The Dulwich Society Journal for Autumn 2020.
When I was a teenager my father did not offer me the usual advice given to young men of that age; avoid hard drink, loose women and gambling, he left that task to my mother, instead he warned me of the dangers of failing to attend boring meetings for even more boring causes. When he was twenty my father was an ardent Communist, by the time he reached middle age he was a Conservative. His lecture to me, gleaned from this long political journey, was that militant idealists endure attending those early boring meetings when a new issue is addressed because they are able to assume positions of power at a critical stage when so few are left to oppose them.
The same argument might be addressed to your average Dulwich resident, who after a hard week in the home or out of the home cannot find the energy or enthusiasm to consider what appears to be a rather barmy new initiative by government/ the London Mayor/ local council/residents' association/or whatever. Unfortunately, and this is where my father's advice rings true - proponents of some possibly hairbrained scheme will. And before you know it there is a draft proposal and as everyone knows once an item is written in draft form it is virtually set in stone with only the odd comma or full stop being chiseled out by those who read it in the first place. And most do not. According to reliable sources, or perhaps just tea leaves in my cup, if 10% of a consulted group of people respond to any questionnaire, then that is considered a very good result.
The next stage of most processes is called the 'consultation'. By now some off those who failed to find sufficient energy earlier have been stirred to attend such an event, often by their nearest and dearest. But the original draft concept has definitely solidified and although attendees at the 'workshops' gathered around tables in the room will pour over what is proposed, their voice will have very little effect. You see, as my father explained all those years ago, you should have gone to the initial boring meetings and been elected to a boring committee.
And so here in Dulwich, we have an excellent example of this in action; the flawed scheme for the junction of Calton Avenue and Dulwich Village. Indeed, so flawed that it is said that Southwark Council now disowns it and places the blame on TfL As a local historian, I am aware how the junction was created in the first place. Calton Avenue was the start of a footpath leading (via Green Dale) to Camberwell, Court Lane was a dead-end access road to Court Farm. Turney Road only appeared when the Greyhound's cricket field was built over. Dulwich Village itself was (and is) the main road.
We have arrived at the present impasse because in the distant past various pressure groups demanded change; more housing to meet need, additional roads to access other areas, increased income from development. Oh, and do something about the increased traffic.
We now have three camps of opposing local residents. Group 1 who welcome the closure of the junction as a means of improving air quality and pedestrian safety and who see the new space created as 'Dulwich Square '. This opens their minds to endless possibilities, possibly including maypole dancing. Group 2 comprises largely those residents who took no action in the early stages but turned up at the 'consultation' and are miffed that their voices are not being heard. They liken the new roadblocks to a cut -price Checkpoint Charlie. Group 3 is a body of residents who just want to be left alone and prefer not to have the place where they live messed about with and do not want their roads tuned into rat-runs for displaced traffic. And they want to drive where they wish, especially if they are too old or infirm to walk or cycle.
How can the Dulwich Society hope to steer a course through this minefield in its efforts to achieve its Object - To foster and safeguard the amenities of Dulwich? Its executive committee decided to back what Southwark Council says is a 'temporary' closure of the Dulwich Village junction for a period of 18 months under the emergency Covid 19 measures. But are Southwark Council to be trusted to review the plan after this time has elapsed? If Dulwich Hamlet Football Club's application for a new stadium to be built on the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) in Greendale so the existing stadium can be redeveloped for housing (blocks of flats up to 6 stories high, to which the Dulwich Society objected) can be passed by the Planning Committee, despite the leader of the Council saying two years ago that consent would not be granted, who would put money on it?
You will find letters commenting on the Society's position in this issue.
Since the last issue of the Journal most shops, restaurants and pubs have re-opened and Dulwich has returned to some sense of normality. One unfortunate consequence of the increased use of local parks has been the growth in the amount of casual littering - litter is something over which the individual has control and it should not be left to others to clear up (both the Society and Dulwich Park Friends have organised volunteer clear-ups). The Society has also been pressing the Council to do something about the former S G Smith site in the centre of the Village - we hope that they will issue a Section 215 notice to force the developer to clean up the site and maintain the hoarding properly. It seems pretty clear that building work is not going to start soon and this prominent site is having a deleterious impact on the appearance of the Village - and it's disappointing that the Dulwich Estate appears unwilling to do anything.
The major recent change in the Dulwich area has been Southwark Council's introduction of measures to facilitate social distancing to directly mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic. The southern section of Melbourne Grove has been blocked off and the Calton Avenue/Court Lane junction in the Village has been closed to all vehicle traffic on the west/east axis. It would be an understatement to say that there are divergent views on the need for the junction closure but there is common ground on all sides that something needs to be done to reduce through traffic in Dulwich Village - the question is how. The current closures are a temporary response to an unprecedented situation and they should be seen as being flexible and, if necessary, reversible - the Council must respond positively to residents' experiences of the schemes in operation. The Society expects the full impact on the surrounding area to be properly evaluated and that these changes should not, at the end of the temporary trial period, de facto stay unaltered or unimproved as permanent changes without a full public consultation. Later in this Journal you will find letters both for and against the current interventions.
In line with previous Government advice, the Society's Annual General Meeting plans for April was postponed, and we are now planning to hold it via Zoom on 24th September. Details are elsewhere in the Journal. We have also started a series of monthly Zoom talks covering subjects of local interest. Last month's talk was on the 'Crown and Greyhound' and the upcoming one is on 'Remarkable trees of Dulwich' by the chair of the trees' subcommittee, David Beamish. Also follow our Twitter feeds for latest local news and information: @dulwichsociety @dulwichhistory @dulwichgarden
Society Talks programme goes online
As we all experience new technologies during this unprecedented time and since it has not been possible for any “live” meetings to take place, the Dulwich Society has decided to set up a programme of lectures via Zoom during the Autumn. By the time you read this, the first lecture will have been given but we are planning a further series of lectures up to December. The forward programme is:
September 10th David Beamish: “The Remarkable Trees of Dulwich”
October 8th Brian Green: What a Dulwich diary tells us about London's Georgian theatre
November 12th Rachel Reynolds: “The planting scheme for Dulwich College's 400th Anniversary Garden “
December 10th (provisional) Wildlife
The meetings will start at 8.00pm with a talk lasting 30- 40 minutes to be followed by a time for questions. Details of the sign-in will be circulated in the eNewsletter published at the end of the previous month (if you do not receive the eNewsletter please provide your email address to the membership secretary at
Repaving at St Barnabas Parish Hall
By the time that you read this, the paving in front of St Barnabas Parish Hall should have been relaid. The Parish Hall hosts a wide range of activities throughout the week, and the area in front of it is well used by people waiting to use the Hall or to pick up their children from there or Dulwich Village schools - it's a calm oasis set back from the busy road running through the Village.
