Man in cave

The History of Sydenham from Cippenham to present day. Links to photos especially welcome!

Moderator: frenzarin

Post Reply
Posts: 74
Joined: 23 Aug 2015 11:12

Man in cave

Post by sherlomi » 19 Mar 2017 08:57

Can anyone enlighten me please? I don't know where I read this following story but here goes.
Possibly a couple of hundred years ago there was a man living in the woods. Im not sure whetlher he'd
been a solicitor or something and fallen on hard times but evidentally he lived in a cave in Sydenham Hill Woods/
Dulwich Woods. I cant imagine where that cave would be so I may have that bit wrong but lived in the woods
nevertheless. He was robbed and murdured by a band of gypsies. Anyone??

Robin Orton
Posts: 3216
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: Man in cave

Post by Robin Orton » 19 Mar 2017 13:57

Posts: 2
Joined: 27 Mar 2017 12:46
Location: London, United Kingdom

Re: Man in cave

Post by AimeeHoward » 27 Mar 2017 13:52

I've heard this story but have no idea where exactly it happened. Also really curious to find out...

Michael Viner
Posts: 57
Joined: 2 Jul 2007 18:37
Location: Sydenham

Re: Man in cave

Post by Michael Viner » 28 Mar 2017 23:20

The precise location of tragic hermit Samuel Matthews' cave is unknown,but it was in Dulwich Woods in College Road(the area on the other side of the road from Sydenham Hill Station and St.Stephen's Church ,stretching on and upwards to Fountain Drive

Posts: 5886
Joined: 2 Sep 2007 11:58
Location: SYDENHAM

Re: Man in cave

Post by leenewham » 29 Mar 2017 12:38

Here is a picture of the man: ... otostream/

The Hermit of Dulwich

The story of the Hermit of Dulwich is well known – Samuel Matthews, the mentally unbalanced jobbing gardener who attained fame from living in a cave that he had constructed in Dulwich Woods at the end of the eighteenth century and where he was murdered in 1802, an outrage reported in “The Times” of the day. Matthews, we are led to believe, was given permission by the Master of the College to live in this cave and where he, not surprisingly, was the object of much curiosity. The reason I relate this story is because only a few years ago there was a remarkable corollary.

The connection with the Samuel Matthews story is that there was a latter-day hermit also living in Dulwich Woods, in not quite a cave, rather more a shack built on the site of ‘Beechgrove’, a handsome Victorian mansion once used as a nursing home where King George Vlth received treatment. This latter day hermit was a Jamaican named Solomon.

Solomon made his home in the woods very comfortable. His tools, cutlery, pots and pans were conveniently hung along a surviving old wall of Beechgrove, a wall on which on its street side had its mortar pointing between the bricks picked out by Solomon in of an attractive shade of mauve paint which contrasted nicely with the red of the bricks of the wall along Sydenham Hill. The Royal Mail was able to deliver letters to Solomon because he nailed the former house number of Beechgrove to an overhanging tree.

Solomon lived in the woods on Sydenham Hill for a number of years, and like his predecessor two hundred years earlier, apparently lived with the blessing (or the blind eye) of the Dulwich Estate, the present day successors to the Master, perhaps because Solomon was exercising squatter’s rights.

Eventually a more attractive option presented itself to Solomon. He was invited to enter Mais House, a charitable sheltered housing development operated by the Corporation of London, conveniently situated across the road and only 50 metres from Beechgrove. As far as I know, he lives there still.

MORE INFO IN THIS 1802 account: ... ve&f=false

Another report from the time: ... ve&f=false

Post Reply