London has a lot of postal districts. Just taking the London-specific ones (W, NW, N, E, SE, SW, EC and WC), there are 119. And most of these have a good range of pubs, too, though most obviously cluster in the centre of town. Not SE21, though: this postal district we can cover quickly. I now have photos of all three (that’s 3) of its pubs (though there’s one additional former pub still standing).
The vast majority of SE21 (1,500 acres of it, to be precise) comes under the management of The Dulwich Estate, an organisation which is separate from Dulwich College (which itself owns vast tracts of pristine playing fields and attractive college buildings), but which funnels money into the College and other schools as a charitable venture.
Clearly, public houses are not a priority of the Dulwich Estate. In fact, there is only one hostelry in the centre of Dulwich Village, which is The Crown and Greyhound (Dulwich Village SE21, fig. 41). It retains in its name some sense of the history behind it, as there were originally two separate pubs, one on either side of the road, at this location. However, at the turn of the 20th century, these merged into the one larger pub, leaving more spaces for the organic delicatessens and baby clothing boutiques, such as befit the area.
The remaining two pubs lie to the West of the Village. One is what is commonly referred to as a ‘gastropub’, The Rosendale (West Dulwich SE21, fig. 42). This appellation may be more warranted than in many cases, given that fine dining isn’t otherwise particularly plentiful in this area (surprisingly), so hungry locals must congregate with those merely slaking their thirst.
Of course, Mitchells & Butlers’ suburban brand Ember Inns provides a third option for the residents of SE21, which is The Alleyn’s Head (West Dulwich SE21, fig. 43), not perhaps as rarefied as the other two, and occupying a large site off Park Hall Road, with prominent car parking out front, looking for all the world like a Wetherspoon’s manqué.
If there’s a lesson to be drawn from all this, it’s that you’d be better off living elsewhere if it’s a quick pint down the local that you count on in the evening. Then again, you’re unlikely to be able to afford to live here, anyway.
For a full list of current and former pubs in the SE21 postal district, see the London Pubology site.