Master's 400 Newsletter


We are now two weeks into our busy Michaelmas term and it is a pleasure to see how smoothly our new pupils have settled into Dulwich life. Following a very good set of A level results and GCSE results  this summer, our programme of academic study and free learning for 2019-20 has been launched with enthusiasm, accompanied by a rich programme of supra- and co-curricular activities.

Phoenix and Unicorn poster

While we are sharply focused on looking ahead to the 2020s now, we have a final term of 400th anniversary events to enjoy with you. The first of these events is tomorrow, Thursday 19 September, from 5.30pm. Phoenix and Unicorn is an outstanding exhibition of newly commissioned engravings by seven of the most renowned wood engravers working in the UK and the USA today. An accompanying display, curated by Dr Jan Piggott, explores the work of Thomas Sturge Moore OA (1870-1944), poet and engraver.  Some of our boys’ own wood engravings, the fruit of workshops with Anne Desmet RA, and some stained glass work which other of our artists and designers undertook with Helen Whittaker, who produced our 400th anniversary window in the Lower Hall, will also be on display. Following a Reception in the Lower Hall, Anne Desmet and Jennifer Scott, Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, will be In Conversation in the Great Hall. To reserve your places, please see the Dulwich Post sent to you on 11 September.

On Monday 14 October the fifteenth and final GE Moore lecture will bring the series full circle, with two talks about the work of GE Moore’s brother, Thomas Sturge Moore. This includes another opportunity to visit the Phoenix and Unicorn exhibition ahead of the lecture. More information and book tickets.

For our oldest rugby fixture, on Saturday 12 October Dulwich will host all matches versus Bedford School (ordinarily the fixtures are split across both schools). All are welcome to watch - the U14s will kick off at 11am, with the day culminating with the 1st XV match at 3.30pm. At 3pm there will be a short ceremony of dedication at the Pavilion as we are naming it the Walsh Pavilion in honour of Terry Walsh (1929-2019), first Senior Fellow of Dulwich College, who gave 65 years of service to Dulwich. He will have been a familiar figure to many of you for he occupied the prime seat on each of the balconies of the Pavilion for almost every First XV and First XI match.

The rest of the term will have an emphasis on music, showcasing Alleynian talent.

On Wednesday 16 October 2019 from 7pm in the Great Hall, do come along to the Scholars’ Concert for what is sure to be a wonderful and impressive evening. No tickets are necessary.

Everyone is also warmly welcome to join us at the Winter Concert on Monday 25 November 2019 at Cadogan Hall, which will feature performances by Dulwich College’s Chamber Orchestra, Brass Consort, Symphonic Wind Band, Symphony Orchestra, Concert Choir and Madrigal Choir. Programme details and a link to book tickets.

To bring the quatercentenary to its completion, the College community will gather together at the annual Carols by Candlelight service at Southwark Cathedral at 7pm on Friday 6 December. All are welcome to this most magical service at which Puer Pacis, the Dulwich Peace Carol, which we have commissioned from the brilliant young American composer Nico Muhly, will receive its world premiere. More details will follow after the half term break, including a link for booking complimentary tickets.

We are delighted that our 400th anniversary memorabilia have proved so popular, with boys, parents and OAs. The few items that remain are on sale from the Commissariat, including prints of Dulwich College (2018) by Gerard Stamp, distinguished artist and brother of the late Gavin Stamp OA, and copies of our quatercentenary series of four books celebrating Dulwich as a “cradle of writers”.

May I wish everyone a good Michaelmas term.

Dr Joe Spence

Dulwich College (2018) painting by Gerard Stamp



Dear all

During this final half term of the academic year we have had the privilege of a rich programme of commemorative and celebratory 400th anniversary events. The pupils – from our youngest in DUCKS to Sixth Form leavers – have been exceptional in terms of their engagement and good will. It is their individual and team contributions that have made so many of our events and activities successful.

Chapel Choir’s 21st Anniversary Concert

At All Saints, West Dulwich, on 14 June we listened to a glorious performance of JS Bach’s Magnificat by the Chapel Choir and of Mendelsohn’s Octet by the College’s Chamber Musicians, the Chapel Choir’s 21st Anniversary Concert.

With 15 film screenings, all celebrating OA cinematic associations, our Dulwich Film Festival during mid-June was a visual feast, showcasing the depth of creative talent of our late and living alumni.

Sports Day at Crystal Palace

Hot on its heels on Friday 21 June we launched Founder’s Week, the heart of the 400th anniversary celebrations. In my Dulwich/DUCKSPost of Thursday 20 June I set out our programme: School Service Day, our Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, an off-timetable day of Free Learning, Sports Day at Crystal Palace, Supersized House Singing, a Commemoration Service with our Foundation Schools JAGS and Alleyn’s at Christ’s Chapel of God’s Gift, and the Founder’s Day Concert and Fireworks. I am delighted to report that not only was the perfect weather more than we could have hoped for, every member of the community (including some 1,600 OAs who came together for their special reunion) embraced and made the most of what was an unforgettable week. Thank you to everyone across the community who contributed to any or all of these events.

