This historic area — it’s really three villages in one — is green by nature and lifestyle
By Georgia Lambert
A pocket neighbourhood nestled between the effortlessly modish Herne Hill, the edge of Peckham, Brixton and suburban Crystal Palace. Regarded by locals as a “leafy haven with village-like vibes”, Dulwich is (rightfully) having a bit of a moment.
What is it about Dulwich?
The area, managed by the Dulwich Estate charity, has been split into three distinct regions. East Dulwich is centred around Lordship Lane, which is peppered with independent shops, hipster watering holes and street art. Then there’s historic West Dulwich, which, after being hit in the Second World War, was restored into what is now an affluent neighbourhood, and home to the £22,971 a year (day pupils) Dulwich College for boys. The grade I listed All Saints church, HQ to the Lambeth Orchestra, is a particular draw for musicians, while the Rosendale pub, with its Royal Doulton tiling, is highly rated. Then there is Dulwich Village, home to family-run businesses like The Art Stationers and Green’s Village Toyshop, and grand houses that belonged to a pantheon of politicians, including Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
“Dulwich, specifically Dulwich Village, has been popular for decades with families who don’t want to live in the hubbub of Zone 1 or 2, but want the amenities of London”, says Nina Harrison, the London specialist at buying advisers Haringtons.
How do I get there?
Although Dulwich does not have a Tube station, the railway stations at East, North and West Dulwich offer fast access to central London — North Dulwich to London Bridge takes 15 minutes. Get the 3 bus towards Westminster and hop off in Brixton to make use of the Victoria Line. The trusty N63 night bus will get you back to your Dulwich den from central London after hours. Watch out for the many cyclists who pedal to work and back each day — or join their Lycra-clad tribe.
What else is on offer?
Dulwich Picture Gallery, designed in the early 19th century by Regency architect Sir John Soane, is the oldest public art gallery in Britain. The skylit gallery houses a permanent collection of Baroque masterpieces.
In May, the Dulwich Festival returned after being put on hold during the pandemic. The festival gave art lovers the opportunity to visit some 400 local artists in their homes and gave toe-tappers the chance to enjoy classical, jazz, choral, and pop music. Nearby Brockwell Lido in Herne Hill is the destination to practise your breaststroke.
There are also some fab cinemas in the area, including East Dulwich Picturehouse and Brixton’s Ritzy, about half an hour away by bus.
Can I go shopping?
Birkenstock-wearers will find it hard to resist the shops, from homeware at Mrs Robinson to Willow for your art supplies. The Dulwich Trader is a one-stop shop for gifts and it’s only a minute away from the beloved (and award-winning) Dulwich Books. Fans of the high street will be thrilled to find the likes of Jigsaw and White Stuff hidden among the indies. On the hunt for a bargain? Head to Boutique by Shelter, Mary’s Living and Giving shop and St Christopher’s Hospice, all in East Dulwich.
I challenge you to find a greener London suburb that is as central as Dulwich. Its name, meaning a “marshy meadow where dill grows”, was first recorded in AD967. Dulwich Park, a jogger’s paradise, includes 40 acres of allotments, a dozen playing fields and 69 acres of ancient woodland.
You are yearning to be a part of a thriving community that is driven by eco-friendly standards. Perfect for families and entrepreneurs alike, the area is fertile with opportunity. Like Flora Blathwayt, 35, whose small business sells handmade cards using plastic collected from UK beaches.
Don’t move here if . . .
You’re not prepared to put down a big deposit. According to Rightmove, the average house price in Dulwich is £872,348. The majority of sales are flats, Victorian terraces and semi-detached houses, which go for around £1.5 million. Tom Kain, senior property consultant at the buying agent Black Brick, says: “Dulwich has seen some of the sharpest rises in property prices of any area over the last 25 years. Knight Frank reported in 2018 that prices had risen 1,150 per cent since 1995, making it home to the highest long-term rise of any area in England and Wales over the period. Teachers, doctors and artists are being replaced by bankers and lawyers.”