less familiar yet innovative figures will also feature, including Marion Adnams, John Banting, Sam Haile, Conroy Maddox and Grace Pailthorpe - all of whom were united by a motivation to blur the boundaries between reality and dreams.In the First Manifesto of Surrealism (1924), Breton named 25 poets, novelists and playwrights from the 17th to the 19th centuries who shared and inspired the subversive qualities and absurdities of the movement. In a playful twist, the exhibition will include works and books by some of these so-called ‘ancestors of surrealism,’ including William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Henry Fuseli, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. Literary highlights in the exhibition include rare manuscripts such as a notebook containing Coleridge’s 1806 draft of his poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and a playscript for Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1859).
The exhibition itself will echo elements of the uncomfortable, rejecting order and chronology to channel the mischief and provocation of the movement. It will be arranged to reflect the modes and methods of surrealism, with themes of war, dreams, the unconscious, the uncanny, radical politics, sex and desire. The common creative urge between all artists will be highlighted throughout, revealing the power of the subconscious, and the liberation of the imagination. The exhibition will begin with an exploration of dreams, a key recurring motif in surrealism. Highlights will include Armstrong’s Heaviness of Sleep (1938) - depicting a landscape that is both arid and fertile, as well as Burra’s nightmarish Dancing Skeletons (1934). Works that focus on chance and unexpected juxtapositions will be displayed, including Marion Adnams’ uncanny post-war landscape Aftermath (1946). The third room in the exhibition will look at the surrealist’s political aspirations and will include Nash’s bitter, pre-surrealist landscape, We Are Making a New World (1918) and Edith Rimmington’s collage Family Tree (1938).Works that delve into the concepts of automatism and the subconscious will examine automatic writing and free association - techniques that Breton took from Freudian psychoanalysis.
The penultimate room in the show will reveal the liberal demands and uncomfortable truths that the surrealists explored around sexuality. Colquhoun’s The Pine Family (1940) and Pailthorpe’s disconcerting watercolour drawing, Abstract with Eye and Breast (1938) will be displayed. By creating illogical worlds, the surrealists aimed to provoke new ways of seeing. The final room explores the irrational, the impossible and the absurd, with highlights including works by Carroll - a key figure of the ludicrous, Bacon’s otherworldly Figures in Garden (c.1935) and Fuseli’s Macbeth (1783). Seen together, the works in this room will provide an overview of the fundamental ideas of surrealism, emphasising the importance of imagination and will demonstrate the surrealist’s aim of imagining new realities. It will represent the value of creativity in times of unrest; presenting a connection to today’s often turbulent landscape and political climate.
British Surrealism is curated by Dr David Boyd Haycock, a freelance writer, curator and lecturer specialising in British art of the twentieth century. It will be his second exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, following Nash, Nevinson, Spencer, Gertler, Carrington, Bomberg: A Crisis of Brilliance, 1908-1922 in 2013. Speaking of British Surrealism, he said: “Surrealism was probably the most exciting,
transgressive and bizarre art movement of the twentieth century. Its impact on a wide range of British artists, including a number of radical female artists, was enormous. A century after its first official appearance, it is an appropriate moment to expose new audiences to roots of surrealism in British culture.”
Jennifer Scott, The Sackler Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, said: “If you thought surrealism was solely born in France, think again! There is often something absurd and imaginative within British creativity, from Shakespeare to Lewis Carroll to Henry Moore. Visitors will be invited to embark on their own adventures into the illogical through some spectacular loans and inventive exhibition design; it is not to be missed.”
Lost Houses of Dulwich: John Ruskin’s house on Denmark Hill
By Alison South
In this year of the 200th anniversary of John Ruskin’s birth, there are many events and writings which have celebrated his life and times, his works and impact. For almost 50 years of that life, from 1823 to 1872, John Ruskin was associated with two local houses, 28 Herne Hill and 163 Denmark Hill. The Denmark Hill house, which subsequently came to be known as Ruskin Manor, was leased from the Dulwich Estates Governors by his father in 1842 and relinquished by John 30 years later in 1872.
While much has been written about John Ruskin’s life during the family’s occupancy, the house however, was built in 1794, almost fifty years earlier, and was demolished in 1947 over 150 years later. The Ruskin tenure is therefore just part of of its story. Access to the leases in the Dulwich College Archives has enabled us to investigate the other occupants and to understand a little of their lives.
