Maya and Natalie's Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals

Maya and Natalie's Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals leaflet

We heard a little of local actor Natalie Penn‘s excellent singing voice in Front Room Theatre‘s last production at Shrewsbury House, “Lie Back and Think of America”. Now there’s an opportunity to hear more of her singing in  their latest production, “Maya and Natalie’s Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals” which is on at Shrewsbury House on Thursday 20th and Friday 21st March. Front Room Theatre’s web site gives more details:

Front Room Theatre presents ‘Maya and Natalie’s Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals’ at Shrewsbury House on Thurs 20th and Fri 21st March at 8pm til 9 with refreshments available. Featuring the Woolwich Singers, and produced by the team behind ‘Lie Back and Think of America’, this new show interweaves musical numbers into stories from the lives of performers Maya Levy and Natalie Penn. Accompanied by world class musician Joseph Finlay, the show promises to be a wonderful evening’s entertainment. Tickets are £8 full price and £6.50 concession, with a group deal of 4 for £25. For tickets, call 020 7207 0296 or 07786 980 781 or email For online bookings please visit (online booking fee applies, no fee for phone or email bookings)

Best to book soon if you want to see Maya and Natalie’s musical – there aren’t many tickets left on, though as Natalie comments below more are available direct from her.

Maya and Natalie's Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals leaflet reverse

Mayplace Lane community clean-up day

Nicola's new plants at the top of Mayplace Lane near the bronze age barrow on Plum Lane
Mayplace Lane near the bronze age barrow on Plum Lane

All are welcome at a community clean-up session in Mayplace Lane next Sunday, 2nd March starting at 11.00am. Nicola wrote with details:

Mayplace Lane community clean-up day Sunday March 2nd from 11am
All helpers welcome! A chance to meet neighbours and help us clear rubbish and help build a haven for wildlife in our community. This is the second event after our successful clear up in December, this spring bulbs we planted are coming up and I hope to get out tomorrow and plant some flowers at the junction at Plum lane. Since December there has been only 1 fly tip, making the lane look cared for is acting as a deterrent to fly tipping and other antisocial activity.
Greenwich council should (–they failed to deliver this last time so bare this in mind!) provide us with litter grabbers, gloves and bags. Please bring any tools (rakes, secateurs, hand tools, buckets) you have, or just yourself! We are working from Plum lane down to Dallin Road section.
If you have anything stored in the lane you may wish to move it to ensure it is not thrown away. If you can mention this to your neighbours so they are also aware.

There about 20 people helping at the last clean-up in December and it made a big difference to the Lane. But let’s hope that this clean up is less eventful than the last!

Mayplace Lane
Mayplace Lane

Half term activities at Widehorizons Environment Centre

WideHorizons Environment Centre February 2014 Half Term Events Flyer

Nicola from the Widehorizons Environment Centre in Eltham sent me details of their free half-term events for children. As there are a maximum of 30 children per session it is essential to book. They can be contacted by ‘phone on 0208 294 8161 or e-mail Children under 7 must be accompanied by an adult. The activities take place on Monday and Tuesday:

Monday 17th February
10am-12 noon
Bear & Bug Hunt I Ages 3-7
Bring your bear on an adventure!
Come on a Bear Hunt before exploring the ponds and mini beast areas for signs of winter life at our wonderful Widehorizons Environment Centre.
Nature Explorers & Artists I All Ages
Play nature games, explore our woods with a scavenger hunt and create some wonderful art using natural materials and clay. This session is designed for families to get outside and muddy together and includes some self led adventures.
Tuesday 18th February
10.00 -12.00 noon
Winter Sprites & Wands I Ages 3+
Explore the magical woodland here at Widehorizons Environment Centre. Share a story, take a habitat walk and make a winter wishing wand or winter sprite using clay and natural materials that we find beneath our feet.
Woodland Adventure I Ages 6-11
Venture into our woods and learn how to shelter build and cook over a camp fire. (Bring your own sausages & marshmallows)

Widehorizons Environment Centre is located at 77 Bexley Road, London, SE9 2PE. Conveniently the activities do not clash with those at Woodlands Farm which take place on Wednesday to Friday.

