The Dulwich Society has played a part in number significant local issues which are explained in detail in other pages of this issue. The first to be highlighted is the concern that the Trees and the Wildlife Committees expressed over what appeared to be the felling of a large number of trees in the course of the re-ordering of Dulwich Park. The Society arranged a Public Meeting when this concern were addressed and a satisfactory course agreed with Land Use Consultants who are handling the project.
The same two sub-committees also registered their concern over the proposed felling of the splendid Zelkova tree at the junction of College Road and Dulwich Common which was thought to be leaning at a precarious angle over the busy road junction. The Dulwich Society's action of engaging their own tree expert contributed to the final outcome of a reprieve for this handsome and historic tree from the expert representing the Deputy Prime Minister's Office to whom the matter had been referred.
The announcement that the connecting ancient pathway from Greendale to Dog Kennel Hill is to be re-opened and re-ordered by Groundwork Southwark is most welcome news, especially to the residents of the Sunray Estate who now have an easy access to Sainsbury's. This newsletter can take a modest credit for highlighting this issue.
Although the Dulwich Society has taken a neutral stance on the proposed redevelopment of the Velodrome (Herne Hill Stadium), it has helped to fund the Burbage Road Residents' Association costs of a traffic survey. The latest news on this project is that the Dulwich Estate has agreed to a three month extension to the original one year extension granted to Southwark Council in order that the trustees of the proposed Velodrome could formulate an acceptable business plan. The proposers of the redevelopment should be aware that other uses for the ground could be found; great interest is being shown in acquiring leases of grounds in Dulwich by football training clubs. Both Dulwich Hamlet FC and Pelo Football are running football training on local sports grounds which are well-run and well-supported. If a conclusion is not reached after this fifteen month lease extension on the Stadium the Estate may be unwilling to extend it further. In the meantime, it is understood, that Southwark Council, which incidentally supports the football initiatives, has pumped a further £100,000 into keeping the original Velodrome proposal alive.
The Public Meeting held by the Dulwich Society on the 14 October and attended by the Friends of Dulwich Park and other interested groups and members of the public were told the detailed plans on the future redevelopment of the park by Land Use Consultants and Southwark Council.
Dulwich Park which opened in 1890 had been an English Heritage Grade II (starred) listed park but because of under-funding by Southwark Council after they acquired it following the demise of the Greater London Council who in turn succeeded the London County Council, the park has lost its starred status although it remains listed.
A £3.9 million grant from the National Lottery has been awarded to Dulwich Park to restore it to its Victorian glory as well as to incorporate ecological features and provide an outdoor classroom for local schools. Land Use Consultants, the company retained to bring the renovation to fruition have wide experience on dealing with park restoration being the involved in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Southwark Park, the Royal Parks and the re-ordering of Russell Square.
Diverse interests accommodated
The process of applying for the Heritage Lottery Grant began in 1998 and led to the formation of the Friends of Dulwich Park which now has over 200 members. Wide consultation was held with the Friends, with the Dulwich Society Trees and Wildlife Committees and other interested users and groups. Most of the 'want list' of these parties seems to have been satisfactorily accommodated in the final scheme presented at the Public Meeting by the consultants. Dog walkers still have their circuit, there is a jogging route, some of the tennis courts are to be re-sited and transformed into multi-activity areas, the main sports field (named the West Lawn) is to be installed with land drains and the surface re-laid, the first such treatment in over a century of hard usage. The ad-hoc games field (named the East Lawn) which includes the bowling green and playground will be left largely untouched.
The ornamental bridge will be the axis for aesthetic treatment of the overall design. To provide a vista over the lake to the lawns beyond, the tennis courts presently beside it will be re-sited. The lake will continue to form the focal point for the park. It will be dredged of silt and one end planted with reed beds. A wooden board walk will cross the lake to a viewing platform near the reed beds offering opportunities for ecological study and pond dipping. Boating will continue to be enjoyed on the remainder of the lake. Storm water will drain into the lake which will be re-circulated by a pump from the bottom of the cascade. A fine mesh and inconspicuous fence will control the Canada Geese but will have apertures to allow smaller wading birds to enter the water. A Nature
Conservation area with a squirrel enclosure will be sited in the vacant space where the aviary once stood.
