Dulwich College

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Dulwich College
Motto Detur Gloria Soli Deo
(Mobile-friendly - Motto, Detur "Let glory be given to God alone")
Established 1619
Type Independent school
Master of the College J. A. F. Spence BA, PhD
Chairman of the Governors Andrew Turnbull, Baron Turnbull, KCB, CVO
Founder Edward Alleyn
Location Dulwich Common
SE21 7LD
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DfE URN 100861 Tables
Staff 193
Students 1500 (approx.)
Gender Boys
Ages 2–18
Houses Day Houses: 8
Boarding Houses: 3
Colours Royal Blue & Black          
Former Pupils Old Alleynians
Affiliation Alleyn's College of God's Gift
James Allen's Girls' School
Website www.dulwich.org.uk

Dulwich College is an independent public school for boys in Dulwich, southeast London, England. The college was founded in 1619 by Edward Alleyn, an Elizabethan actor, with the original purpose of educating 12 poor scholars as the foundation of "God's Gift". It currently has about 1,500 boys, of whom 120 are boarders thus making it one of the largest (in terms of numbers of pupils) independent schools in the United Kingdom.[citation needed] The school will be celebrating its 400th anniversary in 2019. Admission by examination is mainly into years 3, 7, 9, and 12 (i.e. ages 7, 11, 13, and 16 years old) to the Junior, Lower, Middle and Upper Schools into which the college is divided. It is a member of both the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the Eton Group.


1619: Foundation: The College of God's Gift at Dulwich

Dulwich College Barry buildings.

Founder's Day at Dulwich College is celebrated at the end of the Summer Term to commemorate the signing of the letters patent by James I on 21 June 1619 authorizing Edward Alleyn to establish a college in Dulwich to be called 'the College of God's Gift, in Dulwich in Surrey'.[1] The term "Dulwich College" was used colloquially from that date, such as in 1675 when John Evelyn described his visit to Dulwich College in his Diary.[2] However, for at least 263 years this colloquialism was incorrect as the school was part of the overall charitable Foundation.[3] Edward Alleyn, as well as being a famous Elizabethan actor, for whom Christopher Marlowe wrote his title roles, performed at the Rose Theatre,[4] was also a man of great property and wealth, derived mainly from places of entertainment including theatres and bear-gardens.[5] There is no documentary evidence for the legend that he owned brothels. He was 'Chief Maister, Ruler and Overseer of [the King's] games of Beares, Bulls, Mastiff Dogs and Mastiff Bitches'.[6] Rumours that Alleyn turned his attention towards charitable pursuits out of fear for his moral well-being have been traced to the journalist George Sala and questioned.[5] Since 1605, Alleyn had owned the manorial estate of Dulwich, and it may have been around this time that he first had the idea of establishing a college or hospital for poor people and the education of poor boys.[1] The building on Dulwich Green of a chapel, a schoolhouse and twelve almshouses, began in 1613 and was completed in the autumn of 1616. On 1 September 1616 the chapel was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury who became the official Visitor. However, Edward Alleyn faced objections from Francis Bacon, the Lord Chancellor, in getting the patent of incorporation that was necessary to secure the Foundation's status as a college. It was Alleyn's persistence that led to the foundation being endowed by James I's signing of the letters patent.[1]

The charity originally consisted of a Master, Warden, four fellows, six poor brothers, six poor sisters and twelve poor scholars (orphans admitted from the age of six years), who became the joint legal owners of Alleyn's endowment of the manor and lands of Dulwich, collectively known as the Members of the College.[1] The poor brothers and sisters and scholars were to be drawn from the four parishes that were most closely tied to Alleyn (being St Botolph's Bishopsgate where he was born, St Giles, Middlesex where he had built his Fortune Theatre, St Saviour's Southwark where he had the Paris Bear Garden and had managed the Rose Theatre, and St Giles Camberwell where the college was founded).[7] The business of the charity was conducted in the name of these thirty members by the Master, Warden and four Fellows (Chaplain, Schoolmaster, Usher and Organist).[3]

Alleyn drew upon the experience of other similar establishments in order to formulate the statutes and ordinances of the college (including drawing on the statutes of the already ancient Winchester College and visiting the more contemporary establishments of Sutton's Hospital (now Charterhouse School) and Croydon's Hospital (now Whitgift School)).[8] Among the many statutes and ordinances signed by Alleyn that pertained to the charitable scheme were provisions that the scholars were entitled to stay until they were eighteen. And to be taught in good and sound learning’…’that they might be prepared for university or for good and sweet trades and occupations.[9] Another stipulation was that the Master and Warden should always be unmarried and of Alleyn's blood, and surname, and if the former was impossible then at least of Alleyn's surname.[10] Alleyn also made provision that the people of Dulwich should be able to have their men children instructed at the school for a fee as well as children from outside Dulwich for a separate fee.[10]

The next two centuries were beset by both external difficulties such as diminishing financial fortunes and failing buildings as well as internal strife between the various Members of the College. The Official Visitor, the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose function was to ensure that the statutes were obeyed, was called in many times.[11] The lack of a disinterested body of governors and of any official connection to the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge contributed significantly to the school failing to fulfill Alleyn's vision in its first two centuries.[12] Some notable Masters did preside over the college during this time, including James Allen (the first Master to drop the 'y' from his surname), who in 1741 made over to the college six houses in Kensington, the rents of which were to be used in the establishment of two small schools in Dulwich, one for boys from the village, the other for girls to read and sew, out of which James Allen's Girls' School (JAGS) arose. Dr John Allen (1771–1843) of Holland House was a most learned and influential man, but neglected the education of the Poor Scholars.[13]

