Looking Around with the Editor
Theft of the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture
The appalling theft of the Hepworth sculpture, Two Forms – Divided Circle, from Dulwich Park just before Christmas came as a total shock. We had grown up with the presence of this artwork; indeed Dulwich had become rather flattered to have such an important piece on display in a public park. Of course, its arrival was somewhat controversial in 1970. Should the Greater London Council be spending £15,000 on a work by a living artist? And especially as it was neither unique nor original, but one of a limited edition of six. However, as Liz Johnson points out in her book Dulwich Park – a park for the people forever had it been a one-off it would have cost £23,000 and it was felt that the Council had got something of a bargain!
The appearance of many roads in Dulwich has been seriously compromised by the recent changes to the Council’s refuse collection regime. While recycling clearly has its positive side, the downside is the three different coloured bins – blue, green and brown.
Back in the summer of 2009 I drew attention to the unattractive appearance of many front gardens. I wondered why so many residents spent considerable sums of money maintaining and/or redesigning their rear gardens, and took so little interest in their front gardens which were on public view. Bin blight has made things much worse.
Why are so many of the bins left in front gardens all the time and why can’t the owners of semis and detached houses not store them somewhere else out of sight? Surely they could afford a dustbin enclosure which would hide them.
It is obviously not so easy for terrace houses and it’s a great pity that the Council did not think of this when they introduced the new system. Council officers have now confirmed that smaller boxes and bins are available but this option has not been widely advertised. Perhaps Eric Pickles’ recent offer of additional funds to restore weekly collections may be a solution – if the Council takes it up of course.
The cleaning and repair of those white posts in College Road which are Council responsibility remains on hold pending a date from the Community Support Team. Those at the north end of the Village outside the Old Burial ground have now been dealt with after pressure from the Society.
The Society is in the process of updating its membership list and would like to have the facility to send our members information and updates on important local issues by email. At the moment we do not have members’ email addresses and it would be very useful if we did. Several local residents associations do and they have found it extremely useful in generating member awareness.
Dulwich Society AGM
Notice is hereby given that the 49th Annual General Meeting of The Dulwich Society will be held at 8.00pm on Thursday 26th April 2012 at The Crown & Greyhound, Dulwich Village (upstairs room).
1. Minutes of the 48th Annual General Meeting held on 23rd May 2011 to be approved.
2. Chairman’s Report
3. Secretary’s Report.
4. Treasurer’s Report and presentation of accounts for 2011.
5. Appointment of Honorary Auditor.
6. Reports from Sub-Committee Chairmen.
7. Elections for 2012-2013. 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 26th April 2012 and must be endorsed by the candidate in writing. (Rule 9).
7 Pond Cottages
London SE21 7LE
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2011, the Chairman’s report and reports of the Sub-Committee Chairmen for 2011 may be seen on the Dulwich Society Website www.dulwichsociety.com A hard copy may be obtained by application to the Secretary. Following the meeting wine etc will be served.
Dulwich Society News
Austerity hits Dulwich
The number of License applications by Dulwich residents to the Scheme of Management to carry out changes to their property is down 50% on a year ago. The Planning and Architecture Group have commented on thirteen and eleven licenses applications respectively on their last two visits to the Scheme of Management Office in December 2011 and January 2012, a number substantially reduced from the twenty-two received in January 2011 and the twenty-five received in July of 2010.
Residents have clearly decided against spending money on improvements such as garden rooms, summer houses and sheds which have seen a decline in license requests and instead have opted for loft conversions with a rear dormer and rear rooflights.
The nature of these applications suggests that residents are making the decision to remain in their current home, but to increase the number of bedrooms.
If you are thinking of making changes to your property it would be wise to remember to check the Scheme of Management guidelines regarding the size and location of dormers and the location of rooflights. These can be found on the Dulwich Estate website www.dulwichestate.com The alteration of front gardens to provide off-street parking is also subject to Dulwich Estate guidelines. These require half of the front area to be soft landscaping to assist in reducing the amount of rainwater being discharged onto roads and pavements.