There were eight families who leased the property pre and post Ruskin; Watson, Belcher, Gibson, Liddiard and Ewbank preceded them and Druce and Wilson followed. The leases before 1842 were all held for 10 years or less and those from the Ruskin period onwards were held for around 30 years. It was not a cheap house to acquire and everyone who leased the house was comfortably established and aged at least 40 years, most were over 50.
William Wood Watson a wealthy landowner and stockbroker was responsible for building the house in 1794 on a piece of land of over 6 acres on the south side of the road between Dulwich and Camberwell. The area had recently become fashionable and a row of substantial mansions were built along the north side of the ridge of Denmark Hill.
Wilson agreed to expend £1000 on the house and other buildings, and the lease of 1805 includes a plan showing the dwelling house and stables, kitchen garden, pasture and pleasure grounds and meadow. The lease was extended from the original 21 years to 84 years soon afterwards under an Act of Parliament obtained by the Estate to encourage new building. Several large houses on prime sites with extensive views were built on the south side overlooking the valley of Dulwich about this time including Casino House, Denmark Hill House and probably the adjacent property later occupied by Sir Henry Bessemer. The house was tenanted in 1807 and William Watson moved to Knightsbridge. He died in 1817 aged 61; the inscription on his burial vault at Burwash, Sussex refers to his residence at ‘Dulwich Hill’ as Denmark Hill was often referred to.
Andrew Belcher of Throgmorton Street was the next leaseholder, for five years from 1812. The assignment of the lease cost £7,350 (equivalent to about £500,000 today). He was nearly 50 when he arrived in England with his wife and several children. It is almost certain that he was from the prominent family from Nova Scotia, Canada where his father Jonathan, was lieutenant governor and chief justice.
A daughter, Eleanor, was born at Demark Hill in 1813. One of the sons, Edward, joined the Royal Navy upon arrival in England and he was later to become Admiral Sir Edward Belcher. He had a varied but somewhat controversial career in the RN; one of his later expeditions was to search for Sir John Franklin in the Canadian Arctic.
The trade directories from 1813 and 1814 indicate that Andrew Belcher was a merchant operating from 29 Throgmorton Street at premises already occupied by a James Brymer. This may have been a relative of Alexander Brymer who was the dominant influence in Andrew Belcher’s formative years. At this time, Throgmorton Street was mainly occupied by stockbrokers, solicitors and merchants. In 1816, Belcher moved his business premises to Lime Street where several wine and brandy merchants, ship agents and numerous manufacturers also occupied premises.
The family moved on to live in Clarence Lodge in Roehampton. Andrew Belcher’s business interests whilst wide-reaching were far from successful. He was affected by the recession of 1826 and returned to Nova Scotia. He ultimately died almost destitute in Boulogne in 1841.
Robert Gibson ‘late of Calcutta’ was the leaseholder from 1817, aged 57. He paid £6,000 to Andrew Belcher for the lease. He appears to have spent most of his working life in India, where he was described as a ‘tailor and habit maker’ and as a ‘tailor to the Ecclesiastical Registrar’. His two daughters were born in Calcutta in 1798 and 1811 and he may also have married there.
During the time he was resident in theq2swe., ouse, Robert Gibson had business premises at 26 Lombard Street. He prepared his Will in London in 1820 at which time his son, also Robert, was living with him in Denmark Hill. Robert senior died in Calcutta in 1823 and is buried there. His widow, Ann continued to lease the house until 1826.
The lease was next assigned to John William Liddiard from 1826. He was born in London in 1778, married Maria in 1803 and had five daughters born between 1805 and 1817.
The Schedule, which forms part of the lease, is an early version of the fixtures and fittings list seen in current house sale and purchase transactions. It tells us that the upper floor rooms had stoves and roller blinds, brass finger plates and handle bell pulls. The hall had a ‘fine large bronze figure on carved pedestal’ and the library a ‘range of Japanned Library book cases’. Outside, the Pleasure Ground had two alcove summer houses with seats, there were ‘mellon frames’ and a green house.
Liddiard was a linen-draper and rented premises at 61 Friday Street in London for many years, although later trade directories, covering the 1826-1836 period when the Denmark Hill house was leased, describe Liddiard & Nephew as calico-printers.
Liddiard moved out of the Denmark Hill house in 1836 and he later became the first person to occupy Leigham House in Streatham in 1842 where he spent his retirement, dying there at the age of 80 in 1858.