1808: Dulwich College Building Act

Having already obtained an Act in 1805 allowing them to enclose and develop 130 acres (0.53 km2) common land within the manor, the college was granted the power by the 1808 Dulwich College Building Act to extend the period over which leases ran, from twenty-one years as laid down by Alleyn, to eighty-four years, thus attracting richer tenants and bringing in large sums of money.[12] The increased wealth of the college eventually resulted in the Charity Commission establishment of an enquiry into the advisability of widening the application of the funds to those extra beneficiaries Alleyn had specified in later amended clauses to the foundation's original statutes. Although the Master of the Rolls, Lord Langdale rejected the appeal in 1841 on the grounds that Alleyn had no right to alter the original statutes, he did express dissatisfaction with the college's educational provision.[14] Immediately after this criticism, the Dulwich College Grammar School was established in 1842 for the education of poor boys from Dulwich and Camberwell. To this school were transferred the boys of the James Allen Foundation, leaving James Allens' school for girls only. The Old Grammar School, as it became known, was erected in 1841 opposite the Old College, designed by Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Palace of Westminster. It still exists today.[15] The foundation scholars of the college continued to receive an education far short of Alleyn's vision, despite further attempts at reform by the Visitor. In 1854, the college was investigated by a new Commission set up by the 1853 Charitable Trusts Act which led to the 1857 Dulwich College Act.[16]

1857: Alleyn's College of God's Gift

The 'College of God's Gift' became Alleyn's College of God's Gift when, on 25 August 1857, the Dulwich College Act dissolved the existing corporation and the charity was reconstituted with the new name. It was split into two parts with a joint Board of Governors: the educational (for the college) and the eleemonsynary (for the charity). The Master, Warden, four fellows and 12 servants were pensioned off, although Alleyn's wishes were, and continue to be, respected, as sixteen pensioners (being the equivalent of 12 poor brothers and sisters plus four fellows) still live in flats in the Old College, looked after by a Warden. As for the Master, he was still to be appointed as the head of the new school. In its new form, the Master of the College was Reverend Alfred Carver (Master from April 1857 to April 1883). Carver successfully fought with the Chairman of the Governors, the Rev William Rogers, to create a public school with high academic standards.[17] He was the first Master not to share the name of the school's founder "Alleyn" (or latterly "Allen").[16] The educational college was split into an "Upper" and "Lower" school. The "Upper school" was for boys between 8 and 18, to be taught a wide and detailed syllabus, and continued to be colloquially referred to as "Dulwich College".[3] The "Lower school" for boys between 8 and 16, had lower fees and a syllabus and was aimed at children of the industrial and poorer classes. The Lower School was the incorporation of the boys from the grammar school established in the previous decade[16] and was referred to as "Alleyn's College of God's Gift", although this was the name of the complete charitable foundation.[3] During the 1860s, when the Old College was under repair and the New College had yet to be built, both the Upper and Lower schools were housed in the building of Dulwich College Grammar School.[citation needed]

1870: The New College

It was during the decades immediately following the reconstitution that the college began to establish its identity as one of the great public schools. Dulwich College was included in Howard Staunton's 1865 book, The Great Schools of England, who wrote of the unusually comprehensive [scheme of instruction] and by the mid-1860s such was the enhanced reputation of the school that the pressure for places led to the introduction of a competitive examination.[18] In the summer of 1869 the upper school took possession of the current site, referred to as the "New College", but it was not until Founder's Day (21 June) 1870 that the new college was officially opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales.[19] The new college buildings, sited in the 24 hectares (60 acres) of Dulwich Common, were designed by Charles Barry, Jr. (the eldest son of Sir Charles Barry).[20] The lower school alone continued to occupy the Old College in Dulwich Village from 1870 until it was moved to its new (and current) premises in East Dulwich in 1887.[3]

The present school colours and school magazine (The Alleynian) were established in the 1860s and 1870s, as were school societies such as Debating and Natural Science.[21] By the time Canon Carver retired from the position of Master in 1882, Dulwich College was said to have expanded more rapidly in the previous 25 years than any other establishment[22] and to be holding its own at universities, to have won a large number of places of honour in the Indian and Home Civil Service and at the Royal Military College of Woolwich and to be well represented among the public schools medals of the Royal Geographic Society and the prizes of the Art Schools of the Royal Academy.[23]

1882: Dulwich College separated from Alleyn's School, and the college's 'Golden Age'