Entrance to WideHorizons Environment Centre
Entrance to WideHorizons Environment Centre
Goat at WideHorizons Environment Centre
Goat at WideHorizons Environment Centre


Eaglesfield Park Ducks

Poster about attack on ducks in Eaglesfield Park
Poster about attack on ducks in Eaglesfield Park

Like me you may have been shocked to read the posters in Eaglesfield Park about an attack on the ducks in the Lilly Pond. Madeleine from the Friends of Eaglesfield Park wrote about the incident, and also sent details of their next tidying session at the pond. She wrote:

Criminal attack on Eaglesfield Park Ducks
We are sorry that our first news update for 2014 conveys details of a mindless, cruel and criminal act on wildlife in Eaglesfield Park.  I am sure that by now many people will have heard about the very upsetting incident or seen the notices posted around the pond.  The FOEP, like any decent people, are appalled that three adults (one with a child on his shoulders)  were observed throwing bricks at the ducks and then “flying” their bird of prey to attack the ducks, which were either killed or carried off.   However this criminal act was witnessed.
I have obtained further information and would like to assure you that this matter is being taken very seriously.  The Parks and Open Spaces Department of the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the Greenwich Met Police have been informed.   The latter are acting on information received and investigating  various leads.   FOEP will of course pursue the matter and keep you informed.
It has been suggested that a duck house/bird coop in the middle of the pond might provide an area of safety for ducks.  We have already looked into this in the past.  The advice we’ve so far had from wildlife agencies regarding a ‘duck island’ on the pond is that this can actually be detrimental to the other wildlife for a number of reasons including impact on water quality from duck faeces, bread left for ducks and ducks bringing in fish eggs on feet and feathers.  However due to the most recent events we are looking into this again and will review with the Parks Dept. and others what the best course of action will be. We will let you know as soon as we’ve done that.
In the meantime may we ask everyone visiting the park, local residents and clubs to help monitor wildlife security and to report any suspicious activity to the Police.
Lastly I would very much like to thank the person who took the trouble to inform the authorities and for providing posters regarding the incident and their very generous offer of a reward of £100.00.
Once again, I am sorry to begin with such upsetting news.

Ducks at Eaglesfield Pond
Ducks at Eaglesfield Pond

Everyone is welcome to join the Friends at their monthly meet-ups at the pond which re-start at the end of March:

Is Spring on its way?
We would all like to hope it is, and FOEP are now planning for the arrival of Spring!  We will start our monthly weeding, planting, seeding and tidying up on the last Sunday of the month, beginning March 30th between 10.30 – 1.30 pm.   We would be very grateful for any amount of time you could spare to help us.  It’s not all work – we do enjoy ourselves as well!     If you can join us, could please bring your own tools (spade, garden fork, hand digger, garden rake – sorry!)   Please make sure have suitable gloves and wellies.

In these wet winter days spring sometimes seems a long way off. Hopefully it will assert itself soon, and bring some ducks back to Eaglesfield Lilly Pond.

Ducks at Eaglesfield Pond
Ducks at Eaglesfield Pond

Adventure Education in Constitution Rise

Entrance to woodland on Constitution Rise
Entrance to woodland on Constitution Rise

Eltham based adventure learning charity WideHorizons plans to create an outdoor learning centre at a 5-acre woodland site on Constitution Rise, and has written to local residents to get their views on the idea. WideHorizons has a history that goes back to 1929, but was set up as a charity by Greenwich and Lewisham councils in 2004 to manage their outdoor centres. Subsequently Walsall council also became involved. They are now responsible for 6 outdoor centres, including their Environment Centre at 77 Bexley Road Eltham, and they provide adventure education experiences for over 30,000 children and young people a year.

WideHorizons staff and volunteers  will be at the woods on Saturday 15th February between 10am and 2pm if anyone would like to go and talk to them about their plans. The Google Map snippet at the bottom of this post shows the location of the woods in Shooters Hill.