Considerable money will be spent on resurfacing the carriage drive and giving a clean edge to the accompanying horse-ride and it is hoped to encourage more equestrians to use to use this rare facility (Dulwich is one of only two parks in London to retain a horse ride). Other roads and paths will also be re-surfaced. The herbaceous borders of the main walk (Snakes Lane) are to be restored and there will be considerable replanting of shrubberies throughout the park, including softening the edges of the West Lawn where they border the carriage drive.
The present cricket pavilion will be transformed into a community space allowing it to be used as a classroom. The present rangers' building will become a sports changing room with improved facilities. A CCTV system will be installed to cover the Pavilion Café and the nearby toilet block which will be re-furbished. The two lakeside shelters will have their roofs restored to their original thatched appearance. The railings and gateposts will be restored and 'period' benches will be installed throughout the park. A new boathouse will be erected.
Considerable concern had been expressed about the proposed tree-thinning programme, not least by the Dulwich Society. These concerns also appear to have been met and the present tree population of 2145 trees will be supplemented by the planting of 600 whips (small saplings) around the park and especially on the Dulwich Common side. A total of 52 trees will be felled and removed, 9 will be felled and replaced and 77 new trees planted. Old boundaries will be re-established.
Work is expected to start in the spring of 2005 and take ten months to complete. The draining of the lake, removal of accumulated silt and the planting of aquatic plants is expected to take 4-5 months and will be tailored to fit into the bird nesting season.
Park Management Plan
On completion the park will be handed over to Southwark Parks Department who are required by English Heritage to initiate a Management Plan to ensure its proper maintenance. Mr John Sheaf, the Southwark Parks Manager announced that this will include establishing a dedicated team of four Park Wardens within the park, of which two will be on duty at any one time, although it is possible these wardens will also have duties elsewhere in Dulwich, in Belair Park for example. It will be their duty to enforce the byelaws of the Park, summon the police if required, issue fixed penalty notices and if necessary give evidence in Court. The Parks Department will staff Dulwich Park with an Ecology Officer and an Education and Access Officer to encourage greater use by school groups visiting the Dulwich Picture Gallery when it will be anticipated that the morning will be spent at the Gallery and the afternoon in the Park.
Costing of the project - Budget estimates
- REFRESHMENT HOUSE AREA - £24,800
- SNAKES LANE - £193,100
- LAKE AND CASCADE - £531,200
- RIVULET - £29,600
- WEST LAWN - £576,800
- EAST LAWN - £7,500
- AMERICAN GARDEN - £150,400
- CARRIAGE DRIVE & PERIMETER ZONE - £602,200
- ENTRANCES, LODGES AND GATES - £194,300
- CAR PARK - £179,500
- GENERAL - £471,800
- PRELIMINARIES @ 12% - £355,300
- CONTINGENCIES - £270,100
- INFLATION @ 10% - £358,700
- TOTAL ESTIMATED COST - £3,945,300
(source - LAND USE CONSULTANTS)
Caucasian Elm Saved - David Nicholson-Lord reports
The magnificent Caucasian elm tree at the junction of College Road and the South Circular has been saved from the axe. The Dulwich estate wanted to fell it because of worries that it was leaning too far and was a potential danger to traffic. The Trees Committee was opposed to the felling, arguing that the danger was unproven and pointing out that three separate reports on the tree, one commissioned by the Dulwich Society, had found the elm - Zelkova carpinifolia - was in good health.
Southwark Council deserves credit for resisting the proposal to fell the tree, which is covered by a tree preservation order. The council said the tree had an outstanding amenity value. The council's position was backed on appeal by a Government inspector, who said the lean of the tree was irrelevant, since gravity is the weakest of the natural forces trees have to face. He said the elm was in good order and vigorous and there was no reason it should fail even during the severest storms. He is also critical of the three tree surveyors for "[ignoring] their professional appraisal of the current good health of the tree - by, for instance, suggesting removal. The elm had an important rarity value, he added.
The decision is refreshing and, for many people, unexpected. Given potential litigation and compensation claims, too few landowners are these days prepared to risk keeping a tree once doubts have been cast on it, and arboriculturalists called in for advice are loath to "guarantee" its future. In this case, unusually, sanity prevailed.
