The lengthy and ugly hoarding which has stood around the Vicarage of St. Faith’s Church for almost two years is a considerable blot on the landscape. How much longer this state of affairs is to continue is anyone’s guess.
The vicarage was closed in 2010 following the retirement of the vicar of St Faith’s, The Revd Hugh Dawes. The majestic Plane Tree standing in the front garden was felled, apparently without consultation, as it is claimed that its roots were causing damage to the building. Nevertheless, the removal of this tree is a great loss of amenity and causes the vicarage to be completely exposed. It is doubtful if a license for its removal was granted under the Scheme of Management before other steps to save the tree could be explored.
Apparently the Parochial Church Council of St Faith’s have had no say in the future of the vicarage as its future is determined by the Southwark Diocese vicarages board. As a consequence, St Faith’s new vicar, The Revd Susan Height is obliged to live in rented accommodation some little distance from the church and the matter is a frustrating one for all concerned.
It is understood that Southwark Diocese has plans to demolish the existing vicarage and build a new one, a scheme financed by the building of additional housing on the site. However, the land was given by the then Governors of the Dulwich Estate in 1950 solely for the purpose of building a church and a vicarage and any variation of this gift is likely to be rejected by the Charity Commission.
The announcement that Southwark Council has allocated £54,000 for an ‘event/s that celebrate communities’ in the period up to 2014 in the south of the borough and that it was to consult local groups on possible projects came as a considerable surprise considering cuts to local services elsewhere. Or is it some Machiavellian scheme to cheer-up the community in the face of increasing austerity? There seems to be general agreement that a repeat of large-scale events in Dulwich Park was undesirable, largely because of the damage inflicted to the gates and grounds by heavy vehicles.
Ideas from the community at the initial consultation in February included building on the existing Dulwich Festival with arts workshops and new themes such as filmmaking and grow-you-own food. Extension by Dulwich Picture Gallery of art education into local council estates was also suggested as was the provision of a bandstand in Dulwich Park (apparently there is considerable enthusiasm for a bandstand as it was also suggested as a Barbara Hepworth ‘Divided Circle’ replacement).
By the time of a second meeting in March enthusiasm seemed to be waning, or at least ideas were thin on the ground. Community theatre was suggested and added to the list. Essentially, it seems that Dulwich and East Dulwich which comprise the area ‘south of the borough’ are already provided for with the excellent community based events organised by the Dulwich Festival in May and that the council would like to replicate this type of event in north Southwark (Bermondsey and Rotherhithe) and central Southwark (Elephant & Castle area). On the other hand, local groups are anxious not to forgo any of .the funding apparently being offered by a bounteous borough of Southwark
The story of the Home Guard unit established at the Dulwich & Sydenham Golf Club in July 1940 and told in a recent edition of the Journal has brought to light further information. Mr Patrick Taylor of South Norwood writes to tell us about the rocket battery manned by HG personnel of which his father was a member and which was sited beside Cox’s Walk on Dulwich Common.
Mr Taylor snr. belonged to 103 (County of London Home Guard) Mixed ‘Z’ Rocket Battery, Royal Artillery serving at The Gun Site, Cox’s Walk from November 1942 until the end of June 1944. Initially his cap badge was that of King’s Royal Rifle Corps of which the local unit was the First Surrey Rifles. This unit was also connected with nearby Highwood Barracks. Like his counterpart at the Golf Club, Mr Taylor also initially kept a unit diary and being a school teacher he not unnaturally used an exercise book for the purpose,
The exercise books contain the nominal roll and addresses of those in the unit together with and names of relief members. Although membership of the unit was essentially local, one or two men came from as far away as Beckenham and Farnborough Common and some went on to fulltime service, some even into the Navy or RAF. The rockets, named ‘Z’ projectiles, were fired in salvos and were a British invention dating from 1936 and were in use in London from 1941. What is surprising from the documents in Mr Taylor’s possession is that this appears to be the only case we have heard of where HG members worked jointly with their regular counterparts, the same way as the Territorial Army operates today.
A new and very attractive guide to West Norwood Cemetery’s amazing variety of funeral monuments has been published by the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery. Printed on two sides of A3 paper, the map and guide folds to a convenient size and illustrates the most interesting of the monuments including those to Mrs Beeton, Sir Henry Bessemer and a host of other important national figures. The design is by James Slattery-Kavanagh who is also responsible for the Dulwich Society website. The guide is available from The Friends of West Norwood Cemetery, 79 Durban Road, SE27 9RW.