Leafy, historic, artistic, great transport links and a swathe of exceptional schools in both the state and independent sectors. We are nuts about Dulwich. By Karen Stirgwolt. llustrations by Meg Niven.
Dulwich Village’s white-posted, old-world appeal has come to feel a lot less old in the past few years. A new wave of residents from across London has brought a zing to what was once a faintly musty place where families went to mature. It’s livelier. An outer ring of up-and-coming neighbourhoods add to the scene to make it a happy place to live, work and raise a family.
The heart of the old Dulwich is the Dulwich Picture Gallery designed by Sir John Soane and opened in 1817. Last summer the gallery put up a temporary events structure in its garden to rival the Serpentine’s. Visiting with kids is a perfect day out, the gallery is across the street from lovely Dulwich Park – with a new café and recumbent bikes and row boats for rent.
Where to live
There is so much green space in Dulwich Village there isn’t much room for the relatively large and expensive Victorian or Edwardian family houses. Herne Hill, Camberwell, Peckham and West Dulwich pick up the housing slack with family-sized houses for a bit less per square foot while East Dulwich offers the perfect family starter home. The housing stock here is mainly small and terraced, but you can’t beat the convenience of the green spaces near schools, shops and cafés. People who move out for more space have been known to miss the area enough to move back.
Herne Hill is a quick walk from the Village. It has a centre of shops on Half Moon Lane including the wonderful children’s bookshop Tales On Moon Lane which hosts author and artist events. Sprouting up from under the railway arches next door are speciality shops like butchers Dugard & Daughters and Deliciously Ella’s Kitchen Counter which benefit from weekend crowds attending the Herne Hill Market at the station.
Gumboots Community Nursery 171-173 Crystal Palace Rd SE22 9E, 020 8693 8726 leyf.org.uk
A member of the London Early Years Foundation group of 37 community nurseries. Ages 0–5, 8am–6pm.
Nelly’s Nurseries Sites in Turney Road 020 8761 4178, Rosendale Road 020 8761 3535, Lancaster Avenue 020 8761 0770 and Dulwich Sports Ground 020 7737 5455 nellys.co.uk
4 nurseries in Dulwich offering full day care for ages 3 months–5.
Mother Goose Nurseries
3 nurseries in East Dulwich and Herne Hill. One provides childcare from 3 months–5 and two from 10 months+. mothergoosenurseries.co.uk
Bright Horizons Dulwich 80 Dog Kennel Hill SE22 0330 057 4779 brighthorizons.co.uk
brighthorizons.co.uk 83-85 Burbage Rd SE22 0JS 020 8425 2566 littlefingersmontessori.com
Dulwich Village Pre-School Old Alleynian Club, Dulwich Common 020 8693 2402 dulwichvillagepreschool.co.uk Ages 2–5.
The German Kindergarten St Faith’s Community Centre Red Post Hill 07530 197095 germankindergarten.co.uk Ages 2–5. There is also a popular day-long bilingual Kindergarten in Herne Hill.
Half Moon Montessori The Methodist Church Hall, 155 Half Moon Lane, SE24 9HU 020 7326 5300 halfmoonmontessori.co.uk
Ages 2–5. Baby room ages 0–2, pre-school ages 2–4. 8am–6.30pm.
Since forever, the magnetic pull for families to Dulwich has been the golden triangle of schools founded by the estate of Edward Alleyn: Dulwich College (1619), James Allen Girls School, known simply as JAGS (1741) and Alleyn’s (1882). All of these have prep/ junior divisions. Dulwich College is a boys’ day school set in stunning grounds with terrific sports options. JAGS is a competitive girls’ school with a gleaming sports centre and arts clubs open to the community during term time. Alleyn’s is a progressive co-ed school with a world-class theatre as well as great sports facilities for a London location. All are independent and selective but the College in particular has an extensive range of bursaries.
Notable independents like Sydenham High School (with forward-thinking new head) offers football and rowing to the girls and Dulwich Prep London (has an inspiring librarian – check their reading lists) bookend Dulwich Village.
There are excellent state primaries. A popular recent addition is the Judith Kerr Primary School (bilingual German and English). Two state senior schools in the area also stand out for their excellence: The Charter School and Kingsdale School.
