Victorian London - Education - Schools - Dulwich College

DULWICH COLLEGE, called "God's Gift College in Dulwich," was built and endowed in 1619 by Edward Alleyn a celebrated actor, proprietor of the Fortune Theatre, and Master of the Bears to Queen Elizabeth and King James I, (d. 1626). Alleyn endowed it as "a chapel, a schoole house, and twelve almes howses," and the statutes of the College require that the master and warden should bear the name of Alleyn or Allen. Dulwich is in Surrey, about four miles from London; the road lying from Elephant and Castle over Camberwell-green, passing the large brick house on your right, in which Sir Christopher Wren lived when building St. Paul's; up Denmark-hill, (the retreat of wealthy citizens); and along a pleasant road, beautifully wooded on either side. ... Attached to the college is the Dulwich Gallery.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

In 1851, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as official Visitor of the College, extended the education at the School to surveying, chemistry, engineering, and the allied sciences. In 1858 was passed an Act of Parliament, by which its educational system will be kept expanding in proportion to its wealth. There are now two Schools; an upper, which provides a more advanced education for boys of the better class, and a lower, intended for the preparation of youths for commercial life; each school about 300. The fees in the upper school amount to 8l. per annum for each boy, and in the lower to  1l. In addition to these scholars there are foundation-boys in both schools, boarded and lodged at the expense of the charity. To provide for this extension, new buildings were commenced in 1866, on a site of 30 acres, between the present College and the Crystal Palace. The centre of the building is a large hall for dining and for the general gathering of the boys; there are a cloister between the two schools, and official residences for the masters. There is a Speech-day for classic and dramatic orations; and the performance of a play, preference being given to Shakspeare's.

John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867

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Dulwich College, S,E., or “God’s Gift,” founded by Edward Alleyne, the player of Shakspere’s time, in 1619. Originally intended by the founder for the benefit of actors. Like many similar charities Dulwich College has diverged considerably from its original lines, various Acts of Parliament having greatly modified the original scheme. The most important past of the original foundation now remaining is the school, which has attained considerable proportions; but as it is now in process of reconstruction and remodelling, no useful information as regards it can at present be given. A scheme is now (April) before Parliament, but, it is feared, will not become law this session. 

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

Victorian London - Publications - History - The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896 - Dulwich College

Dulwich College - photograph


Alleyn's College of God's Gift was opened at Dulwich in 1619, its founder being Edward Alleyn, a celebrated actor, "the Roscius of his age." In 1857 the College was reconstituted and divided into two schools, and the new buildings, of red brick and terra-cotta, designed in the northern Italian style of the thirteenth century by Sir Charles Barry, cost a hundred thousand pounds, and were opened by the Prince of Wales in 1870. In the central structure are the Hall, Library, etc. The south wing (on the right in our view) is occupied by the senior boys, and the north by the juniors. The old chapel contains the tomb of the pious founder. Mr. A. H. Gilkes is the head-master of the College, which is attended by more than six hundred boys, and is rich in scholarships.