Despite its growing reputation, the college was the focus of pressure by the Charity Commissioners and other parties (including the Board of Governors and the outlying parishes named in Edward Alleyn's will) to reorganise it and divert much of its endowment to other schemes. The Master, Canon Carver, resisted these pressures for many years, finally winning an appeal in 1876 at the highest possible level (the Privy Council) where Lord Selborne ruled in his favour. In 1882, the Charity Commissioners finally issued a scheme that Canon Carver found acceptable. This passed into law by Act of Parliament and resulted in the Upper and Lower schools being officially split into separate institutions. The Upper School became Dulwich College (officially for the first time) and the Lower became Alleyn's School.[24] Both schools remained within the Alleyn's College of God's Gift charitable foundation (along with James Allen's Girls' School, St Olave's and St Saviour's Grammar School, and the three Central Foundation schools in Finsbury and Bishopsgate). Two Boards of Governors came into being. Both Dulwich College and Alleyn's School were to be managed by the college Governors who also administered the Chapel and Picture Gallery. The Estates and Almshouses were placed in the hands of the Estates Governors. The foundation and the college are still governed under the same arrangement. The Archbishop of Canterbury's position as Visitor was also changed to that of Honorary Visitor of Alleyn's College of God's Gift, his powers being vested in the Charity Commissioners.[25] Dulwich College's income is derived from the contributions by the Estates Governors, among whom the College Governors are well represented (having eight of the twenty five places)[26] Canon Carver retired at this point, being the first headmaster to be both appointed and retired by Act of Parliament.[27] Canon Carver was said to have given the college a body, but Arthur Herman Gilkes (Master from 1885–1914) to have given it a soul, with his noble ideals of scholarship and public service. He founded the College Mission in a poverty-stricken part of Camberwell.[28] London County Council scholars were admitted to Dulwich College from 1903. The college was saved from bankruptcy by the 'Dulwich College Experiment' or 'Gilkes Experiment', the work of A H Gilkes's son Christopher Gilkes (Master from 1941–1953), the forerunner of the state 'Assisted Places Scheme', by which the majority of boys selected to attend the college had their fees paid by local councils. This resulted in an academic 'Renaissance' of the college which came to a climax from the late 1950s when the college was at the forefront of the schools winning awards on entry to Oxford and Cambridge.[29]

Old Alleynians

Old boys of Dulwich College are called "Old Alleynians", after the founder of the school. This is often abbreviated to "O.A." as post nominal letters in brackets in school publications or publications specifically concerning the school. The term should not be confused with "Alleyn's Old Boys" used for alumni of Alleyn's School. Current pupils of the school are known as Alleynians. Prior to around 1880, the terms Alleynian and Old Alleynian were not used and the pupils and ex-pupils were known as Dulwichians.[30] Included among those Old Alleynians who have achieved eminence in their respective fields are Sir Ernest Shackleton, Sir P G Wodehouse, Raymond Chandler, and Sir Edward George.


File:New Buildings at Dulwich College. ILN. 1869.jpg
Dulwich College's new buildings in 1869.

Boarding Houses

Boarders now belong to one of three boarding houses,[31] although the number of boarding houses has fluctuated over time. Those up to the age of sixteen (Year 11) live in "The Orchard", whilst boys of the Upper School (Year 12 and Year 13) live in either "Ivyholme" or "Blew House".[31] However, the college has not always had just these three boarding houses.

After the college was reconstituted in 1857 most of the boys were day-boys but provision was made for boarders, and the Governors licensed three boarding houses to be kept by respectable ladies in the village (hence they were then known as dames' houses). A fourth was added soon afterwards.[32] The number of functioning boarding houses has fluctuated between one and five since that point and in total there have been six different houses:

Blew House 
Now one of the two senior houses, it was moved to its current position on College Road in the 1930s on the site of what had previously been the Master's garden (who had been residing in the south block of the New College). The original Blew House is called Old Blew House and still stands in Dulwich.[33] Blew House was the only house to remain in commission throughout the Second World War for Alleynians and became a senior house at this point.[34]
The second of the two current senior houses, it too was moved to its current position on College Road in the 1930s.[33] It was bombed during the Second World War[35] but was re-opened soon after as a senior house. During the Second World War whilst housing students of the School of Oriental and African Studies (who were going through a crash course in languages sponsored by the War Office) it was also run by the Master of the College.[36]
The Orchard 
This is the only junior house still functioning as a boarding house. It was bombed during the Second World War[35] but was re-opened as one of two junior houses very close to the war ending.[34] During the Second World War, like Ivyholme, it housed students of the School of Oriental and African Studies who were going through a crash course in languages sponsored by the War Office.[36]
Elm Lawn 
This was the house in which P.G.Wodehouse once boarded prior to it becoming a junior house.[36] After the Second World War it re-opened as a junior house, along with The Orchard.[34] In 1949 the boys of Elm Lawn were moved into Bell House (see below) and it became the home of the Master of the College, and still is today.[37]
Bell House 
This eighteenth century building close to Dulwich Picture Gallery became the family home of the Master of the College in 1927[38] who until then had lived with his family in the south block of the New College. The Master moved out of this premises during the Second World War into Ivyholme. When Ivyholme reopened as a boarding house it was decided that the Master should not return to Bell House because it was too large for the purposes of a family residence. The Master moved to The Chestnuts and then in 1949 to Elm Lawn.[37] Meanwhile, Bell House was adapted as a boarding house and became the second junior house, replacing Elm Lawn. In 1993 it was returned to private ownership, as the college recognised the lack of need for a second junior boarding house.
Carver House 
As the number of boys requiring boarding increased towards the end of the Second World War a fifth house was created by converting the cricket pavilion. It was named after Canon Carver, first Master of the reconstituted College, but it did not last long in this form.[34]

Boarding house clubs and colours

The ties denoting from left to right, Blew house colours, Caerulean Club membership, Ivyholme colours, and Zodiac Club membership

The colour system (for more detail see School uniform and colours below) also extended to the Boarding Houses due to their particular impact on college life.[39] At one time, Bell, Ivyholme and Blew, had their own sports teams and their own distinct colours. Those awarded colours could wear ties and caps and for outstanding contribution the house blazer was awarded. Boarders with no colours could wear black ties to distinguish them from day boys. Today, senior boys can still become members of the Zodiac and Caerulean Clubs for Ivyholme and Blew respectively. The house captain, who is automatically a member of the club, controls membership of clubs, and such membership confers the right to wear a special tie. When, across the school, the uniform was standardised in 1970, the tradition of the house blazers disappeared save for the House Captain who, if he has earned full school colours, may wear the house blazer.[40] For Ivyholme, this is alternate light and royal blue stripes, with yellow borders on the stripes; for Blew it is alternate blue and black stripes with red borders on the stripes. The ties for house colours and for membership of the house clubs also continue tradition. The Blew colours are a blue tie with black bordered upward diagonal red stripes; the Blew House Caerulean Club tie is a silver coloured tie, with downward diagonal red stripes. The Ivyholme colours are alternate upward diagonal black and silver stripes with yellow borders to the stripes, whilst the Ivyholme Zodiac club is similar but the silver is thinner.

