1616 And All That
For the majority of those people interested in English literature and the theatre, 1616 will be remembered as the year of William Shakespeare’s death. Now, in this, his 400th anniversary year, his works will be scrutinized, performed and reinterpreted, his portrait likenesses argued over, his life in London and Stratford probed. Undoubtedly, the movie Shakespeare in Love will be screened ad nauseam. On the other hand, people living in Dulwich or in any way connected with the Foundation schools will be celebrating a different anniversary altogether. For them, 1616 is a significant milestone in Dulwich’s history. Christ’s Chapel, the Dulwich Almshouse charity (Edward Alleyn House) and the Old Burial Ground can all date their various histories to that year.
1616 was the year that the second part of Edward Alleyn’s legacy came to fruition. In 1605 he , possibly unwittingly, took the first step towards immortality when he purchased the Manor of Dulwich and as a consequence allowed the Dulwich Society to launch its project of raising a statue to him 400 years on, in 2005. In three years’ time we will be celebrating the final Act, when official recognition of his gift, in the form of Letters Patent, ensured his vision would enjoy a permanent legacy.
And so we are here, four centuries later to celebrate Act Two. Each of the elements of the Foundation will play a part in the commemoration. While the schools will wish to keep some of their powder dry for Act Three in 2019, they nevertheless are to stage a gala concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 16th March this year. With four distinguished soloists, an orchestra and choir of over 450 pupils, alumni, teachers and parents performing Verdi’s choral masterpiece, the Requiem Mass it promises to be a spectacular opening to the celebrations.
Several events will highlight the Chapel during the Dulwich Festival. On Sunday May 8th Douglas Tang will give a a organ recital, on Tuesday May 10th Brian Green will give a talk on the Chapel’s fascinating and often turbulent history. The talk will be complimented by some original 17th and 18th century music found in Dulwich College’s archives, as well as other compositions which have a relevance at the Chapel, including works by Handel, Holst and Vaughan Williams. They will be played on the historic 1760 George England organ by Marilyn Harper, Christ’s Chapel Organist.
On Sunday 10th July there will be an Evening Celebration in the Chapel and on Thursday 1st September, the actual anniversary of the Chapel’s consecration, there will be an evening Sung Eucharist . Later that month a history of the Dulwich Almshouses will be published. On 17-18th September, Open House Weekend, the Dulwich Society will give guided tours at the Old Burial Ground and will distribute an information leaflet about those interred, including the 37 victims of the Great Plague of 1665.
Most people will have heard the good news that the Dulwich Estate has come to an agreement with pub operator Fullers to reopen the Half Moon Pub later this year. We now just need the work on the Crown and Greyhound to be finished and for that to re-open as well.
The well-advertised move of the Dulwich Post Office to Rumsey, the chemist, has been smooth - though we do not yet know who will take over the old unit next to the paper shop, but in Herne Hill things are less optimistic. Just Williams, the toy shop in Herne Hill, closed its doors on the 24th January. The reason given initially was that the Dulwich Estate, its landlord, had raised the rent level to renew the lease by 70%. There was a highly critical article on the Herne Hill Forum website and a considerable number of negative comments on other internet forums and Twitter - and an on-line petition asking the DE to reconsider the rent hike was set up at the beginning of January. By the end of the month, it had over 1700 signatures. The Dulwich Estate responded quickly with a factual note which suggested a much lower increase and a rather different scenario on the rent negotiation, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of the whole story was the impact of social media - the Dulwich Estate could not ignore the reputational damage that can arise from it, and had to respond in a much more informative way than normal.
It is no secret that the Estate, like any landlord, is looking to raise its shop rents on both review and renewal - there are rumours of 50% increases in the northern part of Dulwich Village, and this is despite the substantial reduction in footfall following the opening of Gail’s and the temporary closure of the Crown and Greyhound. The maxim on local shopping is ‘use it or lose it’, and if business is down, and residents are not using the shops, is it just a temporary blip or is it that the mix is not right? Or is it a more fundamental structural change in that much of what you could buy there can be bought more easily and cheaper on line - and delivered directly to your home? To increase rents in this situation would seem to be counter intuitive.
One outcome could be more national chains, particularly restaurants and coffee shops, coming into the area (as they can afford the higher rents perhaps) - there is a substantial minority of residents against the arrival of Sainsbury’s, but is this a sign of things to come? The proof of course is in the letting. If the Estate can secure new tenants for the shops at higher rents they will do so - but if they can’t we may be back to the early 1990s, when the Village looked very sad - with a large number of vacant units.
The membership secretary, Diana McInnes has reported an increase in the Society’s membership following a recruitment drive held in Woodwarde Road and Court Lane last autumn. The membership now stands at 1124. Seventy one new members joined the Society in the past year, 47 left, most through moving out of the area or as a result they had died. Almost all new members provide an email address and 40% of the total membership receive the regular e-bulletin of up to date news and events. Of this number, 75% open the email.
There will be a Dulwich Society members’ party on Saturday 8th October 2016 at St Barnabas Parish Hall, Dulwich Village.
The Dulwich Society Annual General Meeting 2016
Notice is hereby given that the 53rd Annual General Meeting of The Dulwich Society will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 25th April 2016 at St Barnabas Church Community Lounge, Calton Avenue, SE21 7DG.
1. Minutes of the 52nd Annual General Meeting held on 27th April 2015 to be approved.
2. Chairman’s Report.
3. Secretary’s Report.
4. Treasurer’s Report and presentation of accounts for the year ended 31st December 2015.
5. Appointment of Honorary Auditor.
6. Reports from Sub-Committee Chairs.
7. Elections for 2016-2017. President, Vice-Presidents, Officers, Executive Committee.
8. The following motion to update the Society’s subscription rules is proposed to the meeting:
“This meeting resolves that Rule 4 of the Constitution of the Society be deleted and replaced with the following revised Rule 4:
(a) Unless otherwise determined by the members at an Annual General Meeting or Special General Meeting, an individual or household shall pay an annual subscription of £10.00. The subscription shall be paid when a person/household becomes a member and thereafter shall become due and payable on the first day of January in every year. Any member joining the Society in the last three calendar months of the year and paying the subscription, shall not be required to pay another subscription until the first day of the January of the next but one year.
(b) If any Member shall be three months or more in arrears with his subscription (ie on April 1st of the year that membership is due) he shall cease to be a member on the day after the next Executive Committee Meeting.”
Proposed: Diana McInnes (Membership) Seconded: Sue Badman (Secretary)
9. Any Other Business.
Note: Nomination forms for election as an Officer or Member of the Executive Committee can be obtained from the Secretary. Nominations must be submitted in writing to the Secretary by two members not later than fourteen days before 25th April 2016 and must be endorsed by the candidate in writing. (Rule 9).
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2015, the Chairman’s report and reports of the Sub-Committee Chairmen for 2015 may be viewed on the Dulwich Society web site www.dulwichsociety.com . The Rules of the Society may be viewed at http://www.dulwichsociety.com/about-the-dulwich-society. The 2015 minutes and the Rules may also be obtained by application to the Secretary.
There will be a short talk on a Society theme after the meeting. Wine and nibbles will be served.