There are two subjects which are currently exercising the minds of some Dulwich people. They are not necessarily the same people.

The first is the matter of the future of Dulwich’s sports fields, open spaces, parks and woods. A look on Google, focused on Dulwich reveals plenty of open space, admittedly a lot less than say before World War 2. Then, if Google had been invented, further great swathes of open land would have been revealed in both north and south Dulwich, at the extremities of the Dulwich Estate. Go back even further, to pre-World War 1 and a great deal more would be visible, private parkland now covered by the Casino estate on Red Post Hill and the subject of Bernard Nurse’s article, ‘Homes fit for Heroes’.

What remains is still extensive and perhaps an anomaly in suburban London. Let’s take the Woods for instance. You will read elsewhere in this journal, of the late Stella Benwell’s spectacular success in opposing the development of the sites of two former houses, Lapsewood and Beechgrove, by the predecessors of the Dulwich estate. It appears that this land is not preserved for the public forever, but rather is still controlled by the Dulwich Estate and not included in the Sydenham Hill Wood remit to the London Wildlife Trust. Which is rather a clumsy way of saying, that given unlimited resources a further legal contest could one day ensue.

However, more pressing is the apparent need for Dulwich’s surviving sports’ clubs, especially those who cater for young people, to pay their way, especially with last year’s very wet winter and this year’s absolutely appalling one. Grounds cannot be used so income falls. What to do? A solution come up with by some struggling clubs is to turn their premises into daytime educational facilities which will help pay the rent. The problem is that a conflict of interest occurs when the premises are too small and an extended building is deemed to be required. Questions arise of course, whether clubs are paying too much in rent, or whether additional use, say by schools, might alleviate the problem

This question will be discussed at a Public Meeting at the Crown & Greyhound, Dulwich Village on 18th March.

The second subject exercising minds is the adequacy of local provision of education, i.e. are there enough local free schools, either primary or secondary? Some readers will remember a distant time when London school rolls were falling so fast that schools were closed and the buildings sold off. However, what we now seem to have is a return to the demand of the 1890’s, when the population of Dulwich, and especially East Dulwich, expanded at such a rate that few vacant sites remained for schools. The schools that were built were three-deckers with minimal playground space.

We seem to be reaching that stage again. Three sites present themselves locally for schools. The smallest, the former East Dulwich police station on Lordship Lane has already been earmarked for purchase by the Education Funding Authority. But is it large enough? A more spacious site, but one which is being fought over by several other interests, is the Dulwich Hospital site. The last, with the tantalising possibility of using nearby sports’ fields, is the site of the former Grove Tavern at the junction of Dulwich Common and Lordship Lane. It would be irresponsible if these options were not considered by the people of Dulwich. What may be required is a second public meeting where the facts could be presented and options discussed.

Over the last three months, three issues of the society's eNewsletter have been sent out to all those members whose emails we have. The response has been very positive and, if you have not received yours, please send your email to address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that your name can be included on the distribution list.

Progress is being made on the Dulwich Archive at Rosebery Lodge and we are looking for members who would like to be part of a team to organise and run it. If you are interested please also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dulwich has been a busy place over the last two months. The works to the railway bridges in Croxted Road, Rosendale Road and Village Way have caused an amount of traffic chaos, not helped by the unexpected closure of the latter at the end of January when a leak was spotted in a water main under the bridge.
There has been a serious outbreak of graffiti in Dulwich Village. Southwark Council's graffiti removal team has been dealing with it and the local safer neighbourhood police team have changed their shift patterns in response. Report graffiti on the 24 hour hotline 0207 525 2000 or online at Please also contact the police on 101 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please take photos of the graffiti and send details of the location with your report.
Complaints about Gail's bakery are growing, particularly over the number of cycles and motor cycles being parked illegally on the pavement while their owners go inside to buy their coffees. There have also been problems over the outside tables affecting on the width of the pavement left for pedestrians.
Some members are also becoming increasingly concerned over the future of the local sports grounds and playing fields. While there have been successes like the Herne Hill Velodrome where a planning application for the new club house is imminent, there are queries over the future of several other areas where the existing tenant either wants to leave or is having problems paying the rent. A current case is the future of the Southwark Community Sports Trust sports ground, backing on to the southeast side of Turney Road, where residents' objections are now appearing to be impacting on the proposed flood alleviation scheme in the area.

To try and find out how members feel about sports grounds the Society will be holding a public meeting on the 18th March at the Crown and Greyhound in the Village at 7.30pm. More information will be available nearer the time in the eNewsletter and on the Society notice board in the village.

The restoration of the traffic island at the Burbage Road junction with Gallery Road is expected to happen in the shortly. The consultation was completed in December.

As useful as a Chocolate Teapot!