Their letter to local residents says:

I am writing to you as a local resident to let you know about a recent change in management of a 5 acre woodland that is in your local area (see plan overleaf for reference).
Widehorizons Outdoor Education Trust is a local charity based in Eltham that provides outdoor and adventure activities for over 32,000 children and young people each year. We currently run 7 outdoor education centres including a day centre in Eltham, as well as providing professional teacher training and outdoor learning support services to schools, local authorities and youth services across London.
As part of our working partnership with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, who own the woodland, we have been granted a lease to manage and develop it for educational use. We would like to use the woodland site to ensure that local schools and young people can access inspirational adventure and outdoor learning activities to support their learning and personal development, as well as other activities to support their curriculum studies including science, geography and the environment.
We intend on providing opportunities for young people from schools and youth groups to get involved with the woodland management and learn skills including practical conservation, woodland management and project management.
We would also be keen to work with local people from the community who would like to get involved with the woods management, development and to be kept informed of the various woods activities.
Please be assured that the activities we propose are planned to be low impact on the woods and we aim to have as little impact on local residents and the surrounding environment. We want to ensure that there is community support for our plans and will welcome any suggestions, concerns or general questions. We are currently surveying the woods to establish what remedial measures are required and there are no planned activities to use the woods until the site is deemed safe and fit for use.
If you would be interested in meeting us, and knowing more about what Widehorizons do and our proposals, a number of our staff and volunteers will be at the woods on Saturday 15th February between 10am and 2pm. Access to the woods itself is through a set of blue gates on the corner of Constitution Rise and Moordown.
In the meantime, if you would like to contact us directly to discuss any aspects of the woodland management, or if you have any specific concerns related to our proposed activities, then please do so using the above address.

The woodlands on Constitution Rise are shown on the 1866 ordnance survey map when they were part of the grounds of a large house called The Rookery, which was still there on the 1914 map. I shall have to do some digging in the archives to find out more about it.

Google maps snippet showing location of woodland on Constitution Rise
Google maps snippet showing location of woodland on Constitution Rise

Woodlands Farm Beekeeping Course

Woodlands Farm Bee Keeping Course Poster

Maureen from Woodlands Farm wrote with details of a beekeeping course to be run by John Large and held at the Farm:

The course is an introduction to practicable beekeeping for both aspiring beekeepers and for those seeking a real insight into the wonderful and intriguing world of the honey bee. The course includes both fully illustrated ‘theoretical’ and ‘hands-on’ elements, covering the basic theory and equipment required, the life cycle of the honey bee, and the work involved over the beekeeping season, including at least two additional sessions working with the hives in the Woodlands Apiary.
Course Timetable:
Classroom: Wednesday Evenings, 7pm to 8.30 pm, Woodlands Farm, 8 consecutive weekly sessions, commencing 23 April through to 11 June 2014. Maximum 20-30 on course
Apiary: Groups of six – 17/18 May and 14/15 June, weather permitting.
Course Fees:
£120.00 includes use of protective clothing, gloves and hive tools (but not stout footwear) for the ‘hands-on’ apiary sessions.
Apiary only days are £30
Course Supervisor: John Large
To Book Contact: The Woodlands Farm Trust on 020 8319 8900 or email

Perhaps the gold that yesterday’s rainbow was pointing to was the golden colour of honey.

Rainbow and beehives at Woodlands Farm
Rainbow and beehives at Woodlands Farm

Shooters Hill Multi-Use Games Area open to the public

MUGA Court behind Christ Church School
MUGA Court behind Christ Church School

Mtr. Ariadne van den Hof, the Vicar of Christ Church Shooters Hill and Chair of Premises at Christ Church School, e-mailed to say that the MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area) behind the School is now open for members of the public to use outside school hours. That means that it can be used after 5pm Monday -Thursday, after 4pm Fridays and all day Saturday and Sunday. Access to the area is through a gate at the end of the new path to the left of the school.