The Dulwich Estate writes that in their view the tree presented an unacceptable risk to the public, due to the fact that it is leaning across a busy road junction and the only solution to remove the danger was to fell the tree. Although the Secretary of State refused consent both to the felling of the tree and the lifting of Article 5 Certificate some comfort was drawn by the Inspecting Officer's conclusions:
Thus the tree remains as a Dulwich landmark. However the Estate points out that it is in the unenviable position of having responsibility for the tree but cannot undertake any work whatsoever without the prior permission of Southwark Council and the Council has absolved itself of any liability by issuing the Article 5 Certificate.
Does your garden back onto a sports field and do you have a gate?
The various sports grounds within the Dulwich Estate, which form a valuable part of the amenity of the area, are leased to individual sports clubs or to the local councils. As such, these properties are private and freeholders whose boundaries adjoin these grounds have no right of access through their gardens or to use the fields (even if they are members of the club concerned). The Dulwich Estate has been asked by its tenants to bring this to the attention of residents living on the Estate.
Improved pathway in the woods
The path in Dulwich Woods leading from the footbridge downhill to London Road, opposite Horniman's Gardens has been widened and lighted. When the path continues, unfenced, through the lawns of the housing estate, it has been improved by the addition of a short flight of steps to connect with Lapsewood Walk. Other improvements are the new gate at the foot of Cox's Walk, on Dulwich Common and the repairs to the surface of the pathway. More frequent inspection of the upper end of Cox's Walk is however needed. There the lighting is almost non-existent, and where it is installed, it is insufficiently maintained. The surface needs the application of more gravel to replace that washed downhill by heavy rains.
Robin Taylor 1921-2004
Robin (Rosamond) Taylor, she disliked her given name and adopted the nickname Robin which she was given during her college years, died in October following a lengthy illness. Born in Bridlington, where her father taught languages she entered Reading University in 1941 to read French and German. In 1943 she was recruited by the Royal Navy as a code-breaker at Bletchley Park where she operated code-breaking machines known as 'bombes'. With other WRNS she found herself billeted in the unexpected grandeur of Woburn Abbey. Although her future husband Wilf was also working at Bletchley as a naval officer they did not actually meet there. After the end of the war Robin was recruited by the Foreign Office to join its newly formed code centre at Ruislip (later to become GCHQ Cheltenham). She enjoyed this work before returning to naval service in the WRNS in 1949 where she passed an officer training course and was posted as a Third Officer in charge of a WRNS detachment at the Naval-Air station in Cornwall.
It was there she met Wilf, who was then a naval education officer on the base. They married in 1951 and Robin resigned her commission. They moved to Dulwich in 1954 where their first child was born. Wilf's postings in the Navy required frequent moves and Robin soon began to look beyond being a housewife and one job was chauffeuring wealthy American tourists off their ships at Southampton or from airports at Heathrow or Prestwick. Wilf and Robin returned to live in Dulwich in 1965.
In 1971 she returned to the Intelligence Services, being recruited by MI5 where she would remain for the next ten years until her retirement. Although she kept her work secret even from Wilf (who was teaching at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich), she was initially involved with refugees fleeing from the regime in Chile. It was from these contacts she developed a love of Chilean music.
Robin became secretary of the Dulwich Society in 1983 and remained so until the early 1990's when she and Wilf took on the office of Membership Secretary (which Wilf still continues to do). This new role required the speedy learning of computer skills which was taken as always, in her stride. In addition to being an active Dulwich Society member she was also involved with the Dulwich Players and with NADFAS. Her skills as a photographer were of great use to NADFAS where Robin was a member of the Church Recorder Team. We extend our deep sympathy to Wilf and his family on their sad loss.
Sir Arthur Hockaday KCB CMG and Sir John Moberley KBE CMG
Dulwich has also lost two other distinguished residents with the deaths of Sir Arthur Hockaday KCB.,CMG., and Sir John Moberley KBE.,CMG
Arthur Hockaday was born in 1926 and after leaving school did a period of wartime service as a 'Bevin Boy', a conscript in the coalmines. After leaving Oxford he became a career civil servant firstly in the Admiralty and then with NATO where he was assistant secretary general for defence planning and policy. In 1976 he was promoted Second Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence and 1982 he was appointed Director-General of the War Graves Commission, a post he held until his retirement in1989. Following retirement he was active in analysis, discussion and writing on the ethical aspects of defence affairs. These include issues raised by the deterrent role of nuclear weapons in preventing war, by arms sales and the concept of a just war. In this last topic, he led a discussion in Dulwich on the question of Iraq as a just war shortly before his death. For ten years he was chairman of the British Group of the Council on Christian Approaches to Defence and Disarmament. He had a fund of good stories and entertained Dulwich audiences with them on at least two occasions on stage. He did not drive and was a familiar figure striding purposefully about the Village, good training for his favourite pastime of hill walking. He was aged 78.