The final leaseholder before John James Ruskin was Henry Ewbank, described simply as a merchant, of Idol Lane who had the lease from 1836 until 1842. At the time of the 1841 census, Henry Ewbank, born in York, was in his early 50s and living in Denmark Hill with his wife American-born wife Lydia Ball Lucas and their family. They had five servants living with them in the house, and the gardener and his family were resident too, probably in the lodge. They had at least six children, three of whom were born in Denmark Hill.
Over twenty years earlier Ewbank was living in Charleston, South Carolina and was a partner in a business with Jonathan Lucas and James Cordes owning rice mills; both Ewbank and Cordes would later marry Lucas’s daughters. The businesses brought great wealth, owning plantations, mills and slaves. In 1822, the year before the three men left for England, there was a serious slave revolt in Charleston which culminated in the execution of many slaves. Businesses were established in London owning rice mills and warehouses. In 1832 Jonathan Lucas died, but Ewbank and Cordes continued their collaboration and in 1836, their mill on the Grand Surrey Canal burnt down
In addition to the rice milling business, Ewbank and Cordes developed the ‘Ewbank’ nail which was manufactured in Newport; these nails were widely exported, particularly to Australia. The manufacturing business was operational at the time Henry Ewbank lived in Denmark Hill, and he continued his involvement until the early 1850s. He died in Tonbridge in 1859.
It is totally ironic that the 21st birthday present John James Ruskin gave to his precocious son in 1840 was Turner’s painting, ‘The Slave Ship’ which the young Ruskin had much admired. It was hung in the hall of 163 Denmark Hill when the Ruskins moved into the house from nearby 28 Herne Hill in 1842.
John James Ruskin was a wine merchant, and the house into which the family moved was larger than their house on Herne Hill with more room for entertaining, servants’ quarters and a growing collection of paintings, especially by J M W Turner. There were only thirty-two years left on the lease and so the cost was far less than thirty years earlier (£4,800 as against £7,350). When he died in 1867, it was assigned to his son as the beneficiary of his will. John Ruskin left five years later and the residue of the lease was assigned for just £1000. The Ruskins had held the lease for longer than anyone else up to then.
Ruskin had mixed feelings about his time on Denmark Hill. He liked the position, in the 1860s still “quite in the country” after coming up from Champion Hill. In his autobiography Praeterita Ruskin describes the grounds of Denmark Hill: “The house on Denmark Hill... stood in command of seven acres of healthy ground (a patch of local gravel there overlying the London clay); half of it in meadow sloping to the sunrise, the rest prudently and pleasantly divided into an upper and lower kitchen garden; a fruitful bit of orchard, and chance inlets and outlets of woodwalk, opening to the sunny path by the field, which was gladdened on its other side in springtime by flushes of almond and double peach blossom”. He found it “a quiet place to walk in all the year round”.
His mother delighted in managing the small farm, with its cows, pigs and hens. He was particularly fond of the view to the south-east from his bedroom window at sunrise, a view which he often painted in watercolour. However, he also said he was not happy there, “never at ease in a fine house”, and regretted the building developments around him. The Crystal Palace “a cucumber frame between two chimneys” opened in 1854, the same year as his difficult marriage was annulled; and the houses being built on Sydenham Hill destroyed the view from his window; Dulwich was declining, he said, its fields becoming “black, cindery, infinitely small”. Offered a house on Lake Coniston, he moved as soon as his mother had died.
The next occupant of 163 Denmark Hill was Walter William Druce, a distiller with J S Smith, Druce & Co, who operated from the Phoenix Distillery, Mile End. The original company was founded in 1785 and produced gin and dealt in other spirits and cordials. The company went out of business in 1908 although its liquidation did not affect Walter Druce who left the enormous sum of £205,000 at the time of his death three years earlier.
He and his wife Florence had married in 1870 and their three sons and a daughter were all born between 1872- 77, probably in the house. Their youngest son, Norman Frank Druce (1875-1954) distinguished himself at Cambridge in playing cricket and on the strength of his university performances was selected to tour Australia in the Ashes test match 1897/98. He scored a total of 252 runs in five innings. Norman Druce also played for Surrey and made 66 first class appearances.
