Many people are aware that mobile telephone reception in the Dulwich area is poor and that the mobile telephone companies are actively seeking sites in which to install masts to improve reception. The cheapest option for such companies is to install masts on pavements. Such installations can however, have a detrimental effect on the appearance of a road. A great deal of anxiety has thus been caused to the residents of Court Lane and Court Lane Gardens over the proposed locating of a G3 mobile telephone mast by T Mobile outside their homes and which they appear powerless to stop. As the mast is less than 15m high it does not require planning permission, merely the approval of the local authority, in this case Southwark Council. The application to install the mast on a Dulwich pavement is all the more frustrating because the last issue of the Newsletter carried details of a new policy by the Dulwich Estate for the locating of such masts on land over which has control. This policy acknowledges the need for masts and proposes to identify sites which would not be in close proximity to residents' homes. It noted that the Estate has no control over roadways or other land in close proximity. Either this announcement has come too late to stop the present proposal, or, the Council is ignoring what seems a sensible way forward.
In the case of Court Lane, the application would automatically have been turned down if, as is hoped, the Dulwich Conservation Area were to be extended next year. However, this would not help residents in other roads faced with the same threat; it is noted that the Estate received an application from a mobile telephone company to erect a mast in Woodwarde Road. The policy of both the Dulwich Society and the Dulwich Estate is to resist the location of such masts where they would impair the streetscape. Both bodies are prepared to support residents' objections to the local authority over such applications.
This year the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. Over these fifty years they have done an enormous amount in raising money for the Gallery, and equally importantly, raising public awareness to this unique institution. During this half-century other groups of 'Friends' have also sprung up to support institutions like Dulwich Hospital, (see page 17) and Kings College Hospital. Not only have amenities such as the curtaining of wards been supplied, but the day to day benefits of a trolley shop, tea room and florists' shop have been run and staffed by the Friends. In recent years other 'Friends' have come forward to fill the gaps created by the decline of local council maintenance in parks and open spaces and while this policy now appears to be changing, it can be argued that this is partly because of the pressure that the 'Friends' of this or that park or open space have been able to exert.
This Newsletter is always ready to support such initiatives in its columns.
Sixty enquiries were received requesting details of the Open Competition for a life-size bronze statue of the actor Edward Alleyn sponsored by The Dulwich Society. Advertisements were placed on the Royal Society of British Sculptors website, in the Royal Academy magazine and Artists' Newspaper. In addition press releases were sent to leading newspapers and art magazines. This resulted in thirty three submissions by sculptors of maquettes and drawings of their designs. These were considered by a panel of judges, under the chairmanship of Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Director of the Dulwich Picture Gallery and included Prunella Scales, representing the Stage (her son, Sam West was an Alleyn's School pupil), Sylvia Lahav of the National Gallery, Jeremy Gotch representing the Dulwich Estate and Brian Green representing the Dulwich Society.
The six finalists were each awarded a prize of £750 which was presented at the Edward Alleyn Statue Public Appeal held at the Gallery on May 27th. The works of the six finalists will remain on display in the Linbury Room at the Picture Gallery until 6 June. It is expected that the sculptor of the winning design will be offered the commission for the completed work to be installed in the grounds of the Old College, Dulwich Village, the site of Edward Alleyn's benefaction, in September 2005 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of his purchase of the Manor of Dulwich.
Dulwich Society members who wish to subscribe to the Appeal are invited to send their donations to the Appeal Treasurer, David Trace FCA, 88 Burbage Road, SE 24 9HE. Cheques should be made out to the Dulwich Society Alleyn Statue Appeal.
Over the next few issues the Newsletter will carry a series of articles exploring Edward Alleyn's complex character. To start the series, Arthur Chandler, Archivist Emeritus of Alleyn's School builds up a picture of the Founder's life before he became associated with Dulwich.
Margaret was widowed while Edward was still a child. She then married an actor named Brown whose influence on his young stepson was to have a lasting effect upon the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, and in time upon the manor of Dulwich. It can be assumed that Edward played female roles during his boyhood, as was the custom. In 1584 when Alleyn was fourteen years of age, his name was recorded in the list of the Earl of Worcester's Players.