The project involved levelling the paving and replacing concrete pavers with York stone, so that all the paving is now in York stone to complement the Grade II listed Parish Hall. Financial support for the project came from a Southwark Council Cleaner Greener Safer grant, from the Dulwich Society and from a group of local residents whose contribution was matched by Barclays in the Community.
Travel and Environment Chair retires
Alastair Hanton has stood down as chair of the Society's Travel and Environment Group after 30 years. He has been a very active member since the late 1960s, working on its early campaign over the introduction of the Scheme of Management, and was at different times, both treasurer and secretary, but he is best known as a tireless campaigner for the improvement of pedestrian facilities and cycling infrastructure in the local area. He was a leading member of the local committee that secured implementation of the Herne Hill Station Square project (which led to the setting up of the Herne Hill Sunday market). He lobbied successfully over many years for the improved frequency of local train services and enhancements to our local stations. He secured upgrades to North Dulwich Station and made sure that the pedestrian footpath to West Dulwich station from Park Hall Road was retained. He campaigned for over 20 years for the extension of the No. 42 bus route to Sainsbury's in East Dulwich and was active in promoting the 20mph speed limits by the installation of road humps. He was also a keen advocate of the installation of electric charging points for electric cars.
In the wider context he was a trustee for the London Cycling Campaign for many years and in 2004 he founded Southwark Living Streets. This led to him being heavily involved in the initial attempts to create a pan-London umbrella group which culminated in London Living Streets being established in 2016.
Perhaps his main achievement, though, has been his success in encouraging local children to walk and cycle to school. He was active in the Safe Routes to School group and was instrumental in the provision of additional pedestrian crossings in Dulwich Village, Half Moon Lane and Burbage Road, and the installation of designated cycle lanes. To many younger environmental campaigners, he has been a much-appreciated mentor - he has shared ideas and showed by example what could be done. We wish him well in his "retirement".
Travel and Environment Subcommittee changes:
Following Alastair Hanton's retirement, Pamela Monblat the secretary has also stepped down after 15 years' service. She has made a major contribution to the efficient running of the subcommittee and we are very grateful to her. Three other long-standing members have also retired, Isaac Marks, Jeremy Nicholson and Rosemary Dawson and we are also very appreciative of their contributions.
Three new members have joined the committee including a new secretary, Katy Savage. The new subcommittee chair, who will be put forward at the next AGM, is Harry Winter. Harry is a tax barrister and has lived in Dulwich for 25 years going to school locally. He is currently vice chair of the Herne Hill Forum and is a keen proponent of air quality, safe and healthy travel, and environmental issues generally.
NOTICE OF THE DULWICH SOCIETY ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING - 2020
The 57th Annual General Meeting of the Dulwich Society will be held at 7.30pm on 24th September 2020 via Zoom teleconference.
Introduction and apologies for absence.
Approve Minutes of the 56th Annual General Meeting held on Tuesday 7th May 2019.
Chairman's Report and Review of the Year.
Approve accounts for the year ended 31st December 2019.
Appoint Independent Examiner. Nominee: Sally-Anne Jeffries, Chartered Accountant.
Elections for 2020-2021. Officers, Members of the Executive Committee, Honorary Officers
Any Other Business/Questions - please raise with the Chairman (
Talk by Chair of the Dulwich Estate Trustees, Andreas Köttering.
Note: Nomination forms for election as an Officer or Member of the Executive Committee can be obtained from the Secretary. Nominations must be submitted in writing to the Secretary by two Society members not later than fourteen days before the AGM (i.e. by 10th September 2020) and must be endorsed by the candidate in writing. (Rule 9). Candidates must be members of the Society.
The Chairman's and Committee reports are available on the Dulwich Society web site www.dulwichsociety.com. All other papers will be published on the website by 11th September 2020. The Rules of the Society are available at http://www.dulwichsociety.com/about-the-dulwich-society.
Details of the Zoom link will be sent to members in the September eNewsletter (published at the end of August). If you are not already receiving the eNewsletter please send your email address to
Never used Zoom before? First-time Zoom users will find the following video useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh50kVaIdAY
Susan Badman, Hon. Secretary, Dulwich Society,
Burbage Road Mural
Initiated by Dulwich Sports Club and supported by the Burbage Road Residents' Association, the proposal for the Burbage Road mural was that it should be a creative piece of art work, an inspiring celebration of sports enjoyed in the road through its history to the present day, referencing in particular cricket, croquet, squash, tennis, hockey, cycling and running. An added bonus was that the mural was painted as part of this year's Dulwich Festival Artists' Open House (virtual), an opportunity for community engagement and education and the promotion of the road's sports facilities.
Designed by Katrina Russell Adams, a South London based print maker and visual artist and painted by street artist Lionel Stanhope, the work references cricket, croquet, squash, tennis and hockey - the five clubs who have their home today in Dulwich Sports Club (tennis ball and racket, squash ball, squash racket, cricket stumps and bales, a croquet mallet and the coloured peg which shows the order of play, a hockey stick. There are obvious references to cycling and the Velodrome track. The work also references the colours of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club, blue and pink, in the rear bike wheel.
The project has been sponsored by thr Dulwich Society, Dulwich Sports Club and Network Rail.
Thanks to the efforts of members of the Dulwich Society, Gallery Road verges have now been cleared of litter and debris and fallen branches removed. In Dulwich Park, the heightened use for recreation during the virus has created much litter and ten volunteers from Friends of Dulwich Park carried out partial litter sweeps. Park litter sweeps have now become a regular initiative. Volunteers should meet at the Park café at 9am on Mondays
Some residents think that it is time Southwark Council changed its road cleansing methods. Road sweepers daily place litter in plastic bags next to street bins but these are not collected until the following day, during which time foxes have scattered the contents far and wide. Surely this system needs to be altered? After all, the overtime cost for same day collection would surely be balanced by the time saved from additional clearing up after the foxes.
