Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …
The ancient Manor of Dulwich is thought to take its name from the Old English “dile”, meaning “dill” (a culinary and medicinal herb), and “wisc”, meaning “meadow”. It was first recorded, as Dilwihs, in 967, when it was granted by the Saxon King Edgar the Peaceful to one of his Thanes. It was later recorded, as Dilewic, in 1127, when it was granted by the Norman King Henry I to Bermondsey Abbey. It remained in the possession of the Abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and in 1544 was sold by Henry VIII to Thomas Calton. It then passed down through Calton’s family until 1605, when it was sold by Francis Calton, Thomas’s grand-son, to the actor and theatrical entrepreneur Edward Alleyn, who, with Philip Henslowe, co-owned the “Fortune” and “Rose” play-houses.
Alleyn built the “College of God’s Gift” in Dulwich between 1613-1619, and was buried in the chapel there in 1626. Early on in the Civil War of 1642-1651, the Fellows of the College pawned its silver plate to raise funds for the Royalist cause. Later, by way of retaliation, Parliamentarian troops quartered here melted lead coffins and organ pipes to make munitions!
The Old College was dissolved in 1857, but its buildings still stand, including what is now the Dulwich Picture Gallery, originally built by Sir John Soane in 1811-1814 to house artworks bequeathed to the college.
The nearby New College was built by Charles Barry in the years leading up to 1870.