The unthinkable has occurred in trendy East Dulwich - a branch of the Women’s Institute has opened. Instead of being located in a local church hall, the members opted for the Magdala public house in Lordship Lane. A suggestion was made for a WI branch formation on the East Dulwich Forum website which led to it formation some eighteen months ago. It now has a membership of 60 with a further 35 on the waiting list and a regular attendance of around 30. It has enjoyed a monthly programme of the more usual kind of WI activities like modern flower arranging, decorating Easter eggs, cake making and ‘what to wear for autumn’. On the other hand it has also offered a croquet morning, a keep-fit tutored session, a picnic in Dulwich Park and being entertained by a magician. In 2009 the East Dulwich WI plans to make its ‘good cause’ the Dulwich Helpline.
‘Jerusalem’ is not sung at their at their meetings, nor does a cup of tea feature, instead we are informed that a glass of wine is preferred! For more information contact www.eastdulwichwi.co.uk
The credit crunch is creating tough times for local estate agents. A sign in one agency window in Dulwich Village carried this notice - Give Blood! Cor! Things must be bad!
Unless you are employing a Polish builder to carry out work on your home it is unlikely that a religious text will be left behind as a memento. However, in the case of a Dulwich Village house built in the late Georgian period , the carpenter left a biblical text written in an apparent mixture of Classical and Medieval Latin in heavily indented pencil on the reverse of a piece of wooden skirting.
The skirting was in one of the upstairs smaller rooms and is about 4 inches wide; considerably narrower than the 15 inch more detailed skirting in the rooms on the raised ground floor. It was probably the final piece of work to be done to complete the house. The inscription reads:
1826 Nulla igitur nonce eis qui Sunt in Christo Jesu qui non Secundum Carmen ambulant Sed Secundum Spirtitum ( which a local classicist has translated thus : “ Therefore no harm may there be to those who are in Jesus Christ who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit” Beneath it is written:
a Glorious Truth
Romans 8 Chapter 1 Verse
Thos. Griffiths Carpenter from near
Narberth Pembrokeshire South Wales
(Romans chapter 8 verse 1 reads: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.)
What else do we know of Thomas Griffiths? Unfortunately very little. We can deduce that he was taught grammar at school although the mixture of Latin is unusual. Griffiths is of course a very common Welsh name and in 1830, just four years later there were half dozen other Griffiths in Narberth. They were shopkeepers - a butcher, grocer, draper, ironmonger and a saddler in the village which even today only has a population of under 1700 persons.
In nineteenth century there was an increased movement of Welsh people to London, a movement which had started over half a century earlier and there was a Welsh church in Southwark. As Thomas Griffiths is keen to record the name of his home town in Wales on the inscription it is possible he was not a permanent Dulwich or even London resident in 1826. Nevertheless, we do know that a Thomas Griffiths, bookbinder, married Ann Rawlings a local teacher in 1845. Ann Rawlings was the teacher of the girls’ class at the Dulwich Free School (now JAGS) then located at the former French Horn inn in the Village (the site is next to Barclays Bank). She retired in 1855 after twenty years service and received a gratuity of £20 as a mark of long and devoted service to the school. The coincidence of the names is such to suggest that Thomas Griffiths the carpenter, had a family in South Wales which he brought to London, where, as the choice of the text suggests, he had been living on his own, and that Thomas Griffiths the bookbinder was his son.
Whatever happened to Mary Lines? We know she lived in Dulwich, that she attended James Allen’s Girls’ School and that she was the greatest women’s athlete of her generation. She won five medals at the first Women’s Olympic Games held in Paris in 1922 organised by the Fédération Sportive Feminine Internationale (FSFI). She represented Great Britain in what was called the Five Countries Games following the refusal of the International Amateur Athletics Association (IAAF) to add women’s games to the 1924 Olympiad.
In the 1922 Games Mary Lines gained a silver for the 60 metres sprint, a bronze for the 100yards, a gold for the 300 metres, a gold for the long jump and yet another gold for the 4x100 metres relay in which she was lead-off. During her career, Mary Lines simultaneously held six world records in different events. She set a world record for the 880 yards in Monte Carlo in 1921 and improved on her time of 2 mins 45 secs by 19 seconds a year later at Crystal Palace. She also participated in the Women’s World Games in Sweden in 1926.
Mary Lines then disappeared. What happened to her? Did she marry, did she continue with athletics? If any reader can throw any light on her subsequent life both this column and JAGS would be very interested to hear.
The nomination for a Southwark Heritage Award blue plaque to commemorate the life and work of Dulwich singer Anne Shelton OBE (1928-1994) received over a thousand votes and a plaque on her former home at 142 Court Lane where she lived for some thirty years was unveiled by the Mayor of Southwark in October. Teresa Cahill, the opera singer and a friend of Anne outlined Anne’s career and John Brunel Cohen spoke of her connection with the Not Forgotten Association for whom she arranged annual concerts at Buckingham Palace over many years. A large audience witnessed the ceremony, which was highlighted by the presence of a Colour Party from the Royal British Legion and representatives from the Not Forgotten Association.