Bankside in Southwark was fast becoming a gathering ground for the entertainments of the City of London, which was only a short walk across London Bridge. It was here that Edward Alleyn met Philip Henslowe, a shrewd businessman and entrepreneur who had great financial interests in theatres, side-shows and the like. Alleyn soon became a business partner of Henslowe and on 22 October 1592, he married Henslowe's step-daughter, Joan Woodwarde. The newly married couple took up residence on Bankside in the Liberty of the Clink, within the Parish of St Saviour.
At the end of the sixteenth century Edward Alleyn was acclaimed as the leading actor of the time. He led, with Henslowe, the company of players known as My Lord Admiral's Men, later to become The Prince's Men in the reign of James l and Vl. He took the leading roles in the four great plays of Christopher Marlowe, Edward ll, Tamburlaine, the Jew of Malta and Dr Faustus. All of these were written before Marlowe's thirtieth birthday. It is believed that while at Cambridge, Marlowe had been recruited for government, probably as a spy. This activity was later to lead to the playwright's early demise in May 1593 when he was stabbed to death in a tavern brawl at Deptford.
In 1594 Alleyn bought an interest in the Bear Gardens for two hundred pounds and two years later Henslowe acquired part of the lease of another property. At this time Alleyn and Henslowe jointly held the office of Deputy Master of the Royal Game of Bulls and Bears. Having consolidated their position they started to develop their properties. In 1606 they contracted with a local carpenter, for £65, to pull down and rebuild the Bear Gardens.
The Bear Pit flourished and the Rose Theatre they also jointly owned was also extremely successful. Alongside these Alleyn and Henslowe ventures on Bankside were those of My Lord Chamberlain's Men headed by William Shakespeare and James Burbage. With a performance of Hamlet in January 1601, William Shakespeare opened the Globe Theatre on Bankside, built by Burbage who had dismantled and brought across the Thames the original timbers of 'The Theatre' in Shoreditch. Not to be outdone, Alleyn built the Fortune Theatre in the Parish of St Giles, Cripplegate and opened it in May of the same year. The new theatre was "like the late erected Plaiehose on the Banck in the said parish of the Ste Saviour called the Globe". Although Alleyn retired from acting in the following year, he remained manager of the Fortune Theatre until it was destroyed by fire on 9 December 1621.
Bear Baiting was a substantial source of income to Alleyn who, in 1604, was appointed by the King to be his 'Chief Master, Ruler and Overseer of all and singular of his majestie's games, of bears, and bulls, and mastive dogs, and mastive bitches'. This authorised him to take any bulls, bears or dogs from any part of the kingdom for the service of the king on payment of a 'fairprice'. Dogs were taken by Alleyn from the Bear Garden to the Tower of London in order to bait a lion in his den. In the early seventeenth century the Court gained much pleasure from animal baiting and this must have necessitated a great deal of forward planning for the 'Chief Master'. His acting talents, however, were not completely lost after his retirement from the stage, as Alleyn delivered congratulatory addresses on special occasions such as the City Pageant which was staged in March 1603 in honour of the Sovereign's visit.
Grand Prix Athletics to continue at Crystal Palace
The intervention of the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and Richard Caborn, the Minister for Sport, has secured the future of the National Sports Centre at the Crystal Palace. Under terms of an agreement Sport England will take a further two year lease of the Centre so that it can remain open whilst the London Development Agency draws up detailed plans for a redeveloped or replacement stadium. In the short term this will allow the re-surfacing of the track in time for this summer's Grand Prix. The staging of this event at the Crystal Palace is essential for the success of a bid to host the Olympic Games in London. The LDA will take over the lease of the National Sports Centre in two years time and has also taken the option to take over the running of the Park itself within five years.
The enthusiasm for skate boarding continues to have a potent attraction for many teenage boys; a potency enhanced by the clever advertisement currently running on television showing a small group of skate boarders doing amazing feats along an obstacle course of low walls and iron girders. Therein lays the problem of providing a purpose built skate board ramp in a public park or recreation space. The novelty of these semi-circular ramps soon tires. Furthermore, by supplying one on such a site, the local council finds itself liable to litigation if an accident occurs and thus is forced to insist that skate boarders where protective clothes, and, because the facility is often located in a recreation area, limit the age of the user. All this requires monitoring.
