Anniversaries serve as reminders of times past. They are also a useful means of giving prominence to an institution, person or an event. It is said, that when the BBC is running short of ideas for its programmes, the calendar is looked at to see which anniversary might be highlighted and developed to fill a space in its schedules. All parties therefore derive a benefit.

The same might be said for a number of events which are to be commemorated in Dulwich this Autumn. Depending on one’s interests, it might be the 100th anniversary of the Battle of High Wood on the Somme on September 15th 1916, the continuing events marking the year of the death of William Shakespeare, or of course the 400th anniversary of the building of Edward Alleyn’s Chapel, Almshouse and College in Dulwich.

 As this time the Dulwich Society has no particular anniversary itself to celebrate, it has instead decided to take a leaf from the pages of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and give itself an un-birthday party!

According to our secretary, Sue Badman, who has perused the Society’s Minute Books, there used to be frequent parties; there was once, even a ‘social committee’. Can we deduce from this worthy exploration of our archives that we have become more serious, more troubled by the woes of the world, less gregarious? Further research suggests that the Society is actually enjoying quite a successful period at the moment - membership is at an all-time high, finances are sound, and as the pages of this Journal demonstrate, our activities are wide, interesting and well-supported. Should we risk all this by having a party?

Of course it all depends on what kind of a party. For a description of this we might well be advised to turn to the Oxford English Dictionary, which produces the ideal word (in French) for it:

soirée /ˈswɑːreɪ/ (noun) 1820 (Fr..f..soir evening)

 an evening party, gathering, or social meeting, for conversation or music.

synonyms: social gathering, gathering, social occasion, social event;

There is actually a little extra planned. An exhibition of old photographs will recall the decline of farming in Dulwich, the three paintings by C B Core, recently given to the Society will be on display, the reception will be accompanied by jazz piano music, and during the evening a young folk group, an a capella choir and a string quartet will entertain us.

An application form for tickets is enclosed with this Journal. Don’t miss it - we may not have anything else to celebrate for ages!

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