John Moberley was a familiar face on television, firstly during the Gulf War and later the invasion of Iraq when he was widely consulted by the media. As a former Ambassador to Jordan in the late 1970's and Iraq in the early 1980's and one who had spent most of his career in the Arab world he understood and respected its subtleties. In World War II he served in the Royal Navy, seeing action off the Normandy beaches and in the Adriatic, being mentioned in despatches for his service. He was a man of strict Christian principles (like Arthur Hockaday, he also attended St Barnabas Church) and according to the Times obituary maintained them untarnished in the murky world of Middle-East politics. He concerned himself in retirement with the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians. He was aged 79.
Draft Dulwich Supplementary Planning Guidance
The Society has commented on the draft Supplementary Planning Guidance which is an adjunct to the new 2004 Southwark Unitary Development Plan, currently on its second draft and soon to go to public enquiry. Originally Southwark said that no special treatment was required in Dulwich but the Society and local councillors persuaded them to change their minds.
The document itself is fairly anodyne starting with 'The protection of Dulwich is important in maintaining the area's unique character. Careful application of planning policies is essential to ensure that the future development is appropriate to the area'. Its vision for Dulwich notes that it is important that the historic urban character of Dulwich area is maintained and enhanced to ensure Dulwich remains a pleasant place to live, work and visit. It goes on to say that the area should remain predominantly residential and also a focus for recreation.
It confirms that Dulwich is not an appropriate location for tall buildings and that there is little scope for large-scale development in Dulwich because of the Conservation Areas and the large areas of Metropolitan Open Land. It also acknowledges the potential contribution of the Dulwich Estate Scheme of Management.
One interesting point it introduces is a requirement for design statements for major extensions to existing buildings and all new buildings- this is a welcome move. Commercial developments will also require an access statement. It sets out criteria for new development on open spaces, particularly relevant after the debacle over Southwark's own planning application on the Herne Hill Cycle Track.
Overall the Society had little to say other than correct the many spelling mistakes and it looks forward to seeing the final draft.
Nearly all the Dulwich Schools have either just finished or are just about to start major building works. The Charter School refurbishment was completed a year ago and the major extension to Kingswood School earlier this year. Next door the Dulwich College Preparatory School is about to extend their swimming pool and some accommodation to the music centre and build a large new sports hall. The Society has no problem with the scheme in principle but is very concerned over the industrial appearance of the proposed sports hall. It has sent a written objection to Southwark council requesting that the design be improved.
The Prep School is also about to start work on the new kindergarten on Gallery Road. Again no objection in principle but the Society is concerned that no effort seems to have been made to rationalise the dangerous parking situation on Gallery Road at the beginning and the end of the day. While the work is ongoing the kindergarten will relocate temporarily across to the sports field opposite.
Not to be outdone Dulwich College has submitted a proposal for a major redevelopment on the site of their old swimming pool. The Society welcomes the scheme in principle but has some detail concerns over the design of the elevations and what impact there might be on the Christison Hall, art and workshop block, an important 1960s building that remains substantially in original condition.
Alleyn's School is also proposing to build a new theatre and performing arts block as part of a long-term master plan prepared by architects, Van Heyningen and Hayward, a firm well known for sensitive developments such as the Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre in Suffolk and the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building in Oxford. The Society considers the design to be of high quality.
Last but not least the former S G Smith garage in Alleyn Park is to become a nursery school. Although the Estate had consent for a residential scheme, the nursery is taking the whole site.
Extension of the Village Conservation Area
The draft document on the extension of the Dulwich Village Conservation Area was due out for public consultation at the end of October. The Society has seen a draft; the proposal follows that outlined at the public meeting held last year. The new boundary follows the railway line from North Dulwich Station down to Burbage and Turney Roads. There is some talk of extending it along East Dulwich Grove but it is unlikely to go beyond JAGS.
