Latest Posts

The Beautiful Houses of Dulwich

I love Dulwich; to my mind it is one of the most beautiful areas of London. I think it is the captivating combination of serene calmness, quiet sophistication and the cerebral atmosphere of a university town, accentuated with its fine schools, art gallery, local amenities and community life.

The neighbourhood offers locals and visitors alike an eclectic mix of the most stunning properties in South London from the grand Georgian mansions, the palatial Victorian and Edwardian houses, the pre- and post-war homes, to the lovely hidden cottages tucked away down secluded alleyways. One cannot fail to be impressed by the distinctiveness and diversity of the elegant properties that make up the unique residential district around Dulwich.

The other evening I was strolling around the village just as twilight fell. The homes lining the streets suddenly proffered a passer-by a quick, tantalising glimpse through the warm glow of tungsten lit windows into the private worlds of their occupants.

As I peeped through the glazed windowpanes into the concealed private lives behind these enclosed walls, my curiosity was challenged: are these homes really like I am imagining them to be? I also wondered how many other people have shared this secret desire of mine to learn more about the histories of these houses, the lives of the people who live in them and what the interior spaces and decor of these amazing properties are really like inside.

That’s when I had an idea.

Why not write a monthly article under the title ‘Step Inside Dulwich’ and have it published as a regular feature in our local SE Magazine.

The next morning I eagerly telephoned Angela Burgess, the magazine’s editor, and invited her to lunch at the congenial Gail’s Artisan Bakery and Cafe, situated in the heart of Dulwich Village to discuss my idea and ask if she would be interested in such a feature. To my amazement and delight she agreed. So here I am now, nervously writing my very first column to introduce myself, share my thoughts with you and ask for your help and assistance.

I am looking to recruit any readers who would be interested in having their home reviewed for the column and to contact me for further details. We are keen to take a ‘peek through the keyhole’ of any property that has an interesting story to tell. We want to have an informal chat with the occupants, to discover the history of the house, what they can tell us about its past and present role in Dulwich life and showcase the distinctive interiors that exist. I hope to include properties that have been recently renovated as well as those properties that may still contain some original structural features and layouts.

Other topics I also intend to cover in this new column will include insights into the world of interior design, reviews on the latest design trends, as well as tips, hints and ideas to help you create your own distinctive home styling.

About Ems Penniston

Ems is Creative Director of Impressions London South, an interior design and bespoke decorating company based in Crystal Palace. Ems has a real passion for interior design, providing her clients with fresh ideas on how to create simple, yet elegant living spaces with the help of her partner Kevin McGurk, who simply describes himself as the mature, level-headed one who you can trust to transform Ems creativity into practical, affordable reality.

You can contact me for details via my email: or contact Angela Burgess via the SE Magazine website at: to learn more about how your home could be featured.

This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of SE22 magazine

Kit Amnesty match – Dulwich Hamlet v Lowestoft Town

Spectators attending the Dulwich Hamlet v Lowestoft Town fixture at Champion Hill on 8th April 2017 are invited to bring donations of old sports shirts or any other sports related clothing (shorts, socks etc) or equipment (boots, pads, gloves etc) to the game in aid of charity.

Benefiting from the donations will be the African Bible University in Kampala, Uganda and the Thembalethu Foundation based in Zimbabwe.

Hamlet fans will recollect that a similar Kit Amnesty game was held last season supporting the same two great causes.

Hamlet supporter James Virgo is a friend Sean Kinsella who is a missionary and a professor at the African Bible University and Sean also passes kit out to teams in Uganda who are in need of kit.

The Thembalethu Foundation works with young people by bringing them together to play football and make them feel part of the community. In doing so they educate them in live choices as well as HIV/AIDS and try to show them the opportunities that life can offer.

This forms part of a project run by football supporter Julian Chenery who collects sports kit along with school uniforms for projects such as the two prime beneficiaries from the game. Both Julian & Kevin Marley of the Thembalethu Foundation will be at the game collecting the donations.

Any donations will be gratefully accepted and will make a real difference in some-one’s life. If in doubt donate!

Garden Talk: Your gardening to-do list


Things are getting busy in the garden – here’s what to do this month.

Fertilise and mulch

* After weeding, sprinkle soil with an organic fertilser, such as chicken pellets or fish, blood and bone and lightly fork around trees and shrubs. Give roses a special rose feed or a balanced fertiliser.

* Cover bare soil with a 5cm layer of organic matter such as well rotten manure to stop it losing water as weather warms up, watering first if it’s dry. A mulch suppresses weeds and looks smart too.

Move and plant

* If there’s a shrub that’s outgrown its spot, now’s the time move it. Take as large a root ball as you can, drag it over to its new home on a plastic sheet, add well rotted compost to the hole, water it well and it should take off.

*This is the last chance to plant bare root trees, roses and shrubs as those little hair roots need to be making their way into the soil by now.

* Plant new climbers, by digging a hole, 22cm away from walls and fences so that the plant is not in a dry ‘rain shadow’.

* Create new plants by dividing clumps of over grown summer perennials. Tease the lifted plant apart with two forks back to back and don’t be nervous about a few roots breaking.

Prune and tidy

* Cut down overgrown perennials and grasses to make way for new growth.

* Prune your roses. With sharp secateurs, remove dead, diseased and crossing stems, then prune flowering wood back by a third. Cut to 6mm above an outward facing healthy bud– and wear gloves!

* Cut down established cornus (dogwood) to the base to encourage colourful winter stems.

* Tackle overgrown climbers now – new buds mean you can see where the stems are dead. Honeysuckle, ivies, rambling roses and winter flowering jasmine can be pruned hard. Summer flowering jasmine can also be pruned by taking out the main stem or two to the ground.

