Below are some images and maps we’ve found that give you an idea of the area over the past 200 years or so.
Internet research indicates that in 1904 a man called Alfred Bromhead set up a film studios on the area of land between Champion Hill, Dog Kennel Hill and the Greendale – an area that covers DKH Wood. This was a 14 acre site that used the latest technology to produce 15 – 20 new films every month. Leon Gaumont was the founder of the company, which later became the Gaumont film company. Further information on this can be found on the Dulwich Society website. He moved his open-air studio to Shepherd’s Bush in 1912.
There’s also more information about the Champion Hill Cricket and Lawn Tennis club which a local builder called Thomas Freeman started up in 1891. This was the beginnings of the Dulwich Hamlet football club. The football club had to move further down the hill in 1912 and chose a plot of unused meadow land at the back of the Cleve Hall garden. It seems as if the entrance to the club was down the small hill that runs south of Champion Hill towards the wood, down the path we call the “greendale path” that runs along the site of the wood and onto what is now the Green Dale fields. A local resident remembers the turnstiles that were in the corner of this path, where the wood meets the fields.
The ideal homes website has some nice images of the Cleve Hall Estate (which is next to the wood) and also some maps of the area.
Southwark council’s mapping service shows the wood and park to have been tennis courts, as recently as 1954… which may go some way to explaining the amount of rubble to be found under the surface! (see maps below).
In the early 1970s the land that Sainsbury’s is on was being used as playing fields and was called the King George fields. Southwark gave some money so that a plot of land above these playing fields could be turned into an adventure playground. The Gypsy Poet website used to have a lovely account of the setting up of the playground and mentions the help of a local roma gypsy camp and describes the area around the playground:
For in many ways the actual size and environment was ideal, with its woodland, bushes and undulating grassy banks, it was in fact beautiful in many aspects with a natural layout compared to so many others sites I have encountered.
Click the maps for a larger view.