Fairfield, 9 Dulwich Village The original planning application for the proposed house in the garden at the rear of Fairfield was withdrawn earlier this year. A new application has now been submitted for a slightly smaller house with a grass roof to minimise its impact on views over the site from the surrounding houses in Gilkes Crescent. The Society is ambivalent. Some members directly affected by the development are unhappy but, on the other hand, with very few sites available in Dulwich, we must look to imaginative schemes to provide additional housing. We cannot stand still.
Streatham & Marlborough Cricket Club - The Dulwich Society has objected to the Club's planning application to put up a large free-standing internally illuminated advertising sign facing the South Circular on the car park opposite the Harvester.
Dulwich Village Post office - It has come to the Dulwich Society's notice that the lease on the Post Office in the Village is due for renewal. The Post Office is an important amenity in the Village, especially with closure of the Post Office in Herne Hill. The Society has therefore asked the Estate to confirm that their negotiations with the existing occupier on a new lease will reflect the desirability of retaining Post Office as an essential part of the Village.
Former Unigate Dairy in South Croxted Road - This is a large site which is currently unused. The Society is aware that the Estate is preparing plans for a redevelopment and is hopeful that it might be used for a mix of accommodation including sheltered housing for older residents.
Ian McInnes, Chairman
Planning and Architecture Committee
You will have noticed some changes in Dulwich's street scene, and more are in progress or under discussion. Here is a little background:
The Fountain roundabout: This is dangerous, partly because the central island is off of line of the north/south traffic, so that southbound vehicles speed into the junction. The recently completed design incorporates road narrowing and a cycle slip. Some residents have expressed reservations and we must now wait and see how the new lay-out works in practice.
Traffic signals: College Road/South Circular; and Dulwich Village. Both these sets of signals generate widespread frustration. The former causes unnecessary delay, mainly by blocking westbound traffic coming from the north; the latter risks serious collisions due to confusing green signals. We have reflected these concerns in persistent and continuing representations to Southwark Council and Transport for London. The new signals at East Dulwich Grove/Townley Road seem to need some timing adjustments.
Greendale: On a more constructive note, we are pleased with the prospect of a new walking and cycling path between Greendale and Sainsbury's on Dog Kennel Hill. The path is being constructed by the Southwark branch of the charity Groundwork with funds from Groundwork's own budget and from the two Community Councils of Dulwich and Camberwell. The new path will enable Dulwich people, and especially residents on the Sunray Estate to reach Sainsbury's and other destinations on foot or cycle rather than circuitously by car via Lordship Lane. A truly green route!
Buses: More controversially, London Buses have been pressing for routing and streetworks changes of their routes 42 and 37. The current indications are that local opposition has thwarted a proposal to re-route bus 42 to Sainsbury's, but that changes to car parking in Half Moon Lane to assist bus 37 are proceeding. The 42 route may be extended down Red Post Hill and along Half Moon Lane to Herne Hill if satisfactory turnaround can be arranged there.
Junction complex at Herne Hill: Through the Herne Hill Forum the local community is pressing for radical changes to the road layout on both sides of the Lambeth/Southwark border. The present layout is dangerous and intimidating for pedestrians and delays buses and cars. The proposed new layout would help solve these problems and contribute to commercial and community regeneration. Watch this space for further news!
Travelling to school: Travel to and from Dulwich's many schools often dominates the rush hours in term time. In North Dulwich, five schools are collaborating with each other and the highway authorities to help and encourage pupils to walk and cycle to school. The schools are Alleyn's Senior and Junior, JAGS Senior and Junior and Charter School. The work is guided by an effective steering group representing parents, the schools, the local authority and the Dulwich Society. Each meeting of the group reviews: what parents can do; what the schools can do; and what Southwark Council can do. So far, parents have arranged Walking Buses and other activities focussed on Walk to School Week; the schools have installed cycle parking racks and a new pathway at Alleyn's. Southwark Council have recently signalised the junction between Alleyn's and JAGS and will shortly be consulting on safety measures on Red Post Hill outside Charter School and a pedestrian crossing of Townley Road. These measures rely on substantial funding from TfL. We hope to have more news in our next edition.
