Interest has been aroused over the history of the War Memorial located in the churchyard of St Peter’s Church, Dulwich Common and which was awarded a grant of £7000 for its restoration by the Dulwich Community Council. The work was carried out this summer. An earlier more modest restoration was made a few years ago on the initiative of local resident Mike Dudding.

The memorial takes the form of a flagstaff surmounted on a stone plinth which is inscribed



So what was the Dulwich Volunteer Battalion?

A search of the archives of St Peter’s Church, now in the custody of St Clement’s Church, Friern Road gives some clues, but alas the Minute Books and Parish Magazines from the Great War period are missing. What the parish magazine of April1925 tells us is that the vicar, the Rev Arthur Herbert Knott was installed at St Peter’s in September 1914 and organised Sunday morning open air services for the 1/12 County of London Volunteers (The Rangers) which were held in the grounds on Dulwich Common. “He was a great comfort to all who had relatives at the Front and although he spoke plainly with regard to the seriousness of the German menace and did not minimise the danger which threatened the country, he never once lost hope and was always confident of victory.”

The Rev Knott had been an assistant master at Alleyn’s School from 1888-99 and was also curate at St Barnabas from 1892-99. From 1898-1903 he was an evening lecturer at King’s College, London.

Although St Peter’s already had its own wooden war memorial, commemorating those who died in the war installed in the church (see below), on Armistice Day, November 8th 1925 the parish decided to commemorate the day by holding a service beside the Flagstaff of ‘the disbanded Dulwich Volunteer Battalion which the Battalion did us the honour to hand over to our safe keeping, a short service in memory of those among them who died in the Great War’.

Further evidence of the Battalion’s existence has been found in the Alleyn’s Estate Governors’ Minutes October 1914 when the governors received a letter from a local resident, Dr Batten on behalf of the Dulwich and Sydenham Golf Club in which he stated that ‘it is proposed by members of the Golf Club, who have formed a Training Corps affiliated to the National Defence League, to construct and use, with the consent of the Estates Governors, an outdoor miniature rifle range of fifty yards, on a lower part of the ground where it would be out of the way of golf. Dr Batten stated that the range would be constructed in accordance with the regulations of the War Office and would be certified as safe by the authority before being opened for use.’

In the archives of Southwark Local Studies Library there is a leaflet issued by 1st Battalion Dulwich Volunteers (South London Regiment) (Late Dulwich Defence League) dated 3 June 1915.

This Volunteer Battalion, the first of its kind, was formed almost immediately after the outbreak of the War. Its two objects were:- to encourage recruiting for the Regular Army, and to train its own members to take part, if necessary, in the defence and protection of our Country.

Recruiting has been encouraged by the personal efforts of its members, and by the exhibition and publication of posters, and already 62 of the Battalion have enlisted.

From the beginning drilling has gone on steadily and continuously, and the Battalion has earned the approbation of the inspecting officer, Sir Desmond O’Callaghan KCVO for its efficiency; and now the call has come to do more actively useful work.

The Battalion has been asked to maintain an armed guard, night and day, at Dulwich Fire Station, and further, in case of a Zeppelin raid, to set similar guards at each of the 31 fire alarm calls in the district. This is probably the first of many public services which the Battalion will be asked to undertake and will willingly perform.

It is in order that these services may be adequately carried out, that the Committee are making this appeal to residents of the district; and they do so the more confidently because members of the Battalion have already subscribed over ONE THOUSAND POUNDS towards getting themselves properly drilled and trained in shooting, and providing themselves with uniforms. An average of 7,000 rounds per week has been fired at the indoor range, besides the amount now being used at the outdoor range, recently opened by the Dulwich and Sydenham Golf Club.

The cost of fitting out a man with a rifle and ammunition will be approximately three guineas, and the Committee feel sure they may safely appeal to the people of Dulwich and the district to subscribe the FIVE HUNDRED pounds which is needed to assist in arming a portion of the Battalion to enable it to perform the duties which it has been asked to undertake, or any other duty which may be demanded of it. The Committee of the 1st Battalion Dulwich Volunteers appeal confidently, because it is a local battalion, because its first work is helping to secure the safety of the locality, and because of the continued sacrifice of its members who have given, and are giving, time and money, and have spared no pains to make themselves efficient and to be ready.’

The leaflet bears the names of the Commandant, Col. F. Campbell CB, VD of ‘Airds’, Crescent Wood Road, Sydenham Hill, the President, J R Manning, Brunswick House, London Road, Forest Hill and the Chairman, Dr G B Batten, 2 Underhill Road, East Dulwich.