Images of Dulwich Calendar 2021
This popular calendar containing twelve monthly views of Dulwich scenes in spiral bound A4 opening to A3 format for notes, is available from The Art Stationers 31 Dulwich Village. The calendar makes an ideal and inexpensive gift to send by post.
Sydenham Hill Wood - heavy footfall during lockdown
Samuel Taylor, the recently appointed new Project Officer, has continued to work in the Wood throughout the lockdown, without any volunteers. Volunteer activities may be resumed in early August, but with smaller numbers allowed per session. He has reported heavy footfall - almost double the number of visitors compared to the same period the previous year (there are gate counters to monitor visitor numbers). He is pleased that so many people have been able to enjoy the wood during lockdown, but the increase in numbers has put more pressure on the wood and he has seen an increase in the level of trampling. New paths opened up as people have tried to get off the beaten track and also to ensure social distancing. The closure of the bridge has added to this pressure as people seek shortcuts around the bridge.
James (Jim) Domenic George Hammer CB (1929-2020)
Jim Hammer, was the last in a line of Hammers living at Allison Grove since 1927: born in 1929 at number 16, he died in June 2020 at number 10, just 3 doors away. He spent a very happy childhood in Dulwich despite being at school during the war and being evacuated. He recalled some of his wartime memories in the Spring issue of the Journal with an article on VE Day. A letter he wrote to his parents from evacuation at Heathfield in Sussex when he was aged eleven was exhibited at the Imperial War Museum's Evacuees Exhibition in 1995. Other letters home were full of advice; on how to make marmalade, how to identify enemy airplanes and how to recognise fifth columnists!
His wartime recollections also included the boys of the Joyce family who lived in Allison Grove, (William Joyce went on to be known as Lord Haw Haw and was executed for treason) “marchiing up and down the road in their black shirts.” His mother apparently used to say, “Poor Mrs Joyce, such a lovely woman, but such awful children!”. After return from evacuation he attended Dulwich College and recalled that the standard drill in the event of an air raid was for his class to get under their desks. He took his school exams in bomb shelters, and during the Religious Studies exam the air raid siren sounded. The invigilators all went off to confer and by all accounts, so did the candidates in their absence, leading to better results across the board. One morning a 'doodle bug' exploded close to the family home and Jim's breakfast egg, saved by his mother to fortify his brain for the exam, was splattered all over the kitchen wall. He was packed off to school with a note asking for allowance to be made for the fact that he had had no breakfast and had suffered a traumatic experience, and went on to pass his German History exam with flying colours.
After military service in the Intelligence Corps followed by study at Cambridge, he joined the Factory Inspectorate, where he met his wife, Meg, moving from Birmingham to Manchester, Norfolk, and Stoke-on-Trent before finally settling in London in 1971.
Jim Hammer played a significant role in drafting the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was Chief Inspector of Factories from 1975 to 1984, before being appointed Deputy Director General of the Health and Safety Executive until his retirement in 1989. For his valuable contributions to improving Health and Safety at work he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. After retirement he took on a whole new range of responsibilities including becoming president of the International Organisation of Labour Inspectors (1984-93), which involved leading reviews of inspection systems across the world, sometimes chairing meetings in three languages. He was one of the first directors on the board of World Skills UK, set up to promote the value of vocational skills to young people through competition (1990-2000). He also was the chairman of NEBOSH, the leading safety, health and environmental examination board from 1992-95.
Locally, he was vice chair of the Camberwell Health Authority (1982-91) and chaired Kings Healthcare trust's Assisted Conception Ethics Committee (1999-2005), as well as volunteering for Southwark MENCAP and later working alongside Meg as a volunteer Traidcraft representative at St Barnabas, Dulwich, where he was active in the campaign to encourage supermarkets to stock Fairtrade goods.
The story begins when a new Parliamentary Act - The Dulwich College act 1882, which set up the existing Alleyn Foundation, came into force. Among its many provisions it envisaged a new ecclesiastical district for Dulwich. This was because of the rapid increase in London's population due to urbanization and the consequent expansion of the suburbs. At the time, local government was provided within the framework of the medieval parish boundaries which were known as vestries until they were replaced in 1902 by borough councils. The parishes to the south of the City were large, Dulwich was situated in the parish of Camberwell, which also included Peckham, and the population rose from 39,000 in 1841 to 235,000 in 1891 and 260,000 ten years later. This huge and rapid increase in population naturally caused the ecclesiastical parish of St Giles, Camberwell as opposed to its vestry to be unable to cope with the numbers requiring its service in the three stages of life, baptism, marriage and death and it was therefore sub-divided into a number of smaller districts.
In the vicinity, St John's East Dulwich was built in 1865. St Stephen's South Dulwich in 1868, St Clement's East Dulwich in 1875 and St Peter's Dulwich Common in 1874. St Paul's Herne Hill in 1844 (replaced by the present church owing to a fire in 1858). All Saints West Dulwich was built in 1891 and St Faith's North Dulwich began its ministry as a mission church of St Paul's in the present church hall in 1909. Throughout this same area, churches or other denominations were also springing up, many, architecturally, indistinguishable from the Anglican churches.
There was a further reason for the increase in church building; social control; it was anticipated that the Church would be a civilizing force among this rapidly expanding working class population. It would provide agencies for the encouragement of temperance, thrift and the provision of medical care. The philosophy of muscular Christianity suggested that boys and young men would acquire manliness, self- discipline and patriotic duty through membership of the churches' gymnastic and boxing clubs and uniformed youth organisations. Girls were encouraged to join the Girls' Friendly Society which was established in most Anglican churches.
The Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester of which Dulwich was part before the creation of the Diocese of Southwark in 1905, was Bishop Thorold who was regarded as a broad church or liberal cleric and thus in complete contrast to his predecessors a generation earlier when the Anglo-Catholic Revival ensured that all the new churches founded in Dulwich would be Ritualist in their liturgy. Towards the close of the 19thC there was a reaction against Anglo-Catholicism in favour of Evangelicalism. In politics the High Church priests often sought political roles on vestry or borough councils, hoping to deal with the root causes of poverty through political action, the Evangelicals found their mission in addressing the issues of poverty and homelessness by providing relief through good works.