Your Society is actively involved in these and other local traffic and transport issues. If you would like to participate, or have issues to raise yourself, please contact the Traffic and Transport Committee ( Alastair Hanton on 020 8693 2618:
We have had a busy year, and can now relax and spend some time looking back over the past season. One of our main activities is visiting local gardens and this year 13 gardens were opened to the Group. Their owners had put in a lot of time and effort for these openings and this is very much appreciated by our members.
Our first coach outing was to the garden at Highgrove - stopping at the nearby Westonbirt Arboretum for lunch. At Highgrove we saw a fascinating garden full of interest with many unusual features; large swathes of colour, arresting vistas and some attractive sculptural effects such as the use of the upturned stumps of fallen trees displaying their roots and a plethora of pots given to the Prince on his travels abroad.
The annual lecture was on 'Hardy Perennials for all Seasons' and our other outing was to the lecturer's beautiful garden, 'White Windows' at Longparish in Hampshire where the plants included part of the National Collection of Hellebores. The other garden visited that day was 'Rook Hill 'at Monk Sherborne with its National Penstemons and our members had a busy and pleasant time buying plants to take home.
Two visits are planned for 2005. We will be visiting the garden at Sissinghurst and the house and garden at Great Dixter.
Saturday 4th Dulwich Symphony Orchestra Concert at 7.45pm at St Barnabas Church, Dulwich. Programme includes Bax - Tintagel ; Canteloube - Songs of the Auvergne; Elgar - Sea Pictures; Elgar - Symphony No I. Conductor Julian Williamson. Leader Paula Tysall. Tickets available at the door.
Saturday 4th Dulwich at 7.30pm The South London Chorus present the spectacular but seldom performed St. Paul by Mendelssohn at St. John's Church, Auckland Road, Upper Norwood. Tickets from The Dulwich Music Shop and The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village.
Thursday 9th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society lecture It will never show- designing historical costumes for Films and Television by Anna Buruma. James Allen's Girls' School Lecture Theatre 8pm. Admission charge.
Tuesday 14th Carols and Music for Christmas Friends of the Dulwich Picture Gallery. 7pm in Christ's Chapel and afterwards in the Gallery. Tickets £12 (includes a glass of wine and mince pies) from the Gallery.
Thursday 16th The St. Andrew's Society (a charity to help ladies in need) is holding a Christmas Party from 11.30am-1pm at 8 Burbage Road. Any lady or gentleman who would like to attend would be very welcome. The Society, which normally meets monthly for a coffee morning at members' homes, would be pleased to welcome new supporters. For further information please telephone 020 8693 4017
Sunday 19th St Barnabas Church Carol Service 6.30pm Festival of Lessons and Carols. Includes Ord : Adam lay-y-bounden, Handel: And the glory of the Lord, Tread arr. Carter: A maiden most gentle, Hubbard: Sing Nowell! Trad arr. Cleobury: Joys Seven
Thursday 13th Dulwich Decorative Fine Arts Society Grinling Gibbons, Carver to the Crown. Lecture by Caroline Knight. James Allen's Girls' School Lecture Hall at 89m. Admission charge.
Saturday 29th January at 7.30pm An Evening of South American Music Contemporary and traditional tangos, waltzes and milongas played and sung by Ricardo Curbelo (harp) and David Caswell (guitar). Dulwich Picture Gallery tickets £15 (includes refreshments and a glass of wine)
Thursday 10th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture Pleasant Sensations: French Rococo Paintings by Catherine Parry-Wingfield. James Allen's Girls' School Lecture Hall 8pm. Admission charge.
Friday 11th February at 7pm Valentine Party at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Informal, live music, pay bar. Tickets £12
Thursday,Friday,Saturday 17-19th Toad of Toad Hall The Dulwich Players production. Edward Alleyn Theatre, Dulwich College. 8pm (matinee Saturday 2.30pm). Tickets £6 from mid-January from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village.