Gordon Bowl

This trophy was presented to the college prior to the Second World War. It was a trophy competed for by boarders only presented by an Old Alleynian, A.G.Gordon. It was originally competed for by the four boarding houses (when there was no junior/senior distinction), but after the Second World War only by the senior houses Blew House and Ivyholme. The trophy is still played for today, with Blew House having won last 3 years (2011-2014).[41]

Day Houses

All boys are members of one of eight day houses or Athletic Houses as they were originally known.[41] The Houses were the brainchild of W.D. ('Scottie') Gibbon, an assistant master and rugby coach.[41] The idea was decided upon in 1919 and in the school magazine, The Alleynian, of March 1920 the process was described. The division would be into six houses to be named after distinguished Englishmen of the Elizabethan period[42] (see table below). The name of Shakespeare was omitted as being considered pre-eminent.[43] Upon their original creation Boarders and Day Boys were divided thus: Grenville included Blew House, Marlowe included The Orchard, Spenser included Elm Lawn, Sidney included Ivyholme and two entirely Day-boy houses were created: Drake and Raleigh.[43] The table below displays all the houses and their respective colours:[44]

House Letter Founded Colours Named After
Drake D 1920 Amber & Black Sir Francis Drake
Grenville G 1920 Green & White Sir Richard Grenville
Howard H 1982 Light Blue & Black Lord Charles Howard
Jonson J 1982 Purple & Black Ben Jonson
Marlowe M 1920 Black & White Christopher Marlowe
Raleigh R 1920 Red & White Sir Walter Raleigh
Sidney S (Si) 1920 Red & Black Sir Philip Sidney
Spenser Sp (P) 1920 Royal Blue & White Edmund Spenser

The athletic houses were created to improve the standard of games at the college, which had deteriorated during the First World War. Before the creation of these houses, the most keenly anticipated matches were the Boarders vs Day-Boys or the Prefects vs The Rest of the School. The Athletic Houses produced, and still produce, Big Sides and Little Sides for competition.[41] Big Sides are Houses teams that include players who also represent the school and Little are House sides that do not include school sporting representatives. A boy's house is decided randomly or through family connection where possible. The houses continue to compete in sporting and cultural competitions (such as music, drama, chess and debating).[42] The Cock House Shield or Cup are presented to the leading House at the end of the school year taking into account all competitions.[43]

Combined Cadet Force

Dulwich College has had a long history with the Cadet Force, going back to the 1800s making it one of the oldest in the UK.

As well as being a combined cadet force, housing three of the four possible cadet sections of the armed forces, Dulwich College shows a keen interest in particular to the Royal Air Force and Army sections.

The RAF section have been in the top three in the UK in the National Ground Training competition held in RAF Halton competing for the coveted Air Squadron Trophy.

The Army section, affiliated with the Royal Artillery, has won a number of competitions including gaining a gold medal, as well as a number of silvers and bronzes, at the cadet version of the prestigious Operation Cambrian Patrol


Dulwich College has, since the middle of the nineteenth century, had an extremely strong sporting tradition. Such was the breadth and scope of Old Alleynians that had gone on to make their names in various sporting arena that in 1922 the Westminster Gazette wrote: "The new boy, donning the Dulwich cap for the first time, may well deem himself a potential hero – if not, indeed, a hero ipso facto – for he stands dazzled in the descended glory of past years which scintillate with innumerable grand deeds and grander men. Prick the lists of sports where you will, and you will prick a famous Alleynian. Whether it be King Cricket, Rugby Football, hockey, athletics, badminton, shooting or even the games of maturer life, Dulwich has made itself a glorious place that many schools might envy."[45]

When Arthur Herman Gilkes became Master, he adhered to Carver's belief that the physical organisation of the school should be based on the principle that as far as possible management should be in the hands of the boys. Therefore, he continued the tradition of the general running of games being entrusted to a Field Sports Board (sometimes referred to as the Field Sports Committee), composed of the "school captain, captains of cricket, football (rugby), gymnastics, the baths (swimming), fencing, fives, athletics sports, boxing and shooting".[46] Gilkes had it that the only masters with authorised status with regards to games were the captain of the Rifle Corps, and treasurer of the Sports Board. By 1894 there no more masters on the Field Sports Committee.[47] The Board at the time controlled the appointment of captains and had some say in the style of blazers that could be worn as uniform.[48] It was the Field Sports Committee, for example, that governed the award of the college's most prestigious colours, the white blazer. The system today is very different with assistant masters now being in charge of games, and acting more as coaches.[49]

Colours for sporting achievement were the first such colours to be established at the college (see School uniform and colours below). Originally colours consisted of blazers for the 1st and 2nd team of the major sports, rugby and cricket (as well as ties, caps and squares) and colours for minor sports, (not extending to a full blazer but blazer badges plus caps and ties).[39] Caps were also available, such as for rugby, the pie shaped porker[50] and more exclusive items such as the rare rugby honours cap, and the white blazer, only awarded on the recommendation of the Field Sports Committee with the essential requirement being that a boy be a member of both the Cricket 1st XI and the Rugby 1st XV and display prominence in a minor sport.[51] Testament to the judgment of the committee are the careers of certain alumni who received this blazer such as Trevor Bailey the England cricket all-rounder, who was so awarded because he was also a distinguished squash player.