Skate boarding can also be anti-social because of noise caused by the clatter of inexpertly handled boards. The Friends of Dulwich Park and The Dulwich Society have therefore argued against a plan to site a ramp in Dulwich Park because of disturbing neighbours. An alternative site at the Southwark Sports Ground on Dulwich Common was similarly rejected and the problem has shifted to Belair with a possible location near the car park. With a little luck, its curvaceous form may be mistaken for a new piece of installation art.
A number of residents have complained recently of both London Transport bus and school coach drivers running their engines while stationary. Roads affected include Sunray Avenue near St Faith's Church, Etherow Street, near Dulwich Library, Dulwich Village, outside Dulwich Hamlet School and Half Moon Lane outside James Allen's Girls School. This practice adds to noise and pollution levels and drivers should be notified.
Local Resident appointed Horniman's Chairman
Dulwich resident, Timothy Hornsby, has been appointed as Chairman of the Horniman Museum. As a former Chief Executive of the National Lottery Board and Director General of the Nature Conservation Council he brings unique financial and environmental expertise to the Museum. On taking over in April he said, "As a long time South London resident, I and my family have for many years enjoyed the Horniman experience of curiosity and wonder: so I am particularly pleased to have been appointed Chairman."
The advent of new Chairman marks an exciting time for the museum. The Horniman has recently been awarded Museum of the Year and London Family Attraction of the Year by the Good Britain Guide. Its sixteen acres of gardens has gained a Green Flag Award. It has also welcomed a half-million visitors since the opening of the Centenary Development in June 2002. The current great draw is Dinomites, a family exhibition with a dinosaur theme which runs until October.
Police Horses Leave Dulwich
It is rather unfortunate that the Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch who have had stables at East Dulwich Police Station ever since it was built should be leaving Dulwich almost at the moment the horse track in Dulwich Park is expected to be upgraded. In June 2003, the stables attached to Brixton Police Station closed and half the horses were transferred to Wandsworth and half to East Dulwich. However, the completion of new stables at Lewisham has meant that all Dulwich's horses have now been transferred there. Few police horses will therefore be seen in Dulwich streets, or, unfortunately in Dulwich Park where they might have enjoyed the 2/3rds of a mile circuit.
Dulwich Society Website a Big Hit
The Dulwich Society website www.dulwichsociety.org.uk has proved very popular so far this year. It received over 7000 visitors or 'hits' in the first four months.
Green Chain Dulwich Extension
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England works in London to improve the use of natural resources in the capital, so as to foster protection of the countryside beyond. This year the aim is to extend the South East London Green Chain through to Dulwich and beyond.
The Green Chain is a 40 mile network of footpaths linking 300 open spaces covering 4000 acres of SE London. It starts at the Thames Barrier, the world's largest flood barrier and runs through ancient woodlands at Oxleas and Bostall Woods, past the Jacobean splendour of Charlton House, the tropical delights of Avery Hill's Winter Garden and the Great Hall of Eltham Palace. It passes through the former parkland of Beckenham Place towards the ridge of Crystal Palace where it abruptly ceases.
The plan is to run the Green Chain into Dulwich and on to Nunhead thereby linking four of the cultural gems of South East London - the Picture Gallery, the Horniman Museum, Nunhead Cemetery and the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace. It is anticipated that the route will be mapped and waymarked with full access for the disabled. Not only will this highlight the value of each of these historic landmarks but it will underline the recreational potential of South East London and enhance the protection which each open space on the way enjoys.
Following a successful meeting with interested local groups it is hoped a route will link the existing trail with Dulwich Upper Wood, Sydenham Wells Park, Dulwich Wood, Sydenham Hill Wood, Dulwich Park, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Horniman Gardens and Museum, Peckham Rye Park Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries, Honor Oak Open Spaces, Brenchley Gardens, the Aquarius Golf Course, One Tree Hill, Nunhead Cemetery and end at Telegraph Hill. Sharp-eyed readers will notice some irregularity of this proposed route. This can be explained by the fact that there will be two trails one leading towards Dulwich and the other more or less following the old High Level Line route.
