In recent years most of the local churches have been obliged to launch fund raising appeals to offset massive building costs. Both St. Barnabas and All Saints had to contemplate totally rebuilding their churches following destruction by fire. St. Stephen's and St.John's discovered serious roof and spire deterioration which called for immediate remedial action and for both these churches this was quite soon after earlier appeals to build new hall facilities. St. Paul's and Christ Church both launched appeals to adapt the interiors of their churches to meet changing needs.

At the time, each of the churches was faced with the daunting prospect of a massive financial cliff to be climbed yet each has succeeded in either erasing the debt or now has that end in sight. And all this has been realised at a time when we are told that church attendance is falling away. It has partly been achieved (with a satisfying increase in attendance) by making the churches more accessible to non church-going people though a wide variety of concerts, lunch clubs, drop-in coffee shops and playgroups.

The number and quality of the concerts performed for the various appeals has been staggering. Not only have talented local performers found venues and audiences, but enterprising organisers have persuaded national and even international artistes to perform. The entire community has thus benefited from these appeals and apparent disasters have been turned into success stories.

For lovers of church music another benefit is accruing. A number of the churches are installing new pipe organs at a time when churches elsewhere are, because of rising costs, turning to electronic organs. For those who appreciate the clearer tones of the pipe organs this is good news. Soon, Dulwich will be able to boast a splendid array of such new or restored instruments at St. Stephens, St John's, St. Barnabas, All Saints and Christ's Chapel. Time for an Organathon perhaps?

The 42nd Annual General Meeting of the Dulwich Society will be held at 7.30pm (please note new time) Thursday 17 March 2005, at St. Barnabas Centre, Calton Avenue, SE 21.

In order that more time can be spent discussing any matters of concern to members, all committee and sub-committee reports (with the exception of the Treasurer's Report) will be published in advance on the Society's website Members unable to access the website can obtain a printed copy by contacting the Secretary in advance. Copies will be available at the meeting.

Following the meeting, Greville Havenhand will present a complimentary Tutored Wine Tasting for those members attending. Greville has chosen a selection of interesting, but less common wines. (see page 33).

Map of Remarkable Trees in Dulwich

The Trees Committee has compiled a map showing the position of over seventy good examples of uncommon trees in the parks and front gardens of Dulwich. A complimentary copy is being distributed with this newsletter. It will be on sale locally for £3.50. It has been beautifully illustrated by Rosemary Lindsay, a local botanical artist. We would be very interested to receive comments from members.

Edward Alleyn Statue

In December 2003, the Dulwich Society promoted a competition to design a life size statue of Edward Alleyn to commemorate the 400th anniversary of his purchase in October 1605, of the manor of Dulwich, with which he endowed the College and the charities which bear his name. By permission of the Dulwich Estate it was to be designed to be erected in the garden of the Old College.

In May 2004 there was an exhibition of the short-listed designs at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The winning entry, chosen by a committee under the chairmanship of Desmond Shawe-Taylor, the Director of the Gallery, was announced by the Right Honourable Tessa Jowell M.P. who is Secretary of State for the Arts as well as the local Member of Parliament.

The design chosen is by Louise Simson (born 1960) who began her career as an artist painting particularly actors in performance. She began working in bronze in 2001 with sculptures of competitors in the Wimbledon tennis finals and has been commissioned each year since to provide small sculptures of the winners of that competition. Her design is a dynamic portrayal of Alleyn positioned to point out his foundation to a second figure which is of a young boy. It will be her first life size work.

At the same time as the winning entry was announced, an appeal was launched by the President of the Dulwich Society, His Honour Judge Michael Rich QC to raise the necessary funds to commission and erect the statue. It opened with the benefit of contributions from 30 patrons and the promise of a contribution of £10,000 from the Dulwich Estate on behalf of the seven beneficiaries of the Estate of which, of course the three Dulwich Schools are the principal.

The Appeal has now raised £45,000, and the Dulwich Society has now obtained the necessary permissions and has commissioned the sculpting and casting of the statue. The society hopes shortly to conclude negotiations for the plinth and landscaping. Subject to contingencies, the sum raised should cover the cost of these works although there is still need to make provision for the unveiling ceremony in October 2005.

Herne Hill Velodrome

The saga of the Herne Hill Velodrome continues. Southwark Council has not been able to formally issue the planning consent for the proposed £7m redevelopment because of queries from local residents over the accuracy of the information given to the planning committee. There has also been a delay in setting up the not for profit trust (The London Velodrome Trust) which the Council had hoped would take over the ownership of the track and the proposed climbing wall facilities.