* Prune late flowering clematis – such as Jackmannii (Group 3) by cutting them 23-24cm from the ground, to just above a healthy bud – easy!

* Deadhead hydrangeas before new growth appears and cut to a third of last year’s growth.

Sow and grow

* Grow scented sweet peas by make a bamboo wigwam, and planting two seeds at 30cm intervals and 1cm deep in situ. Young plants may need help before tendrils twine themselves around the support.

Plant and deadhead bulbs

* Snowdrops rarely grow well from dry bulbs so divide or plant them while they’re still green.

* Plant summer flowering bulbs such as gladiolus and lilies in a sunny spot.

* Deadhead daffodils and let the foliage die back to encourage new flower buds to form inside the bulb.

Cut and feed your lawn

* Start mowing your lawn for first time, just not too short at first.

*If you’re feeling energetic, aerate your lawn by making holes with a fork 10cm deep and 20cm apart.

* Give the lawn a feed of chicken manure pellets towards the end of the month – ideally when the lawn is damp.

Finally, watch out for slugs.

They love juicy new growth and will be coming out in wet weather for a nibble.

Barbara Samitier is a garden designer who lives in Peckham Rye.

This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of SE22 magazine.

Triple Ginger Cheesecake with Poached Rhubarb recipe

It’s that time of year when I fall in love with pink again, even though it isn’t the best colour for my complexion. Beautiful, pink, forced Yorkshire Rhubarb at it’s best!

Triple Ginger Cheesecake with Poached Rhubarb

Serves 8-12

Preparation time about 30-45 minutes

Cooking time approximately 30 minutes in total plus chilling minimum 3 hours

Ingredients for the base

  • 100g Duchy Original Stem Ginger Biscuits or Ginger Nuts Finely Crushed
  • 50g Digestive Biscuits
  • 60g butter, melted
  • You will also need a 20cm (8”) spring form tin, greased

Ingredients for the filling

  • 4000g forced rhubarb trimmed and cut into 2.5cm batons
  • 50g caster sugar (for the rhubarb)
  • 1 tbsp grated stem ginger
  • 1 tbsp stem ginger syrup from the jar
  • 800g cream cheese (or full-fat soft cheese such as Philadelphia)
  • 75ml double cream
  • 200g caster sugar (for the filling mixture)
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks


  1. For the base, place the biscuits and butter in a bowl, stir well and then press into the base of the tin. Place in the fridge to chill.
  2. Prepare the rhubarb. Put 50g caster sugar, the stem ginger syrup and 1tablespoon of water in a wide shallow pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the rhubarb and poach gently for 10 minutes or until the rhubarb is just cooked when tested with the point of a knife. Do not allow the rhubarb to go mushy. Place a sieve over a bowl and drain the rhubarb well. Reserve the juice.
  3. Whilst the rhubarb and the base are cooling prepare the filling, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas Mark 6.
  4. Put the cream cheese, cream, sugar, vanilla seeds, eggs and egg yolks in a clean blender or food processor and blend until smooth and mixed – do not blend for more than a minute, otherwise the mixture might split if it overheats.
  5. Now scatter the grated stem ginger over the biscuit base, and then evenly spread half of your drained poached rhubarb on top.
  6. Pour the filling mixture over the rhubarb in the cake frame or tin, then tap the frame a couple of times to remove any trapped air bubbles
  7. Bake the cheesecake in the oven for 22–25 minutes. Once cooked, the top will have coloured golden brown slightly and will have risen (souffléd) slightly, but it will sink back down once set. The cheesecake will also still have a slight wobble in the centre when it’s ready (once chilled, this will have set perfectly).
  8. While the cheesecake is cooking, place the reserved rhubarb juices in a small pan and cook over a gentle heat so that it reduces to a thick syrup. Leave to cool.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave the cheesecake to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then chill in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours before cutting. The chilled baked cheesecake will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  10. Cut the chilled cheesecake into 8-12 even portions. Decorate with the remaining poached rhubarb and spoon a little of the syrup over each slice.

Food in season

Fruit & Nuts
Forced Rhubarb

Vegetables & Herbs
Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Chicory, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Leeks, Onion, Pak Choi, Parsnip, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Salsify, Spinach, Spring Onions, Swede, Turnips, Sweet Potato, Wild Nettles

Meat & Game
Hare, Spring Lamb,

Cockles, Cod, Dab, Dover Sole, Gurnard, Hake, Halibut, Langoustine, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mussels, Oysters, Red Mullet, Salmon, Shrimp, Whitebait, Winkles

Suzanne is a professional chef, wife and mother (stepping away from the stove for one day only!!) who has lived in East Dulwich all her life!

This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of SE22 magazine.

The Dulwich Players present The Memory of Water by Shelagh Stephenson

Three estranged sisters return to the family home for their mother’s funeral. There’s Teresa the long-suffering one, Mary the clever successful one, and Catherine the flaky neurotic one. Their bickering is punctuated by moments of hilarity, and emotions are laid bare as some unwelcome truths are unearthed. The theme of memory runs through the play like water. How reliable are our memories? Why do the sisters have such different recollections of their childhood, and why is Mary so obsessed with finding that green tin? Their mother, Vi, had lost her memory by the end, but she has one last opportunity to give her version of events before she goes. The earthy dialogue sparkles in this witty yet emotional play, which won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 2000.

The Memory of Water will be performed on 
5, 6, 7 April at 8pm, Saturday 8 April at 7.30pm
Edward Alleyn Theatre, Dulwich College, SE21 7LD .

Tickets £10 (£12 on the door)
 and are available by email, phone 07936 531356, online (Ticketsource) and from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village.
 Not suitable for under-14’s.

Supporting EMMAUS Lambeth, charity No. 1069610

This amateur production is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, LTD.