The campaigners hope to achieve financing of the extension from local authority and charitable sources. The first stage is to cost the extended trail, which will be carried out by independent consultants in the near future.
Until Sunday 6th Display of Finalists' Studies for the Edward Alleyn Statue, sponsored by The Dulwich Society. Linbury Room, Dulwich Picture Gallery
Until 12 September Henry Moore - Exhibition of Sculpture. Dulwich Picture Gallery
Thursday 3rd 12.30-1.30pm Dulwich Picture Gallery Lunchtime Lecture -Henry Moore: Too famous for his own good? Roger Bertould. Linbury Room. Collection
Thursday 3rd Friday 4th at 8pm Saturday 5th. at 2.30pm and 8pm. The Dulwich Players present - Amadeus - by Peter Shaffer, at the Edward Alleyn Theatre, Dulwich College. Tickets £6 from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village.
Sunday 6th at 7.30pm. The Endellion String Quartet -Concert -Haydn, Quartet Op 75 'The Lark', Britten; Quartet No.3, Beethoven: Quartet Op 59 No 3. St Bartholomew's Church, Sydenham. Tickets £12 cons £8. (tel 020 8778 4701)
Thursday 10th 12.30-1.30pm Dulwich Picture Gallery Lunchtime Lecture. Curating Exhibitions -Ian Dejardin. Linbury Room. Collection
8pm Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Mrs Eleanor's Secret Coade Stone lecture by Lt Col Dick Bolton. James Allen's Girls' School.
Wednesday 16th at 3.00pm 'Afternoon Tea' Concert at St.Christopher's Hospice. Tickets £5, £3 cons (tel 020 8778 4701)
Thursday 17th The Dulwich Society Local History Group present "The People's Park - A Historical Walk led by Dr Jan Piggott in Crystal Palace Park - to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Crystal Palace". Meet at the Penge Gate (Thicket Road, beside the Information Office) at 7.30pm.
Friday 18th at 7.30pm An evening at Dulwich College - Summer Song - a Charity Concert in aid of ITDG. Soloists: Michael Dore and Morag McLaren. Tickets £25 (includes Buffet Supper) tel 020 8778 4746 or send cheque (payable to ITDG SE London Group, 22 Canal Walk, SE 26 5EG.
Saturday 19th ends Saturday 17 July Friends of the Dulwich Picture Gallery Summer Exhibition. Works will be selected by a committee for the exhibition which is open to all Friends to enter. All work is for sale.
Sunday 20th at 7.30pm. The Orchestra of St Bartholomew, conductor Robert Trory. Concert - Haydn: Symphony No 101 'The Clock', Britten:Simple Symphony Op 4, Beethoven: Symphony No 7. St Bartholomew's Church, Sydenham. Tickets £12 cons £8 (tel 020 8778 4701)
Wednesday 23rd 8pm Where Have All Our House Sparrows Gone? Annual talk presented by the Dulwich Society Wildlife Committee. By Rob Robinson . St Barnabas Centre, Calton Avenue, SE 21. Admission free
Thursday 24th 12.30-1.30pm Dulwich Picture Gallery Lunchtime Lecture - The Talented Mr Brown, a lecture about Capability Brown, garden designer. Russell Bowes. Linbury Room. Collection
Friday 25th at 7.30pm Dulwich Picture Gallery An Architectural Lecture- Dulwich in 1900 Ian McInnes. Linbury Room. Tickets £8 Friends £7, includes a glass of wine.
Saturday 26th at 3pm Architectural Tour of Dulwich Picture Gallery with Ingrid Beazely. Free with Gallery admission ticket.
The South London Chorus present Rossini's Petite Messe Solonnelle at 7.30pm at The Church of St Michael and All Angels, Poplar Walk, Croydon. Conductor Susan Farrow. Soloists include Sophie Bevan, Soprano; Sian Menna, Mezzosoprano; and David Elwin, piano. Tickets £10 in advance from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village and the Dulwich Music Shop, Park Hall Road or £12 at the door.
Sunday 27th at 2.0pm. History Walk - The Old Village of Dulwich (with particular reference to its architecture). Led by Brian Green. Meet at the Dulwich Picture Gallery Café. Collection in aid of Gallery funds.