The subsequent history of the Battalion is unknown although one source (East Dulwich Forum blogger Jaytyger) says that the Dulwich & District Athletic Association became the Dulwich Defence League and that the idea originated at a meeting held at Lordship Lane Hall in September 1914 co-chaired by the Dulwich MP Col Fred Hall. As the battalion grew it formed a cyclist company, signalling company and later a boys’ corps for pre-enlistment age. The battalion had a band which played across the borough raising funds for wounded servicemen

The last piece of evidence found so far is a press cutting from the South London Observer & Camberwell & Peckham Times June 1920;

Dulwich Volunteers

The Dulwich Volunteer Battalion are handing over to the custody of St Peter’s Church, Dulwich Common, their last piece of corporate property, the Headquarters Flagstaff, presented to the Corps by Private Campbell , now H.B.M Vice-Consul of Java, brother of the Mystery Ship VC and son of the first Commandant. The flagstaff has been set in a ferro-concrete base designed by the Engineer officer to the Corps Lieut Geo. Sutton and occupies a prominent position at the junction of Lordship Lane and Dulwich Common from whence the Battalion often marched off to its various duties. The ceremony of transfer will be conducted by the Rev Arthur Knott, the Vicar at 10.45am tomorrow (Sunday) and it is hoped that all old members who can will make a point of attending, officers in uniform if possible.

It would therefore appear that the Dulwich Volunteers were formed immediately after the outbreak of the Great War with its Orderly Room in shop premises at 513 Lordship Lane (now the Veterinary Surgery) with its Headquarters in Lordship Lane Hall in Wood Vale. The common connection between its founders was membership of the Dulwich & Sydenham Golf Club and the Dulwich & District Athletics Club. Probably through another connection with one of its staff officers it may have been a conduit for recruitment into the 1/12 County of London Regiment (The Rangers) which had its headquarters at Holborn. The Rangers may have been made up largely of office workers some of whom must have lived in the Dulwich area. The 1/12 was formed in August 1914. In 1916 they became part of the famous 56th Division and in 1917 fought at Arras, Ypres and Passchendale.

The cap badge illustrated was found a few years ago on the allotments, near the Golf Club in Grange Lane. It is probably the badge of a member of A Company, Dulwich & District Defence League, later the Dulwich Volunteer Battalion.

The Dulwich Volunteers were clearly a successful unit and a fore-runner of the Local Defence Volunteers (the Home Guard ) of World War 11. The erection of memorials to the Fallen became a customary after the war ended and the names of those killed might well be replicated on parish, school or company memorials. At a parish level, appeals for names of local casualties were made by the parish priest and a list opened. A memorial might take the form of a carved tablet bearing the names of the fallen inside the church, as was the case of St Peter’s which was dedicated on 4 July 1920, just a few weeks after that of the Dulwich Volunteers. The St Peter’s memorial listed the names of 51 local men. Alternatively it might be a stone memorial in the churchyard as the case of St Stephen’s, College Road which bears the names of 36 local men.

Brian Green

Colonel Frederick Campbell, First Commandant of the Dulwich Volunteer Battalion

Colonel Campbell was the ideal person to be the first Commandant. He came from a family steeped in military service, the ninth generation with one exception in a line of army officers; VCs were awarded to one of his sons and a grandson.

He was born in Edinburgh in 1843, the fourth son of Sir John Campbell of Airds and Ardnamurchan, formerly Lieutenant-Governor of St. Vincent. He joined the Royal Artillery in 1861 and was in the New Zealand War of 1864-66, but resigned his commission in 1869 to engage in the family business of wine merchants. He never lost his interest in military affairs and was an enthusiastic Volunteer becoming eventually Honorary Colonel of the 1st Argyll and Bute Royal Garrison Artillery, a unit which was absorbed into the Territorial Army in 1908. His long period of service and senior position brought him the awards of Volunteer Decoration, and in 1902 that of Companion of the Bath.

Colonel Campbell lived in Dulwich near Crystal Palace for 44 years either at ‘Hillside’, Fountain Drive (then Fountain Road) or later at ‘Airds’ 2 Crescent Wood Road until his death in 1926. The writer of his obituary notice in The Times (15 September 1926) noted that “It is hardly too much to say that no one in that district has for the last 20 years sought to promote any new patriotic or public-spirited movement without turning first to Colonel Campbell for support”. In politics, he was a Conservative serving as a member of the London County Council from 1895 to 1901 for the Norwood Division of Lambeth, President of the Gypsy hill Conservative Association and of the Norwood branches of the Tariff Reform League and League of Nations Union. He was also Chairman of the governors of St. Dunstan’s College, Catford and JP for Penge from 1912.