'Bred a player', the young Alleyn studied at a church choir school, and was known as an accomplished musician. His stage career peaked, and was over, soon. At sixteen his name appears in a list of the prominent actors of Worcester's Men who were in trouble with the authorities in Leicester for behaving in an aggressive way when refused a license. In 1587 he played the title rôle in the first performance of Marlowe's Tamburlaine, at the age of twenty. By 1594 he was so well known that the title-page of The Knack to Knowe a Knave says it was performed by 'Ed. Allen and his Company', rather than the formal title of the company, the Lord Admiral's. By 1597 at the age of 31 a State document says he has 'left playing', to the regret of Queen Elizabeth herself. Alleyn was busy with more lucrative projects, running theatres and bear-pits and with his position as Master of the Royal Game of Bears, Bulls and Mastiff Dogs. His menagerie performed at court, and his deputies could demand mastiffs to be 'taken up' in the provinces, (particularly in Lancashire and Cheshire where the best were to be found). Alleyn managed a male lion and a tiger, and also two polar bears; bears appeared from time to time in stage plays. Even so, the greater part of Alleyn's fortune derived in the end from his speculation in property and houses.
Alleyn first gave life and breath to Marlowe's resonant lines when Faustus sees Helen of Troy:
Is this the face that launched a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
and at his death:
O lente lente currite noctis equi.
The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike.
The devil will come and Faustus must be damn'd.
O I'll leap up to my God: who pulls me down?
See, see where Christ's blood streams in the firmament.
One drop would save my soul, half a drop, ah my Christ.
Doctor Faustus was Alleyn's most famous part, played in a surplice with a cross stitched on it. To this play we possibly owe Alleyn's College of God's Gift: the performances seem to have released some hysteria at the black arts - John Aubrey visited the College in 1673 and heard there the tradition that 'in the midst of the Play [Alleyn was] surpris'd by an apparition of the Devil [among six actors playing devils], which so worked on his Fancy that he made a vow, which he perform'd at this Place'.
Alleyn was said at the time, like Burbage, to make even poor plays interesting: he was 'able to make an ill matter good'; the two of them (with Richard Tarleton) were the first 'stars' whom audiences went to see rather than the plays. Certainly Alleyn must have had extraordinary physical and mental stamina - he had to memorise over 800 lines for many of the plays; he sometimes took part in as many as fifteen a month. He fenced - in Orlando a stage direction reads 'they fight a good while and then breathe'.
Alleyn's style was praised as 'majestic'. It is also likely that he could not resist over-acting. There is a tradition that when Shakespeare wrote the lines in Hamlet (1600) telling the players how not to act - strutting, bellowing and tearing a passion to tatters - he was condemning, through the mouth of Burbage, the less subtle gestures and delivery of his rival. Shakespeare certainly makes fun of Marlowe's mighty lines in the pub scene in Henry IV, Part II, where Pistol burlesques phrases from Alleyn's famous melodramatic lines. The orotund style that suited Marlowe's extravagant heroes or the Revenge heroes was popular - 3000 packed the Rose. The 'robustious periwig-pated fellow' of an actor mocked by Hamlet certainly seems to indicate Alleyn's Tamburlaine, which was played in a wig; robustious means 'violent, boisterous, self-assertive'. Ben Jonson also mocked the 'Tamerlanes of the late age' with their 'strutting and furious vociferation', the 'terrible teare-throats' and their 'ignorant gapers' in the audience. It is clear that the 'garlic-breathed stinkards' (in Dekker's phrase) loved this style. Ben Jonson wrote a short poem, however, which has the ring of sincerity, in which he makes Alleyn the equal of the great Roman actors and praises his vocal powers and his range of characters. It is probably too easy to polarise Alleyn as bombastic, turgid and blustering and Burbage as discriminating and finely modulated. The understated naturalistic acting in vogue nowadays would hardly have registered in the large open-air amphitheatres such as the Rose and Globe; one should think of the performances as tending more to Verdi than to Chekhov.
The practices recommended by Hamlet to the players for enunciation and suiting the action to the word were consistent with the subject of 'Rhetoric' taught in schools and colleges, which (in addition to composition) included recitation and declamation, body and hand language. What was 'ye play' played by Alleyn's boys at the College on Twelfth Night in 1621? Surely he coached them himself?