Independent Preps & Pre-Preps
Dulwich Prep London 42 Alleyn Park, SE21 7AA (Early Years section in 8 Gallery Road), 020 8766 5531 dulwichpreplondon.org Ages 3–13. Boys.
Alleyn’s Junior School Townley Road, SE22 8SU 020 8557 1500 alleyns.org.uk Ages 4–11. Co-ed.
JAPS: James Allen’s Pre-Prep (Rec–Yr 2) Dulwich Village SE21 7AL 020 8693 3465 Prep (Y3–6) 144 East Dulwich Grove, SE22 8TE, 020 8693 0374 jags.org.uk Ages 4–11. Girls.
Dulwich College Jr. School Dulwich Common SE21 7LD 020 8299 9248 dulwich.org.uk Ages 7–11. Boys.
The kindergarten and infants’ school is known as DUCKS. 87 College Rd SE21 7HH, 020 8693 1538 dulwich.org.uk/ducks Ages 6mths–7. Co-ed.
Herne Hill School The Old Vicarage, Herne Hill Rd SE24 020 7274 6336, hernehillschool.co.uk Ages 2–7. Co-ed.
Sydenham Junior School 19 Westwood Hill SE26 6BL 020 8557 7000, sydenhamhighschool.gdst.net Ages 4–11. Girls.
Rosemead Preparatory (& Early Years) 70 Thurlow Park Rd SE21 8HZ, 020 8670 5865 rosemeadprepschool.org.uk Ages 3–11. Co-ed.
Independent Secondary Schools
Alleyn’s School Townley Rd SE22 8SU, 020 8557 1500 alleyns.org.uk. Co-ed, ages 11–18.
JAGS (James Allen’s Girls’ School) 144 East Dulwich Grove, SE22 8TE, 020 8693 1181 jags.org.uk Girls 11–18.
Dulwich College Dulwich Common SE21 7LD, 020 8693 3601 Boys 11–18.
Sydenham High School 19 Westwood Hill SE26 6BL, 020 8557 7000 sydenhamhighschool.gdst.net Girls 11–18.
A modest three bedroom terrace house in East Dulwich costs £850,000– £975,000 with larger 4 bed+ family houses ranging from £1–£1.5m dependant on location, condition and size. A 3-4 bed property in Dulwich Village could be anything from£1.2–£2m+ Larger family houses range from £1.8m–£3m+.
Prices from Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward East Dulwich office 020 8299 8800, and Dulwich Village of office 020 3792 1023, kfh.co.uk
Art & Culture
The Dulwich Picture Gallery is the oldest public art gallery in England and has a wonderful permanent collection as well as fab temporary shows and heaps of activities and events for families. They have a new Moomins exhibition on this Winter with a Moomin’s Winter Day on 16, 17 Dec. We can’t wait.
Further east, the Horniman Museum is where mini naturalists should head with its aquarium, butterfly house and nature trails. There is also a popular Saturday farmers’ market.
Any day now a triangle of art house cinemas in the area will be complete. The Ritzy and East Dulwich Picture House will be joined by the newest in the chain: the West Norwood Picture House (library included).
Dulwich Park, Brockwell Park (BMX track), Ruskin Park (Trees for Cities), Peckham Rye (Adventure Playground) and the award-winning gardens at Horniman Museum are all wonderful for a breath of fresh air. Astoundingly, there is a Velodrome sandwiched between Dulwich and Herne Hill which has been beautifully restored this year and has daily classes and a range of programmes for toddlers. Ladies’ afternoon on the historic banked track is on Sundays. Try the glorious Lido in Brockwell Park, the Leisure Centre on Goose Green, the refurbished Victorian pools at Camberwell Baths, and a new Leisure Centre in West Norwood. (Dulwich College Sports Centre and Jags offer sports club memberships at reasonable rates incl squash & tennis.)
In Herne Hill the restored Half Moon Pub has excellent food. North towards Camberwell Daily Goods on Camberwell Church Street and Theo’s Pizza on Grove Lane are good. Bellenden Road has a string of cafés and restaurants. The newly re-opened Crown & Greyhound in Dulwich Village has 20 boutique hotel rooms. There are French cafés and sushi on Lordship Lane, but Rocca in the heart of the Village deserves a special mention. It’s always busy and rarely disappoints.