It is perhaps not realised today, what a major name she was in light entertainment during and after the Second World War. Her career began at the age of 13 with the Ambrose Orchestra with which she sang for six years. In 1942 she started touring military bases and the BBC soon gave her a special programme, entitled “Calling Malta”. The show ran for five years and was the only outside link for the besieged islanders. At the same time another programme “Introducing Anne” was beamed to Allied troops in North Africa and her signature song in the show was an anglicised version of Lili Marlene. In 1944 she performed in six shows with Glenn Miller and his Orchestra and in the same year Bing Crosby invited Anne to do a show with him for US troops stationed in the UK. She and Bing recorded the “Variety Bandbox” radio show with Tommy Handley and she went on to perform with Bing with two duets, “Easter Parade” and “I’ll Get By”.
In 1951 Anne went on an eleven month tour of the United States, opening at New York’s Copacabana and playing there for four weeks. She toured abroad widely and at home she appeared in three Royal Variety Shows and continued entertaining servicemen. It was through this connection she began her long service with the Not Forgotten Association, the charity for disabled veterans.
The initiative for the nomination came from Mr and Mrs Jeremy Prescott who now live in the house and who hosted this delightful event.
Girlguiding UK has announced that having talked to a number of interested groups and organisations, including Bromley Council the freeholders of the Park, it plans to renovate the famous Maze by September 2009 to create a fun, interactive feature. It will include some aspects of trail and discovery, themed sections and elements within the hedging which would work well in winter months. The design would reflect not only the history of the Guides - at the Crystal Palace Scout Rally in 1909 a small group of pioneering girls stopped Robert Baden-Powell to demand similar opportunities for girls - but also link to the social history of the area. What a splendid way to celebrate the movement’s centenary.
It is quite incomprehensible that there should no longer be a pedestrianised crossing of the Lordship Lane/South Circular Road/Dulwich Common junction. Fast moving traffic, descending Lordship Lane and London Road turn left onto Dulwich Common at speed and pedestrians run literally for their lives. Considering that this crossing route connects Horniman Museum, Dulwich Park, Sydenham Hill Wood Nature Reserve and Dulwich Woods for pedestrians, the omission of a proper crossing is disgraceful. Our photograph shows that certainly in the 1940’s such a crossing existed - at a time, as it also graphically illustrates, there was very little traffic.
Although many residents in Dulwich may be aware of the accommodation provided at Edward Alleyn House (the building on College Road, facing the entrance to Dulwich Park) less well known is The Dulwich Almshouse Charity’s outreach work.
The Charity emanates from Edward Alleyn’s Foundation, established in 1619, and its objects, which continue to this day, were those set down by Alleyn - to relieve beneficiaries in case of need, hardship or distress, by the provision of almshouses ‘and otherwise’. This second element to the Charity’s activity takes two forms:
1. Grants to support local organisations (which meet the Charity’s criteria) and these include Dulwich Helpline (for its Neighbourhood Care Programme which provides friendship and support to isolated older people) and St Christopher’s Hospice (for its ‘@home’ scheme which offers palliative care to the sick in their own homes). Information on the work of these two organisations is available from their websites: www.dulwich-helpline.org.uk and www.stchristophers.org.uk
Financial assistance is also provided to the Bishopsgate Foundation and to Camberwell Consolidated Charities which pay small pensions to their beneficiaries.
2. Contact with outreach beneficiaries: the Charity Warden, Carol, as well as assisting the almshouse residents currently makes home visits to nine local people who range from 77 to 99 years. These individuals, where physically able, are encouraged to attend coffee mornings held in the Vestry at Christ’s Chapel in the Village and to join in other social outings and activities. These include a Christmas Lunch and a summer outing for both its almshouse residents and the outreach beneficiaries.
The Dulwich Estate funds the work of the Almshouse Charity through an annual payment of income and it has also funded improvement works to the almshouse buildings.
Further information regarding the activities of The Dulwich Almshouse Charity or indeed the conditions for entry to Edward Alleyn House can be obtained via the website: www.thedulwichestate.org.uk (under ‘Beneficiaries’) or from The Dulwich Estate Office (Mrs Veronica Edwards - telephone number 020 8299 5565).
Dulwich OnView is an online magazine run by a group of Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery. It offers up-to-the-minute information on local events with articles on wine, quizzes, reviews, green issues and numerous other topics. It is non-commercial and run by volunteers. To find out more go to www.dulwichonview.org.uk and then to ‘Who We Are’. You will find out how to add your voice to this celebration of the Dulwich area.
All of the material which was on open access at the Borough will be available at Peckham. Archival service is not for the moment available.
In the last issue of the Newsletter we published a history of the Dulwich Volunteer Battalion, formerly the Dulwich & District Defence League, whose war memorial was restored during the summer from funds allocated by the Dulwich Community Council. Hilary Devonshire of Lovelace Road writes to say that her grandfather was a member of the Battalion. His name was William Gough Edwards and he was born in Llangwmn, Pembrokeshire in 1879. He was a teacher and moved initially to Beauval Road and after his marriage in 1909, to Carson Road, West Dulwich. During the First World War he was appointed headteacher at Devons Road School, Bow while continuing to reside in Dulwich. In 1926 he became headteacher at Rosendale Road School. As he was in a protected occupation, he was excused military call-up and instead joined the Dulwich Volunteer Battalion, a First World War form of Home Guard.