In 1604 Alleyn was chosen to welcome King James I from Scotland on behalf of the City of London in an out-of-doors play, The Magnificent Entertainment, in which the court and dignitaries walked in procession to allegorical scenes played from a series of elaborate Triumphal Arches. Tall and imposing as the Genius (Spirit) of the City, he was the most famous lungs of his day; the description in the printed text says that Alleyn performed with 'excellent action and a well-tun'd audible voice'. We can see him in the engraving of the Triumphal Arch in his niche, the River Thames played by a boy at his feet, and musicians above him. On the pediment stood three-dimensional models of the principal churches and buildings of the City. Alleyn is striking an attitude, perhaps sawing the air with his hand in the style that Hamlet mocked. In a scene at the fourth Triumphal Arch Alleyn (presumably running down the back streets and changing his costume) appeared a second time in the character of a priest at an altar in a speech written by Ben Jonson, in which he presented James with the flaming heart of London, an emblem of charity. When the childless actor founded his charity of God's Gift he determined a heraldic crest for the College: from 'a ring of flames an arm with a hand holding a heart'. In this Alleyn doubtless remembered what he had received from the streets of London in fame and fortune; in return he was giving to the city his idealistic scheme to raise up boys from the streets; with the emblem he recalls the flaming heart of charity from the speech that was the high point of his career.
Jan Piggott is writing chapters for and editing a new illustrated history of Dulwich College, with contributions by Terry Walsh, Allan Ronald and Colin Niven, to be published on Founder's Day, 2006.
October, which is the time of writing for this issue, is always an exciting time for the amateur ornithologist. Our breeding birds are emerging from their summer moult and becoming more conspicuous. In order to maintain population stability most of the smaller species need to quadruple their populations by breeding and the signs are that many of out local breeding birds have done quite well. I have had reports of Long Tailed Tits, Dunnocks, Wrens and the appearance of more of Great Spotted Woodpeckers on nut feeders. We had a glut (a plague to gardeners ) of aphids and this was followed by a surge in numbers of hover flies whose larvae feast on aphids. All this was good news to breeding birds and this year particularly to House Martins with flocks of 50 or more birds remaining into the second week of October.
There are now feeding flocks of Great, Blue and Long Tailed Tits with occasional Coal Tits and Goldcrests passing through our gardens and, with the non-appearance so far of winter frosts, a surprising number of Chiffchaffs delaying their departure. People may also have noticed the surprisingly large number of Blackbirds and I have had upwards of ten together feeding on my lawn. We may wonder where all these birds have come from as our gardens do not sustain this population in the breeding season. The answer lies in the thickets and the particular example in the adjoining picture had evidence this year of breeding Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Long Tailed Tit, Blackcap and Chiffchaff with a Great Spotted Woodpecker in a hole in the Poplar tree behind. Sadly this particular thicket will disappear if the Herne Hill Velodrome development goes ahead and our birds will need to rely on other quarters.
October is also a month of changeover of many of our so-called resident birds, and those of us that do not have to look constantly at the traffic will notice a trickle of passerine (sparrow-like) birds, sadly not Sparrows, flying over us just a little more than roof high. Some are easily identifiable by their calls and these are usually Chiffchaffs, Greenfinches and Goldfinches. A few of them are dropping into gardens and several people have indeed reported Goldfinches. Many of these are from the near continent and move here to take advantage of our milder winters. An urban oasis such as Dulwich offers an excellent stop-over and I was surprised to find a flock of ten Meadow Pipits in the velodrome site in early October, common birds in coastal grasslands but not resident here.
Of our rarities, Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers have been regularly seen in the garden of Bell House in College Road but Bullfinches and Spotted Flycatchers were absentees as unfortunately were Willow Warblers. A Little Owl apparently based in Brockwell Park has been hunting in Burbage Road as have occasional Sparrow Hawks and Kestrels. The British Trust for Ornithology is assessing the population of Tawny Owls this year, so it would be useful if those of us who live near the Woods can report in to me any sightings of these birds.
2004 clearly gave us the wrong sort of global warming for butterflies and we all noticed that there was a dearth in our gardens. We had a good brood of Small Tortoiseshells early on, but subsequently it was mostly Cabbage Whites. In most summers the prevalent butterfly over the velodrome site has been the Meadow Brown but this year they were largely absent, replaced surprisingly by their smaller cousin the Gatekeeper which seemed not to have been so troubled by the rain. Future years will show if this is a permanent feature. But on a more cheerful note a fine autumn flying Brimstone butterfly was in evidence in the week of this report.
Please, as ever, keep reports of birds, mammals, amphibians, unusual insects such as stag beetles, or anything unusual that moves rolling in as they are the stuff of my articles.
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