Meanwhile, in Dulwich, the condition of Christ's Chapel which had served the village and its surrounding district since 1616 was causing considerable concern. Water was coming in through the roof and funds from pew rents did not appear to be sufficient to satisfactorily cover the cost of the repairs. Furthermore, the pews were all let and there was little or no room for the increasing population. The only solution was to build a new church.
Dulwich was the last ecclesiastical district to be carved out of the old Camberwell parish; its increase in population had been far slower because of limitations to development placed upon it by Alleyn's College of God's Gift. However, development was anticipated to increase in order to generate income for the ambitious schools' building programme as envisaged by the Dulwich College Act of 1882. The Act also required the estate to provide free of charge, land for a church and parsonage and £2500 towards building costs of a new church. Christ's Chapel would continue under its own chaplain but parochial duties which had devolved to him from the 1860's would be inherited by the new vicar of St Barnabas. The sum of of £500 pa and free accommodation was to be extended to the existing chaplain and any successors.
The campaign to build the new church was led by Mr William Cortlandt Mahon, a local resident living in East Dulwich Grove. It seems that it was his choice that the dedication of the new church should be to St Barnabas. Mahon, who had pressed the bishop to build the new church, acted as one of its first churchwardens. It would also appear to be the case that Mahon, like Bishop Thorold was not a high churchman nor was the prospective new priest-in-charge, Howard Nixon who thought ritualism put off young men. So that is how the tradition of St Barnabas' low or broad ministry evolved.
Revd. Howard Nixon
In April 1890 Bishop Thorold found the energetic young curate, Howard Nixon who had spent 8_ years in Kingston parish where his work among young men was particularly successful. There was evidence that men did not attend church in anything like the numbers of women. He asked Nixon to start a church in Dulwich.
The site earmarked by the Dulwich Estate for the new church was between Woodwarde Road and Townley Road but Nixon objected to this site wanting it to be nearer the centre of the parish which included Dulwich Village as well as roads to the north and east. The Estate's first suggestion had been directly opposite the new Alleyn's School.
Nixon proved a very tough negotiator and in February 1891 he persuaded the Bishop to attend the next Estate Governors' meeting to add his support to that of his own in seeking to build the new church on higher ground so it would be better seen. The governors agreed to this in April. The chaplain of Christ's Chapel, the Revd. George Daniell wrote in the chapel leaflet that 'something acceptable must be found to suit the Bishop, the Ecclesiastical authorities, the College & Estate Governors, Charity Commissioners and Inhabitants of the Hamlet of Dulwich .and members of the Foundation of the College of God's Gift (ie the Chapel congregation) - not easy to find anything to which all will say 'Yes'.
Initially it was envisaged the new parish would include the Village centre and the eastern district (Glengarry Rd etc, Lytcott Grove area, Playfield Crescent. Later it took in other areas around Melbourne Grove.
In May 1891 a public meeting to be held at the Infants' School, was announced. By all accounts it was poorly attended and clearly a disappointing start. There were probably local divisions over the passing of pastoral roles from the Chaplain of the Chapel to the new vicar designate. Nevertheless, there was sufficient attendance to ensure that a building committee was elected and soon offers of help started to flow in.
The Iron Church
It was agreed to hire a corrugated iron church for a period of 12 months and open for the first service that September. A choir was to be formed, comprising 12 boys and 12 men which the new vicar would train himself. The temporary church was designed to accommodate 300 persons and had a small chancel at one end. It stood at the junction of today's Woodwarde Road and Calton Avenue.
Nixon was a firm believer that a choir was the key to the success of the new church. Another tactic he used was getting men to serve on the PCC (which numbered 24) for a limited period. He saw this as a means of building a core loyalty. On a practical side, one half of the new church would have free seats, the other paid for pews.
The Chapel Chaplain ruefully wrote “New grooves are sure to replace old ruts and the process of getting out of the one and into the other will surely sometimes be painful” However gifts to furnish the new church came in, a brass Cross, candlesticks, a brass book rest and flower vases.
The temporary church was ready for its opening service on 5th September 1891, the furniture only arriving on the Friday and Saturday. - “The little church looked very bright” the new parish magazine reported..
The following month various building work started on the new church. The architect was William Wood who had won the competition to build Alleyn's School. The design, in similar red brick to Alleyn's was described as Perpendicular Gothic and was designed to seat 600. The bricks were made at Cranleigh, in Surrey, the tiles came from the Tilberthwaite slate mine near Coniston, the 12 sandstone columns representing the 12 Apostles came from Yorkshire, the stone around the windows from Bath . Work however was forced to stop when it was discovered that the building was being erected over the High Level Sewer put under the hill in 1859. The site was moved westwards, nearer to the proposed new road of Calton Avenue. It would thus appear that the current church, set back from the road is built over the same tunnel!
Church officers were appointed, all male. The choir was such a success in that it was oversubscribed, and an auxiliary choir was formed. The following year one of the first choristers was appointed to the choir of the Chapel Royal St James, the first in a long line of such achievements; in 1992, a century later, Gavin Moralee from the St Barnabas choir was Choirboy of the Year.
The new vicar now began to take over the pastoral duties formerly carried out by the Chapel chaplain. On 2nd July 1892 the Duchess of Teck (a senior Royal) laid the foundation stone. Nixon asked the Governors to build up Calton Avenue to aid the construction, initially they said no, but then agreed providing the church paid for it! In 1894 the Estate did build up Calton Avenue for prospective housing.
The new church was consecrated on St Barnabas Day 11th June 1894 The building, without the tower, cost £18,000, which, apart from the Dulwich Estate's contribution of £2500, came in small sums from the parish. some from a brick stamp scheme and some from the proceeds of sales of work which were largely organized by the female members of the parish. Lake House, the vicar's first home, now covered by Dulwich Village Infants School Lake building was in Chinese pagoda style and some of the fetes had a Chinese theme. The next stage of building which took place two years later was the building of a vicarage and as required by the 1882 Act, the governors gave land adjoining the new church for the purpose and and Mr Wood was also engaged to build that.
By 1906 sufficient money was raised to consider completing Wood's original design for the church by adding a 90 feet high tower. The amount raised however was not enough to fulfil the architect's specifications, so in order to save money, the thickness of the brick walls was reduced and the size and number of the windows decreased to economise on the use of expensive stone. The problem was that the tower could not now withstand the weight of the proposed peal of bells and so only the bell from the iron church would be used in future. However, Nixon's building programme was far from over.
