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Dulwich and its History

Dulwich - from Dillwihs. Dill, a white flower, and wihs, meaning a damp meadow thus Dulwich is the meadow where dill grows. The first documented evidence of Dulwich is as a hamlet outside London about 1000 years ago.

It is now most definitely part of London and is situated in South East London and is part of the borough of Southwark. It is about 17 minutes train ride from Victoria and 12 minutes from London Bridge.

Dulwich is situated in a valley surrounded by Crystal Palace to the South, Dog Kennel Hill to the North and Herne Hill to the West.

It is basically divided into two main parts, Dulwich Village and East Dulwich. Dulwich village contains the original high street, if it can be called that, and still contains nearly all of the original 18th and 19th century buildings. East Dulwich now focuses around Lordship Lane, a much larger high street. There is traditionally a divide between East Dulwich and Dulwich Village and this is reflected in the property prices, similar houses costing as much as £5000 more on the West side of Lordship lane.

Dulwich Village in particular is still a very uncommercialised place and has no large department store or supermarket. It is a very green area and is a conservation zone. It boasts Dulwich Park a very pretty park which hosts the Dulwich Horse and Motor Show each year, where the new Toyota Corolla made its first UK appearance at a motor show in 1997. There are Dulwich woods, all that is now left of a previously much larger forest.

Dulwich is a popular place with the rich and famous. Margaret Thatcher used to own a house here, Eddie George, Governor of the Bank of England still lives here and Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman own a house right in the village (it cost them £2 Million) although I am not sure what has happened to it since the split up.

The most important event in the history of Dulwich is the decision of Edward Alleyn (1566-1626) to construct a school and alms houses in Dulwich. The school was founded in 1616. This was after his religious enlightenment and this is why all buildings in the foundation are named like Dulwich College of God's Gift.

The original alms houses and school were also attached to a new chapel, now the Edward Alleyn Chapel where Alleyn is buried. The school was moved to a new building just next door around 1840 to accommodate larger numbers and although the school no longer exists here the building is now used to house the Estate's Governors. The school moved to larger premises and became Dulwich College 1870. The new buildings having been designed by Charles Barry Junior (1823-1900), son of Sir Charles Barry who designed the Houses of Parliament.

In 1875 Alleyn's School was founded as a junior school for the College. At the beginning of the 20th Century is became a secondary school in its own right and was made mixed in the 1970s by the then headmaster, Derek Fenner.

In 1886 the remaining Girls left from the previous Dulwich College junior school (not being allowed into Alleyn's since it was then an all boys school) moved into James Allen's Girl's School. JAGS remains a single sex school to this day.

Local Landmarks:

  • Belair House - A grand house designed by in 1785 for John Files. It remained a private house until 1938 when it came into the hands of Southwark Council. It fell into disrepair in the 1990s but was bought in 1998 and refurbished and turned into a very impressive upmarket restaurant. The house has a large park ground attached which is now public but used to be the fields for its farm.
  • Bell House - Designed in 1787 for Thomas Wright, a stationer and later Lord Mayor of London. It became a Dulwich College boarding house and only returned to private ownership in 1993. Its beautiful design was not spoilt by a large extension added in the mid 19th century and it is accompanied by a pretty lodge house, now let as a two bedroom house. The house is Grade II listed and even the wall dividing the garden is listed as well. Its name comes from its Bell Tower situated on top of the original house although the bell no longer functions. I live here and have done since 1993 so I'm biased.
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery
  • Dulwich College - See above for information the buildings and its founding.
  • Alleyn's School - See above for information the buildings and its founding.
  • St Barnabas Church (Church of England) - The church covering the parish of Dulwich itself.
  • St Stephen's Church (Church of England) - The old church was designed by W H Wood of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and consecrated in 1894. However the old Church burnt down in an arson attack by unknown persons on Monday December 7th 1992. An appeal began to raise money for the building of a new church and the Phoenix appeal succeeded. In 1996 the new church, designed by Larry Malcic, was opened and now its all glass spire dominates the Dulwich skyline.
  • All Saints, Rosendale Rd - An astonishing building originally intended to be the cathedral for South London. Although plans were scaled down it was still a huge building. Unfortunately it was burnt down in late 2000 however the cause of the fire was unknown. The building now appears merely as an eerie hollow shell.


