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The Wood That Built London: Dulwich Woods

The first half of the nineteenth century was the last period (except for the blackouts during the two World Wars) when the night sky above the woods was truly dark. Gas-fuelled street lamps were first introduced in central London in 1807, and by the middle of the century they had begun their relentless march through the suburbs. For the time being, however, while a nocturnal rambler might have seen the glow of the city on the northern horizon, overhead the Milky Way still streamed through the immense canopy of stars. So dark was the sky that between 1837 and 1839, the aurora borealis was seen above Dulwich Woods no fewer than seven times.

The very darkness and remoteness that attracted artistic spirits to these wooded hills also made them a lawless, dangerous place, roamed by footpads and highwaymen and traversed by smugglers carrying contraband from the Kent and Sussex coasts to London.

From The Wood That Built London by C.J. Schüler

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C.J. Schüler

C.J. Schüler