There are a number of significant anniversaries being celebrated in Dulwich this year. The sharp-eyed reader will have noticed by our cover and our masthead that this issue is the Journal’s two hundredth edition. Beginning fifty-five ago, with a two or three sheets of foolscap paper, printed on a Roneo duplicating machine and held together by a single staple it was then called the Newsletter. From those modest beginnings it grew into a booklet, and, thanks to modern technology, which has dramatically reduced the costs of reproducing illustrations, into a full-blown colour illustrated magazine.
The first issue appeared in October 1964, summarising the events of the Dulwich Society’s first year. It remained an annual publication until the Summer issue of 1968 when it appeared quarterly and its size was reduced to that of a what was termed a ‘handy-size’. This was when the numbering of the newsletter began. The first twenty-four issues can be found in Southwark Local Studies Library. Newsletter number 1 highlighted some of the issues of the 1960’s. Perhaps it will come as no surprise that at the top of the list was the problem of traffic! All the Newsletters from No. 25 onwards, as well as the Journals which succeeded it, can be read online by going to the Dulwich Society’s website.
Its editors have included two Fleet Street journalists, David Nicholson-Lord who wrote on environmental issues in ‘The Times’ and Brian McConnell QPM a veteran newspaper man recently immortalised in the play performed in the West End; ‘Ink’, concerning the launching of ‘The Sun’ newspaper. The present editor, who has been responsible for the last sixty issues was previously editor for twenty years of ‘The Dulwich Villager’ magazine.
As most residents of Dulwich will be aware, 2019 is also the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the College of God’s Gift by Edward Alleyn, the noted actor/manager and entrepreneur in the golden age of English theatre. Both Alleyn’s School and Dulwich College have an extensive programme of talks and initiatives commemorating the anniversary; Dulwich College has also carefully restored the magnificent building designed by Charles Barry jnr and Alleyn’s is markingit with the planting of 400 trees in its grounds. Both schools are using the anniversary to increase their efforts to provide more bursaries for pupils from poorer homes.
Of even wider significance this year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Ruskin, the Victorian period’s most influential art critic and commentator on social conditions in England. Ruskin lived for much of his life on Herne Hill and Denmark Hill and it is a pity that Dulwich Picture Gallery has neglected this opportunity to stage an exhibition of Ruskin’s enormous contribution to art. Not only would it have provided a fascinating insight into the mind of Dulwich’s most celebrated resident but it would also have the given the chance to display the works of Turner and the Pre-Raphaelites who Ruskin praised, alongside those of some of the Old Masters with whom he was in much dispute. The Journal is carrying a series of articles on this extraordinary man and his influence during this year, the first of which appears in this issue. On page 7 you will also find details of a talk to be given by Jon Newman on Ruskin’s local connections and his reasons for his decision to quit Dulwich and London.
2019 is also the 400th anniversary of the death of the actor/manager Richard Burbage, friend of Shakespeare and rival to Edward Alleyn. The residents of Burbage Road have plans to commemorate their road’s namesake during the year. Jan Piggott discusses in this Journal, the connections between Burbage, Alleyn and Dulwich.