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History of Boarding

The Orchard

The first named tenant of ‘Houlgate’, the original name of The Orchard, was William Dryland who oversaw the build in 1884. William attended the College, still in its old premises, where he was very prominent as a 1st XI cricketer and athlete before becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

It is believed that The Orchard (as it was known from 1895) was designed by Charles Barry Junior, the architect of our very fine College buildings. Charles Barry Junior was the son of Sir Charles Barry, architect of the houses of Parliament. However, The Orchard is quite unlike the style of many of his other buildings, which may be explained by the fact that this was designed towards the latter end of his career.

Since 1895, The Orchard has been occupied by a succession of College staff and has housed boarders for many years. The first known housemaster was E.D. Rendall. Edward Rendall was a prolific composer of school songs, including the Dulwich College School Song ‘Pueri Alleyniensis’.

Bomb damage caused temporary closure of The Orchard in 1944; however, the house was re-opened soon after. The Orchard has since been home to thirteen housemasters and many boys, with an extension to the original building added in 2003 and a major redevelopment in 2017.

Old Blew

The College purchased Old Blew House in 2004 and converted it into student and staff accommodation. Old Blew is one of the most historic houses in Dulwich and is set within stunning grounds. The property dates back to 1608 and during the last 400 years, various extensions and alterations have taken place. The work we have completed in recent years as enhanced this beautiful building, arguable one of London’s most handsome houses, and it is a stunning place to live.

Blew House

The original Blew House, now Old Blew and a recent addition to the contemporary boarding community, first accepted 18 boarders in 1874 under an assistant Master John Parish. Blew House in its current incarnation was built in 1934. It did not get off to a great start, never being filled prior to World War 2. However, Blew House was the only boarding house to remain open to boys throughout the war. Indeed the only damage caused was to the roof after a V1 bomb fell on the College in July 1944. It wasn’t until 1979 that Blew House became solely occupied by Senior Boarders. In 2000 Blew House was rebuilt on the inside and the resplendent single study rooms with en-suite facilities are now enjoyed by 40 boarders. At this time the two Senior Houses were also joined together and whilst this brings with it many advantages, the competition between the Houses remains as strong as ever. Its ideal location at the heart of the College means the boarders have easy access to all the facilities on offer.


The building of Ivyholme, as we know it today, is on a site that was once part of the Master’s garden, on College Road. The House was opened by the Earl of Harewood in 1932 and during these pre-war years housed around 32 boarders (paying a grand total of £135 per annum each!)

In the early 1940s, as war raged in Europe, Ivyholme became home to students of the School of Oriental and African Studies, who were going through a crash course in languages, sponsored by the Home Office. In February 1944 it was badly damaged by bombs, along with the Orchard.

Until the late 1980s Ivyholme was a Middle School boarding house, while the boys would move across to Blew House when they reached the age of 16. Both houses now are exclusively for senior boarders, from Years 12 and 13, and as such they provide a stepping stone for university accommodation, with their single rooms and the focus on independent living. Although ‘the Link’ physically joins the houses, rivalry between the two remains rife, and recently the Gordon Bowl trophy has been reintroduced, covering a range of inter-house competitions, both sporting and otherwise.

Surrounded by green space, yet only a short hop to the centre of the capital, the senior boarding houses are in an enviable location.

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