Contact: Ian McInnes, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Group’s main aim is to promote and encourage individual research into Dulwich's fascinating past. Members write regularly for the Society’s Journal while others give talks and run local walks. In the Spring the Group promoted three lectures on the Dulwich Estate’s history - from 1850 to 2000 and has run several walks, both for the Dulwich Festival and the Friends of the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Titles included ‘Wates in the Woods’ South of Dulwich Common’ and ‘Hidden Herne Hill’.

As part of the Society’s fiftieth anniversary, the Group put up 12 plaques around Dulwich to commemorate multiple deaths of civilians in air-raids during World World II. The Society felt that a physical record should be installed as a reminder of the horrors of war while there are still residents, and relatives and friends of those killed, who remember that period.

Who was Who in Dulwich
100 notable people
Edited by Bernard Nurse
Who was Who in Dulwich was the work of the Local History sub-committee of the Dulwich Society. Entries have been compiled by members mostly from standard sources, and the initials of the main author are added at the end of the entry. This publication considerably expands the section on local worthies printed in the first history supplement to the Dulwich Society Newsletter October 1982. The original editorial work was carried out by Patrick Darby. In addition much valuable assistance was provided by George Young of the Herne Hill Society especially in extracting Dulwich references from the six volumes of Boase’s Modern English Biography. Recent CD-ROM publications of Who was Who and the Dictionary of National Biography have made the task of searching for entries by place of association possible.

A Gazetteer of Dulwich Roads and Place Names

Second Edition

Compiled by Patrick Darby for the Dulwich Society, with assistance from fellow members of the Society's History Sub-Committee, especially Mary Boast and Brian Green.

Cover Map redrawn by Patrick Darby from an original Map dated 1906.

This booklet is restricted, for reasons of space, to those roads and place-names falling within the old boundary of the Dulwich Estate.  Our apologies, therefore, to those who live outside that boundary but can nevertheless justifiably claim to consider themselves Dulwich residents.

'Pond Cottages', the picturesque cluster of houses lying to the immediate south of the Mill Pond adjoining College Road, Dulwich, were not originally intended for residential use, as might be deduced from their somewhat eccentric lay-out and lack of any coherent style of architecture. Comparison of old leases reveals that from 1663 (and possibly much earlier - there were at least four 'tylemakers' in Dulwich between 1400 and 1420) until the 1780's the site was used for manufacturing tiles and, later on, bricks. In his 1808 Report, the College Surveyor William James wrote: "It would be advisable to give every encouragement to Builders, and for that purposes I recommend the College to allow the Tenants to make Bricks on their Land, free from Royalty, to be employed only on the College Estate". This had already been done in the case of 'Belair', whose builder and lessee, John Willes, had used earth excavated from his premises (possibly, dare one suggest it, where the lake now is) to make bricks for the work because of the high price of bricks generally and the inadequate supply locally; he had been prompted to do so at the suggestion of William Oxlade, of whom more later. However, the College never acceded to Mr James' proposal, and even today requires tenants to agree "not to make, burn, sell or deposit any bricks on the premises".

Tracing the history of houses in Dulwich

The most useful general collections can be found in:

Southwark Local History Library, 211 Borough High Street, London SE1 1JA;
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;
The equivalent record centre for that part of Dulwich in Lambeth is:
Lambeth Archives, Minet Library, 52 Knatchbull Road, London SE5 9QY;
tel: 020-7926-6076;                            
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;

Records generated by the Dulwich Estate can be found in Dulwich College Archive, Dulwich College, Dulwich Common, London SE21 7LD.
Tel: 0208-299-9201;
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;
[access is only by prior appointment]                                        

Some records mostly after 1900 are still in The Dulwich Estate, The Old College, Gallery Road, London SE21 7AE;
tel: 020-8299-1000;
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;
[requests for information should be made to The Dulwich Estate]

