Many people are aware that mobile telephone reception in the Dulwich area is poor and that the mobile telephone companies are actively seeking sites in which to install masts to improve reception. The cheapest option for such companies is to install masts on pavements. Such installations can however, have a detrimental effect on the appearance of a road. A great deal of anxiety has thus been caused to the residents of Court Lane and Court Lane Gardens over the proposed locating of a G3 mobile telephone mast by T Mobile outside their homes and which they appear powerless to stop. As the mast is less than 15m high it does not require planning permission, merely the approval of the local authority, in this case Southwark Council. The application to install the mast on a Dulwich pavement is all the more frustrating because the last issue of the Newsletter carried details of a new policy by the Dulwich Estate for the locating of such masts on land over which has control. This policy acknowledges the need for masts and proposes to identify sites which would not be in close proximity to residents' homes. It noted that the Estate has no control over roadways or other land in close proximity. Either this announcement has come too late to stop the present proposal, or, the Council is ignoring what seems a sensible way forward.

In the case of Court Lane, the application would automatically have been turned down if, as is hoped, the Dulwich Conservation Area were to be extended next year. However, this would not help residents in other roads faced with the same threat; it is noted that the Estate received an application from a mobile telephone company to erect a mast in Woodwarde Road. The policy of both the Dulwich Society and the Dulwich Estate is to resist the location of such masts where they would impair the streetscape. Both bodies are prepared to support residents' objections to the local authority over such applications.

This year the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. Over these fifty years they have done an enormous amount in raising money for the Gallery, and equally importantly, raising public awareness to this unique institution. During this half-century other groups of 'Friends' have also sprung up to support institutions like Dulwich Hospital, (see page 17) and Kings College Hospital. Not only have amenities such as the curtaining of wards been supplied, but the day to day benefits of a trolley shop, tea room and florists' shop have been run and staffed by the Friends. In recent years other 'Friends' have come forward to fill the gaps created by the decline of local council maintenance in parks and open spaces and while this policy now appears to be changing, it can be argued that this is partly because of the pressure that the 'Friends' of this or that park or open space have been able to exert.

This Newsletter is always ready to support such initiatives in its columns.

Sixty enquiries were received requesting details of the Open Competition for a life-size bronze statue of the actor Edward Alleyn sponsored by The Dulwich Society. Advertisements were placed on the Royal Society of British Sculptors website, in the Royal Academy magazine and Artists' Newspaper. In addition press releases were sent to leading newspapers and art magazines. This resulted in thirty three submissions by sculptors of maquettes and drawings of their designs. These were considered by a panel of judges, under the chairmanship of Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Director of the Dulwich Picture Gallery and included Prunella Scales, representing the Stage (her son, Sam West was an Alleyn's School pupil), Sylvia Lahav of the National Gallery, Jeremy Gotch representing the Dulwich Estate and Brian Green representing the Dulwich Society.

The six finalists were each awarded a prize of £750 which was presented at the Edward Alleyn Statue Public Appeal held at the Gallery on May 27th. The works of the six finalists will remain on display in the Linbury Room at the Picture Gallery until 6 June. It is expected that the sculptor of the winning design will be offered the commission for the completed work to be installed in the grounds of the Old College, Dulwich Village, the site of Edward Alleyn's benefaction, in September 2005 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of his purchase of the Manor of Dulwich.

Dulwich Society members who wish to subscribe to the Appeal are invited to send their donations to the Appeal Treasurer, David Trace FCA, 88 Burbage Road, SE 24 9HE. Cheques should be made out to the Dulwich Society Alleyn Statue Appeal.

Over the next few issues the Newsletter will carry a series of articles exploring Edward Alleyn's complex character. To start the series, Arthur Chandler, Archivist Emeritus of Alleyn's School builds up a picture of the Founder's life before he became associated with Dulwich.

