The Dulwich Society Commemorates the Sign of the Red Post
The Dulwich Society, in conjunction with The Herne Hill Society, will unveil a red-painted fingerpost in front of the Herne Hill United Church at the top of Red Post Hill on Saturday October 2nd at 11.am. The new fingerpost will replicate the former ‘cross of direction’, known as the ‘Red Post’, which stood nearby, from at least the middle of the eighteenth century to around 1840, and which gave its name to Red Post Hill early in the nineteenth century; originally the road had been called Aspole Lane, probably meaning Ashpole, and is mentioned in Dulwich’s fourteenth century Court Rolls.
The Red Post, then standing in the middle of the road now named Herne Hill/Denmark Hill, was marked on contemporary maps and appeared in the text of early guide books to the environs of London.
Fingerposts began to appear in England after 1697 when legislation enabled magistrates to order directional signs to be put up at cross-highways. There is a tradition that red-painted fingerposts (which still exist in small numbers in the West Country) marked the route to prisons for convicts sentenced to transportation.
The new red fingerpost, which was awarded a Dulwich Community Council grant under the CGS Scheme (Cleaner Greener Safer), will also have an explanatory plaque.