Users of North Dulwich Station will be either amused or mystified to see that Railtrack have installed disability boarding ramps to assist wheelchair passengers alighting from trains at North Dulwich Station. The only obstacle which now confronts the disabled, (apart from giving 24 hours notice to travel), is how to get their wheelchairs up the 30 steps from the platform. Is it not about time that lifts were installed at North Dulwich, West Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Stations?

Dulwich Festival 9th-18th May

With Spring just around the corner, it isn't long before the Dulwich Festival bursts into life for another ten days of exciting arts events. Running from 9th-18th May, the 21st Dulwich Festival continues its tradition of drawing internationally acclaimed artists, musicians and authors together - alongside familiar faces in the local community - to celebrate the local area.

The Festival opens with a fascinating talk - Life, Death and the Limits of the Human Body with Dr Adam Rutherford & Dr Kevin Fong - on Friday 9th May. Internationally acclaimed chamber musicians The Chilingirian Quartet promise to give a spell-binding performance on Wednesday 14th May at Christ's Chapel in association with the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery.

For those of you who remember The Tiger Who Came To Tea, the In Conversation With session with the popular book's author and illustrator Judith Kerr is a must. Judith will be speaking on Monday 12th May. In her 90th year, this remarkable woman has not only produced some of the best-known children's books, but also faced extraordinary challenges growing up as a child in Hitler's Germany. Hear all about her escape from Hitler - an experience which inspired another classic book When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, and her long and varied life since then. A fascinating evening!

2014 not only marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, but is also the 70th anniversary of the mass breakout from Stalag Luft III in March 1944, masterminded by Roger Bushell and immortalised in the Hollywood film The Great Escape. Hear a vivid account of the escape from Simon Pearson, Times journalist and author of the first biography of Roger Bushell on Tuesday 13th May.

The ever-popular Scratch Come & Sing event returns on Sunday 11th May at the Holst Hall, JAGS. Opportunities to explore the local area abound with the return of Artists' Open House showcasing the visual arts throughout hundreds of spaces in the area, as well as wonderful architectural, tree, history and street art walks planned across both weekends of the Festival. Follow Festival developments as they happen via our social media: / /


Sunday 11th May Dulwich Society Local History Walk led by Ian McInnes - 'Dulwich Village centre’ - The appearance of the centre of the Village is shortly to change with the proposed redevelopment of the S G Smith site. This walk will look at the history and development of the immediate area over the 100 plus years from 1850 to 1980. Meet on the corner of Turney Road and Dulwich Village opposite Dulwich Hamlet School. Walks at 2pm and 4pm. Suitable for wheelchair users

Tuesday 13th May Dulwich Society Trees Walk in Dulwich Park led by Letta Jones. Meet at the Court Lane entrance at 6pm

Sunday 18th May Dulwich Society Local History Walk led by Brian Green - An exploration of North Dulwich, its Georgian houses and its significance in the histories of World War 1 and World War 2 . Also visiting the sites of the Gaumont Film Studios and the World’s second largest telescope!. Meet at the Crown & Greyhound. Walks at 12noon and 2.30pm. Suitable for wheelchair users.

Inspired by the Subway

Next to the unmissable Crystal Palace transmitting station, hidden amongst the foliage lies a remnant from the heyday of the Crystal Palace. Underneath the main road, is a fan-vaulted pedestrian subway, built to link the High Level Rail Station to the famed Crystal Palace.

Closed formally since 1954, the Subway has continued to be used in many inspiring ways. In World War II it was an air-raid shelter, while in more recent years it was used in a Cadbury’s Wispa advert and featured in Chemical Brother’s Setting Sun music video.

Today the Friends of Crystal Palace Subway is working with local authorities to reopen the Subway and provide access to this unique piece of local heritage. As such, a Heritage Lottery funded project titled Inspired by the Subway was set up to work in conjunction with local volunteers and after-school childrens’ art groups to research, conduct oral histories and communicate the history of the Subway.
These findings and oral histories will be presented in an exhibition during Open House London on the 20th and 21st of September 2014.

Anyone wishing to share their memories or materials please contact Sue Giovanni at 07956 861052 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Living in one of Dulwich remaining Pre-Fabs

Peter Mendham has lived in one of Dulwich’s last pre-fabs since it was built at the end of World War 2. Peter’s family originally came from Swindon but during the war had lived with Peter’s grandparents in a tiny house in St George’s Way, Peckham. When Peter’s father was demobbed after the war the family were anxious for somewhere larger and jumped at the chance of moving into a prefab, one of four, built on the site of a bombed doctor’s surgery in Lordship Lane close to the junction with Townley Road.