The Dulwich Estate has now given the Council an ultimatum to renew their lease by 31st January or hand the ground back. They have also advised the Council that they are not prepared to enter into any agreement with the London Velodrome Trust unless it is under written by the Council itself. The Society understands that the Estate is looking for an increase in the annual rent from £5000 to £65000.

The Council has prepared a thorough and detailed report for an executive meeting on 24th January. It outlines three possible options for a way forward.

Option 1 is not to renew the lease and hand the ground back to the Estate. This will involve the Council in paying dilapidations (which are expected to be in the order of several hundred thousand pounds) and also returning the money given to the Council by Sport England to pay for the new cycle track installed in 1992. The potential costs of this option are not set out in the public report but in a separate 'closed report' only available to councillors.

Option 2 is for the Council to renew the lease for 20 years in the expectation that it can obtain sources of outside funding to carry out the development. The report points out that this is a very risky proposition as there is no certainty that the money will be forthcoming and that all the costs might, in the end, fall on the Council.

Option 3 is to negotiate a temporary 5 year extension to the lease to give more time for alternative development options to be considered and funding sources to be found. There would also be the opportunity for an agreement to be reached with the Estate over the London Velodrome Trust.

Planning Applications reviewed by Ian McInnes

Fairfield 9 Dulwich Village

The application for a new house in the large rear garden of this property was turned down by Southwark Council's Planning Committee against the recommendation of its own planning officers. The main grounds were that the house was too large and out of character with the immediate area and that the new entrance would be harmful to the character of the street scene.

This decision will set a precedent for other sites in Dulwich where the Society understands that similar schemes are under consideration.

Beltwood House

Much to the surprise of local residents, and the Dulwich Estate, the current owner of this house on Sydenham Hill appears to be running a night club on the premises. The Estate was not aware of this nor, as far as we know, was Southwark's Licensing Department. The venue was advertised on the internet, with its own web site, as ideal for Xmas parties. In January, the Editor of this Newsletter even received an invitation, extended to all 'staff and members of the Dulwich Society to attend an evening of music soul, pop and jazz.' Too late for the publication date we regret!

Kingsdale School

Not to be outdone by the other schools in Dulwich who are embarking on a building spree, Kingsdale had no sooner finished its major refurbishment when it submitted a planning application for a new Music School and Sports Hall. The Society has no objection in principle but feels that the industrial type cladding materials proposed for the latter are not appropriate on a relatively large building in a low-rise suburban location.

The Sir Ernest Shackleton, Bowen Drive

Just along from Kingsdale School lies the Sir Ernest Shackleton pub. There is a current application to demolish it and replace it with a three storey block of flats. The existing building is only two stories high and the houses in Rouse Gardens to the rear will suffer a loss of amenity if the development goes ahead, as will the residents of the Kingswood Estate, who will be deprived of their only pub. The Society has objected.

Mobile Telephone Masts

Orange's latest application for an 11.5m column 'disguised as a sewer vent' on the corner of Dulwich Common and College Road has been turned down by Southwark Council on the basis that it fails to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Dulwich Village Conservation Area. Notwithstanding this decision Vodafone have made a similar application along Dulwich Common by Dulwich Park's Rosebury Lodge Gate. 

Dulwich Festival

The Dulwich Society is enthusiastically supporting the re-launch of the Dulwich Festival (see elsewhere in this issue for details of the Festival). It will present a history walk led by Brian Green, an architectural walk led by Ian McInnes and a Tree Walk. Additionally the Society will be manning a recruiting and information desk outside the Post Office in Dulwich Village on Saturday 22 May 10am-4pm. Members willing to help on the stand should contact the secretary.

Tree Walk

There is to be another Tree Walk on Saturday 21 May as part of the Dulwich Festival along Alleyn Park and Alleyn Road both of which have many fine trees included on our map. It will be led by Letta Jones, a horticultural lecturer who was our excellent guide last year in Dulwich Park. Meet at the junction of Huntslip Road and Alleyn Park at 2.00pm.

Dulwich Park

As part of the lottery bid, the planting of a number of trees has been planned. Some residents have wanted to give memorial trees to the park and the list is now open. Anyone who would like to have a memorial tree planted should get in touch with Rosie Thornton, the park manager in the Rangers' office in the park or on 8693 5737.

