Inventory Site Record

Court Lane Gardens

Court Lane Gardens (Southwark)

Brief Description

Court Lane is on land that continues to be owned by The Dulwich Estate, the successor to the charitable foundation established by Edward Alleyn in 1619. It was laid out over the site of a manor farm called Dulwich Court Farm, at which time the Estates Governors also donated five fields to the MBW for the creation of Dulwich Park. The name also recalls the court where the Estates steward would adjudicate on local affairs. The area of communal gardens was reserved as a permanent open space by the Estates Governors who were keen to preserve and maintain open spaces on their land. Set behind neat iron railings, the private gardens have lawns, trees and shrubs.

Practical Information
Site location:
Court Lane/Court Lane Gardens, Dulwich
Type of site:
Housing/Estate Landscaping
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Bus: 12, 40, 176, 185 (walk)

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

In the Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares in 1928 it states that the Estates Governors 'take pride in the standard which has been kept up in the management and appearance of this part of London, and they feel that any matters connected with the property and preservation of its amenities may be safely left in their hands'.

The Dulwich Estate today consists of nearly 608 hectares (1500 acres) and continues to be managed by the successor to Alleyn's charitable foundation. Edward Alleyn was a well-known Elizabethan actor-manager and impresario, who also put on bull- and bear-baiting, as a result of which he had been appointed Joint Master of the Royal Bears, Bulls and Mastiff Dogs in 1604. By now a wealthy man, he bought the Manor of Dulwich in 1605 although he continued to live in London until 1613, staying at Dulwich in the summer. He then decided to establish a charitable foundation in Dulwich to be endowed with his property at Dulwich and elsewhere. Following the foundation of Alleyn's College of God's Gift granted by James I in 1619 he began building his Almshouses for 'six poor brothers and six poor sisters' and his School 'for twelve poor scholars'. All the beneficiaries were to be chosen from four parishes: St Giles' Camberwell and the 3 London parishes with which he was closely connected, St Botolph's Bishopsgate, St Saviour's Southwark and St Giles Cripplegate (q.q.v.), the latter replaced as nominating body by the new parish of St Luke's in 1773.

The charitable foundation underwent reorganisation over the years particularly as a result of the expansion of its educational provision by James Allen, who was Warden and Master of the College from 1712-1746. Rents from his properties in Kensington enabled 2 small schools to be set up in Dulwich after 1741, and in 1842 a grammar school was established. These schools later led to what are now Dulwich College, James Allen's Girls' School and Alleyn's School (q.q.v.). From 1882 2 separate boards of trustees were established, the Estates Governors who had responsibility for the Estate and Almshouses, and the College Governors who had responsibility for the schools, chapel and Dulwich Picture Gallery (q.v.), which had opened in 1814. In 1995 new arrangements came into being whereby the properties, investments and other estate activities now come under the Trustees of The Dulwich Estate, which includes management of Amenity Areas, that now comprise 28 separate parcels of land, including Court Lane Gardens. The largest area is Dulwich Woods (q.v.), but it also include footpaths, verges, greens and shrubberies, as well as the garden of the Old College. There are some freehold 3800 properties on the Dulwich Estate, which are all subject to the Estate's Scheme of Management established by law in 1974 as a means of preserving the estate's exceptional environment. The Amenity Areas are all maintained by the Managers of the Scheme out of a charge made as part of the Scheme and freeholders are also obliged to maintain their properties, gardens and boundaries in a good state.

The Trustees of The Dulwich Estate also acts as Trustees of the Charity of Christ's Chapel of God's Gift at Dulwich. Boards of Governors were set up for Dulwich College, Alleyn's School and Dulwich Picture Gallery. A separate board of Trustees of the Dulwich Almshouse Charity still maintains links with the four parishes of the original foundation.

Sources consulted:

John Wittich, London Villages, Shire Publications 1992; Andrew Duncan, 'Walking Village London', New Holland, 1997; Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; History on The Dulwich Estate website

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
The Dulwich Estate
Site management:
Managers of the Scheme of Management (Trustees of The Dulwich Estate Charity)
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

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