Precisely two years ago the first Covid lockdown was about to start. If you remember, the weather was fine and life changed. Now, two years on we seem to be emerging from isolation. Some of us have learned to master Zoom and in so doing have been able to participate in a new way in talks and meetings. However, there can be no doubt that in most cases physical contact works far better than virtual contact. It is therefore pleasing, indeed, a relief, that many of the things we previously enjoyed but took for granted are gradually returning.
In the pages of this Journal you will find that the much-loved Dulwich Festival and Dulwich Artists’ Open House, so much part of the Dulwich scene for the past 28 years and now under the leadership of a new team, will reappear in May. The Passion Players, whose plans to stage music and drama at Easter 2020 were cancelled at the last minute are putting on an Old Time Music Hall in March. Also in March, the Dulwich Choral Society will be presenting a spectacular concert to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ralph Vaughan Williams, who with his friend Gustav Holst, had Dulwich connections and works of both composers will be featured. The Dulwich Players, who heroically overcame Covid related obstacles to produce both open-air and indoor scaled back productions are back with another new work in April.
The Dulwich Society is also breaking free and the AGM will be held in person in the function room of the Crown & Greyhound on the 9th May. The Garden’s Group has once again produced its Dulwich Open Gardens booklet and this year 28 local gardens are being featured. A group garden visit and a coach trip are also included in their programme. A new Society website has been designed and is now up and running and a number of initiatives planned by the Dulwich Society to commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of HM The Queen, will be announced in the summer issue of this Journal.
Whilst the lockdowns and restrictions of the past two years have played havoc with everybody’s plans, at least the writers and the historians among us have found the time, inspiration or the answer to simply having something to do and have produced a record number of new works. No less than seven books are reviewed or listed in this issue.
Another pleasing aspect, brought on by the experience of the pandemic, has been the emergence of volunteers within the Dulwich Society to assist with its management and purpose. The sub-committees have been strengthened by new members and the task of distributing this magazine has been made easier by people coming forward to assist. Our chairman, James Thompson would be delighted to hear from any members wishing to be closer involved.
The Dulwich Picture Gallery is in need of as much support as it can get. The closures naturally depleted income and along with other cultural institutions, its financial position was not healthy prior to the pandemic. I will be giving a talk about the Gallery’s plight during WW2 and the role of Bell House as a venue for the restoration of the collection in 1945. Entitled ‘Hell’s Bells’, it also tells the story of the work of Dr Johannes Hell and Sir Gerald Kelly PRA and the great art controversy with the National Gallery. This will take place at Bell House on Wednesday 18th May and will be in support of the Gallery.