Garden Group

The Group announce that the spring lecture, ' The Herbaceous Border' by David Cheston will take place at 8pm on Thursday 3 March at the St Barnabas Centre, Calton Avenue.

The Garden Group is also holding a Plant Sale on Saturday 14 May at 2.30pm at 163 Turney Road. Members welcome.

The Group's annual visit will be to Sissinghurst and Great Dixter Gardens on Tuesday 12 July. Price £24. Reservations to Ina Pulleine, 1 Perifield, SE 21 8NG. Telephone 8670 5477 (after 11.00am)

Wildlife Walk on Wimbledon Common

Wimbledon Common wildlife officer Dave Haldane will be leading a walk for Dulwich Society members over the Common's rich and varied mammal, bird and flora habitats (many of them designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest) on Sunday 24 April. Dave will answer questions on habitat creation and restoration in urban open spaces. Meet at The Windmill (where you can park) at 10am. Admission is free (If you would like to join the walk, which should last about two hours, but have transport problems/queries, please call 8693 5789.

Feathers ruffled over tree felling - David Nicholson Lord reports

Two nest boxes have been erected by the Dulwich Society in Court Lane Gardens after five trees were felled there in November by the Dulwich Estate. The felling led to protests from residents, several of whom contacted the Estate to complain. According to residents, the felling took place without warning, several of the trees were still partly alive and at least one tree was thought to contain the nest site of green woodpeckers. Tree creepers had also been seen there. One householder described the felling as "vandalism", adding:" We are devastated by what appears to be very high-handed destruction of the green wood in front of our home."

Following meetings between residents, the estate and representatives of the trees and wildlife committees, the estate agreed to the erection of two nest boxes - for a green wood pecker and a tree creeper. These were put up in January. The Estate, which says that the trees were dead and needed replacing, has also agreed to consider proposals from the Society for an ecologically-based approach to tree management. These proposals have now been sent to the governors and include:

  • Consulting local residents before significant tree works that may affect them.
  • Planting new trees before felling old ones, to avoid gaps in cover.
  • Retention of trees, even if "dead" - so called "standing dead wood" - and as logs or log piles to promote biodiversity.
  • More planting of shrubs, bushes and hedges to create an "understorey" - an increasingly threatened habitat in urban areas.
  • Avoiding the grinding our of tree stumps wherever possible, to promote the breeding cycles of insects, including stag beetles. Stumps can also serve as decorative features, bird-feeders, seats and sculptures.

Many nest-box requirements are highly specific. The green woodpecker, which feeds on ants on the ground, has a softer beak than the great spotted woodpecker. Its box had to be filled with dry, fibrous birch wood, to encourage it to excavate its own nest without creating too much of a challenge. The tree creeper's box has to mimic the species' preference for space behind large chunks of loose, rough bark so is wedge-shaped and narrow and has tiny triangular side-entrances.

The felled trees included a beech, two Norway maples and a purple plum. The logs, unfortunately, were also removed from the site. Possible replacement species include purple beech, red oak and Japanese pagoda tree. 

London Wildlife Trust Walks in Sydenham Hill Woods

Dawn Chorus Walk Saturday 23 April

Led by expert birder Alan Crawford. Experience one of Britain's greatest wildlife events, the spring dawn chorus. Listen as one by one different species enter the chorus as they sing to attract mates and defend territories. Last year we were treated to the Hoot of the Tawny Owls, but they finish early so arrive on time. Bring warm clothes and a torch, and if you like, binoculars and a field guide for later, when the sun rises. Meet at 4.30am at the Crescent Wood Road entrance.

Wildflower Walk Sunday 15 May

Join the plant expert Mark Spencer of the Natural History Museum as he shows us the plants that help to make Sydenham Hill Wood a site of metropolitan importance for nature conservation. Feel free to ask Mark questions as he is an excellent communicator capable of helping either the novice or the professional botanist. Meet at 2pm at the Crescent Wood entrance

For further details call Ian Holt on 020 8699 5698 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A view on the work of the Community Council by Bill Higman

The Dulwich Community Council has been a popular recent innovation towards achieving more effective local democracy, and its meetings have been well attended. It works because it comes close to a New England -style 'town meeting', is open to all local residents, and regularly attended by our local councillors and the Southwark Council officers who carry the work out on our behalf. The officers can be asked to report on specific matters and are present to receive comments and account publicly for what they do. Meetings of the Community Council have been effectively chaired by Kim Humphreys.

