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Completely London

Area guide for East Dulwich

East Dulwich overview

What’s it all about?

East Dulwich lies between the quiet affluence of Dulwich Village and the vibrant diversity of Peckham, and encompasses the best of both worlds. With wide green spaces and picturesque streets, it is located only a 30 minute cycle or 15 minute train journey from central London and is an area on the up. The beating heart of East Dulwich is Lordship Lane, a busy street of organic grocery stores, pretty boutiques and trendy cafes where locals convene after the school run or for a gastro pub dinner. While five and six bedroom properties abound in neighbouring Dulwich Village, homes in East Dulwich cater to smaller families, but many still come equipped with large outdoor spaces. Attracted to the area’s wholesome feel, attractive period properties and excellent state primary schools, the area is a magnet for those with children. As these households expand, they will often upgrade into a larger period home, while older children can attend one of the area’s three top independent schools. 

Fact file

  • The actor Sir Henry Irving laid the foundation stone of Dulwich Library, which was opened on 24 November 1897 by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Halsbury.
  • Enid Blyton, author of Noddy and the Famous Five series, was born above the shop at 354 Lordship Lane.
  • The ‘Concrete House’ on Lordship Lane is a former derelict Grade II listed building, now restored, and is believed to be the only surviving example of a 19th century concrete house. 

Architecture and property

East Dulwich was first transformed into a residential area in the 19th century, after the formation of two estates: Friern Manor Farm and the Bower-Smith Estate. Indeed, even today, 1,500 acres of south east London, including some land in Dulwich, is managed by the Dulwich Estate, a charity founded in 1619. Initially, homes were built for London workers who couldn’t afford to live in the city centre, but who were still reasonably affluent. To appeal to this market, properties were designed with enough space for families, and although several cottage style houses still exist, the architectural style of East Dulwich largely comprises four and five bedroom Victorian and Edwardian homes, which means that family homes are plentiful in East Dulwich, and once they’ve arrived, families tend to stay in the area.

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Going out

Eating and drinking: Lordship Lane is the dining hub of East Dulwich, and is packed full of cafes, bars, and restaurants, including local favourites The Palmerston and Franklins. Another popular choice is the small but perfectly formed Thai Corner Cafe on North Cross Road. Le Chandelier, a tea salon and chandelier shop, never fails to impress with its selection of more than 30 teas and wonderful pastries. For a selection of fine cocktails and bar snacks in a friendly atmosphere, head just up the road to House of Tippler.

Art: Dulwich residents don’t need to travel far for their culture fix: Dulwich Picture Gallery on Gallery Road is home to more than 600 iconic artworks and puts on regular exhibitions and art classes.

Entertainment: The annual Dulwich Festival Fair, held in May on Goose Green, is a great community event with food, drinks, music, and donkey rides for kids. The East Dulwich Tavern also hosts regular film nights, jazz evenings and theatre events. 

Local amenities

  • East Dulwich’s stores are quirky – decorate your new pad with Dutch eco paint from Dofine on Grove Vale, then pick up a vintage bargain from ChiChiRaRa clothes shop on Upland Road. Sparkle & Spin on Melbourne Grove is full of Danish designer wear and accessories for children.
  • East Dulwich Road’s Hop Burns & Black claim to bring together three of the world’s greatest obsessions, which are beer (the hop of the name), hot sauce (the burns) and vinyl records (the black).
  • Moxons on Lordship Lane is one of the best fishmongers in London. Give them enough notice and they’ll order in anything you like. Franklins Farm Shop sells great homemade ready meals such as heartening kedgeree.
  • Foodies flock to the lively market on North Cross Road, where organic meats, fresh fish, artisan breads and handmade fudge are among the temptations.
  • The Dulwich Sainsbury’s on Dog Kennel Hill has a large car park and is located just minutes from East Dulwich station.
  • The family friendly Dulwich Leisure Centre has a 25 metre swimming pool, gym, cafe and creche, and runs popular group exercise classes.
  • East Dulwich is a book lovers’ haven, with several bookshops and two libraries. Dulwich Library hosts reading groups for adults and children, poetry readings, craft clubs and even has a weekly film club, while the smaller Grove Vale Library is home to a popular toddler and baby group. 

Green spaces

A corner of East Dulwich that hasn’t changed in centuries is Sydenham Hill Wood, accessed via Cox’s Walk at the junction of Lordship Lane and Dulwich Common. Deep in the forest is a ruined Victorian folly and a disused railway tunnel that’s now a protected bat roost. Dulwich Park is a 72 acre stretch of green meadow in the heart of the village. Refurbished in 2006, the park has a boating lake, visitor centre, tennis courts, a bowling green and an impressive vegetable garden run by Dulwich Going Greener. Peckham Rye Park and Common comprises a recently restored Victorian park and ancient, spacious Common.

Changing times

Redevelopment works on the site of the old Dulwich Garden Centre began in the summer of 2014. The new build is set to include 22 flats, a library and a retail unit.

Transport

Rail: Four trains an hour from East Dulwich station serve London Bridge with a mere 15 minute journey time. Nearby Peckham Rye station also offers a 15 minute journey to Victoria as well as connections to Dalston and Clapham Junction via the Overground line. North Dulwich and West Dulwich stations are close by and also provide easy access to London Bridge and Victoria. 

Road: East Dulwich is less than an hour from the M25, and only a five minute drive from the South Circular.

Bus: Routes to and from East Dulwich are plentiful, and include numbers 37 (to Putney Heath), 40 (to Aldgate), 176 (to Tottenham Court Road), 185 (to Victoria), 484 (to Lewisham), and P13 (to Streatham).

Cycle: Many locals choose to shun public transport in favour of a 30 minute cycle into the heart of Canary Wharf. The area is also home to the UK’s largest cycling club, the Dulwich Paragon. 

Getting away: Gatwick is just over an hour’s drive from East Dulwich, and it’s also possible to be at London City Airport in that time using public transport.

Education

East Dulwich lures families to its excellent state primary schools, including Dulwich Hamlet Junior School and Dulwich Village Infants School and academies such as Kingsdale Foundation School and the Harris Academy. Dulwich is also home to three of London’s top independent schools: James Allen’s Girls’ School, Dulwich College and Alleyn’s.

Please see our schools tab for more information on schools in this area.

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Did we miss something? If you have any local expertise to improve our area guide, then please email us at areaguides@kfh.co.uk

 

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