The Crown & Greyhound proposed alterations
The plan to transform the Crown & Greyhound into a boutique hotel has received a good deal of support. The Village traders have supported the proposed changes and the Dulwich Society Planning and Architecture Group considers the proposal to be a benefit to the community and to the Conservation Area and has welcomed some overdue improvements to the rear of the premises. It also acknowledges the lack of hotel provision in the vicinity. There was a public consultation open day at the pub in January which was attended by 40-50 people and followed a more general display of the plans over several months at the offices of the Dulwich Estate. David Roberts, the Chair of the Dulwich Society’s Planning and Architecture group commented on the need for additional toilet accommodation for the function room, restaurant and extensive bar areas. He also noted the current direct access to the function room has been lost in the revision and suggests that this requires the reconfiguration of circulation on the first floor. David further suggested that the loss of garden for the 19 dedicated hotel car spaces on the south side be balanced by the re-instatement of soft landscaping on the north side of the site.
At the time of going to press, no application for the works has yet been made. In view of this it is unlikely that a start will be made to the alterations, which will require the pub to close for an estimated fifteen months, until the latter part of the year.
Ian McInnes has written a detailed account of the fate of the two old inns which were demolished to make way for the present Crown & Greyhound on page 31.
News in Brief
The cleaning of the Mill Pond has been sent to tender by the Dulwich Estate and it has been confirmed that work will start next year. The cost, which will be born by residents under the Scheme of Management will be shared in September 2012. Other maintenance work by the Estate has been reduced to offset this extra cost.
The restoration of a number of damaged finger posts will commence shortly following representation by the Society to the Dulwich Community Council for a grant. A sum of £2500 was awarded for this contract.
The Society has contributed £500 towards improving the water quality of the rivulet which drains Dulwich Park lake. The work is expected to be completed this Spring.
The Society has also given £250 for the planting of the now rare Black Poplar tree in Long Meadow between Dulwich Wood Avenue and Gipsy Hill following Stella Benwell’s discovery of a free source for the saplings. It has further contributed £1184 towards the planting of the new hedge in Gallery Road.
Bids for CGS (Cleaner, Greener, Safer) funding have been made to the Dulwich Community Council and include a Dulwich heritage room in Roseberry Lodge Dulwich Park, new aquatic plants for the lake in Belair park and a grant for the restoration of the wall in front of St Peter’s Church, Dulwich Common. The final decision will be made at the Community Council meeting on 14th March.
‘Dulwich Gardens open for Charity 2012’
A copy of the 2012 edition of ‘Dulwich Gardens open for Charity’ is enclosed. Published by the Dulwich Society’s Garden Group, it gives details of over 40 garden openings during the coming months. We very much hope that you will visit some of them. Two forthcoming events have been arranged by the Gardens Group -
Thursday, April 19th - Talk by Gordon Lucas, Head Gardener, Horniman Gardens on ‘The redevelopment of the Horniman Museum Gardens
This is a subject that will interest all of us. Horniman Gardens are the finest public gardens in our area, but they are over 100 years old and in need of substantial refurbishment. Work has already started. Gordon Lucas will explain the many new developments which are designed to realise the educational potential of the gardens, as well as better serving the growing number of visitors.
7.45 for 8.00pm at the new Belair Recreation Centre, Gallery Road
The entrance to the new Recreation Centre is about 75 yards beyond the entrance to Belair Park as you go towards the South Circular Road. Admission free. Refreshments. Parking is available. Non members welcome.
Tuesday, June 19th Dulwich Society Garden Group visit to the Savill Garden including River trip, lunch and tea. Full details on page 7 of ‘Dulwich Gardens open for Charity 2012’ (enclosed with this issue) or ring Ina Pulleine on 8670 5477 (after 11.00 am)
Walks for The Dulwich Festival
Tree Walk - Saturday 12th May 2.30
This year the annual Tree Walk will again be led by Letta Jones, by now a good friend to us all, who brings her great knowledge, with its fascinating unusual details, even about trees we thought we knew well. We will meet at the College Park Gate at 2.30pm, walk up along College Road with its very handsome great trees, and also go into the Picture Gallery Garden which has almost its own small arboretum of unusual species from the Americas and the Far East.. We look forward to seeing you all again - last year there were over 60 tree lovers!