Supersized House Singing

Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral



Students wearing gowns ©

Dear all

My last 400th anniversary update was written just ahead of the Easter break, which I hope you and your family enjoyed. Since returning to College we have seen, alongside our busy schedule of teaching and learning, three marvellous 400th anniversary events.

The first, the Quatercentennial Black and Blue Ball, was held at the College on 11 May. It was an immense pleasure to see parents, OAs, colleagues and friends of the College community come together to enjoy each other’s company and the evening’s entertainment; a highlight was undoubtedly the boys’ musical and dramatic performances. The organisers of the Ball are to be congratulated for delivering an event of unprecedented size and complexity. I am delighted to share with you that the evening itself, a fundraising event for the Dulwich College Bursary Fund, supported by the Friends of Dulwich College and the Alleyn Club, raised over £190,000. This is a superb contribution towards our aim of providing financial assistance for more boys whose families could not otherwise attend the College. That is a legacy of which we can be proud.

Quatercentennial Black and Blue Ball ©

Camille Pissarro’s Dulwich College (1871), on loan from the Fondation Bemberg, Toulouse, is now on display at the Dulwich Picture Gallery until 4 August.  Bell House, in College Road, will be hosting a supporting contextual exhibition – it is free of charge and is open to visitors on 8, 9, 15 and 16 June from 10am to 5pm, and between 10 and 14 June by appointment.

© Fondation Bemberg Pissarro Dulwich College

The Dulwich College Quatercentenary Series of four books, all with reference to and inspired by Alleynians, marks our 400th anniversary in a very special way. Monday evening saw the launch of Cradle of Writers by Patrick Humphries OA and of Our School Stories: Tales inspired by Dulwich College and PG Wodehouse. Copies of the books are on sale in the Commissariat and at 400th anniversary events. Any and all profits will go to the College’s Bursary Fund.

Wodehouse's School Days

by Dr Jan Piggott 

After Wodehouse left Dulwich College (1894 to 1900) he transformed the primary material of his school days into a fascinating body of fiction, now almost neglected in the shade of his more popular books. The book includes copious material from the College Archives and over twenty original illustrations from school novels and tales.

Infinite Riches: Dulwich College Poets

Ian Brinton

This is a critical history of the influential range of poetry which developed at the College in the post-war period, both those poets who were published as Penguin Modern Poets, and those who were significant figures in the New British Poetry world which flourished outside the mainstream.

Cradle of Writers

by Patrick Humphries

Mason, PG Wodehouse, Raymond Chandler, Dennis Wheatley and CS Forester were all pupils at Dulwich College; Mason’s The Four Feathers has been filmed a record seven times; Wodehouse remains the pre-eminent writer of comic prose; Chandler created the archetypal private eye, Philip Marlowe; Wheatley’s thrillers sold in large numbers; and Forester conceived Hornblower and wrote the Oscar-winning The African Queen.

Our School Stories: Tales inspired by Dulwich College and PG Wodehouse

This is a collection of eleven tales set in, or inspired by, school. With stories and illustrations from OAs, staff and current pupils, they follow in the tradition of PG Wodehouse’s own school stories, ranging from farce and satire to macabre tales of the supernatural and meditations on memory and belonging.

When we return from half term, preparations for a full programme of activities will be in full swing:
  • The Chapel Choir 21st Anniversary Concert on 14 June at All Saints in West Dulwich
  •  The penultimate GE Moore Lecture ‘Dulwich Goes to the Cinema’ on 17 June with film critic and historian David Thomson OA
  • The free Dulwich Film Festival from 17 to 21 June
  • Community Service Day for all Alleynians on 21 June
  •  Founder’s Week from 24 to 29 June, including our Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral and Founder’s Day Concert and Fireworks on 29 June.

Please note that this year, given the extensive Founder’s Week activities, there will be no daytime Founder’s Day activities on Saturday 29 June. The College campus will be closed until 5pm, with entertainment for the Founder’s Concert and Fireworks starting at 5.30pm.

More details about these events and links to book tickets will be sent to you, but please do visit our website ( or refer to the printed 400th programme you received in January in the meantime.

May I wish you and your children an excellent break. 

Dr Joe Spence


Spring Choral ConcertDear all

This half term has been memorably industrious both in and out of the classroom for pupils and staff, epitomising the rich depth and breadth of a Dulwich education.

On Friday 22 March Southwark Cathedral (where Edward Alleyn was a Sidesman) filled with parents, staff, Old Alleynians, family and friends to enjoy the Spring Choral Concert. Under the leadership of the Director of Music, Richard Mayo, the music chosen was Haydn’s Creation, which was performed by over one hundred Dulwich College pupils who played in the orchestra and sang in the Madrigal Choir. The musicianship amidst such a splendid setting was a significant highlight of the year.