The college still divides sport into Major and Minor. The major sports have always included rugby and cricket in the Michaelmas and summer terms respectively and for many decades just these two were deemed as major. In the twentieth century, field hockey became a major sport in the Lent term, having been introduced in 1953. Soccer, a minor sport since it was allowed in 1970, became of equal status to hockey in 2000. A raft of minor sports have also been recognised at the college for well over a century in many cases. Minor sports have included athletics from 1864; Fives from 1894 (effectively ended by the courts being destroyed by enemy bombs in the Second World War); shooting from 1878 (less applicable due to safety regulations and the loss of the .22 range); boxing from 1879 (abandoned in the 1960s but with martial arts now filling the void), tennis from 1880 (although banned during A H Gilkes' time); swimming from 1883 with the college being one of the first schools to erect a swimming pool; gymnastics from 1891; fencing (like boxing, saw a demise in the 1960s but still has a representative team); squash and water polo. The school also has teams for golf; rowing[52] (a surprisingly recent introduction in 1991, - the school now owns a boathouse on the River Thames); badminton; basketball; croquet; cycling; skiing; table tennis and rugby fives. In terms of what can be practiced at the school, there is little limitation and the facilities, which include a sports centre complex, courts for most racquet sports, an athletic track, tennis courts, a swimming pool and acres of playing fields, cater to almost all sporting requirements.[53]


Example of the rare rugby honours cap, which, until around 1969, was awarded to only the very best players

The major sport of the Michaelmas term, Dulwich College rugby has long enjoyed a powerful reputation. The school began its rugby tradition with a 1–0 victory over City of London School in 1859, 12 years before the founding of the Rugby Football Union. Since that time the school has had upwards of 30 Old Alleynians play at full international level, with more playing at schoolboy international level, national reserve and professional club rugby as well as representatives for invitational sides such as the Barbarians. Three British and Irish Lions have emerged from the college. 1909 featured an unbeaten first XV which contained five future internationals dubbed the 'Famous Five'.[54] These five would all go on to play in the 1913 Varsity match, (and also produced the captains of both Oxford and Cambridge in 1919), and all served in the First World War. They were Eric Loudoun-Shand and Grahame Donald who went on to play for Scotland, William David Doherty who went on to play for and captain Ireland, J. E. Greenwood who went on to play for and captain England and the record-breaking Cyril Lowe. Dulwich had a number of other excellent players and strong sides after this, none more so than the unbeaten first XV of 1997. This team included 7 schoolboy internationals, two of whom became full internationals, namely David Flatman and the Rugby World Cup finalist and Lion, Andrew Sheridan. Dulwich have recently won the Daily Mail Cup three times over, becoming the second school to ever do so.

The list of full internationals spans ten national sides as well as the British and Irish Lions in various historical guises, such as the Anglo-Welsh and the Combined British. As well as the home nations, the college boasts representatives for the All Blacks, Springboks and other nations.

School uniform and colours

Within the dress code for pupils of Dulwich College has long been found an element of variety, dependent on the boarding or day houses a boy might belong to, the sports teams represented, or whether a boy has attained school colours or become a prefect (For more details see Boarding Houses, Day Houses and Sport). This variety is rooted in the mid to late nineteenth century, and is in fact now more standard than that which could have been seen at the beginning of the twentieth century. However, a theme has been maintained for well over a century which is markedly different from that prescribed in Edward Alleyn's founding statutes. Alleyn had prescribed the clothing of poor scholars to be "a white calico surplice, a long coat such as that worn by Christ's Hospital boys, of good cloth of sad (dark and sober) colour, a bodice lined with canvas, skirts with cotton lining, canvas shirts, white cotton drawers, knitted stockings, shoes and belt, a girdle and a black cap."[55] This is how boys were dressed for over two centuries, until the new foundation in 1857. In 1863, the Master, Alfred Carver, decreed the uniform should be "Short tunic buttoned to the chin, trousers of an Oxford mixture, an ordinary rifle cap with a broad band and narrow peak, and a dark coloured Inverness cape for winter."[56] However, under Carver, boys still wore waistcoats of varied hues and "the latest creations in neckties". This was suppressed in 1883 by the new Master, Welldon, whose first rule on arrival was that the boy's should wear uniform, a forerunner of the subfusc jackets of today.[57]