Local History Walk – Sunday 13th May at 2.30pm
The Old Village of Dulwich will be the subject of an in-depth history walk led by Brian Green and visiting the Old Burial Ground, stocks site, Christ’s Chapel. Meet outside The Crown & Greyhound. The walk is suitable for those in wheelchairs.
Local History Walk – Sunday 20th May at 2.30pm
The theme of this walk led by Ian McInnes will be the social and architectural history of the area. See where John Ruskin had his nightmare experience described in his essay 'Fiction, Fair and Foul', and the site of the old 'Manor House', the WW2 prison camp, the long forgotten prefab estate and much more. The walk will start and finish at West Dulwich Station.? Meet: Outside West Dulwich Station. Suitable for those in wheelchairs.
Whatever Happened to the May Queen?
May Day has long been a fixture on the South London calendar; after all, no less a person than Good Queen Bess herself is said to have gone ‘A-Maying’ in 1602 at Honor Oak whilst on a visit to Sir Richard Buckley of Lewisham. There was even an oak tree planted to celebrate the occasion, hence the name. Considering the steepness of the hill (also named One Tree Hill) and the age and state of health of the monarch (she died in the following year) her foray into Dulwich to gather Spring blossoms was clearly tempting fate.
May Day pops up again in 1902 with the staging of the comic opera ‘Merrie England’ at the Savoy Theatre in 1902 with music by Edward German and book and lyrics by Basil Hood (it was revived at Sadlers Wells in 1960), which sets the scene of the May Day celebrations at Windsor and the arrival of the May Queen. In the present Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation year some 500 amateur operatic companies staged performances of ‘Merrie England’.
Whether it was the success of this opera or the perceived high-jacking of what was once a festival celebrated by the Romans to herald spring by a nascent Labour Party led by the Arts and Crafts Movement which inspired a Mr Deedy, a Dulwich schoolmaster to launch the idea of May Festivals with May Queens and their attendants in London schools around 1910 is unclear. Apparently he was interested in English folklore and had a love of poetry and the countryside. Mr Deedy’s vision of celebrating Merrie England has lasted well and will next year reach its centenary at a number of schools on the fringes of South London, around Bromley and Hayes in Kent which have maintained the tradition.
Certainly some aspects of the comic opera are incorporated in the schools’ May Day celebrations, such as the inclusion of Robin Hood. The various roles in the pageant are decided by seniority and by popular vote among the children. Children can join as infants and continue until their sixteenth birthday.
At Hayes, after a procession around the Common, Mr Deedy’s folklore version script is still read out and the queen is crowned, and with her attendants, numbering around twenty, dances around a maypole and scatter flowers among the children of her ‘realm’.
The crowning of the May Queen was certainly celebrated post-war at Dulwich Hamlet School, but its demise sometime in the 1960’s followed hard on the heels of Commonwealth Day and Trafalgar Day. May Day as a public holiday was designated in 1978 and last year the Government was consulting on plans to abolish it and replace it with something more in line with its political thinking, perhaps something more straightforwardly nationalistic like UK Day or Trafalgar Day (again!), although recent moves towards Scottish independence undermine the former and fear of upsetting the French (again!) condemns the latter. Any suggestions? And who was Mr Deedy and at which Dulwich school did he teach?
A detailed account of the subject will be found in May Day in South London History written by Neil Transpontine and available price £3 including postage from Past Times, c/o 56a Infoshop, 56a Crampton Street SE17 3AE
Dulwich Hamlet School certainly still celebrates the arrival of Spring. In 2011 the School won the City of London’s De Luzy Challenge Cup for its efforts in growing spring bulbs. The children who grew the flowers were taken by their science co-ordinator, Nikki Thompson to the Guildhall in the autumn where they were presented with their trophy by the Master of the Gardeners’ Company and Janet and Jeremy Gotch. Jeremy is a former Sheriff of London and Janet co-ordinates the flower arranging at Christ’s Chapel.
Nikki Thompson said ‘The children work hard and take pride in making the school grounds look attractive. It also gives them a purpose and sense of responsibility. Each year group has its own flowerbed or pots as well as looking after communal areas’.