Just outside the centre of the village of Dulwich is part of the dreaded South Circular Road of which this part is simply called ‘Dulwich Common’. As its name implies, the road called ‘Dulwich Common’ crosses land that was at one time a large common. Looking at John Rocque’s map or 1746 we can see that the common was well over a mile in length.
At the cross-roads formed where the Dulwich Common crosses College Road is to be found a surprisingly rural scene – as shown in the picture. The view looks south from the near the traffic lights at what was once a mill pond. Edward Alleyn’s windmill stood near the large pond until 1814. Today the pond is the preserve of ducks and, because it is surrounded by railings, it is not subject to much interference.
Looking at the view, it might be hard to realise that this tranquil scene is only yards from a very busy road which on several occasions during working days of the week is clogged with motor cars, buses and heavy lorries skirting around the village itself. The brick-built house seen through the trees stands in a short cul-de-sac called Pond Cottages. There only a few houses on one side of the narrow street – this one, probably dating from early Victorian times, and three very small ones standing next to it. They are most unusual because they are mainly built of timber with weather-boarded exteriors. Although lived in today they were probably built as huts in which brick-makers once toiled using the local clay to make bricks and fire them in a nearby kiln.
Between the two chimneys in the view can be glimpsed the lone narrow spire of the Victorian St Stephen’s church further south beside College Road. Hiding behind the tree with a curved tree trunk is the lower part of Crystal Palace television mast.
London has a few remaining ponds left in existence – some of them were mill ponds – but this one in Dulwich makes the observer think they are in the heart of the countryside rather than just a few miles from the centre of London. A nearby milestone bears the inscription ‘Five miles from The Standard in Cornhill’.