William Wilson leased the property in 1909 and with his wife Laura Mary Wilson had been in discussion with the Estates Governors from 1907, wishing to establish a ‘high-class boarding establishment’. With such large houses in Dulwich being more difficult to let owing to the encroachment of terraced housing throughout the area, the Estate probably had little choice but to consent, however reluctant they might have been to such a proposal. William was born locally in Camberwell in about 1861 and Laura was from Poplar and a year younger, they had two children. William is described on the lease as a Life Insurance
To prepare 163 Denmark Hill for its new purpose, an annexe of two floors was built in the walled kitchen garden with 17 bedrooms on each floor and the stables were converted into bedrooms. The 1911 census indicates that in addition to the Wilsons and their son, there were 54 boarders and 21 staff in residence at the house. The boarders were from a wide age range, occupations and nationalities. There were three children aged 8 or under, six widows (some with their adult children), clerks, engineers, merchants, civil servants, medics, salesmen amongst others. Most boarders were British, but there were also Russians, Italians, Germans, an Australian, a Dane, an American and a Swiss. Amongst the staff were two German waiters, a Dutch waiter and a Swiss cook. The hotel had a golf professional by this time. One reason for residing at the boarding house has recently come to light, it was a place of refuge while a divorce case took place,
The Wilsons expanded their portfolio of boarding houses, taking a lease on 161 in 1911, and 167 (which was already a hotel) in 1918. In 1922, they added 165 and in 1923 the leases on the 4 properties were consolidated, though it appears that there were two hotels and a tennis club on the site; 161 was the Ruskin Manor Tennis Club, 163 the Ruskin Manor Residential Hotel and 165 and 167 were together the Bessemer Grange Residential Hotel.
In 1946 the Ruskin Manor estate was the subject of a Compulsory Purchase Order. The site was acquired by the London County Council to go some way to house some of the thousands of Londoners made homeless by the bombing of London in WW2. With the compensation from the order Dulwich College was able to press ahead with its plans to rebuild the war-damaged science block.
The author wishes to thank Bernard Nurse for his help with the John Ruskin section of this article.
Legacy of Empire Britain: Zionism and the Creation of Israel by Gardner Thompson
Reviewed by Duncan Bowie
Gardner Thompson is a local resident and former Head of History at Dulwich College. He is a colonial historian who has previously written on East Africa. He has been brave to venture into this territory which is well trodden by specialists and which remains highly contentious. Many previous studies are partisan, whether Zionist or anti-Zionist, and the lack of partisanship in Thompson’s work means that the book is actually a very useful contribution to the debate. Thompson’s starting point is on the Balfour declaration of 1917, but after examining, as many other works do, the prehistory and the Zionist campaign to win British support, he focuses on its consequences and on the British post-war occupation and on diplomacy during the period of the British mandate in Palestine from 1922 to 1948. The book therefore examines the failure of the British government to deliver on the commitment in the declaration that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” noting that the declaration did not in fact guarantee the political rights of the non-Jewish population, who remained the majority population of Palestine throughout the mandate period, despite the rapid increase in Jewish immigration.
The book considers the failure of successive administrations, most significantly that led by the first High Commissioner, the Zionist Herbert Samuel, to constrain both Jewish immigration and the increasing political role of the Jewish Agency. Gardner points out that the promotion of Zionism was actually incorporated into both the terms of the British Government’s 1922 White Paper and the terms of the mandate, which was drafted by the British government, in contradiction of the League of Nations objective of working towards self-determination by the existing population of a mandated territory.
Gardner is more sympathetic to the attempt by Sir John Chancellor, High Commissioner from 1928-1931, who recognised the inherent contradiction in the Balfour declaration and sought to adopt a more balanced approach to the conflicting interests of Jews and Arabs. Chancellor’s successor, Sir Arthur Wauchope, High Commissioner until 1938 was to openly favour Zionism, and British support for Zionism was to continue, despite the attacks of Zionist organisations such as Irgun, Hagannah and the Stern gang, on the British military and civil governance bodies, until Britain surrendered the mandate in 1947, with Ernest Bevin stating in the British parliament that “the obligations undertaken to the two communities in Palestine have been shown to be irreconcilable.”
A series of attempts to partition Palestine between Jewish and Arab communities had all failed, and the boundaries established by the UN in 1947 were soon breached as military action by the new Israeli state occupied territory allocated to the Arab state, first in 1948-9 and subsequently in 1967 with the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan heights. In his conclusion, Gardner comments that the Balfour declaration and the continued British commitment to supporting the establishment of a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people at the expense of the second commitment to protect the rights of the non-Jewish population bears some responsibility for the divisions in Palestine over the last 100 years, and that the centenary of the declaration was an opportunity to acknowledge this responsibility rather than a cause for celebration.