Example of the elusive white blazer only awarded to the most prominent sportsmen

The colours of the college, blue and black, according to tradition are based on Marlborough College although facts suggest that Haileybury is more likely the model. It is known that in 1864 caps were introduced, with cross ribbons of purple soon altered to blue. The college arms were added in 1875.[58] From this time, the colour scheme arose for rewarding achievement, limited at first to sport with blazers for the 1st and 2nd team of the major sports, rugby and cricket (as well as ties, caps and squares). The minor sports also had colours, although these did not extend to a full blazer. Rather, athletics, fives, shooting, boxing, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, fencing and waterpolo had blazer badges (plus caps and ties). Additionally, the boarding houses, which historically had a disproportionate effect on the sporting life of the college, had their own boarding house colours. (For more details see Boarding Houses)[39] By 1909 there were seventeen different caps plus a variety of blazers. The striped jackets for prominent sportsmen also conferred certain privileges, such as having the right to proceed first through the doors of centre block. Further emphasising status were special caps for major sports colours. Rugby had a pie shaped porker with tassels. Likewise, prefects wearing caps quartered in blue and black, could unbutton their jackets and keep their hands in their trousers.[50] The most exclusive items, however, took precedence even over the striped blazers of members of the 1st teams for major sports. The very best rugby players were on rare occasions awarded the rugby honours cap, and perhaps the most fabled item of all, still displayed in the college's Wodehouse library, was the white blazer. This was only awarded on the recommendation of the Field Sports Committee (see Sport section) with the essential requirement being that a boy be a member of both the Cricket 1st XI and the Rugby 1st XV and display prominence in a minor sport (e.g. boxing, fives, squash, fencing, shooting).[51] Testament to the judgment of the committee are the careers of certain alumni who received this blazer such as Trevor Bailey the England cricket all-rounder, who was so awarded because he was also a distinguished squash player.

This uniform changed little till the 1960s (save for the arms change in 1935, and the addition of the house colours on sports shirts following the athletics houses foundation in 1920). The 1960s saw the demise of caps and boaters and a reduction in the variety of blazers,[58] as well as the end of shirts with separate collars.[40] Since 1970, the college colours standardised to three types of blazer (plus the option of single breasted jackets for the upper school) although a streak of variety pertained in the proliferation of approved college ties for team, colours, society or prefects, with over thirty types currently in existence. Ties for prefects, 1st to 3rd teams for major sports, half colours specific to activities (such as Edward Alleyn Hall colours, or Madrigal choir half colours); tours (such as Hockey Malaysia 1987 or Rugby South Africa 2006); committees (e.g. the science committee); CCF; and more are in existence. Today, the standard College Blazer (or for the Upper School only a black single-breasted jacket) may be replaced in the Upper School by those awarded half School colours with a blazer bearing a braided crest on their left breast pocket, or for full School colours a blue striped blazer with braided badge. The latter is a direct descendent and modern interpretation of the major sports teams colours, although colours can now be achieved in a variety of fields. Aside from the blazer, rules do apply to other elements, such as charcoal grey or black trousers and white shirts, and stipulations exist over shoes, socks, scarves, coats and hats. However, some idiosyncrasies do remain, such as Senior Prefects being able to wear blue collared shirts, or the captain of the croquet team being able to wear a non-standard maroon and cream striped blazer and a boater hat with a band of his house colours, as well as the right of the House Captain of either of the two senior boarding houses of Blew and Ivyholme, to wear the blazer of that House, if he has also attained full colours of the school. However, traditions such as the elusive white blazer no longer pertain to the school dress code.

School magazine

The Dulwich College school magazine is called the Alleynian, named after the school's founder Edward Alleyn. This magazine was first published in 1873, although the school's first magazine under the name the Dulwich College Magazine for School News and General Reading had been published in 1864 but only lasted for fourteen issues after its editor left for Cambridge University.[30] The Alleynian was edited at one point by P.G.Wodehouse in his last year at the school.[59] The magazine is still published today, and has recently undergone a relaunch within the school.

School arms

When Edward Alleyn founded the school he was awarded a coat of arms and crest. This was used by the school until, in 1935, it was decreed by the College of Arms that it was the exclusive property of Edward Alleyn and his family.[60] The new arms granted by the College of Arms were very similar to the old ones retaining most of the features. Deism and learning are represented by the flames in the crest. From the ring of flames an arm with a hand holding a heart protrudes. This probably symbolises charity[60] and has a twofold meaning. First, it represents Alleyn's charitable intentions, and second it recalls Alleyn's famous speech, written by Ben Jonson, when he presented King James I with the flaming heart of London during The Magnificent Entertainment, involving a procession through the streets and through triumphal arches by which the City of London welcomed King James I from Scotland in 1604. The lower portion of the shield incorporates the original shield being an argent (silver) background on which are placed a chevron (bent bar) dividing three cinquefoils gules (red five pointed stars).[61] The motto was written as Detur Soli Deo Gloria[62] prior to 1935 as per the school song, but now appears as Detur Gloria Soli Deo on the current Coat of Arms.

Recent developments

Although it has always been a private foundation, for some time in the middle of the 20th century (as described above) a large percentage of pupils entered on scholarships funded by local authorities in and around Greater London. Known as "the Dulwich Experiment", it created one of the most socially mixed, meritocratic and high-achieving schools in the country. The 'Direct Grant' scheme was abolished for new entrants by the Wilson/Callaghan government in the mid-1970s, and by the early 1980s the last such students had passed through the school. Perhaps for this reason, the 1980s also coincided with a period of relative academic and pastoral decline. Some maintain that the school showed a reluctance to end its attachment to the classics, and a slowness to embrace fully new information technologies and modern languages, despite the fact that the school was a pioneer in these fields from the 1960s. Some long-serving masters, themselves schooled in the early post-war years of military service, corporal punishment and deference, may have had difficulty in adapting to rapidly changing cultural mores and values in the latter years of the century, although Dulwich was certainly by no means unique in this respect.

The Mastership of Anthony Verity began conservatively, but steadily adopted a modernising agenda. He initiated the founding of the Dulwich College franchise schools overseas, with Phuket in South-East Asia. Verity took early retirement in 1996. His successor, Graham Able, continued the modernising tradition and maintained a high public profile.