The Parish Hall
In 1895 Nixon had asked the Estate for land to build a church hall, the former iron church was being used as the parish room. A site was found in the village and work commenced 1910-12 and the iron building was finally taken down in 1913.
Meanwhile relations between the Chapel and the new Church had improved. Canon Daniell had been found an additional role as a selector of ordinands in the diocese and the posts of new vicar of St Barnabas and the Chaplain of the Chapel were properly formalized. Daniell assisted Nixon with youth work and ran a gymnastic class for young men. A Band of Hope was formed to support temperance, Choir picnics became a regular feature.
In 1903 a religious census was conducted which showed that on a particular Sunday St Barnabas had a congregation of 141 men, 230 women and 168 children, a total of 539 and 566 attended Evensong the same day. At the Chapel the attendance was 351.
Soon after the building had been completed Mr FE Day, a parishioner, formed a group of wood carvers who began a fifty year long project to create choir stalls, a screen, pannelling and tracery around the interior.
In 1900 Nixon had approached the Governors yet again, this time for land to build a hall for the thriving men's' institute. He wanted it in the east of the parish next to the newly built-up roads around Playfield Crescent. He found an ally in the person of the Master of the College, Arthur Herman Gilkes, an advocate of temperance who believed that young men patronized pubs, not merely for the sake of drinking, but for companionship. Persuaded by the support of Gilkes for the project, the governors offered Nixon a small triangle of ground on the edge of the Estate at the corner of Townley Road and Lordship Lane. The Institute raised its own funds and built the attractive building which remains the property of St Barnabas and today is used as a NHS health centre.
First World War
During the First World War it became the custom to publish in the monthly St Barnabas Church magazine, the names and regiments of local men who had volunteered for active service, as well as in another column recording those who had been killed. This added pressure on young men to volunteer and the initial list totalled 320 names including those of 38 members of the St Barnabas Institute. By 1917 with numbers on the Roll of Honour numbering 400-500 with a further 42 killed it was deemed that the Roll was then too large to publish monthly and instead a list would be posted up in St Barnabas Church.
After the armistice a list was opened for the names of those of the parish who had been killed and these were inscribed on wooden memorial boards placed on the north wall of the nave of the church. Funds were also raised for a memorial to all those from the parish who were killed and a new East Window depicting the Risen Christ was made and designed by Whitefriars Glass Company whose owner was Harry Powell, a member of the Chapel congregation. Both the window and the memorial boards were destroyed in the 1992 fire and as a result we no longer know the names of those from the parish who were killed. Shortly after the end of WW1 the surviving members of the Institute began to raise funds to build an extension to the main building as a gymnastics hall to serve as a memorial to those of its membership who were killed. Ironically, it was virtually completed as WW2 was declared.
World War 2
Nixon retired in 1935 after over 40 years' service to St Barnabas Church and with a incredible legacy in what he had created. He was succeeded by the Revd. Wilfred Brown MC MBE
The new vicar was a WW1 decorated war hero. a former army chaplain and holder of the Military Cross who remained as a member in the Army Reserve. Wilfred Brown was called up in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in WW2 and his absence for periods of duty meant that it was left for his the curate the Revd Ted Noon to maintain the activities of the parish. Black-out regulations required that only the two altar candles and a small light at the Litany desk were the only lighting permitted in the war years. The Parish Hall as used as a mess hall for local troops and was not serviceable again until 1946. The Institute Hall became the HQ of a Civil Defence air raid wardens' post. St Barnabas Church escaped war damage in the war although the Chapel was badly damaged in July 1944 by a V1 'flying bomb' which also destroyed Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Post-war and 'The Villager'
In 1946 a new format parish magazine was launched- The Dulwich Villager edited by George Brown . 'The Villager' sought to retain the tangible community spirit which had built up in Dulwich during WW2 by appealing to a wider readership than merely parishioners. In this it was very successful and would continue to be published for another fifty years.
Canon Brown retired in 1958 and was succeeded by Arthur Perry, previously vicar of St Bartholomew's, Sydenham. A keen crossword competitor, Perry twice won The Times contest. He arrived in Dulwich at a time of change. The role of Christ's Chapel Chaplain was now combined with that of the vicar of St Barnabas and he became the first Foundation Chaplain. It was also a period of change within the Church of England itself; in order to achieve greater financial stability the concept of stewardship was launched and in the liturgy, greater emphasis was given to family Communion which replaced matins as the main Sunday service.
There were complaints that the interior of St Barnabas was too dark and consideration was given to whitewashing the interior brickwork, to lighten it. In the event the Diocesan authorities turned down the proposal on the grounds of high maintenance. The problem of the gloomy interior was partially solved in 1980 by the incoming priest, the Revd. Richard Lewis who shared many of the qualities of Howard Nixon in that he was a keen advocate of choirs and church music generally, and also had ambitious building plans. In 1988 he appointed Dr William McVicker as organist and director of music, a post he occupied for the next thirty years during which time he built the choir up to over 70 , made recordings and led choir tours in Italy and Croatia.
Richard Lewis proposed re-ordering the church, bringing forward the altar in line with current practice, resurfacing the flooring with a light yellow tile, moving the carved screen to the opening of the nave and locating a parish office at the back of the church. The partial collapse of the chancel floor might therefore be seen as a sign of divine approval for such drastic alteration! To the delight of the congregation, many of the 'temporary' wooden pews which had been installed when the church opened in 1894 were removed and replaced by more comfortable individual seats. He or someone, got hold of a second-hand army surplus wooden hut which was installed at the rear of the church to provide a place for children's groups on Sundays and later for the newly formed Wednesday Friends. It was known as The Little Barn and demonstrated quite clearly the advantages of having meeting rooms next to the church rather than the distance away from the Parish Hall.