During its first year, the Community Council has inevitably had a 'fire-fighting' role to perform with a backlog of some topics overdue for attention. There have also been some major new proposals to report on and discuss, including large cash investments in Dulwich Park and the Dulwich Community Hospital. There have been some memorable protests to Transport for London over changes in bus routes and services.

Local residents have also been going through a learning process about how to increase the effectiveness of their representations, and in realizing increasingly what the Community Council is able to achieve. One novel feature is that it does have local decision-making powers and the finance to actually achieve local amenity improvement. As residents, this is where we may be able to organise our approach more effectively. We could, for example, keep before us a more coherent picture of where we should like money to be spent in Dulwich.

In the autumn Southwark Council did in fact declare that it had a useful sum of money available to spend on improvements in Dulwich * and asked the Community Council to make proposals. Residents then took some time to decide what their amenity priorities for the area actually were, and to piece these together into an expenditure programme. The Dulwich Society presented its own shopping list but the Community Council probably did not give itself time to evaluate these items in relation to suggestions made from other sources. There were many remaining uncertainties as to the total of what could be afforded, the length of time projects would take to complete, possible overlaps or duplication of existing projects and the existence of other public funds which could be more effectively used. The complexity of decision making was added to by traditional pressures on the Council to budget expenditure within a particular financial year.

Some of this could be simplified if we were to draw up, in advance, a more considered expenditure 'wish list', properly costed, to be taken in stages if some items were to large to be carried out all at once. This would enable us and Southwark Council to make and keep current a more coherent medium-term plan for what would materially improve the amenity of Dulwich area. Major items which require detailed co-ordination, such as road and traffic improvements, probably require the longest advance planning period and consequently the most difficult to implement. For example, although we have been successful in getting a number of traffic calming schemes, we still need to make better provision for protected cycle routes as well as reducing unsightly road and signage clutter.

Fitting all this into one sensible plan and carrying it out in the right stages will require closer co-ordination among all the parties and different interests involved. A local plan presided over by the Community Council would help this process. Our response should be to encourage this and to use the Community Council as a tool to enable this to be done more effectively. Everybody stands to benefit.

* Dulwich Community Council was awarded £316,000 in July 2004. Grants made to projects in the Dulwich Society's area include:- £10,000 to improve Dulwich Library Gardens, £25,000 to Streatham & Marlborough Cricket Club for ground improvements and community access, four grants to Kingswood Estate for art & recreation,health and youth projects totalling £35,000, £5000 for signage rationalisation between Stradella and Burbage Roads, £4000 for handrails and traffic speed restrictors at Giles Coppice, £25,000 for new security fence at Sydenam Hill Wood, £18,000 for pedestrian safety around the Court Lane entrance to Dulwich Park, £23,000 for Jasper Road traffic calming, £18,000 for traffic calming in Dulwich Wood Avenue, £13,750 for additional lighting in front of Dulwich Village shops, £3000 for safety improvements at Court Lane/Calton Avenue, £2000 for renovation of the historic bus stop on Alleyn Road.

(Source - Dulwich Community Fund Progress update January 2005)

New Appointment for Dulwich Gallery Director

Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Director of the Dulwich Picture Gallery has been appointed to the position of Surveyor of The Queen's Pictures. He joins the Royal Collection in April and will succeed the present Surveyor, Christopher Lloyd who retires in July.

The Royal Collection, one of the largest and most important art collections in the world, is held in trust by The Queen as Sovereign for her successors and the Nation. The paintings comprise one of the best known and most significant elements of the Collection. The Surveyor has overall curatorial responsibility for some 7000 oil paintings and 3000 miniatures.

Desmond Shawe-Taylor has been Director at Dulwich since 1996. He has overseen the major refurbishment of the Gallery and has been responsible for staging a number of superb exhibitions. He has been active in promoting the Gallery, not least by a heroic sponsored walk from Litchfield to London thus echoing the journey made by Dr. Johnson - the difference being that Johnson arrived penniless but Desmond arrived laden with hard-earned sponsorship money!

