On 21 May members of the Dulwich Society's Local History Group carried out a survey of Dulwich Hospital prior to its demolition later this year. A further group went on 23 July to photograph items and aspects of historical importance. The Survey revealed that the centre block and the pavilions constructed between 1885 and 1887 have changed little externally, but have been much altered inside and many additional buildings have been put up at different dates in the grounds. Written sources have been examined for information on major developments.

The centre block has the most interesting features and is currently intended to be preserved. The former chapel above the entrance has been divided into two with an extra floor, but still has some of the original stained glass. Exterior water-level indicators remain on the two water-towers. The foundation stone can be seen to the right of the main entrance but the large plaque commemorating the opening in 1887 seems to have disappeared.

The pavilion ward blocks and connecting corridors on the eastern range will be demolished next year. They have fine architectural details which have been photographed. During the First World War, the hospital was used by the military and the remains of the war memorial are in the grounds at the front of the building, where they have been moved from the original location outside the main entrance. The inscriptions to those who died in the hospital can be clearly read and have been recorded.

The hospital has a rich history of serving the community over a long period. A brief outline was given in the last Dulwich Society Newsletter, and it is hoped that more research might be carried out. Further information in Southwark Local Studies Library, which reveals for example that Charlie Chaplin's mother stayed there in its early days, explaining why he and his brother had to be cared for in the Newington workhouse. Patient records found in the basement might throw more light on this. They go back to the foundation of the hospital and are being examined by archivists before being transferred to the appropriate record office.

Bernard Nurse
Chairman, Local History Group

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