In his early years Campbell was a well-known cricketer, especially outstanding as a bowler. He played first class cricket at county level for the Marylebone Cricket Club between 1867 and 1869 and also occasionally for Hampshire and Essex; he was close friend of the great W. G. Grace. His funeral was held in St. Stephen’s Church on 16 September 1926 and he was buried at Shirley Church in Addiscombe.

Even more remarkable was Frederick Campbell’s large family. He married Emilie Maclaine, the daughter of Donald Maclaine, 20th Chief of Lochbuie on the Isle of Mull in 1869 and they had 16 children. Eight of his sons went to Dulwich College. The exploits of one of the younger sons, Captain (later Vice-Admiral) Gordon Campbell, which earned him the VC in 1917, are recounted by Jan Piggott in his recent book on the College. He commanded a ‘Q’ or decoy ship which was badly damaged but still managed to sink the attacking German submarine, and save many of his crew. The binnacle of the ship is in the Lower Hall of the College. The son who donated the flagstaff to the Dulwich Volunteers was Sir Edward Taswell Campbell, 1st Baronet of Airds Bay, who retired from business as a tobacco planter in Sumatra, served as French, Russian and British Consul in Java and was elected MP for Camberwell North-West 1924-29 and Bromley 1930-45.

His grandson, Lorne Maclaine Campbell features in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

as the recipient of the VC during the Second World War for heroic action in Tunisia when painfully wounded. After the war he returned to the family wine trade, having ‘the finest palate for wine in Britain’ according to The Independent and becoming Master of the Vintners Company.

Bernard Nurse

W.W. Gill, who was responsible for the introduction and encouragement of many sporting activities at what has become known as Dulwich Sports Club, was Chairman of a Croquet Committee which was formed in 1909 and which led to two croquet lawns being laid in about 1912. They have served the Croquet Section well ever since. Indeed, with bowls ceasing to be played at the Club a few years ago, croquet players now have three lawns available, very useful when large numbers are playing in tournaments.

At the start, the long established game of Association Croquet was played by both men and women players. However, as membership grew, the time taken to play a full game of Association Croquet resulted in the shorter and less complex game of Golf Croquet taking off and this soon became and remained for many years the more popular of the two, particularly among the ladies who formed the large majority of the playing members.

However, with the arrival in the l980s of Stephen Badger and others, including the Section’s current President Simon Whiteley, Association Croquet not only enjoyed a renaissance but became the preferred version of the game for many. It was also sadly the fact that the number of ladies playing at the Club declined although one, Sue Best, not only became the Section’s highly efficient Secretary but also successfully took on the men on their own terms!

And now the pendulum has swung again. In during 2006 and 2007, the Section welcomed about twenty new members, both men and women, almost all of whom have begun by playing Golf Croquet. Several of them have been taking part in courses to enable them to play Association Croquet. Recruitment to the Section has been as a result of word of mouth recommendations, interest shown by members of other Sections and such attractions as the “mini-croquet” put on by the Section during summer Late Evenings at Dulwich College Picture Gallery. There are weekly Club Afternoons and Evenings featuring both versions of the game and established players are only too happy to welcome newcomers and develop their interest in the game. Indeed several new players have joined the Section since the beginning of this Season.

Dulwich not only holds Association and Golf Croquet Tournaments at the Club but plays matches – League and Friendly – against other local clubs such as Sydenham, Old College and Temple and those further afield such as Hurlingham, Parsons Green and Surbiton.

The Croquet Section is proud of its players, of whom five are numbered in the nation’s top 250 Association Croquet players and one who has recently played in the Golf Croquet World Championships for his country. And there are many more among the present 50 members of the Section who just enjoy their croquet and value the friendships this delightful game produces.

Michael Goodman

September 2008

Saturday 13th Concert – Enjoy an evening with Mahler Symphony No1 (Titan) with JAGS Community Orchestra, in aid of Dulwich Helpline. 7.30pm St Barnabas Church, Calton Avenue. Tickets £7 (£5 concessions) on the door.

Thursday 18th Dulwich Picture Gallery – Celebrating Architecture – Talks about the Gallery architecture, music in the Gallery and short films in the Linbury Room. Architectural drawing classes in the Sackler Centre. Entry fee £5 (including Exhibition) from 6.30pm.

Sunday 21st Open House Weekend. Friends of Kingswood House. Kingswood House, Seeley Drive, SE 21 open from 1pm – 4.30pm. There will be talks on the history of Kingswood given by Patrick Darby at 2pm and 3.30pm. Cream teas available and the Beckenham Concert Orchestra will play on the terrace.

October 2008

Sunday 12th The Peckham Society present The Theatres, Music Halls and Cinemas of Camberwell an illustrated talk by Richard Norman. 3pm at The Goose Green Centre, St John’s Church, Goose Green SE 22.