He has given whole-hearted support for the Edward Alleyn Statue Competition organised by the Dulwich Society and acted as Chairman of the Selection Panel

The Dulwich Deluge - Southwark Council report

The investigation by Southwark Council environment officers into the severe flooding which affected much of Dulwich last April found that the rainfall was largely confined to the local area which received up to 6inches (15cm) of rain in the space of ninety minutes. The volume of water which drained north- west towards Herne Hill was so great that the bore of the main flood relief and other sewers was insufficient to carry the water away and in some cases emitted from street drains causing further flooding to property. While Southwark Council admitted that some of the street drains for which they are responsible were blocked they say that made no difference on that occasion. However, they stated that they had issued instructions for more frequent clearance of street drains. The matter of the size of the main sewer pipes and their ability to cope with such volume of water as had been experienced on 27 April 2004 has been referred to Thames Water.

Dulwich Festival: 13-22 May 2005

After a year's break, the organisers of the Dulwich Festival are delighted to announce that the Festival will be happening once again this year from 13-22 May 2005. The Dulwich Festival began in 1993 and is run by a team of volunteers

For the past 12 years, the Dulwich Festival has been bringing a fascinating mix of music, words, walks, art and family events to the Dulwich area. Many of the events are free of charge. Venues range from pubs to parks, schools to churches and libraries in and around Dulwich.

Everyone in south-east London can enjoy the Dulwich Festival on their doorstep. The Festival aims to showcase local artistic talent, professional and amateur, as well as Dulwich's buildings, history and wonderful open spaces with a week-long programme of events.

The Festival puts on arts events for all members of the community. Highlights of this year's programme will be:

  • 'The Art of Permanence and Change' - an exciting exhibition of contemporary art set within the unique backdrop of Sydenham Hill Woods. Over 20 artists from the UK and abroad have been invited to develop a discourse between the past, present and future function of this uniquely changing habitat. Curated by Helen Morse-Palmer and John Deller in conjunction with the London Wildlife Trust.
  • a children's art trail focussing on Dulwich's history since 1605, the year when Edward Alleyn bought the manor and estate of Dulwich
  • an open studio weekend where visitors will be able to see local artists' studios and look at their work
  • the South East London Community Short Documentary Competition
  • Jon Snow in conversation at the Dulwich Picture Gallery
  • an evening of 1920s, 30s & 40s music and dancing with Blue Harlem at Beauberry House, Belair Park.

For further information please call 020 8299 1011, or email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can also visit our website on

Dulwich Community Hospital - Exciting Times Ahead

An outline design for the new £36million Dulwich Community Hospital is now available and a newsletter on progress can be obtained by telephoning Sharon Kesto on 7346 6444. The hospital will provide local people with a full range of primary care services, community health and rehabilitation services including a chronic disease centre to improve treatment for patients with conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes. Diagnostic services including x-rays, ECGs and blood tests, and eventually ultrasound, will also be available. Out of hours care will be provided along with twilight nursing services and out of hours social work.

An Exhibition Room at Dulwich Hospital, linking the past to the present and now the future is being prepared. The Dulwich Society Local History Group has been most helpful and has passed on some old photographs. Do go and look, perhaps you have some reminiscences?

Community Warden Scheme begins

The Community Warden Service was launched recently in the Dulwich area. The wardens will patrol those areas where there has been an identified need to improve the environment. Specifically these areas are Lordship Lane and its surrounding roads, Herne Hill and the Kingswood area.

The wardens will report abandoned vehicles, graffiti, fly tips and fly posts and other hazards including defective lighting and footways. They will also make special efforts to contact community groups, residents associations and other organisations that can work to improve community cohesion. The wardens will also watch out for and report instances of anti-social behaviour to the police. The wardens themselves have no police powers and are expected to be non-confrontational in their approach to people and problems.

According to David Potter, supervisor of the Dulwich Community Warden Scheme, "the approach is for the wardens to plan their response to incidents and problems identified involving the relevant authorities in a problem sharing partnership."

Fair Trade for all

Christ Church, Barry Road, which is made up of Methodists and United Reformed members launched an enterprising and worthwhile venture last autumn. It offers the Bread of Life Cafe, open for traditional breakfasts, lunches, snacks and cakes daily from 10am-4pm and Saturdays 9am-1pm either to eat in or take away. The café is situated in beautiful new space, with disabled access and room for buggies. It also has a Fair Trade Centre selling a wide range of produce from countries where the small producers can get maximum benefit. Coffee, rice, pasta, dried fruit, chocolate and confectionary together with gift items are on sale each morning.

Volunteers are always needed for both the café and the shop and currently there is a need for more help on Thursdays. If you can help contact Freda Nevill (8693 7941) or Mary Watson (8693 5062)

Go to top