Today is a good day for a stroll around Dulwich. In fact any day is, it’s such a delightful place to be. I have been to Dulwich just a handful of times but my last visit – for the Dulwich Festival – was the first time I really got to explore by foot and wander down all the little streets and get a good feel for the place. There are some stunning houses in SE21 I have to say (I have my eye on a few should I ever be lucky enough to live in the area!)
First thing is it doesn’t feel like you’re in London at all. As soon as you get off the station you’re not quite sure where to go as you’re greeted with a pretty quiet main road and not much else. No hustle and bustle, no litter, no crowds. I like it. (A cute cafe wouldn’t go amiss though I’ll be honest, think they’re missing a trick there). But this welcome is just the introduction to a very calm and relaxed London town.
Turn right and walk for 2 minutes and you’re welcomed by the stunning Dulwich College, an impressive 17th century structure that is as beautiful as the grounds it stands in. This will be the first of many grand buildings I visit, and possibly the most spectacular. I have been lucky enough to showcase my work in, and (just a quick sales pitch) I will be showcasing again this Christmas – Sunday November 26th. For the Christmas Fair they really bring the spirit alive with the decorations, fairy lights, Christmas carols and I’m pretty sure they even invite Santa along! So do pop along for some Christmas shopping this year and support small businesses and local designers. Thanks!
Anyhoo, back to the tour… Cross over the road and take left up College Road. Now had it not been for an ‘Artist Open House’ banner outside I may never have discovered Bell House as it is tucked away behind some trees in it’s front garden. But luckily I did! A stunning Grade II listed property with a grand staircase and lush grounds to match. It has recently been taken over by an education charity so there are always creative goings-on to be had here.
Further up the road and you hit Dulwich Picture Gallery, home to over 600 paintings. Again, beautiful grounds (sensing a common theme here too aren’t ya?) and a scrumptious cafe boasting the best menu I have ever seen from a gallery restaurant. Fresh juice, lamb shank shepherds pie and home baked cakes make for a lot of nom-noming!
After you’ve had your culture fix cross over the road and you’re immediately at the entrance to the lovely Dulwich Park. 76 acres of lush green grass. Sit, read, daydream or go for a full on nap. No one will judge you least of all me. If you’re not full from the gallery cafe you’ll find another recently renovated cafe in the centre of the park where you can feast on gourmet burger and chips. Best to walk it all off after though. Just saying. Ahem . . . Continue through the north gates and you’ll be in East Dulwich after about 5 minutes . . . but that’s for another day.
One place I didn’t get to go is top of my list next visit, and that is Belair House, a stunning white Georgian mansion. And yep, you got it, set in glorious green grounds. Again, host to creative events such as Christmas markets (second sales pitch coming up – I’ll be there on Sunday 17th December for those of you that like to leave things to the last minute!), and you can even have your wedding here, that’s how pretty it is.
West Dulwich is certainly worth a day trip, there’s plenty to see, do and eat. Hopefully see in November!
The above illustrations are all available as art prints from my online shop. I will also be selling these at my local fairs, including Dulwich College itself on Sunday 26th November. Find my full events line up here, or sign up to my mailing list to hear about them first! I will be continuing my venture around London so stayed tuned for more reviews on where to visit (and maybe where not to!)