During the re-ordering work the parish de-camped to the Parish Hall for Sunday Service. Several years later this was followed by Richard Lewis's second phase of rebuilding - the provision of a lounge, library, and toilets connected to the main church building
St Barnabas destroyed by fire 1992
Richard Lewis was translated as Dean of Wells in 1990. Whilst dean he would employ his considerable organisational skills to initiate changes to Wells Cathedral. The project has been described by English Heritage as 'one of the biggest building projects at a medieval cathedral since the Reformation.' In Dulwich, his successor was Richard Cattley, a Yorkshireman with a great talent for preaching and a camera- friendly face which went down well when Songs of Praise was broadcast from St Barnabas. In December 1992, following a Christingle service the day before, a fire broke out in the early hours of the morning which by 9am had destroyed the nave and severely damaged the tower.
That same evening, at Christ's Chapel, Richard Cattley pledged to a crowded congregation to see the rebuilding of the church through. It would be a long and painful but, ultimately, supremely successful journey. It was fortunate that there was the right man on hand for the difficult task of project managing the work available from within the congregation and Keith Jackson carried out this exceptionally complex but ultimately successful task. Consultations were widely held as to what people would like to see as a replacement for the old church. As often happens, opinions became polarised. Many wanted a replica of the old church rebuilt, others wanted a modern building with a lighter interior with fewer or no obstructive columns. It was the issue of the damaged tower which ultimately determined the future design. Although the tower appeared to have survived the fire, it was, as noted earlier, built of reduced thickness of brick in 1908 to save money. On examination it was found that the fire had weakened the thinner brickwork and it was condemned as a dangerous structure and had to be taken down. A competition was then held for a new design.
The New St Barnabas Church
It was unfortunate that the rebuilding of St Barnabas, now hailed as a great success, was initially so blighted by dissent. It was true that the architects, the HOK Partnership, had little or no experience in church building but they were (and remain) a major designer of important public buildings including the Crick Institute in London and the Barclays Bank building at Canary Wharf. Nevertheless, the design by Larry Malcic was ambitious and featured the first glass spire of a church in England. Indeed, so revolutionary was the design that opinion on it was evenly divided and not only among the residents of Dulwich, but also in Southwark Council's planning committee in which the agnostic chairman had the casting vote and gave the design the go-ahead. The resulting church is light, it is flexible, its organ and stained glass are spectacular. In its design it reflects the presence of the earlier church, by retaining the base and outline of the walls and tower in the piazza in the forecourt.
Although the money from insurance paid for the rebuild, there was a whole shopping list of items which were not covered - the stained glass by local glass artist Caroline Swash, new furniture; and the parish decided It wanted a community suite as flexible additional space. A big campaign to raise £300,000 was launched. Rather like Canon Nixon's building campaign a century before, the money came in, partly in small amounts such as Smartie tubes crammed with pennies as well as considerable sums raised at big events,
The ordination of women priests in 1994 had allowed, Dianna Gwilliams to be ordained and she became the curate, first at the Coplestone Centre and then at St Barnabas. When Richard Cattley moved after 10 years as vicar, having seen the rebuilding of the church, she officiated during the interregnum. When applications for the post of vicar were advertised, her name, by popular demand, was added to the five or six short-listed candidates for the now vacant post. She was at a strong disadvantage to be selected; a divorcee, female, and serving in the same parish as its curate. However, she had so impressed the parish already that she won hands down. One of her first actions was to encourage theatrical director, Tricia Thorns to produce Passion Play 2000 to celebrate the Millennium. In 2013 her qualities were recognised beyond Dulwich and she was appointed Dean of Guildford thus becoming one of the most senior female priests in the Church of England.
The current vicar of St Barnabas and Foundation Chaplain is the Revd John Watson.
In this unusual year it is relevant to consider what the lockdown has done for our experience of local wildlife. Most widely published has been awareness of bird song during the breeding season which happened to coincide with the highest prevalence of the corona virus along with an exceptionally sunny and dry May. The clearest difference might be the tinkling songs of Goldfinches, which have been particularly abundant in and around our gardens, that might otherwise have been drowned out by aircraft and traffic noise. Many people find difficulty in learning and identifying birds by their songs as each bird's singing is unique to itself and many of the most advanced songsters improvise. However every species has its inherited song shape and rhythm and so the discipline of telling a Blackbird from a Song or Mistle Thrush or a Blackcap from a Robin is similar to telling a Mozart from a Beethoven when you don't know the exact piece.
One difference that has been apparent during lockdown is that we have seen many more Swifts flying over us during all daylight hours than in previous years with sometimes the traditional screaming parties around our houses. The problem in recent years was thought to have been the lack of aerial insect food in towns so that the birds were travelling out of town to forage and only bringing back food to feed their young at the end of the day. Perhaps this year more insects may have been available over our houses during the breeding season. It will be interesting if this observation is made more widely and whether it is related to the lockdown changes. At least two pairs of Swifts appear to have been breeding in Burbage Road and three pairs occupied apartments in George Mavrias's Swift hotel that he had installed on his house. So hopefully this endangered bird is holding its own here.
I have had a number of reports this year of Birds of Prey. Most notable is of Peregrine Falcons seen flying over Brockwell Park. For the second year running they have taken up residence on the tower of St Luke's Church in West Norwood where last year they successfully bred. Lockdown restrictions appear to have prevented information about breeding success this time but these magnificent birds previously breeding mainly on cliffs and mountains have adapted to churches, cathedrals and high rise buildings. We are probably to see many more of them here in the future, provided that we can still supply the pigeons.
Kestrels that were once numerous here now have a single pair in a traditional nesting site on St Peter's Church at the start of Cox's walk where this year they have successfully reared two young. Sparrow Hawks have been coming to bathe in the pond at Howlett's Mead and so are undoubtedly breeding somewhere nearby. A Buzzard has been seen over the Grange Lane Allotments but there is no evidence of Buzzard breeding so far. To complete the raptor picture a Red Kite was seen overflying us in May . Many of our Kite records have been in May suggesting that they could be migrating rather than part of the overflow of the large Thames Valley population. We still have Little Owls in Grange Lane and Tawny Owls in the woods. Following the saga in my last article of a tagged migrating Cuckoo we have had two records of a male Cuckoo in the third week of May raising the prospect of breeding , although this is unlikely.
Our butterflies are having a better year . Unusually very early in the season I saw a freshly emerged Painted Lady that would normally have appeared much later after migration from southern Europe. I discovered from Jeff Doodson that there is a commercial firm supplying children with Painted Lady caterpillars to enable their education by observation of the life history before releasing the emerged adults. If readers do find an unusual butterfly, and we had a record of an American Monarch last year, it is worth checking if this is the origin.