At 3pm at the Dulwich Picture Gallery (following the walk) Architectural Tour of Dulwich Picture Gallery with Ingrid Beazely
Thursday 8th at 8pm. Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society - Canaletto in England- Lecture by Andrew Davies. James Allen's Girls' School.
Thursday 15th Dulwich Society Garden Group - Day Trip to Rook Hill near Basingstoke (A National Penstemon collection) followed by a visit to White Windows near Andover (voted a Gardening Which favourite garden). To book, ring Ina Pulleine (020 8670 5477 after 11.00am)
Thursday 22nd 12.30-1.30pm Dulwich Picture Gallery Lunchtime Lecture - The Art of the Garden. Nicholas Alfrey. Linbury Room. Collection.
Saturday 18th 10.30am- 4pm Designing a Wildlife Garden. Centre for Wildlife Gardening, 28 Marsden Road, SE 15 4 EE (tel 020 7252 9186) Booking essential, phone for costs.
Sunday 19th 2pm-4pm The Athol House Cheshire Home Annual Garden Fete at the Home at 138 College Road, SE 19. This year the purpose of the Fete is to raise money towards the cost of two new baths which must be purchased to meet new regulations.
Wednesday 29 - Saturday October 2nd - Dulwich Chamber Music Festival.
Festival Office: 1 Court Lane, SE 21 7DZ Tel: 020 8693 3973. Tickets on sale from June
As Dulwich Park's bid for £4million of lottery money moves towards its second phase, worries are being raised about its impact on the park landscape. The potential loss of many trees is a particular concern.
The Heritage Lottery Fund's decision on the bid is due this summer. The scheme proposed by Landscape designers Land Use Consultants (LUC) offers undeniable pluses. Among them are: fully restored carriageways, horse ride and drainage; facilities for future watering; "wow-factor" plantings of shrubs, trees and flowers; an enlarged ecology area (the "squirrel enclosure"); and a cleaned-up and desilted lake with better water quality and new reed beds. However, the plans also envisage extensive tree removal. An estimated 160-170 trees are earmarked for felling, along with a further 30 to be heavily coppiced.
LUC admits that the proposed tree losses will be "drastic" - 200 trees represents nearly 10 per cent of the park's total tree population. At least a third will be around the lake, where leaf-fall and lack of light has partly contributed to poor water quality. Other areas of tree loss include the northern and southern ends of the walk that leads from the Court Lane gates past the café, the "Japanese" garden next to the bridge and the American garden. LUC says the losses are in part necessary to return the planting structure to its original Victorian design to fulfill the HLF's "heritage" brief. Many trees, and shrubs, it appears are "in the wrong place".
The Dulwich Society Wildlife Committee has seen the detailed plans and discussed the bid's current trees strategy. More than a century has elapsed since Sexby originally laid out his design on former farmland. The pressures and demands on parks have changed considerably since 1890. There is now much greater emphasis on the importance of ecology. In the light of those changes, we believe there are serious concerns about the scale of the tree losses proposed.
So what makes 2004 different from 1890? Any list would include consideration on the importance of:
Biodiversity - which means having a healthy wildlife population. The loss of a tenth of the park's tree cover would almost certainly lead to an immediate dip in wildlife populations. The park is home to at least four species of bat, including Daubenton's, which can eat up to 3,500 insects in a single night. The park is also home to several species of bird that are on the "red list" - species of high conservation concern. These include the song thrush, the lesser spotted woodpecker, the starling and the house sparrow. Mammalogists and ornithologists point out that suburban parks and gardens now act as refuges for animals and birds, since much "real" country is given over to intensively-managed monocultures. Old trees, dead wood and holes in trunks are vital for both birds and insects.
Cost. When the park opened, it had over 30 gardeners working in it. It could therefore afford "high-maintenance" horticulture. This, sadly, is no longer the case. Trees, by their nature, cost relatively little to maintain. Replacing them with rockeries, as proposed on the Broad Walk, is a serious hostage to council budgetary fortune.