Just in case this book is not regarded as sufficiently controversial, Thompson has published an article on the Open Democracy website comparing Lloyd George’s policy on Palestine to David Cameron’s policy on BREXIT as both cases of self-inflicted political damage !
Player, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist: The Story of Edward Alleyn 1566-1626 by Antonia Southern
Reviewed by Brian Green
The appearance of a new biography of Edward Alleyn in this the 400th anniversary year of his foundation is welcome. While other authors have touched on his life in varying degrees, one has to go back to the 1950’s to G L Hosking’s ‘The Life and Times of Edward Alleyn’ for an actual monograph. Discarding the usual methodology of chronology, the book is instead thematic, highlighting different aspects of a life which the author rightly describes as that of a definitive multi-tasker. That it requires fourteen, albeit short, chapters ably demonstrates Alleyn’s energy and ambition.
The problem with this approach however, is that there is considerable repetition in the chapters and the reader might become irritated with references, say, to Alleyn’s office as Master of the King’s Bulls, Bears and Mastiff Dogs which constantly crop up or the working relationship with his equally energetic father-in-law, Philip Henslowe.
The Alleyn archive, including of course the Henslowe and Alleyn’s diaries, which are more record and account books than the modern notion of a diary, have been well-combed for the past century and a half. No new information is therefore derived from this source. Nevertheless, Antonia Southern, with the biography of Nathaniel Field already under her belt (Player, Playwright and Preacher Kid: The story of Nat Field 1587-1620) is able brings other sources into play and will surprise many with the revelation of Alleyn having performed in seven different plays within a fortnight, as a young actor in 1583.
Unfortunately, the book fails to answer the two key questions of Alleyn’s life - where did his money come from? Southern vaguely suggests it was from somewhat shady sources early in his life rather than that there had been a previous and lucrative marriage. The second unanswered question is what actually triggered his philanthropy which created his Foundation?
Although this book appears to be aimed at the academic market, its helpful references and extensive bibliography will prove useful to anyone interested I the early days of English theatre.
Player, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist by Antonia Southern 204 pages paperback Academica Press £37.50
Many members will be aware that Tappen House (formerly Glenlea), the grand cream painted stucco house on Dulwich Common, was used as a training base for the Dutch resistance during WW2, but fewer will know about Dulwich College’s connection with Bletchley Park - a recent memorial event at London University’s 'School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) for Professor Ron Dore, formerly head of the Japanese Studies department, noted that he was the last survivor of the ‘Dulwich Boys’.
Who were the ‘Dulwich boys’, and how did they relate to the code breaking at Bletchley Park? One element of code breaking that is often overlooked is that while you need chess grandmasters, mathematicians and musicians to break the code, the actual messages are in a foreign language, which needs translating. And this is where the ‘Dulwich boys’ came in.
Early in 1942 the War Office decided that it needed a large number of Japanese, Chinese, Persian and Turkish translators very quickly. To facilitate this, the Board of Education established a scholarship scheme for boys from secondary and public schools, aged 17 and 18, to study languages critical to the war effort. Looking around for accommodation near to SOAS in Central London, it saw that Dulwich College had spare capacity because of a fall-off in boarding numbers, and arranged to billet the students there while they were fast tracked through language courses at SOAS. The first boys arrived in May, travelling into London to attend language courses at SOAS every morning, and returning to the College each afternoon to study the regular curriculum, and games. Those doing Japanese and Chinese lived in Ivyholme while the others were in the Orchard.
The boys came from a variety of schools from all over Britain. Many had successful careers after the war as academics; Professor Dore, businessman, Sir Peter Parker, Chair of British Rail and diplomats Michael Morgan, British Ambassador to the Philippines 1981-1985 and Edward Youde, appointed Governor of Hong Kong in 1982). Dulwich college students were also chosen - Philip Vennis who worked on translating Japanese ciphers and Rupert Sutton who worked first at Bletchley Park, before being posted to India where he worked in the Wireless Experimental Centre - reputedly he once personally broke the monthly Japanese army code.