Thursday 16th Dulwich Picture Gallery – Celebrating Black History Week. Gospel singing, art classes and films will be themed. Entry fee £5 (includes Exhibition) from 6.30pm

Thursday 22nd, Friday 24th, Saturday 25th The Dulwich Players present Daisy Pulls It Off at 8pm and 4pm Saturday. Edward Alleyn Theatre, Dulwich College. Tickets from the Art Stationers, Dulwich Village.

November 2008

Saturday 22nd Dulwich Picture Gallery Study Day The Changing Face of Nature – A History of British Landscape Art 10.30-3.30pm with Valerie Woodgate. £30 (£25 concessions) includes morning coffee and a fresh buffet lunch.

7.30pm Concert – The Ionian Singers Conductor Timothy Salter, harpist Daniel de-Fry. Music by Debussy, Fauré, Grieg, Holst, Lange-Muller, Ravel, Sibelius, Salter and Tournier. All Saints’ Church, Lovelace Road. 7.30pm. Tickets £12 (£5 students) to include interval wine, at the door or from 020 8693 1051.

Thursday 27th Dulwich Picture Gallery Director’s Exhibition Lecture. Ian Dejardin will speak on the Saul Steinberg exhibition. 12.30-1.30pm Linbury Room. Admission free, but suggested donation £3.

Dulwich Society Local History Group at 8pm – Cinema going in SE London: from the Electric Palace to the Multiplex. Illustrated talk by Allen Eyles. The Old Library, Dulwich College. Admission free to members and their guests.

December 2008

Saturday 6th Dulwich Choral Society – Concert – Carmina Burana Carl Orff. Conductor Aidan Oliver. Also in the programme is The Passing of the Year a virtuoso showpiece by Jonathan Dove. St John’s Church, Auckland Road Upper Norwood at 7.30pm. Tickets from The Art Stationers Dulwich Village or on the door.

Tuesday 22nd Dulwich Choral Society will be singing a programme of Christmas music from across the ages. In aid of St Christopher’s Hospice. 6.30pm at St Stephen’s Church College Road, SE 21. Free with retiring collection for the Hospice. Wine and mince pies.

The Dulwich Runners was founded in 1980 when six friends met in ‘The Clockhouse PH’ at the bottom of Barry Road and decided to run the first London Marathon. Since then the club has gone from strength to strength and now has nearly 300 members who will shortly be celebrating their 1400th Wednesday night run.

The club was one of many new breed clubs which were born in the days of the 80’s running boom. These clubs were road running clubs and welcomed all-comers, unlike many of the traditional clubs who mainly looked for experienced runners and track athletes.

In the early days a handful of people met outside the College Road gates of Dulwich Park and it was not until it moved to the Griffin Club (in Dulwich Village), which could offer changing facilities and the chance of pint afterwards, that the club began to flourish. The older clubs ceased to refer to the Dulwich Runners disparagingly as Dulwich joggers, as members began to feature in the results of well established races and the club started to move up the divisions in the Surrey Cross Country League. The London Marathon has always been a highlight of the Dulwich year with in excess of 30 runners taking part every year.

In 1986 the club held its first Dulwich Charity 10k run in Dulwich Park. This is the Club’s way of putting something back into the community. Over the years many local charities have benefited, both large and small. Last year L’Arche Lambeth benefited to the tune of £4000. The event, which attracts 500 runners, takes place in the first weekend in October and is always supported by the Mayor. Thanks to the great generosity of local traders, the club is able to offer an extensive prize list which helps to attract a large field from top class athletes to people running their first race, to either get fit or to raise money for charity. The race is accompanied by a family fun-run (one lap of the Park) and a two mile race for young athletes, which always produces some wonderful performances.

These days the club meets, still on Wednesdays at 7pm for 7.15pm at the Edward Alleyn Club in Burbage Road. It offers a number of runs of different lengths and marked maps are provided for those unsure of the route. There is a new runners’ rota of club members prepared to assist newcomers and accompany them on their first few runs. A power walking section has been formed as it was found that there was need for people who just wanted to walk, maybe runners who are injured or partners of runners who may not want to run but want to take some exercise and be part of the club.

Following the run/walk, there are changing facilities, the chance to have some food, a drink at the bar and to plan future events. Unusually for a running club, there is a large female membership which comprises a third of the membership and which makes the social side more fun. There are regular parties, weekends away to running events, theatre outings etc.

Over the years, groups of Dulwich Runners have travelled all over the world to take part in marathons and other races and now many people make up the worldwide Dulwich Runners fellowship. News and events are recorded in a weekly newsletter called “Shorts” and examples can be seen, together with lots of photographs on the Dulwich Runners website –

Chris Vernon

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