2016 marked the 400th anniversary of the historic Burial Ground at the heart of Dulwich Village. Originally planned by Edward Alleyn (1566-1626), early modern actor and playhouse owner, Lord of the manor of Dulwich from 1606 as part of his charity, Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift, which included Dulwich schools and alms houses, it was consecrated by the then Archbishop of Canterbury on 1 September 2016 following a service at Christ Chapel earlier in the morning.
The burial ground is unusual in having no church on site and, while clearly visible from the surrounding streets, it is not usually open to the public. Burials have taken place since 1616, including victims of the 1625 and 1665 plagues, but the earliest visible gravestones and monuments date from the early eighteenth century. It was declared full in 1858, and only a few more burials were allowed, the last in 1918. It remains largely untouched since that time – the quiet country church yard ambience within five miles of central London is unique.
Unfortunately many of the inscriptions on the graves are no longer decipherable but, luckily, records of the names of all those buried there are held by the Dulwich College Archives.
As part of the 400th anniversary commemoration the Society’s local history group researched the 114 graves and monuments that are visible on the site and prepared a leaflet which gives the names, details of the inscriptions and, where possible, some background on the individuals interred there.