".... today, parts of the ancient village, which goes back beyond Domesday Book, are reminiscent of the battlefields of France in the last war." It is difficult to imagine that this could ever have been a description of Dulwich, but it comes from a booklet, The Wardens' Post, published during Spring 1946, after the end of World War II. The editor was George Brown, sometime Warden of Post 60, a well-remembered local resident, Dulwich historian, and former editor of The Villager. The booklet, dedicated to "all our comrades who wore the silver and gold of London's Civil Defence", is one of a number of records of the Air Raid Wardens' Post 60, which have been presented to the Dulwich Society. Another booklet, Pen Portraits of Post 60 by R.K. Spedding, has graphic lino-cut illustrations by Edwin Tucker sometime Senior Fire Guard. The other items in the collection are the actual archives of the Post, a rare survival: the Minute Book, April 1941 - March 1944 and Log Books, August 1941 - April 1942 and June 1944 - June 1945. These latter are brief notes, in pencil, by whoever was on duty that day. Much of the contents of both Minute Book and Log Books is of a routine nature, but as a whole this little collection gives a revealing and human insight into the life and work of one local A.R.P. Post among the thousands that covered the country during the war years. Used in conjunction with records at the Southwark Local Studies Library such as Camberwell Borough Council Minutes 1939-45, the unpublished Camberwell Incidents Register and the published List of Civilian Dead, combined with the memories of local residents, one could build up a detailed history of Dulwich during the war.

Current publications available are:

  1. Dulwich - The Home Front
    £6.00 incl postage (Also available at the Art Stationers in Dulwich Village)
  2. Who Was Who in Dulwich - The brief biographies of 100 notable past residents
    £5.00 incl postage (Also available at the Art Stationers in Dulwich Village)
  3. Remarkable Trees in Dulwich
    £4.95 (map available from the Art Stationers in Dulwich Village)
  4. The Pubs of Dulwich and Herne Hill
    £9.50 + £1.50 p&p, order from

Cheques should be made payable to THE DULWICH SOCIETY and sent to the Secretary.

The Dulwich Society marked its 50th year by installing 12 commemorative plaques to those civilians killed during World War Two. Over 500 high explosive bombs and countless incendiaries fell on our small community; they were followed by 35 V1 flying bombs and three V2 rockets. Where possible, the plaques were unveiled by survivors or descendants of those killed and they bear the names and ages of those killed. This leaflet provides a guide to those memorials: PDF Download

King’s College Hospital - Ward Name Derivations

King’s College Hospital was established in 1840 when the physician Robert Bentley Todd persuaded the Council of King's College London to spend £25,000 converting a workhouse on Portugal Street, near Lincoln’s Inn Fields, into a teaching hospital. It soon developed into a general hospital covering the slums in the nearby area and need was so great that patients soon slept two to a bed. In 1861 the workhouse was replaced by a new building costing over £100,000 but as the surrounding area was redeveloped the slums disappeared, leading to a decline in demand for the hospital so in 1913 King’s moved to Camberwell.

The new £500,000 hospital on Denmark Hill housed the latest innovations such as electric clocks, a telephone network and it also generated its own power. The wards were designed on Florence Nightingale’s principles as one large ward with smaller rooms attached such as a clinical room, a dayroom, side-wards, a kitchen and a sun-balcony. Attention was paid to every aspect of design. The wards were high-ceilinged, well-lit and well-ventilated with large windows which opened both externally and also onto the corridors. Each ward had a large central fireplace and there was plenty of space between the beds.

This article describes the origins of the ward and building names at King’s but is by no means exhaustive and more work is required for some entries.

The Census return for 1851 gives a fascinating picture of Dulwich before the impact of the railways and the Crystal Palace, when it was still part of the administrative county of Surrey and a village in every sense. The census enumerators took their own idiosyncratic route in carrying out their duties, so that it can be difficult to link households with particular buildings. Occasionally houses are named, and it would be possible (although this has not been done for the purposes of this survey) to arrive at definitive answers to such problems of identification by consulting College leases. Allowing for a few houses which may have been included incorrectly, this appraisal is concerned with the Village, the Common, Half Moon Lane, Dulwich (now Red Post) Hill, Herne Hill, the west side of Lordship Lane, and the Penge (now College) Road, in other words the College Estate excluding Sydenham Hill. It covers 278 households, about two- thirds of which had 'heads of households' born in the south-east of England. 122 had come from what is now Greater London or Middlesex, and of this number only 38 had their origins in Dulwich, showing (perhaps surprisingly to most people) that although the population may not have been as mobile as it is today, Dulwich was by no means an inbred country village. Of the remaining one-third 'heads', a substantial group came from the south and west of England, 7 from Scotland, Ireland or Wales, 7 from Europe, and 2 from Asia.

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