My Neighbourhood: Part one #dulwich #southlondon #circularwalk

I needed to get out and about and Dog wanted a walk. These days he’s good for four miles but more than that and his arthritis can leave him limping for a few days. So when I came across this circular walk around my home village of Dulwich – 8 miles – I thought I’d break it into two sections, for his sake, natch.

A couple of hundred yards from the front door we joined our circle. Of course it was more a disturbing inkblot in shape but let’s be charitable to the designer. The start was College Road, its name deriving from this pile of Victorian gothic, Dulwich College, a private boys school charging eye watering fees and recently the alma mater to Mr Abramovitch’s boys (his less that well-gotten gains didn’t just pay for 20 years of Chelsea football club’s multiple trophies). He paid for the new science block. It’s dull and I’m not photographing it on principle.

Dulwich is largely a construct of one man. Edward Alleyn an actor manager from Shakespeare’s time who owned the land hereabouts and left his estate to create a foundation to fund the said college.

So valuable did the land become that the village is dotted with large piles, a public art gallery that is reputedly the oldest public art gallery in the world and various other establishments (including, now three private schools, all founded on the income from his original lands.

Whatever one may think of private education and the perpetuation of elites the coherence of having one landed trust in charge of a large chunk of south London has created the a delightful villagy feel to the place and significant features that make it the most delightful place to spend time.

The signposts…

the neat white post/chain fences

the houses

Even Dickens appreciated it, having Mr Pickwick retire here, so much so that there are numerous refences to him and his most famous character dotted about.

Having reached the alms houses, the original school building and Christ Church of God’s Gift we paused by the village orchard and headed into Dulwich Park.

Our path took us in a straight(ish) line across the park, past the boating lake, the bowl’s club with its graffito and the American Garden which will look amazing in the next month when all its many rhododendrons flower .

We did have to pause once or twice…

We left by the curiously named Fireman’s Alley. This odd little path ends by one of those anonymously derelict buildings that dot our city.

These were once the grand telephone exchanges for British Telecom when the switchboards were peopled and even with the advent of automation, rooms and rooms were needed for all the switch gear. Now the same can be done by a cloud and some clown who knows the joke’s on us. Heaven knows what these drab constructions will become.

Onwards we trod, up to the oddly named small square of green called Ladlands. This is usually a grand place with vistas over the London bowl that are to die for.

Today… not so much.

Soon enough, a further disappointment. Our route should have taken us through one of London’s old cemeteries, Camberwell Old Cemetery but the access gate was shut will landscaping works were finished. Since this is where we departed from the circle to head home, we may be able to access it when we finish the walk. It said it was due to open in ‘Spring 2022’. Hopefully sooner than later.

Our route home saw us use the bed of a disused railway, the High Level Railway that serviced Crystal Palace and gave us that extraordinary fan vaulted access to the park I referenced a while back.

These days the old railbed is a nature walk – the Horniman Nature Walk – for its first part and then the division between Sydenham Hill Woods and Dulwich Woods which are both remnants of the Great North Wood that once covered great swathes of Southern England. It’s lovely to have an ancient wild bit of wood right in my doorstep, even alongside one of those dreadful walk-spoilers, viz a golf course. We emerged a few yards from St Stephens Church that we took over for the family wedding last August.

It remains a cheery prospect and meant we were within ten minutes of coffee (for me) and a biscuit (for him)…


About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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39 Responses to My Neighbourhood: Part one #dulwich #southlondon #circularwalk

  1. A fine photo walk with excellent history

    Liked by 2 people

  2. joylennick says:

    Thanks for the interesting walk and photos, Geoff. Plenty to capture, and keep your measurements – and the dog’s – trim !

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What a wonderful neighborhood. I am faszinated, because its well curated, and every inch full of history. It must be wonderful strolling along the streets and pathes, to inhalate the purity of history. Thanks for sharing, Geoff! Have a good weekend! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Darlene says:

    Looks like a great walk. I love the history of these places.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. noelleg44 says:

    A wonderful walk with a LOT of history. One question: how do you pronounce Dulwich? Is it like Norwich, where the w is left out?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I am intrigued by the myriad of explanations scattered all along. None of them appear to have graffiti tags on them. It appears that the powers that be assume that people want to read their way around town and will leave the signs alone. I am not sure that either assumption would hold true in my beloved, but definitely down at the heels, town.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hope the aches and pains of old age were avoided, and I hope dog was OK too!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Erika says:

    I have no doubt, you both enjoyed the walk your personal way.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. JT Twissel says:

    Dulwich is definitely not dull! Sorry to hear dog’s got a bit of arthritis.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved the walk and the history. Thanks, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It looks lovely, and not at all like a big city. (I don’t mean looking like a big city is bad, of course!)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. V.M.Sang says:

    What a lovely walk. I look forward to you posting the second half.
    My son worked on the restoration of Bell House, on College Road for a few years. It’s a listed building (grade 2, I think). The owner, like many of the people who lived in Dulwich it seems, is a philanthropist, and it is now an education centre for people of all ages, especially children who aren’t getting along at mainstream school.
    It is also let out to various organizations, and films have been shot there, and fashion shoots.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I know it well .. Angus Heaton said philanthropist is a gem. Well done on the junior Sang!


      • Richard, my son, got on extremely well with the quilters. He talked about them a lot. Who knows, perhaps he even met your wife there.
        He left in order to pursue other things, but he personally rescued many original features. We went to have a look at the place when he was there. He lived there during the week, while he was working on the house. Angus threatened to call his room after him!
        He got on very well with Angus.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        What a small world! Linda wasn’t one of the Quilt Academy though the group she belongs to overlaps with them. If your son was in residence he will have met Linda as she curated the annual show that showcases the Quilt Academy’s work too and works there a lot in the run up.


  13. Rachel M says:

    Lovely! I’ve never been to Dulwich but it looks nice. I’ll have to visit one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jennie says:

    Charming! What a perfect walk with history and architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It does look like a pretty stroll, Geoff. And it seems like it’s set up so walkers can learn some things along the way. Looking forward to catching part 2. 😀


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