  • Secondary Schools
    • Dulwich College - See above for more information about its buildings and history. A fee paying all boys school part of the Edward Alleyn Foundation. It has 1,400 boys between 7 and 18. Takes borders but is majoratively a day school. Many of its borders come from abroad. Has huge sports grounds and currently houses the Ernest Shackleton exhibition, including the tiny boat which he sailed in. Famous old boys include
      • PG Wodehouse KBE, D.Litt (Oxon) (1894-1900)
      • Raymond Chandler (1900-1905)
      • Trevor E Bailey BA (1937-1942)
      • Vice-Admiral Gordon Campbell VC, DSO (1898-1900);
      • Stanhope Alexander Forbes RA (1869-1872)
      • C.S. Forester (1915-1916)
      • The Rt Hon Sir Eddie George BA Econ, MA, PC, Governor of Bank of England (1949-1957)
      • Dr Gordon PS Jacob CBE, D.Mus, FRCM (1908-1916)
      • Michael Ondaatje (1954-1962)
      • Anand Panyarachun (1948-1952)
      • Sir Ernest Shackleton CVO, OBE(Mil), LL.D, FRGS (1887-1890)
      • The Rt Hon Lord Shawcross, GBE
      • Graham Swift, BA, MA
      • PG Targett-Adams (Phil Manzanera - lead singer of Roxy Music (1960-1969)
      • CFA Voysey FRIBA, RDI (1872-1873)
    • Alleyn's School - A fee paying school part of the Edward Alleyn Foundation. A mixed school since the 1970s. It has 930 girls and boys aged between 11 and 18. Has reasonable grounds for sport. Excels in music and drama. Currently proud to boast having the England Women's Hockey Captain, Sue Chandler, as a sports teacher. I go here and I think its great. Famous Alleyn's Old boys and girls include:
    • James Allen's Girls School (JAGS) - See above for information about the history of the school. Fee paying and part of the Edward Alleyn foundation. Takes about 750 girls. Is situated in the top twenty in the national League Tables. Gustav Holst taught at JAGS between 1906 and 1920. He donated numerous unique documents to the school and dedicated his Opus 20a to the Girls of JAGS.
    • Kingsdale School - A Southwark run grant maintained school. Only taking ages 11-16.
    • The Charter School (formerly William Penn School) - A Southwark run grant maintained school. Only taking ages 11-16.
  • Primary Schools
    • Dulwich College Preparatory School (DCPS)
    • Dulwich Hamlet
    • Goodrich School
    • Herne Hill School
    • Langbourne
    • Oakfield Preparatory School
    • Rosendale
    • Rosemead
    • Alleyn's Junior School
    • James Allen's Preparatory School (JAPS)


  • St Barnabas (Church of England) - See above for history and info.
  • St Stephen's (Church of England) - Built between 1867 and 1875 and consecrated in 1868. Grade II listed. Massively refurbished in the 1990s and a new hall has recently finished construction to replace the temporary structure erected in 1947.
  • St Faith (Church of England) - Built in 1958-59.
  • St John's (Church of England) - Built in 1865. Badly damaged in WWII and out of use until 1951. A listed building. Recent fund raising has allowed the addition of a community centre.
  • Christ's Chapel of God's Gift (Church of England) - See above for more information. Built in 1616. Recently refurbished. Small beautiful chapel with an excellent organ built by George England in 1759, one of only 3 organs in the country with the colours of the keys reversed. Traditionally where the 3 foundation schools hold their Christmas, Easter, Remembrance Day and Founder's Day services.
  • St Margaret Clitherow's (Roman Catholic) - Built in the 1970s.


  • Pizza Express, 94 The Village, Dulwich SE21, 020 8693 9333
  • Le Piaf Restaurant, 75-77 Dulwich Village, London SE21, 020 893 9331
  • Belair House, Gallery Road Dulwich Village 020 8299 9788
  • Le Chardon (was "Thistles") Restaurant, Lordship Lane, East Dulwich
  • Blue Mountain, 18 North Cross Road
  • Thai Corner, 44 North Cross Road
  • 3 Monkeys 136/140 Herne Hill SE24 9QH Tel - 020 7738 5500
  • Tandoori Nights, 73 Lordship Lane


Train Stations in Dulwich:
  • North Dulwich
  • West Dulwich
  • East Dulwich
  • Sydenham Hill
Buses that got to Dulwich are:
  • 3
  • 37
  • P4
  • P13
  • P15 (Saturday shopping hours)
  • 144
  • 40
  • 187
I have heard talk of plans to extend the East London (the orangey one) tube line to East Dulwich which would be a good thing.

Dulwich is also home to Dulwich Hamlet Football Club currently members of the Ryman Premier League. Dulwich and Sydenham Golf club is a private 18 hole course.

I love Dulwich and I have lived here for most of my life (15 years). It is in within easy travelling distance of the city and is still quiet and relatively unspoilt. Crime is generally low although robbery is becoming a problem. All in all a lovely place.

Dulwich Everything Users

Great Neb

/msg me if you have been missed out


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