Human health. Trees perform an extraordinary range of "ecosystem services". They provide shade from UV radiation - equivalent to a sun protection factor of between six and 10. They filter out the dust and traffic fumes that are linked to respiratory and heart disease. They screen out noise - one of the great modern causes of stress. They oxygenate and moisturize the atmosphere. The trees of Dulwich Park thus make a huge contribution to minimizing the effects of traffic and surrounding urban development.
Stress relief. Large scale tree losses will open up the park more to its urban surroundings, removing the sense of intimacy and seclusion that greenery provides. Research increasingly shows that "getting away from it all" - peace and relaxation in a natural setting - is the main reason people visit green spaces. However, the heritage brief emphasises opening up longer vistas, partly for historical reasons, which is one of the reasons for tree removal. But in 1890 there was no South Circular and no surrounding houses to mar the rural outlook. Arguably, people then didn't suffer from urban stress 2004-style, either.
Most of the items on this list simply weren't issues in 1890. Granted, everyone likes to look on a beautiful landscape - but our ideas of beauty have changed too. Should we be attempting to restore a historic landscape by recreating a "freeze-frame" moment in time? And is it reasonable that one of the first impacts of a much-anticipated boost to the park's fortunes - a once-in-a-lifetime injection of funds - should be the loss of much of its visible greenery? Many people will argue that we should be getting more trees, not fewer. There is an argument too for approving those aspects of the scheme for the planting of new shrubberies but not if it is at the expense of the destruction of older but healthy ones.
It's true that new trees are promised, but not, it seems, as part of the HLF bid - we will have to pay for these later out of donations or annual budgets. However, there is no commitment yet on numbers or placing. And, of course, new trees will take decades to reach the proportions - and value to other living things - of those they are replacing. Sensitive phasing of felling and replanting could also minimise the impact of such tree losses - but it seems that to conform to the HLF funding timetable, the bulk of the work would have to be done over 12 months. The result will almost certainly be that the park will look much barer, and will go on looking bare for quite some time.
At Crystal Palace park lottery funding was suspended after local protests at tree losses resulting from a new landscape design scheme. We are anxious this doesn't happen at Dulwich. LUC is adamant that it won't. We hope the consultants are right but we don't feel at all confident. If you share our concerns, please make your views known - to LUC, the HLF or local councillors
LUC is at 43 Chalton St London NW1 1JD, tel 0207 383 5784. Website: www.landuse.co.uk
Angela Wilkes, Chair, Wildlife Committee
Stella Benwell, Chair, Trees Committee
Got the Bug?
Butterfly conservation expert Malcolm Bridge - who gave a splendid talk to Society members last year - repeats his excellent Butterfly Walk at South Norwood Country Park, on Sunday July 4th. Meet in the Elmer's End station car park at 10.30am
London Wildlife Trust are running a training course, spread over four Saturdays in July for invertebrate enthusiasts (that's insects, bugs, snails, worms and beetles and anything else without a backbone, for the uninitiated). It's aimed at species identification at "intermediate" level, so requires some previous knowledge of the subject. Venue - The Horniman Museum. Places are strictly limited. Contact Ian Holt (tel 020 8699 5698, email
LWT are also holding another of their popular BAT AND MOTH early evening walks in Sydenham Hill Woods on Saturday 14 August. Meet at the Crescent Wood Road entrance just before dusk.
Dulwich Society Annual Wildlife Talk - Where have all our House Sparrows gone? - to be given by Rob Robinson of the British Trust for Ornithology at the St Barnabas Centre, Calton Avenue, SE 21 at 8pm on Wednesday 23 June. Admission free. Coffees and Teas served, all welcome. There will be a discussion about local bird residents and visitors. Booklets and information on all our garden birds plus nesting boxes to buy/view will be available.
Dulwich, and in this case more accurately Herne Hill can usually be relied upon to spring a wildlife surprise and this year has been no exception, The appearance of a Grey Partridge in March in a back garden in Half Moon Lane was extraordinary, particularly as the species is becoming rarer as a result of modern farming practices. This bird obligingly permitted photography as it foraged around a recently composted flower bed. It remained for just a day and was last seen heading towards Brockwell Park, but there was no report from the Brockwell wildlife group of its being seen there.
