The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 7 Municipal Parks in South London

Dulwich Park

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DULWICH PARK Dulwich Park is not very far from Brockwell, but its surroundings are more open. A few of the roads near it have some feeling of the country left. The houses that are springing up are of a cheerful villa type, and have nothing of the monotony and dulness of most of the suburbs. Fine old trees grow along many of the roads. The chestnuts, for instance, in Half Moon Lane between Herne Hill and Dulwich are charming, and also on the further side of the Park, where the celebrated inn, the "Green Man," was situated, there is a rural aspect and a delightful walk between trees. It was within the grounds of the "Green Man" that the Wells of chalybeate water were situated. The Wells had been discovered in the reign of Charles II., and the water sold in London, but the "Green Man" did not become a popular resort until after 1739. A story connected with this popular spa is recorded in the "Percy Anecdotes" in 1823. A well-known literary man was invited to dinner there, and wished to be directed. However, he inquired vainly for the "Dull Man at Greenwich." instead of the "Green Man at Dulwich." One of the entrances to the Park is close to the site of the once famous Wells. The Park itself which covers 72 acres, was the munificent gift of Dulwich College. The gift was confirmed by an Act of Parliament in 1885, and the Park opened to the public in 1890. The College was founded by Edward Alleyn in 1614, who called it "The College of God's Gift." Originally, there were besides the Master, Warden, and four Fellows, six poor brethren and six sisters, and thirty out-members. The value of the property has so enormously increased that the number of scholars has been very greatly added to, and now hundreds of boys, some quite free, and some for a very low fee, obtain a sound commercial education. The founder was a friend of Shakespeare, and one of the best actors of his plays in the poet's lifetime. His early biographers go out of their way to refute the alleged reason of his founding "God's Gift College," namely, that when on one occasion he was personating the devil, the original appeared, and so frightened him that he gave up the stage to devote himself to good works. Were this story true, the vision was certainly well timed, and has produced unexpected and far-reaching results. The educational work, the picture gallery, and the well laid out estate of Dulwich Manor, including the large public Park, are all the direct result!