Dulwich’s own Am-Dram group celebrates its fiftieth year having been formed by the amalgamation of two older local companies - The Village Players and the Dulwich Dramatic Society who were both founded after the end of WW2. To mark the occasion, Jill, Jane and Louise Alexander put together the following poem incorporating all of the Players’ past productions which they performed at the 50th party.
It all began with The Venetian Twins
who Relatively Speaking
in the Absurd Person Singular
were The Rivals
who had a Beaux Stratagem
to win the hand of Miranda
whose sister Anastasia
was married to An Ideal Husband
called Uncle Vanya.
Her other sister Alice
was Charley's Aunt
and got dreadful Hay Fever
whenever she visited him on Cold Comfort Farm
where The Corn is Green,
lived in The Dolls House
It had a Gazebo
and was in Laburnam Grove
on the Outside Edge
of On Golden Pond
quite close to Our To
(we did it twice so I can mention it twice)
went to The School for Scandal
where she learnt her Ten Times Table
and all about The Lion in Winter
in The Glass Menagerie
and most important about
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds,
By the way her brother in law The Magistrate
much admired Sherlock Holmes
but he was aware of Habeas Corpus
and investigated lots of The Real Thing
such as A Day in the Death of Joe Egg
Murder on the Nile
A Murder is announced
The Rape of the Belt
and The Murder Mystery of the Farndale
Avenue Townswomens’ Guild
and of course the affair of The Crucible
which was found to contain Arsenic and Old Lace.
Well Night must Fall
and it was Time and the Conways
where they went at Lark Rise
on the Ghost Train
to see a Cabaret
of the Plaza Suite
of the Hotel Paradiso.
There was much Present Laughter
at this Cocktail Party
on the Night of the Iguana
when Dandy Dick
who was The Matchmaker
struck A Delicate Balance
between The Merry Wives of Windsor
and A Man of Destiny.
It was a real Comedy of Errors
almost a Black Comedy
or a Bedroom Farce
Don't Listen Ladies
You never can tell
How the Other Half Loves
and when A Letter to the General
saying Oh What a Lovely War
was published in
The Private Ear and the Public Eye
it was Hobsons Choice
whether Home and Beauty
or Agnes of God
would Inherit the Wind
on a Voyage round my Father
by Boeing Boeing.
Of course the whole thing was A Pack of Lies
and it wasn't until
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
said When we are Married
I will give you A Rose and a Ring
with my Season’ s Greetings
and All My Sons
will give you An Italian Straw Hat
with a Hollow Crown
and it will be
The Happiest Days of your Life
that I realised it was nearly 1995
and time for Animal Farm.
The second 25 years began with
The Real Inspector Hound
chasing Toad of Toad Hall
and The Mollusc
because they had infested
The House of Bernarda Alba
which was quite a Bleak House
with Dry Rot
It was a Bedroom Farce
a real Comedy of Errors
said When we are Married
we will Return to the Forbidden Planet
where we will find
But it was
The Accidental Death of an Anarchist
which created A Chorus of Disapproval
from Top Girls
and The Jew of Malta
when they heard that Amadeus
were The Rivals
for the hand of Lysistrata
who was A Compleat Female Stage Beauty,
just like The Merry Wives of Windsor
who on Twelfth Night
decided to be Benefactors
to Dear Brutus
and The Pied Piper,
were Much Ado About Nothing.
Then The Three Sisters
and My Three Angels
went Dancing at Lughnasa
in Secret Rapture
with All My Sons
Now The Man who came to Dinner
with Jack and the Beanstalk
drank Shakers Re-stirred
and Bouncers Remix
with only The Memory of Water
until they were both just Talking Heads.
In A Midsummers Night's Dream
Daisy Pulls it off
as She Stoops to Conquer
The Ghost Train
but The Taming of the Shrew
was all for
Our Country's Good.
In another Midsummers Night's Dream,
A Servant to Two Masters
said Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
and they Can't Pay, Won't Pay
so that's Life x 3.
But in The Winter's Tale
which is one of those Grimms Tales
where A Murder is announced,
A Murder in the Cathedral-
by A Woman in Mind.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
put A Ring Round the Moon
with a Rope.
Meanwhile in Arcadia
in yet another Midsummer Night’s Dream
it was Ladies Day
when The Steel Magnolias
discussed The Adventures of Alice
and The Importance of being Earnest
as they played Racing Demon
in a Tempest.
It reminded one of The Coarse Acting Plays
but really it was just As You Like it