History

Dulwich College was founded by Edward Alleyn on June 21st 1619, with letters patent from King James I. This magnificent document with the Great Seal of England still survives. Alleyn was an actor and an entrepreneur in the world of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, a colourful and famous figure of his day.

Edward Alleyn bought the manorial estate of Dulwich for £35,000 in 1613. The Dulwich estate extended, as it does today, from Denmark Hill to what are now the Crystal Palace grounds on Sydenham Hill. This pleasant valley of fields, common and wooded hillside was later to be frequented by William Blake and his disciple Samuel Palmer who called it 'the Gate into the world of vision'. Even in this century it was capable of sustaining the suburban paradisal vision of P G Wodehouse, the happy schoolboy, who named it 'Valley Fields' in his books and spoke of it as the setting of 'six years of unbroken bliss' at the College.

From Dulwich College: A brief history and guide to the buildings, by J R Piggott MA PhD, former Keeper of the Archives, Dulwich College.

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