This fulfils the agreement made between the school and the Royal Borough of Greenwich when planning permission was granted to extend the school and create a new play area on Eltham Common.

The MUGA has line markings for a variety of different sports, and there is also a permanently marked hop-scotch court! What luxury, when I was at school we had to use chalk.

MUGA Court behind Christ Church School
MUGA Court behind Christ Church School

The Bandmaster of Bonnie Blink

Drawing of proposed new portico for Bonnie Blink
Drawing of proposed new portico for Bonnie Blink

With the departure on Sunday of the Royal Artillery Band from Woolwich , their home since 1762, it was strangely fortuitous that I came across a file last week in the London Metropolitan Archives which led me to the story of possibly the band’s greatest bandmaster, Cavaliere Ladislao Zavertal.

It was my first visit to the archives, and after being issued with my History Card, I checked through the catalogue for local information. I was immediately intrigued by an entry about Bonnie Blink at 67 Eglinton Hill, and it was the first file I ordered from the archive. Who was Bonnie Blink, I wondered? An actress, perhaps, or a lady of ill repute? It turned out to be the name of a large house at 67 Eglinton Hill (also then known as 255 Eglinton Road), the home of Cavaliere Zavertal, and the file contained the documents for his planning application in 1897 to build a portico onto the front of his house.

Side view of proposed new portico for Bonnie Blink
Side view of proposed new portico for Bonnie Blink

Amongst the contents of the file are a large sheet of drawings and plans detailing the proposed new portico, including the side and front views of how Bonnie Blink would look after the work was complete, shown above. This sheet also has a map showing the surrounding properties at that time: most of today’s houses hadn’t been built. Further down the hill were just the three houses that are now 53 – 57 Eglinton Hill, next door to a nursery – Dallin Road had not yet been created. Next door up the hill,  labelled 257 Eglinton Road, was a large house on a wide plot set well back on Mayplace Lane. Interestingly the next houses further up the hill are labelled Portland Terrace, and make up the handsome Victorian terrace that now starts at number 79 Eglinton Hill.

The file also contains a delicate, decaying plan entitled “Freehold Land at Shooters Hill Kent for sale by auction by Mr Whittingham at the Town Hall Woolwich on Friday 7th April 1865 at 6 for 7 O’Clock.” This shows the boundaries of the numbered plots of land in Eglinton Hill, Brent Road and Cantwell Road to be auctioned, together with a set of “Stipulations”: for example: minimum vales of properties to be built on the plots; prohibition on carrying out the trade of innkeeper or victualler or retailers of wines, spirits or beer; and, unfortunately for Cavaliere Zavertal, a ban on any part of a property being erected within 20ft of the road. His proposed portico fell foul of this covenant and his application was rejected.

Ladislao  Zavertal was born in 1849  in Milan into a musical family: his parents and uncle were musicians of repute. He started his career as a composer and conductor in Milan, and then moved to Glasgow where he conducted the Glasgow Orchestral Society, Hillhead Musical Association and the Pollokshields Musical Association and was Special Instructor to the Glasgow-based Band of the North Devon Regiment. Perhaps it was while living in Glasgow that he came across the house name Bonnie Blink, meaning Beautiful View. In 1881 he applied for the vacant position of Bandmaster of the Royal Artillery Band and was appointed to the position on 10th December that year.

Wikimedia Commons image of Ladislao Zavertal by Jan Vilímek

Zavertal moved to Woolwich, where he presided over the “halcyon days” of the Royal Artillery band according to wikipedia:

