Travel Guide to Southwark

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In 1538 Henry VIII seized control of Bermondsey Abbey, and hence Dulwich. He sold the rights to Dulwich on to a London goldsmith, Thomas Carlton, for 609 18s.2d. In October 1605 his grandson sold up to Edward Alleyn, a famous Elizabethan actor, for 4,900. Alleyn had a major impact on the way Dulwich was run for many years. Alleyn built a college to help educate 12 poor children, he also made provision for 12 elderly people. This college is now world famous as Dulwich College. Two other schools also benefit from his gift, James Allen's Girls School, founded in 1741 by the Warden of Dulwich College, and Alleyn's School, a boys school founded in 1842. Significantly Alleyn gave the manorial rights and freehold of his land to the College who were then able to block the over development of Dulwich.

The village centre had two famous pubs, The Crown, used by the labourers, and The Greyhound, used by the gentlemen. The Greyhound was also a stop on the coach route from Sittingbourne to Picadilly. Today they are commemorated by The Crown & Greyhound pub, on the site of The Crown.

In 1739 a spa was discovered and Dulwich Spa soon became popular with the visitors. It was later the site of Dr Glennie's Acadamy, where Lord Byron was educated for two years. In 1817 the Picture Gallery opened helping to make Dulwich better known. At this point it was still a small, rural development with few links to the outside world. As late as 1792 there was just one public road, going to Sydenham. Dulwich is still a very rural part of London, the last farm only closed down this century.

As with so much of South London the main cause of sudden growth was the coming of the railways. In 1854 the Crystal Palace was moved to Sydenham and a railway was constructed to help visitors get there. The railway meant people were able to live further from work and the green of Dulwich began to vanish under new houses. In 1872 John Ruskin, dismayed by the development, moved to the Lake District. In reality Dulwich was less developed than the likes of Peckham and retains its village charm to this day. As the College owned most of the land sold to the railway firms it was able to fund its current fine buildings, designed by Sir Charles Barry.

Like most of South London Dulwich was hit by the bombing raids of World War Two with many civilians killed, and properties destroyed. Ironically one of the houses that was destroyed was one once inhabited by the infamous Lord Haw Haw. During the war Dulwich was used as a training base by the Dutch government in exile to train agents before their return to the Netherlands.

Dulwich remains one of the more attractive and affluent parts of South London to this day. The controls on development have allowed it to survive as one of the few remaining villages in London. Whilst it may not be recognisable from the days that it was the favourite hunting ground of Charles I its village origins are clear.
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