The school benefited from the revived 'Assisted Places' Scheme brought in by the first Thatcher administration. On the election of the Blair government in 1997, this scheme was abolished by the new Education Secretary, David Blunkett. More recently, the school seems to have found a new market educating the sons of wealthy Russian oligarchs and other international business people. Apart from its own scholarships, the school is now entirely fee-paying, but has the long term aim of increasing its means-tested bursary awards.

Alleyn's and James Allen's Girls' School (JAGS) belong to the same foundation, and the college has also founded international schools in Phuket, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Singapore. All of the franchise schools are built in the distinctive red-brick style of the London school, but with modern and oriental twists on the theme. Recently the school's franchise in Phuket ended its association with Dulwich because of disagreements over the curriculum; it was then known as "Dulwich College International School, Phuket" and now simply as "British International School, Phuket".

Academic achievement

The school has maintained a strong academic record. Once considered among the top ten academic schools in the country, the school has lost its former leading position. The school supports a sixth form of 200 pupils, very much larger than those of the other Foundation Schools (with James Allen's Girls' School c.90[63] and Alleyn's School c.130[64]), and bigger than most other public/independent schools in the United Kingdom. The school typically has about 120 pupils gaining 100% AB grades at A level.[65] In recent years, the school has produced between 20 and 30 Oxbridge[65] students per year.

Pupils take the IGCSE in English, Maths, History and (from 2012) all three sciences, rather than GCSE.

The school also has a tradition of debating.

Headmastership of Dulwich College

The Head Master of Dulwich College is styled The Master of Dulwich College, as laid out in the 1882 scheme of the Charity Commissioners. This continued a tradition of the Head of the college being called the Master since its foundation in 1619. The Foundation originally had a governing body consisting of a Master, Warden, four Fellows, and six Assistants made up of the two churchwardens of each of the three parishes of St Botolph's, Bishopsgate, of St Saviour's, Southwark, and of St Giles', Cripplegate. The Master was most senior, followed by the Warden and on vacancy of the Mastership, the Warden succeeded. By the 1857 Dulwich College Act the Master, Warden and Fellows were pensioned and the governance of the foundation switched to a body of nineteen Governors. However, the position of Master continued as the title of the Headmaster of the new Upper School, with an Undermaster as deputy. The 1882 Act (as a result of the Charity Commissioners scheme) abolished the office of Undermaster.[66]


At the college

The school has a very extensive archive, especially of material relating to drama and the arts, much of which is from Edward Alleyn's (the founder) own library.[60] Apart from diaries kept by Alleyn and his partner Philip Henslowe are many other documents relating to the college and foundation. There are also 12 volumes of unpublished music by John Reading; two of the three volumes of the First Folio Shakespeare; a Mercator Atlas; first editions of poetry by John Donne, Edmund Spenser and Dryden; A Book of Hours from the fifteenth century and even a copy of the first book to be printed in London in 1480.[60]

Other interesting artefacts held by the college include the "James Caird", the whaler in which Ernest Shackleton made his intrepid voyage for survival to South Georgia from Elephant Island in 1916,[75] as well as other items such as sledges from the earlier Nimrod expedition.

Above the fireplace in the Masters' Library are two panels depicting pietas (Duty) and liberalitas (Generosity) bought by Edward Alleyn in 1618 from Elizabeth I's state barge. They are reputed to have originally come from Francis Drake's Golden Hinde.[76]

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Alleyn's College was also bequeathed a large collection of paintings by Francis Bourgeois in 1811, which had originally been intended to form the nucleus of the collection of the last king of Poland, Stanisław August Poniatowski. Following the partitions of Poland the paintings were left to the college, which set up the Dulwich Picture Gallery under a trusteeship in a building designed by Sir John Soane, which became Britain's first public art gallery. Since 1995 the Gallery has been an independent registered charity.

In culture and cultural influence

Painting of the college

New College by Pissarro

In the spring of 1870, the buildings of the New College were painted by the impressionist artist, Camille Pissarro. Pissarro was at the time living in Upper Norwood having fled from France at the time of the Franco-Prussian War and was entranced by the London landscapes.[19]

Use of the college in films

Because of its proximity to Central London and its combination of impressive architecture and rural character, it has been a popular location for filming and photography for feature films, docu-dramas and adverts. It is actively advertised as a location by "Dulwich College Enterprises", the for-profit business side of the school.

Dulwich College was used as part of the film set for the Tomb Raider film, and Legally Blonde. In Tomb Raider, Lara Croft can be seen in the College Great Hall during the auction at the beginning of the film. The graduation ceremony at the end of Legally Blonde was also filmed in the Great Hall, because Reese Witherspoon was in the UK for the filming of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Recently it was used in a "docu-drama" about the young "rockstar" life of Tony Blair.

It was also used in Channel Four's Star Stories. The opening scene of "Watch Without Prejudice" (George Michael) takes place outside the lunch hall.

In a current advert for the Toyota Auris, the college can be seen. It is also used in many other adverts for this manufacturer.

Dulwich College has been used by the UK Garage and Grime act, So Solid Crew, as the backdrop for the album cover of their 2003 album Second Verse. The Rap Group are standing at the front entrance of the school, with the Centre Block behind them.

The most recent filming was of the music video 'H2O', which took place outside the centre block and in several of the masters' studies.

Also, a series of Morgan Stanley adverts were filmed around the school grounds, including the school shop.

Some of the halls in the Harry Potter films were also filmed in the Great Hall.

Dulwich was also shown on BBC4 repeatedly during the documentary "What makes us clever?" in the BBC's Horizon series. The Great Hall, Art Block, Science Lab J and the outside of the main building were all featured.

