Stroll through Dulwich Village and it’s difficult to imagine that you’re just a few miles from central London. Green spaces, independent shops and a glorious village vibe have made the south east London enclave one of the capital’s most popular places to live. As the annual Dulwich Festival kicks off, The Resident takes a closer look at the enduring appeal of the leafy haven…
Lead image: Dulwich Picture Gallery (photo: Stuart Leech)
For some, its lack of tube stations is an issue. For others, the relative inaccessibility of Dulwich has helped it maintain its distinctly countryside feel. Not to mention its healthy house prices.
Set in the borough of Southwark, the area is split into three distinct neighbourhoods: West Dulwich, East Dulwich and Dulwich Village – each with its own charm.
Having been a conservation area since 1968, it has the most rural feel of the ‘three Dulwiches’; full of green leafy roads, independent shops and white picket fences.
East Dulwich, situated in between ‘the Village’ and Peckham, also has that independent feel, with the busy bustling Lordship Lane running through its heart.
Then there’s West Dulwich. Originally a small hamlet that has expanded since World War One, it balances the rural charm of ‘the Village’ to its east with the burgeoning trendiness of West Norwood to its west.
But while all three have their own reputations, whether you’re shopping and dining along Lordship Lane or messing about on the boating lake in Dulwich Park, it seems an area of London that you can’t really go wrong with.
‘For me, it’s a slice of the countryside in London,’ says For Jules Parker, press officer of Dulwich Festival and a local for almost two decades. ‘I love its history – the elegant architecture, the beautiful green spaces, the warm community spirit and the fact that there’s something on for everyone everyday of the week.’
One of the highlights of the calendar is the annual Dulwich Festival, which runs from 10-19 May this year with a programme of art, music, theatre, literature and walks all under the theme of Belonging.
Jules tells me she’s particularly looking forward to two performances at the festival – The HandleBards performance of Much Ado About Nothing at Jags Fields and Peckham Poets Yomi Sode and Caleb Femi performing The Power of Poetry at Dulwich College.
‘I can’t resist open air theatre and a glass of wine,’ she tells me of the former, ‘plus the troupe cycle from venue to venue and champion sustainable theatre.’
‘I can’t resist open air theatre and a glass of wine’
‘This will be the second year that Dulwich Festival features a spoken word event and last year it was wonderful to see such a great turn out,’ she smiles.
Alongside the festival, Artists’ Open House will also be running across the weekend of 11-12 May and 18-19 May, featuring more than 250 artists from Dulwich and neighbouring areas artists opening their doors to the public. Highlights include the swimming oils and watercolours of Priscilla Watkins on Lovelace Road SE21 and Mark Pearson’s evocative paintings of the changing nature of Peckham on Lyndhurst Way SE15.
East Dulwich is also something of a street art hub with works dotted among its roads, as well as being home to a great local cinema in the East Dulwich Picturehouse, which was opened by local resident Richard Ayoade to great fanfare in 2015 (since south east London was then rather lacking in cinemas).
FOOD AND DRINK
There’s also the iconic Franklin’s, the tragically soon-to-close Palmerston pub (which serves truly excellent roasts) Yama Momo for Japanese restaurant and Spinach, the Insta-friendly plant-based restaurant – all on Lordship Lane.
In Dulwich Village you have Rocca Di Pappa, good quality pub food from the Crown & Greyhound, and cakes and bakes aplenty from Gail’s Bakery and the park’s Pavilion Cafe.
The Rosendale Pub is where it’s at in West Dulwich, and Belair House, the beautiful venue on the borders of West Dulwich and the Village, is trying to elbow its way back into the restaurant game with afternoon teas and an impressive a la carte menu (available when there aren’t nuptials in progress).
East Dulwich have one of the most bustling shopping areas in south east London, with Lordship Lane full of local and independent shops. Interesting boutiques include Iris for fashion, Roullier White for high-end homewares and nice fragrances, Karavan Eco for sustainable living, Lila’s for reclaimed vintage jewellery and the long-standing Mrs Robinson for homewares and gifts.
Just off Lordship Lane, you’ll also find the collection of shops on North Cross Road, which include some great curated fashion brands at Mac & Miller, fashion, lifestyle and gifts at ed by Rigby & Mac (which also has the dulwich trader in West Dulwich and tomlinsons in the Village), as well as the wonderful Rye Books.
‘I think our customers value the independent and more unique shopping experience’
Dulwich Village also offers up a fair few spots, including the well-known Village Books, which often hosts author events, and Jane Newbery with its eclectic mix of home accessories, gifts and artwork. The owner of the latter, Jane Hole, tells me that it’s the supportive community that makes the local shopping so great.
‘I think our customers value the independent and more unique shopping experience rather than the bland experience on the high street,’ she tells me. ‘The independent traders know their customers and look for tailor made and a unique offering for their shops. You don’t get high street shops dropping off dog beds after work.’
And there’s more in West Dulwich – the aforementioned dulwich trader for one, as well as the award-winning Dulwich Books and the brilliant Wigwam toy shop.
The PROPERTY MARKET
According to Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward (KFH), average property prices over the last six months in East Dulwich have been around £678,000, which is similar to West Dulwich at around £697,000. Whereas in Dulwich Village homes sold for an average of £1,256,000 over the same period.
For example, Foxtons Dulwich has a two bedroom masionette flat in East Dulwich on the market for £650,000, which features en suite bathrooms and views across London over two levels. In comparison, a detached five bedroom house in Dulwich Village boasts a summer house, hot tub and large bedrooms, all for £1,900,000.
‘Some of London’s top independent schools are located in the area, making Dulwich Village popular among families – and pricey’
East Dulwich is also home to some pretty spectacular properties, including a four bedroom house on Crystal Palace Road with a gorgeous terrace and garden on the market for £1,375,000 with KFH.
According to Paul Bent, Sales Manager of KFH East Dulwich, it really depends on what kind of atmosphere you’re looking for: ‘Dulwich Village is traditionally ‘old money’, East Dulwich is ‘new money’ and West Dulwich is an up-and-coming area,’ he says.
‘The pace of life slows as you get into the aspirational Dulwich Village, whereas East Dulwich has a faster pace due to the extensive amenities offered.’
With different price points and a lot of fantastic local amenities, there seems no better time to check out all that Dulwich has to offer. So who cares that there’s no tube station when you’ve got as much as this place does?