Some readers may have had a copy of the recently published London Natural History Society bird report for 2018. Although much of it is taken up by the reports of rarities seen by various observers in the last section there appears an article written by Mathew Frith entitled The Deplorable Loss of Nightingales. In a previous issue I have mentioned that Mathew was taking on the task of editing the field notes of the late Professor Peter Branscombe when in 1947 he was a pupil of Dulwich College and living in Alleyn Road. Mathew has managed masterfully to edit some 59 pages of handwritten schoolboy notes describing many birds such as Linnets that we hardly ever now see here although the Dulwich estate in 1947 was very little different in many respects to the present. Peter Branscombe would not however have seen Peregrines and Kites, although there were then many more Kestrels. Enigmatically in the title Mathew tells us that in pre-war Dulwich Nightingales sang in Dulwich Woods (not in Berkeley Square where they could possibly have been Robins) and laments their loss which of course is another story.
Peter Roseveare Wildlife Recorder (tel: 0207 2744567 email:
Additional Wildlife Sightings
We have all had more time to observe wildlife in our neighbourhood. Two of our members, living in Woodwarde Road, have monitored bats with a bat detector and found Common Pipistrelle and Noctules flying over their garden from the middle of June. Ten species of butterflies have been present, starting with Brimstones in mid-March. They have seen Stag beetles from 16th June and a Lesser stag beetle on 12th July. Damselflies (both red and blue) were flying around a pond from early May, and a Hawker dragonfly was seen emerging on 28 June.
Notable Trees in Dulwich - Tilia henryana: Henry's Lime
This rare member of the Lime (Linden) tree family was found in central China in 1888 by the plantsman Augustine Henry, and is therefore often called 'Henry's Lime'; it was not introduced to Europe and the West until 1901, by the famous plant collector Ernest H. Wilson.
Limes are a member of the Malvaceae or Mallow family, and in Germany particularly, they are associated with the ancient goddess Freya and therefore denote love, spring, and fertility. There are many species of Lime, the most common in the UK being Tilia Cordata, or Common Lime, which grows larger and faster, and can be associated with coppicing, as it can cope with much pruning.
In contrast, Henry's Lime grows more slowly than most limes, and reaches 12 - 25 metres (40 - 82 feet) depending on position and conditions, in about 50 years, and thus requires low maintenance, although a slight tendency for sports on the trunk are best kept in check. These hardy and deciduous trees will generally be larger in the wild, than in cultivation, and have a spreading shape, of about 7 to 9 metres (approx. 25 feet) with a rounded top. The branches are reddish brown, and their buds are ovate and dark red. Young trees have a rather smooth bark, but older specimens (as with humans!) will become more furrowed.
This tree can cope with full sun or partial shade, so that planting positions are not a problem, and is amenable to any aspect of the compass: persistent severe wind would be unsuitable, however. The soil for a Henry's Lime needs to be moist but well drained, and planting in an alkaline soil is favourable, and although it can tolerate sandy and chalky conditions up to a point, it does therefore prefer loam or clay.
The foliage of the Henry's Lime is unusual and interesting, and arguably the most attractive feature; the leaves are much larger than most lime, being about 13 cm (over 5 inches) long. They are broadly cordate (heart-shaped) with both upper and lower surfaces being downy, and are edged with bristle-like 'teeth', or 'eye-lashes' of about 1 cm (approx. half an inch) each. These leaves emerge with a reddish tinge to them, and the colouring alters gradually over the summer, mostly turning glossy and green. Interestingly a second flush of foliage often occurs later in summer, and these leaves frequently have an attractive silvery pinkish-blue tinge; then, during autumn all the leaves turn yellowy gold.
Although most lime are the bane of car owners, owing to the sticky sap which drips from the leaves, the Henry's Lime is less prone to do this, but as with other limes, there is a tendency to harbour aphids, caterpillars and gall-mites, and be somewhat liable to diseases such as phytophthora and honey fungus attack.
One delightful and positive inclination is the tree's attraction for bees, though sometimes bees have been observed to become 'drunk' on the flowers, falling to the ground in a stupor. These flowers appear in late summer and are hanging clusters of around twenty-five creamy-white cup-shaped tiny blooms with a glorious and intense sweet and lemony fragrance, which incidentally, has long inspired poets, possibly the best example known being Boris Pasternak.
The fruit which forms from the flowers remains on the tree until at least late October, depending on climate, and are nut-like and pea-sized with wings, to aid natural dispersal.
Look out for a recently planted example which can be found in Dulwich Park, near the College Road entrance about 25 yards in, on the right-hand side.
Those who visit Dulwich Park today are unlikely to know much about the individual after whom the Francis Peek Centre is named; and little will they realise how apt the memorial is. Without the efforts of this Victorian businessman and philanthropist, it is doubtful whether Dulwich Park, as we know it today, would have come into being. Francis Peek was born in in 1833 in London, where his father had moved to from Devon to start a firm importing tea. .Shortly afterwards the family moved to the burgeoning port of Liverpool and, as a young man, Francis was sent to the Far East to learn the rudiments of the world tea trade. Such was his aptitude for the business that, during the 1850s, he took over management of the company, then called Peek, Winch and Co.
The company flourished but, after marrying Lydia Hicks Meigh in 1855, Peek decided to relocate to London, which had increasingly become the hub of the world tea trade. He built a family house, Roby, in Crescent Wood Road, Sydenham and it was here that their family were brought up. The 1881 census shows that, living at Roby in that year were Francis and Lydia (left, with daughter Mary in a portrait by James Sant), their son and three daughters, a butler, a footman, a cook, two lady's maids, a kitchen maid, a laundress, a laundrymaid, two gardeners and two coachmen.
Peek, Winch went into direct competition with the other tea wholesale businesses in London, notably Peek Bros, another large tea trading business which had been started by Peek's uncle and was by this time owned by his cousin Henry (whose father incidentally also started the biscuit company Peek Frean). In the early 1860s, both companies were in the top four tea wholesalers in the world as the British taste for tea expanded rapidly, encouraged by the contemporary view that it both provided an alternative to alcohol and that tea-making ensured that water was boiled before drinking. By the mid 1870s Peek, Winch had a capital of nearly half a million pounds, enabling Francis Peek, as its senior partner, to draw an income of several thousand pounds a year.