On 2 September 1566, three children were baptised at the Church of St Botolph, Bishopsgate: Edward Alleyn (sometimes spelled Allen), Henry Wood and Olive Clark. Our interest lies in the first of these whose grandfather was Thomas Alleyn of Willen, in Buckinghamshire, and of Mesham, in Bedfordshire. Thomas Alleyn's second son was named Edward and he became innkeeper of The Pye at Bishopsgate in the City of London. He married Margaret, the daughter of John Townley of Towneley in Lancashire. Their son, also named Edward, was naturally baptised in the church within whose parish the Pye inn was situated.

Margaret was widowed while Edward was still a child. She then married an actor named Brown whose influence on his young stepson was to have a lasting effect upon the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, and in time upon the manor of Dulwich. It can be assumed that Edward played female roles during his boyhood, as was the custom. In 1584 when Alleyn was fourteen years of age, his name was recorded in the list of the Earl of Worcester's Players.

Bankside in Southwark was fast becoming a gathering ground for the entertainments of the City of London, which was only a short walk across London Bridge. It was here that Edward Alleyn met Philip Henslowe, a shrewd businessman and entrepreneur who had great financial interests in theatres, side-shows and the like. Alleyn soon became a business partner of Henslowe and on 22 October 1592, he married Henslowe's step-daughter, Joan Woodwarde. The newly married couple took up residence on Bankside in the Liberty of the Clink, within the Parish of St Saviour.

At the end of the sixteenth century Edward Alleyn was acclaimed as the leading actor of the time. He led, with Henslowe, the company of players known as My Lord Admiral's Men, later to become The Prince's Men in the reign of James l and Vl. He took the leading roles in the four great plays of Christopher Marlowe, Edward ll, Tamburlaine, the Jew of Malta and Dr Faustus. All of these were written before Marlowe's thirtieth birthday. It is believed that while at Cambridge, Marlowe had been recruited for government, probably as a spy. This activity was later to lead to the playwright's early demise in May 1593 when he was stabbed to death in a tavern brawl at Deptford.

In 1594 Alleyn bought an interest in the Bear Gardens for two hundred pounds and two years later Henslowe acquired part of the lease of another property. At this time Alleyn and Henslowe jointly held the office of Deputy Master of the Royal Game of Bulls and Bears. Having consolidated their position they started to develop their properties. In 1606 they contracted with a local carpenter, for £65, to pull down and rebuild the Bear Gardens.

The Bear Pit flourished and the Rose Theatre they also jointly owned was also extremely successful. Alongside these Alleyn and Henslowe ventures on Bankside were those of My Lord Chamberlain's Men headed by William Shakespeare and James Burbage. With a performance of Hamlet in January 1601, William Shakespeare opened the Globe Theatre on Bankside, built by Burbage who had dismantled and brought across the Thames the original timbers of 'The Theatre' in Shoreditch. Not to be outdone, Alleyn built the Fortune Theatre in the Parish of St Giles, Cripplegate and opened it in May of the same year. The new theatre was "like the late erected Plaiehose on the Banck in the said parish of the Ste Saviour called the Globe". Although Alleyn retired from acting in the following year, he remained manager of the Fortune Theatre until it was destroyed by fire on 9 December 1621.

Bear Baiting was a substantial source of income to Alleyn who, in 1604, was appointed by the King to be his 'Chief Master, Ruler and Overseer of all and singular of his majestie's games, of bears, and bulls, and mastive dogs, and mastive bitches'. This authorised him to take any bulls, bears or dogs from any part of the kingdom for the service of the king on payment of a 'fairprice'. Dogs were taken by Alleyn from the Bear Garden to the Tower of London in order to bait a lion in his den. In the early seventeenth century the Court gained much pleasure from animal baiting and this must have necessitated a great deal of forward planning for the 'Chief Master'. His acting talents, however, were not completely lost after his retirement from the stage, as Alleyn delivered congratulatory addresses on special occasions such as the City Pageant which was staged in March 1603 in honour of the Sovereign's visit.

Go to top