This article could well be entitled "The Game Birds of Dulwich" as on the strength of this report Sandy Alexander remembered the appearance amongst a group of Wood Pigeons at the fourth hole of the Dulwich and Sydenham golf course last May of two Quails, presumably on passage to a suitable cornfield, which repeats my Quail record of a few years ago on the Herne Hill velodrome site. Pheasants have also been reported from time to time, although some have been dead, possibly having literally fallen off a lorry from elsewhere. A Red Legged Partridge has been seen on one occasion in Breakspeare as far back as 1978 at which time Partridges of unspecified species had been seen in the environs of Dulwich Woods. Woodcocks of course from time to time are spotted in Dulwich and these have been traditionally regarded as game. So it appears that all we lack is a Grouse moor!
In other respects the winter, not having given us extremes of weather conditions has not yielded many other unusual reports. Our predominant visitor this winter was the Redwing whose numbers fluctuated and by the time of writing seem already to have returned to their Scandinavian breeding grounds. Chiffchaffs are now once more singing in the woods and some of our gardens and although Siskins have been less in evidence this year, they have been regularly visiting Sandy Alexander's nut feeder. Although I have seen a small passing group they appear to have preferred SE21 to SE24.
People have been continuing to send in records of their garden sightings and it is good to hear particularly about the common birds. Song Thrush records are always most welcome as they are important predators of snails. It has been a diminishing species of late as has, surprisingly, the starling, a much maligned predator of leather jackets. Dick Robinson from Great Brownings sends me his annual report and I was gratified to note that he had seen a Bullfinch. I have not managed to spot one in Dulwich for many years, it once being a regular and colourful garden visitor, if perhaps a little destructive to our fruit blossom.
Off the subject of ornithology, I had an enquiry from a Dulwich resident about a sick Bumble Bee. I had to confess to not having sufficient entomological expertise, but on making an enquiry I discovered that this was usually associated with an infestation with mites. So even bees have their health problems, but not as far as I can tell an outlet for a retired G.P.!
Wildlife Recorder (tel. 020 7274 4567)
This remarkable facility, situated in Marsden Road, East Dulwich is a hidden gem, being tucked away behind frontages of houses which form a square surrounding it. It hosts a number of demonstration areas such as a pond and marsh, wildflower borders, mini meadows, herb gardens, log garden and others.
Opened in 1989 by the London Wildlife Trust, it is financially supported by Southwark Council and manned by a small team of professionals assisted by volunteers. Its aim is to attract more wildlife into gardens. It has a large information centre, toilets, picnic area and a plant stall. Between November and March visitors may collect a free tree, from a wide range of species, to plant in their own gardens.
London Wildlife Trust's Centre for Wildlife Gardening, 28 Marsden Road, SE 15 4EE. Tel. 020 7252 9186. Open 10.30 - 4.30 Tues, Weds, Thurs, Suns.
Dulwich Woods are acknowledged to be a 'one age' woodland of predominately oak, unfortunately the oak species are gradually dying and there is concern that, because of the lack of natural oak regeneration, the wood is in danger of reverting to mainly ash and sycamore.
In 1999 an area of approximately one acre was substantially cleared of vegetation in order to allow additional light into the wood and thus encourage the natural regeneration of oak saplings, which require more light than other regenerating species such ash and sycamore. The area cleared was to the north-east of the footpath from Peckarmans Wood into Grange Lane.
The results of this trial have been disappointing and after a period of four years there was little evidence of any significant improvement in oak regeneration, indeed the area was becoming overgrown with ash, sycamore and birch together with a dense under layer of brambles. It was therefore decided to clear all the vegetation apart from the mature oaks and oak saplings that were clearly identifiable.
Approximately 1000 oak transplants are now being planted throughout the cleared area, the transplants are in the form of 'cells' which have a small root ball and will have a more successful survival rate than bare root transplants. The oaks are species of English Oak (Quercus robur) and are obtained from a source in Shropshire, they are pure stock and have not been imported. It is the intention of the Dulwich Estate to manage the newly planted area with regular clearance of unwanted species between the rows of oak transplants; this will hopefully provide the required oak regeneration, albeit with some help!
Consultant, The Dulwich Estate