Other cultural influence

The school lent its name to a locomotive in the Southern Railway V Class. This class was known as the Schools Class because all 40 locomotives were named after prominent English public schools. The nameplate from 907, Dulwich, is now displayed by the Model Railway Society within Dulwich College.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, pages 3–5, (Heinemann: London)
  2. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 20, (Heinemann: London)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Darby, W., (1966), Dulwich Discovered, p.32, (William Darby: Dulwich)
  4. Piggott, J R, (2008), Dulwich College, a history 1616–2008, pages 3–10 (Dulwich College: London)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Darby, W., (1966), Dulwich Discovered, p.22, (William Darby: Dulwich). Piggott, J R,(2008), Dulwich College, a history 1616–2008, pages 18–21 (Dulwich College: London)
  6. Piggott, J R, Dulwich College, a History, 1616–2008, p 15 (Dulwich College: London). Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 11, (Heinemann: London)
  7. Darby, W., (1966), Dulwich Discovered, p.24, (William Darby: Dulwich)
  8. Darby, W., (1966), Dulwich Discovered, p.23, (William Darby: Dulwich)
  9. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 9, (Heinemann: London)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 8, (Heinemann: London)
  11. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, pages 11–13, (Heinemann: London)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 26, (Heinemann: London)
  13. Piggott, J R, Dulwich College, a History, 1616–2008, pages 84–88, (Dulwich College: London).
  14. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 29, (Heinemann: London)
  15. Darby, W., (1967), Dulwich: A Place in History, p.34, (William Darby: Dulwich)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 32-34, (Heinemann: London)
  17. J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, pages 117–125, 140–148, 165 (Dulwich College: London.
  18. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 41, (Heinemann: London)
  19. 19.0 19.1 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 45, (Heinemann: London)
  20. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 44, (Heinemann: London)
  21. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 51, (Heinemann: London)
  22. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 57, (Heinemann: London)
  23. The Times, 11 January 1883
  24. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 55, (Heinemann: London)
  25. Ormiston, T. L., (1926), Dulwich College Register,page 4, (J J Keliher & Co Ltd: London)
  26. Darby, W., (1966), Dulwich Discovered, p.33, (William Darby: Dulwich)
  27. Darby, W., (1967), Dulwich: A Place in History, p.33, (William Darby: Dulwich)
  28. J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History, 1616–2008, pages 177–188 (Dulwich College: London).
  29. J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, pages 273–277 (Dulwich College: London).
  30. 30.0 30.1 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 49, (Heinemann: London)
  31. 31.0 31.1 Boarding at Dulwich College – official site
  32. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 35, (Heinemann: London)
  33. 33.0 33.1 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 118, (Heinemann: London)
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 137, (Heinemann: London)
  35. 35.0 35.1 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 128, (Heinemann: London)
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 135, (Heinemann: London)
  37. 37.0 37.1 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 138, (Heinemann: London)
  38. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 108, (Heinemann: London)
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, pages 222, (Heinemann: London)
  40. 40.0 40.1 J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, page 303 (Dulwich College: London)
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, pages 223–224, (Heinemann: London)
  42. 42.0 42.1 The Alleynian, Lent 2006, page 2
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 Webster F.A.M., (1937), Our Great Public Schools, page 92, (Butler & Tanner: London) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "GPS_94" defined multiple times with different content
  44. Dulwich College site, Day House System
  45. History of Rugby at the College
  46. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, pages 221–222, (Heinemann: London)
  47. J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, pages 180 (Dulwich College: London)
  48. J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, pages 374 (Dulwich College: London)
  49. J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, pages 334 (Dulwich College: London)
  50. 50.0 50.1 J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, pages 303 (Dulwich College: London)
  51. 51.0 51.1 J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, pages 227 (Dulwich College: London)
  52. Video Tour of Dulwich College Boat Club.
  53. Terry Walsh Games and Sports, in J R Piggott's, Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, pages 334–355, (2008) (Dulwich College: London)
  54. Jan Piggot, Dulwich College: A History, 1616–2008, 2008, ISBN 0-9539493-2-X
  55. J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, pages 47 (Dulwich College: London)
  56. J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, pages 122 (Dulwich College: London)
  57. J R Piggott (2008), Dulwich College, a History 1616–2008, pages 166 (Dulwich College: London)
  58. 58.0 58.1 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 50, (Heinemann: London)
  59. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 82, (Heinemann: London)
  60. 60.0 60.1 60.2 60.3 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 117, (Heinemann: London)
  61. Stanley W Wells, (2002), Shakespeare Survey, page 172, (Cambridge University Press)
  62. (1904), The Alleynian, (Dulwich College)
  63. BBC League Tables – James Allen's Girls' School
  64. BBC League Tables – Alleyn's School
  65. 65.0 65.1 Tatler Schools Guide
  66. Ormiston, T. L., (1926), Dulwich College Register,pages 3–5, (J J Keliher & Co Ltd: London)
  67. Ormiston, T. L., (1926), Dulwich College Register,page 9, (J J Keliher & Co Ltd: London)
  68. 68.0 68.1 68.2 68.3 Ormiston, T. L., (1926), Dulwich College Register,page 53, (J J Keliher & Co Ltd: London)
  69. 69.0 69.1 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 97, (Heinemann: London)
  70. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 127, (Heinemann: London)
  71. 71.0 71.1 71.2 Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 157, (Heinemann: London)
  72. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 197, (Heinemann: London)
  73. Times Online
  74. The Cumberland News
  75. Dulwich College Website – The 'James Caird'
  76. Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 118, (Heinemann: London)

External links