The pre-fab offered central heating, a bathroom, a refrigerator and most luxurious of all, an indoor toilet, none of which was in the Peckham house. The rent was 7/- per week. Each pre-fab was sited in a good sized plot and many of the occupiers became keen gardeners. Peter Mendham is no exception and his garden (see photograph taken in November 2013) remains a superb example.

Camberwell Council erected 519 ‘prefabricated bungalows’ and the London County Council a further 611 in the borough (Dulwich, Camberwell and Peckham) to alleviate the chronic housing shortage caused by war damage. However, corrugated iron Nissen huts were probably included in this number. The history of prefabricated houses is a long one, but the design of many of those built after the end of the war were based on an American design and many were imported before manufacture in Britain got underway. It was originally estimated that they had a lifespan of 10 years. They have certainly lasted longer than that.

The Garden Group

John Ward has retired after 20 years as Chair of the Group. The Society is very grateful to John for the huge effort he has put into the Group’s activities. He will be succeeded by Jeremy Prescott. Jeremy is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic gardener and opens his garden for both the National Gardens Scheme and St. Christopher’s. We wish him every success.

Enclosed with this issue is the 2014 edition of Dulwich Gardens open for Charity. It has been edited by Ann Rutherford. We are sure that you will find it a very useful pictorial guide to local garden openings and associated events.

The Dulwich Society Garden Group is presenting an illustrated talk by Valerie Muir ‘What’s different about Organic Growing?’ on Thursday 24th April at Belair Recreation Centre, Gallery Road. Admission free. 7.30 pm for 8.00pm (Refreshments served at 7.30 pm). Non - members welcome.

St Peter’s Church, Dulwich Common

After several years of negotiation between the Deeper Life Bible Church and Southwark planning department, concerning car parking on the site, planning consent was finally granted in December 2013 for alterations to and the refurbishment of the stone boundary wall and decorative cast iron railings on the church’s front boundary wall. Primarily promoted by the Dulwich Society, the work will be funded by a Cleaner Greener Safer grant from Southwark Council, a Heritage for London Trust grant, the Deeper Life Bible Church and the Dulwich Society.

This will be an additional improvement to the area following the Dulwich Society’s other successful promotion of improvements at the eastern end of Dulwich Common. Notably, the alterations to the metal wicket gate at Cox’s Walk to allow buggies and small bicycles to access the walk, and the replacement of the unsightly remnants of the concrete post and mesh fencing along the frontage of the Streatham and Marlborough Cricket Club with an Oak paling fence, which has now weathered down to a light grey.

The Society now has around 25% of its members’ email addresses and the first two monthly eNewsletters were sent out at the beginning and end of December - a copy has been put up in the notice board outside the Village Post office. If you wish to receive it please send your email address to the membership secretary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rosebery Lodge, Dulwich Park

The Society has now agreed a draft lease with the Council to take over Rosebery Lodge in Dulwich Park as a local archive, museum and community facility. Refurbishment work on the building began in January and the aim is to have everything up and running by the Dulwich Festival in May.

East Dulwich Police Station

The Dulwich area is very short of new school places and the site has been identified as a possible site for a new school. Following concerns that the site would be sold for commercial development the Society submitted an application to have the police station identified as an asset of community value under the Community Right to Bid legislation.

Judith Kerr Free School

Members of the main committees of both The Dulwich and Herne Hill Societies were shown round the new school by the head at the end of last year. There are approximately 90 children there at the moment and this will increase to 150 in September 2014. The eventual school role will be 350 and there is proving to be considerable interest from local families.

The school is run by the CfBT Education Trust who also manage Oakfield School on Thurlow Park Road. The Half Moon Lane site used to be the King’s College London’s Sir James Black Laboratories and the existing building appears to have lent itself well to conversion into a school.

Crystal Palace redevelopment

The drop in session on the Chinese ZhongRong Group’s proposed reconstruction of the Crystal Palace building was very well attended and the project managers advertised for architects during December. It is clear that London Mayor Boris Johnson and the London Borough of Bromley are very keen on the scheme but the Dulwich Society is concerned that there are no representatives on the project’s steering group from either Southwark or Lambeth. The potential environmental impact on the Dulwich area from the increase in traffic is considerable and the Society is watching the proposal carefully. Unless there is parking is banned on site, people will drive to it, and Dulwich sits on the direct route south from central London.

Journal deliveries

We had a good response to our request for more volunteers to help deliver the Journal but we always need more. If you enjoy walking around the area, and have the time to help out, please contact the chairman on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Proposed redevelopment of the Crown and Greyhound into a Hotel
Dulwich College new Science
Block (computer generated impression - Grimshaw design)

Dulwich Society Newsletter Digitalisation

For the past ten years, firstly the Newsletter and more recently the Journal have been available to be read online and this has been a valuable tool for anyone interested in Dulwich. The Archives Department of Dulwich College has now offered to digitalise the earlier issues. Our secretary, Patrick Spencer has a complete run for our own archives with the exception of nos.58 & 72. He would be very grateful if any member could supply these. The digitalization process requires a second set which can be taken apart. There is a second set but we are missing Newsletters 85, 88, 94, 98, 103-4. Can you help?