Dulwich Olympiad 2019

Last weekend we welcomed 566 students (Years 7 to 12) and 80 staff from our international partnership schools for Dulwich Olympiad 2019, one of our showcase events this 400th anniversary year. They and our Alleynians have, after just three days, found new connections and friendship through their sporting competitions, music and drama rehearsals, and their art workshops and masterclasses. At our opening ceremony yesterday morning, the Olympiad Torch was exchanged. Dulwich College Beijing student, Isaac said said: “This is the torch that, at the inaugural Dulwich Olympiad in Beijing in 2015, we lifted to signify our friendship and commitment to building bridges across the world.”  And James from Dulwich College responded: “This Olympic torch is a symbol of human achievement – for us it is also symbolic of the shared values of the Dulwich schools: integrity, kindness and respect.” As we progress through the week, incorporating Dulwich Creative across the College and its mass co-created Mark Your Mark exhibition, it is a pleasure to witness the vitality, enthusiasm and mutual support of our students. For photographs and films of the week, please do visit our Gallery and its daily sections More details of the days’ events and other College activities can be found on our news pages and on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Pissarro's Dulwich College

Next half term Camille Pissarro’s Dulwich College (1871) will arrive on special loan from the Fondation Bemberg, Toulouse, for an exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the first time the painting has been in Dulwich since its creation. The painting will be on display from 30 April until 4 August and Bell House, in College Road, will be hosting a small exhibition looking at changes happening in Dulwich around that time. This is a free event on 8, 9, 15 and 16 June from 10am to 5pm and between 10 and 14 June by appointment.

Quatercentennial Black and Blue Ball

Preparations are well underway for the Quatercentennial Black and Blue Ball to be held here at the College on 11 May. We look forward to welcoming over 800 guests, from across the Dulwich community, to an evening in support of the Dulwich College Bursary Fund. The Ball Committee is delighted with and grateful for the generous contributions received for the auction and Ed Sheeran gig Grand Draw (open now), both of which are open for bidding by everyone, not just those attending the Ball. The auction will be going live on Monday 29 April. If you would still like to contribute to a prize, please contact the Ball Committee at More details in the lead up to the event can be found

The Lent term has been one of which the community can feel rightly proud, for collective and individual achievements and for the support shown to each other. May I wish you and your family a very happy Easter break.

Dr Joe Spence


The College Roll

Dear all

Last year we looked forward to our quatercentenary celebrations with anticipation. Now, as we reach the end of the first half of the Lent term, it would be true to say that it has already exceeded our expectations with the pleasure it has given our youngest Alleynians and our Old Alleynians.

We launched our 400th anniversary with the unveiling of the Dulwich Roll at DUCKS where the children and staff were wonderfully outfitted in Elizabethan and Jacobean dress to greet their guests, Queen Elizabeth, Edward Alleyn and their entourage of a juggler and acrobat, all played, very convincingly by spirited older pupils.

Ned Alleyn talked about his life and the College and explained that he wanted every member of the College community - in the UK and further afield - to sign a specially commissioned Dulwich Roll which would be a record of all the events of the coming year.

Every child signed the Dulwich Roll, the youngest with their handprints. It is not inconceivable that some of our Ducklings will be showing the Roll and their signatures to their families at our 500th celebrations in 2119.

Alleyn Club Sports Dinner

Tickets for the Quatercentenary Black & Blue Ball went on sale in January and were sold out within a rather astonishing five minutes. The Ball was re-configured to offer an additional 100 seats for a good proportion of the waiting list, but we appreciate that many will be disappointed. I hope that we’ll see many of you at the significantly expanded Founder’s Day Evening with its outstanding fireworks display.

January also saw the splendid Alleyn Club Sports Dinner, a spotlight of over 50 years of Old Alleynian and Dulwich College sporting excellence. Guest speakers included Olympic gold medal winning oarsman Kieran West and former England rugby players Andrew Sheridan and Nick Easter and it was a delight to see the black tie evening bringing together OAs of almost every age and clearly enjoying each other’s company.

London Winter Run - Dulwich runners

At the beginning of the month, a team of over 200 College staff, parents, pupils and Old Alleynians participated in the 5th annual London Winter Run, raising £17,785 in aid of Cancer Research UK and the Dulwich College Bursary Fund. Thank you and congratulations to all those who ran, as well as the many who have donated and turned out to support our runners on the day.

Still to look forward to this Lent term are the GE Moore Lecture, entitled Restoration and Innovation and the Dulwich Olympiad 2019 when we will welcome some 600 pupils from our ten Dulwich College International educational partner schools for a tremendous week of sporting competitions, music and drama performances and art workshops and exhibitions that will celebrate our international unity and our genuine diversity.

More details about all our quatercentenary events can be found on the College website, including the handsome timeline of the College’s history

May I wish you a good half term break.

Dr Joe Spence

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