This handsome semi-detached house is set back from Dulwich’s leafy Underhill Road. Built in 1879, the home retains many of its Victorian sensibilities, with intricate cornicing, original fireplaces and a pretty red brick façade. Spanning some 3,000 sq ft internally, with five bedrooms and voluminous, lateral living spaces, the interiors have been expertly curated under current ownership. A well-established landscaped garden unfolds at the rear, with a large studio and workshop beyond. To the front, there’s parking for two cars on a gated and gravelled driveway. Underhill Road is perfectly located for the amenities of East Dulwich, with excellent transport links into the city.
Setting the Scene
East Dulwich is arguably the finest example of 19th-century suburbia found within the London Borough of Southwark. It rapidly transformed from fields and market gardens into housing during the Victorian period, with new residents moving to the area for its local railways and its proximity to London.
Local services were developed concurrently and included the grocery shops of Lordship Lane, St Clement’s Church on Friern Road (replaced in 1957), and Dulwich Baths. To this day, there is a remarkable variety of architectural styles within the area, a testament to the Victorian love of revival. For more information, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
Entry to the home is via a stooped porch with Gothic-inspired pilasters and a convex awning. Ahead is an enclosed entryway that leads to the main hallway; a wonderfully atmospheric space, with views along the full length of the house, the hall has original, delicate cornicing overhead and dark stained flooring underfoot. Painted in ‘Picture Gallery Red‘ by Farrow and Ball, it sets the tone for the rich colour scheme used throughout the house.
The double reception rooms, a vast entertaining space, have been finished in a deep green and a complementary terracotta shade respectively. A vast bay window at the front floods both spaces with natural light, and an original fireplace provides a focal point to the room. Pocket doors divide the room from the adjoining snug, or entertainment room, where bespoke cabinetry flanks an open fireplace.
From here, via an open archway, is the kitchen, diner and casual living space. A contemporary addition to the house, the room connects to the garden via two broad French doors. Above, skylights draw the eye up while bathing the space in natural light. Bespoke cabinetry and a vast island unit are finished in an inky shade of black, with glossy quartz countertops and a glazed Zellige tile splashback. The current owners have used the other part of the room for casual living and dining, with a wood-burning stove for cooler months. There is also a useful guest WC on the ground floor, as well as access to a large utility room in the cellar.
A dark-painted staircase leads to the first floor, which is predominantly taken up by the primary bedroom suite. Overlooking the tranquil rear garden, the space is a private oasis; finished in a soothing shade of blue, the room has glazed doors leading to a Juliet balcony, as well as original cornicing, architrave and fireplace. An adjacent en suite has a freestanding bath, walk-in shower, twin vanity and WC, as well as a large bank of bespoke fitted wardrobes.
To the front of the first floor is a guest suite, currently laid out as a nursery. The room has been finished in light, block-printed wallpaper by Gucci with a floral motif that nods to the house’s Victorian origins. A contrasting inky black-painted en suite with a freestanding bath, vanity and WC adjoins.
There are three large bedrooms on the second floor, currently laid out as a home office, and two more on the top floor, all with fitted wardrobes. A bathroom completes the top floor, with geometric tiling, a shower, separate bath, vanity and a WC.
The Great Outdoors
The established gardens have been expertly landscaped. To the front, electric gates and a clipped hedge enclose a private driveway for two cars. At the rear, cleverly designed garden spaces flow from one to another. From the kitchen and dining room, French doors lead onto a decked patio which extends the interior spaces for entertaining in summer months. From here, a manicured lawn beyond is bordered by box hedging with steel planters; beyond is a shingled area, with a sunken trampoline and established trees.
At the far end of the garden is a large workshop with its own patio area. The timber building has its own decking space and is currently used for storage and plant potting. There’s a covered side access along the side of the house – perfect for storing anything from bikes to buggies.
Out and About
Underhill Road is perfectly positioned for the broad selection of weekend markets, cafés, bars and restaurants of East Dulwich. Nearby Lordship Lane is home to a vast number of independent shops, including Mons Cheesemongers, Moxon’s Fishmongers, William Rose Butchers, Bon Cafe and an excellent deli, Jones of Brockley. The East Dulwich Picturehouse is a 5-minute walk away.
The green spaces of Peckham Rye Park and Dulwich Park are within easy reach, and the nearby Dulwich Leisure Centre has a public swimming pool and gym. The oldest public art gallery in England, Dulwich Picture Gallery, is within easy reach, with its much-revered art collection and host of annual exhibitions and events.
For more inspiration, why not look to The Modern House’s guide to Dulwich?
The nearest stations to the house are East Dulwich, Peckham Rye, Honour Oak, Forest Hill, and Denmark Hill, which run Southern Rail services and citywide London Overground services. Trains to London Bridge take approximately 13 minutes, and Victoria from Denmark Hill takes eight minutes. There are also excellent bus connections within the area.
Council Tax Band: H
Known for its fine Victorian architecture, green open spaces and exceptional schooling, Dulwich has a fascinating history. First documented as a hamlet outside of London in 967 AD, the name of Dulwich has been spelt in various ways (Dylways and Dullag, to name a couple). Thought to have originated from two old English words, Dill, meaning white flower, and wihs, meaning damp meadow, the name Dulwich means, therefore, ‘the meadow where dill grows’.
The Manor of Dulwich and its surrounding land passed through several sets of hands (including many a royal) before they were purchased in 1605 by Elizabethan actor and entrepreneur Edward Alleyn. He set up a local charitable institution, The College of God’s Gift, in 1619. In 1882, the charity was reorganised, with three surviving sections operating as schools today.
Court painter to George III, Francis Bourgeois, endowed the College of God’s Gift with an extensive collection of paintings in 1811, originally intended to form the nucleus of the collection of the last king of Poland, Stanisław August Poniatowski. Following Poland’s partitions, the paintings were left to the college, which set up the Dulwich Picture Gallery under trusteeship in a building designed by Sir John Soane, which became Britain’s first public art gallery. Since 1995 the Gallery has been an independent registered charity.
The Gallery opened to students of the Royal Academy of Ars in 1815 (two years before officially opening to the public) and was an immediate success. Over the next century, its collection was frequented by many famed artists, including John Constable, William Turner and later Vincent van Gogh. Charles Dickens mentions Dulwich Picture Gallery in his novel The Pickwick Papers, as the novel’s protagonist Samuel Pickwick, visits the Gallery in retirement.
Dulwich today retains a quiet air and historical monuments in the form of its several collages; the area is a leafy part of London within easy reach of nearby Peckham, the city and green spaces of south-east London.
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