Notice is hereby given that the 51st Annual General Meeting of The Dulwich Society will be held at 8.00pm on Monday 28th April 2014 at St Barnabas Church Community Suite, Calton Avenue, SE21 7DG.
1. Minutes of the 50th Annual General Meeting held on 9th April 2013 to be approved.
2. Chairman’s Report
3. Secretary’s Report.
4. Treasurer’s Report and presentation of accounts for 2013.
5. Appointment of Honorary Auditor.
6. Reports from Sub-Committee Chairmen.
7. Elections for 2014-2015. President, Vice-Presidents, Officers, Executive Committee.
8. Any Other Business.

Note: Nominations for election as an Officer or Member of the Executive Committee must be submitted in writing to the Secretary by two members not later than fourteen days before 28th April 2014 and must be endorsed by the candidate in writing. (Rule 9).
Patrick Spencer Hon. Secretary
7 Pond Cottages SE21 7LE
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2013, the Chairman’s report and reports of the Sub-Committee Chairmen for 2013 may be seen on the Dulwich Society Website A hard copy may be obtained by application to the Secretary.

Stella died in January at the age of 93. She grew up in Oundle, Northamptonshire, where her father was the vicar. Her life-long interest in wildlife was stimulated by her parents who were keen birders and enjoyed long tramps in the Welsh hills. Stella attended a boarding school for daughters of the clergy in Derbyshire, continuing into the sixth form which numbered seven students! She applied for entry to Cambridge but was deemed to be too young so instead she enrolled at Bedford College, University of London to read philosophy. The demands of World War 2 determined that Bedford College would relocate to Cambridge so in a way her original ambition was realised. It was whilst living in digs at Cambridge that she met her future husband Christopher who was a fellow boarder at the house. They married during World War 2 and Stella served as a Lady Almoner, what we would call today a social worker, at the Brompton Hospital. Meanwhile Christopher was serving in the 8th Army in the Western Desert and Italy. At the end of the war he joined the Civil Service and the family settled in Court Lane in 1951. A secondment to the NATO HQ in Paris meant that Stella and their three daughters accompanied him and they lived in Paris for three years. Coming back to Dulwich in 1957 they moved into Calton Avenue. Latterly Stella lived in Dovercourt Road.

Once in Dulwich, Stella volunteered to work for the Care in the Community scheme at Sudbourne School, Brixton and then took a teaching certificate and taught at Rosendale Junior School where she remained until her retirement in 1980. She remained in education by helping with pupils’ reading at Dog Kennel Hill School. She then started on her third career, as an active member of the Dulwich community.

She was an early recruit to Dulwich Picture Gallery and one of its first volunteer guides. Gillian Wolfe says that the education programme at the Gallery began through an idea Stella suggested to the then Director, Giles Waterfield. As he had earlier been in charge of education at the Royal Pavilion at Brighton he was very keen. Stella was the first person to support Gillian’s efforts on her appointment to the Gallery in 1984 and she continued to be associated with the Gallery as a guide and teacher and at one time had responsibility for the garden.

At the same time she also became a very active member of The Dulwich Society and was chairman of the Trees Committee for over twenty five years. Her most significant success was her campaign, in the company of Ronnie Reed and David Freeman to preserve an area of Dulwich Woods which was under threat of redevelopment for housing. Stella also had a keen eye for an open space that needed trees, or several, and over the years she saw the planting of trees in Horniman Triangle, Long Meadow (Gipsy Hill), and Belair Park. Full of ideas, she was delighted that her scheme for a map of Dulwich’s notable trees came to fruition and was so successful that it was reprinted and is now in its second edition. In latter years she turned her attention to arranging an autumn coach outing to look at trees outside of Dulwich. These trips were always oversubscribed and most rewarding.

Somehow Stella also found time to be an active member of the Dulwich Park Friends. In that capacity one of her great achievements was to oversee the planting of the copse and nature trail in the Park, made possible by a winding-up donation by the Dulwich Village Preservation Society in 2007. Now, seven years later, the copse is well established and there is a shady native woodland in a corner of the park. She also joined Isaac Marks in the creation of the winter garden in the Bandstand Field thereby creating a splash of colour in a barren season of the year.

Stella received more than one civic award from Southwark Council and typically she wanted to know what all the fuss was about. The thought of being honoured for her work never entered her head. Her mind and sense of humour were fully active until the last. She joked that she would like to be visited by anyone with a bad cold or chest infection to speed her departure.

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