With his business interests running smoothly, Francis Peek was gradually able to spend an increasing amount of his time, energy and fortune on the religious and charitable issues that were his overriding personal interest, including education, Poor Law matters and recreational facilities for the less well off.
Both cousins, Francis and Henry, were members of the Commons Preservation Society (CPS) and both considered the availability of open spaces near London's newly built-up areas, where residents without gardens could take their families for fresh air and exercise, vitally important. Henry Peek, soon to be an MP and baronet, was closely involved in the struggle to preserve Wimbledon Common from enclosure and development. Meanwhile, in the rapidly developing suburbs of South East London, Francis had come to realise that, once land was sold for development, there would be little chance of retaining any of it for amenity space. Thus it was that in 1872, the CPS wrote to the governors of Dulwich College to tell them that Peek had offered the considerable sum of £7,500 towards laying out and maintaining a new public park if they would consider providing the land. The Alleyn Bequest estate was very extensive; however, the governors turned down the request on the basis that such a grant did not fall within the remit of what was, after all, an educational charity. Francis Peek, however, was not prepared to take no for an answer and continued to urge the Governors to reconsider. In 1882 he stood, and was elected, as a Governor of the College Estate (by now distinct from the College School).
The new board of Governors was bitterly divided on the issue but Francis Peek proved a most tenacious advocate for the park in a struggle that involved a broad array of bodies from local residents to church interests, the Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW), the press, the Charity Commissioners and sub-committees of both Houses of Parliament, among others. Through all the machinations in this very long and involved process, Francis Peek held firm and, indeed, at the large public meetings held during 1884 and 1885, the Park was promoted as “the idea of Mr Francis Peek”. Ultimately, in 1885, the Governors gave their agreement and in July the necessary Bill gained parliamentary approval. The land in question was granted to the MBW “for ever” and the park was formally opened in June 1890.
With the issue of the Park still ongoing, Francis Peek turned his attention to another area about which he felt strongly: the provision of elementary education in London. He was a strong supporter of the Elementary Education Act of 1870 which required parents in London to have their children schooled between the ages of 5 and 13 and established The London School Board (LSB) as the local education authority for London. The Board was run by elected members from all the parliamentary boroughs of London and Peek stood successfully in the elections of 1873 as one of the members representing the City of London. The LSB proved very successful: by the end of the 1880s the Board was providing school places for more than 350,000 children and had built over four hundred schools across London, the quality of which was often superior to that of private or charity schools.
Each morning, his journey to the City took Francis Peek from Upper Sydenham station on the (now defunct) Crystal Palace to Nunhead branch line (recorded, somewhat incongruously, by Pissarro in a painting of 1871) and travelled thence on the LC&DR line through the sprawling new suburbs of Denmark Park and Peckham Rye.The plot sizes of these new estates, laid out by the British Land Company in the 1870s, were generally some 20 feet wide which provided for a good-sized family house, usually of two stories, with a small front garden. The suburbs were not affluent; better-off white-collar households (with a typical annual income of around £200 a year and a live-in maid) comprised only around a quarter of households in the area and by 1881, indeed, a quarter of all houses in the area were in divided occupation. Moreover, there were no extras of the kind to be found in the wealthier suburbs, such as elegant squares, open spaces or places of worship. On his daily commute, Peek noticed that there was little provision in the way of churches for a population that had risen by around 75,000 in a decade. The problem was that even a fairly modest permanent mission church cost around £5,000 to build, whilst a more architecturally distinguished church (for a parish of around 5,000 people) would cost around £15,000, excluding vestries, a tower or a vicarage.
Over the following ten years, therefore, Peek personally funded the construction of four substantial churches plus ancillary buildings, in areas of South London where places of worship were in short supply. Emmanuel Church, East Dulwich was built in 1877 (the first vicar being the Rev. Evan Rae); Holy Trinity, Upper Norwood built in 1879 (Rev. Samuel Whitfield Daukes); St Saviour's, Denmark Park in 1881 (Rev. Joseph Stephenson) and St Clement's, East Dulwich in 1885 (Rev. Harnett Ellison Jennings).
In addition to these activities, Peek found the time to write a number of books on both socio-political and religious topics (his best known was Social wreckage: Our laws and our Poor 1879). In the same period, he gave public talks on subjects he felt strongly about to bodies as diverse as the Camberwell C of E Young Men's Society and the Charity Organisation Society. He also gave money to a wide range of causes, some more mainstream such as local hospitals, the establishment of working men's clubs and housing provision for the poor but some essentially practical in nature such as the provision of boots and shoes for school pupils whose parents could not afford them. He was also chairman of the Howard Association (later the Howard League for Penal Reform) and was the first treasurer of the National Vigilance Association, recently set up to counter some of the darker trends in urban crime so well documented in the novels of Charles Dickens.
During these years his family tea business continued to flourish. In 1895 Peek, Winch & Co. and Peek Bros amalgamated under the name Peek Brothers and Winch Ltd and became the largest tea wholesalers in the world, with Francis Peek as its first chairman. The headquarters of the company was Peek House, 20 Eastcheap; the frieze over its main entrance still depicts the camel train used as a trademark for the company's “Camel” brand of tea and represents the three staples of the company's business by the late 19th century - tea, coffee and spices.
Peek continued to take a close interest in his charitable interests (including Dulwich Park) during his final decade and continued to support the construction of new churches (including St Barnabas, Dulwich and St Silas's Nunhead) while continuing to write on social and religious topics: his last book was published in 1897. He died two years later in 1899, aged of 66, at his seaside house in Margate.
The Times described him in his obituary as “one of the best types of London citizen”. The local advertiser wrote “How many of our societies for the amelioration of the poor and destitute classes will miss his generous gifts and his ever-ready sympathy. Moreover, how often leading workers sought his counsel in matters of difficulty, and thanked God for his ripened judgement and his wise and cautious advice.” The Norwood News wrote: “His was one of the best-known names in Norwood and he was held in the highest esteem by those who enjoyed the privilege of his friendship, and in the best sense he was one of the most publicly-spirited men of his day although he did not court personal fame. Francis Peek was a man full of the love of souls.” The park he envisaged for Dulwich is one of his most enduring legacies and we can be sure that he would be enormously pleased to know that it is today enjoyed by so many from all walks of life.