The halcyon days of the Band, and particularly of the Orchestra, began in 1881 under the baton of the eminent Moravian conductor, and composer, Ladislao Zavertal. His reputation had preceded him, and audiences swelled quickly at his Woolwich concerts, which included appearances by many distinguished guests, leading to frequent state banquet performances, by royal command of Queen Victoria. The audiences often included such devoted luminaries as Sir Edward German, Antonín Dvo?ák, and Sir Edward Elgar – the latter drawing inspiration from the Orchestra in some of his own compositions. Dvorak, a personal friend of Zavertal’s visited him at his home in London on many occasions, and sought his advice on scoring for orchestra. His Symphony No. 9 (‘From The New World’) was rehearsed by the Royal Artillery Orchestra at Woolwich under the observation of the composer. Zavertal recommended he re-score the chromatic scale passages, originally designated to the strings, instead, for woodwind … The result impressed Dvorak greatly. The symphony was first performed privately in 1893 to an invited audience in the Royal Artillery Theatre. Zavertal introduced to Britain, music by Smetana (overtures and incidental music from ‘Prodana Nevesta’, and ‘Vitava’). On hearing the band for the first time (at a church parade), Dvorak commented “It sounds like a beautiful organ.”

As well as his achievements as a bandmaster and conductor, Cavaliere Zavertal was a prolific composer, and his skills were recognised with titles and medals from around Europe. He merits a whole chapter of the book Memoirs of the Royal Artillery Band by Henry Farmer who was a Royal Artillery bandsman under Zavertal’s mastership. This book lists Cavaliere Zavertal’s many honours:

Cavaliere Zavertal is now a naturalised British subject, and the senior bandmaster in the service. He received his commission as honorary second lieutenant on the 28th December, 1898, which was followed on the 15th November, 1899, by the full rank.
For his services during the Diamond Jubilee Celebration, Queen Victoria bestowed on him the Jubilee Medal, and in March, 1901, His Majesty King Edward VII. decorated him at Marlborough House with the Royal Victorian Order, appointing him a member of the fifth class. He has also received official recognition from several European monarchs. For doing credit to the Italian art in a foreign country, King Humbert nominated him Cavaliere of the Crown of Italy. His Majesty the King of Greece conferred on him the high honour of the Order of the Redeemer. The late King of Servia appointed him a Knight Companion of the Royal Order of Takova, and the Sultan of Turkey bestowed on him the Commander’s Star of the Osmanieh. Some years ago a further distinction, valuable because of its extreme rarity, was conferred on him when the Society of St. Cecilia of Rome elected him one of its members.
On the 26th June, 1896, the Duke of Cambridge, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Artillery, visited Woolwich, and decorated Cavaliere Zavertal with the Saxe-Coburg- Ernestine Order of Art and Science, conferred on him by His Royal Highness the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. There was a full parade of the Royal Artillery in garrison in honour of the event, when the Duke of Cambridge read the letter which had been received from the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Cavaliere Zavertal retired as Bandmaster in 1906.

Picture from Memoirs of the Royal Artillery Band by Henry George Farmer
Picture from Memoirs of the Royal Artillery Band by Henry George Farmer

The departure of the Royal Artillery Band from Woolwich after 252 years will be marked by events this weekend

In February the Royal Artillery Band is departing Woolwich to take up permanent residence in Tidworth.  Their departure will be marked with a Farewell Weekend of events.
The outline programme so far is:
8 Feb    Charity Band Concert in aid of local charities. Concert will be in the afternoon in the Woolwich Hall
9 Feb    1345    Band depart RA Barracks and march to General Gordon’s Square
1400    Band performs to guests & public
1420    Presentation of OP Herrick medals to some members of the band by the Mayor of Greenwich
1425    Speeches & presentations to Greenwich Council on behalf of the Regiment.
1430    Band march to Firepower
1435    Band play on No1 Square
1445    Move into Firepower to unveil RA Band display.

And what has become of Bonnie Blink now, more than a century after Cavaliere Zavertal’s proposal for a portico was turned down? As the picture below shows the planning process has not been kind to the house. Gone are the beautiful bays and the elegant arched windows, replaced with small, square UPVC framed double glazing. The only architectural adornment remaining, and common to the house now and the drawing at the top, seems to be the stone finials at each end of the roof. I wonder what Cavaliere Ladislao Zavertal would have thought of how his grand house ended up?

67 Eglinton Hill
67 Eglinton Hill
Rooftop finial at 67 Eglinton Hill
Rooftop finial at 67 Eglinton Hill