Shrewsbury Park summer festival on Sunday

Shrewsbury Park festival leaflet


The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are holding another of their marvellous summer festivals this Sunday, 9th July. The event kicks off with the official opening of the new drinking fountain, The Watering Hole, at 12.30pm by the Mayor of Woolwich, Peter Brooks along with “at least two” of our local Councillors. The new fountain was partly funded by the councillors’ ward budgets as well as money raised over the years by the Friends.

This year’s festival is packed with events and music. As well as the amazing dog show, there will be community stalls, crafts people, ice cream, face painting and yoga. Local Tai Chi teacher Dorothy Ng will present  a Tai Chi demonstration from 1pm to 1.30pm, and the StepZ Dance troupe will be showing their skills.  Intriguingly Emergency Exit Arts will be revealing the secret life the urban meerkat in their Meerkat Menagerie and the astronomers of the Royal Observatory’s Flamsteed Society will be bringing along their specialist telescopes and equipment for some solar observing.

Musical entertainment will be provided by Jazz Nights, folk duo Pytchwood, Susan Turner and Mark (Gilly) Evans of the Gillies and the Bexley Ukulele Band.

Registration for entry to the dog show events starts at 12.30pm, costing £2.00 per class, with the following competitions:

  • Fun agility course;
  • Best rescue dog;
  • Best fancy dress;
  • Puppy class (under 12 months);
  • Best child handler;
  • Obedience class;
  • Best biscuit catcher;
  • Dog most like its owner;
  • Fastest dog.

Unmissable, as usual.


Agility competition at the 2013 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Agility competition at the 2013 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Solar telescopes at the 2015 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Solar telescopes at the 2015 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

Opera Gala to celebrate 150 years of All Saints Shooters Hill

Peter Knapp, Tristan Stocks, Chiara Vinci, Tony Baker, and Jeremy Silver at "Incanto" The Magic of Naples
Peter Knapp, Tristan Stocks, Chiara Vinci, Tony Baker, and Jeremy Silver at Woolwich Opera Works’  “Incanto” The Magic of Naples at All Saints Church

Woolwich Opera Works will be presenting an Opera Gala to celebrate 150 years of All Saints Shooters Hill next Sunday, 25th June at 4pm at All Saints Church. The concert was almost cancelled because of the very sad news that Sally Silver, one of WOW’s founders had been diagnosed with Glioblasoma Grade 4 brain tumour. Geoff Sheath emailed the news:

We have long had plans for an Opera Gala to celebrate our 150th anniversary but at the very moment that we were due to send out invitations Sally Silver, who is organising the music for us, was taken seriously ill. After extensive tests tragically she was diagnosed with brain cancer and the prognosis is not good.. We seriously considered cancelling the Gala but Sally has been determined to go ahead. She is continuing to sing as well as ever as she awaits treatment. She would be so encouraged if the event were a sell-out, so I hope you are still able to come, and will encourage your friends and family to come too.
Tea, coffee and cakes will be served in the interval to help cover our expenses and there will be a retiring collection to cover the musicians’ expenses. Any surplus will go to Brain Tumour Research.
The tradition is that people dress up for Opera Galas. Don’t worry if you can’t but if you can that would be fabulous! Better still, wear a hat – the symbol of Brain Tumour research.

The concert will include operatic highlights such as: Rigoletto quartet (Verdi); Lakmé Flower Duet (Delibes); and The Pearl Fishers duet (Bizet), and features an international line up of soloists, led by Jeremy Silver at the piano, including bass-baritone Tony Baker, mezzo soprano Carolyn Dobbin, soprano Carole Irvine, baritone Alejandro Lopez Montoya, tenor Dominic Natoli and Sally Silver herself.

Entrance to the concert is free, and tickets aren’t essential, but if you would like to reserve a seat you can do so at  There was a standing ovation at Woolwich Opera Works’ last marvellous concert at All Saints, Incanto: The Magic of Naples, and this one is bound to be very popular, so I’d recommend booking a ticket beforehand.

There is a justgiving page to raise funds to support Sally in her fight against brain cancer here:

There are some more photographs taken at WOW’s Incanto concert on flickr here:

Chiara Vinci, Tristan Stocks, Tony Baker, and Jeremy Silver at "Incanto" The Magic of Naples
Chiara Vinci, Tristan Stocks, Tony Baker, and Jeremy Silver at “Incanto” The Magic of Naples

I was slightly surprised to hear that All Saints was 150 years old: the church looks much more modern than that, so I headed down to the Greenwich Heritage Centre to find out about its history. There, I found that I was partly correct: the archives included a pamphlet entitled: “Consecration of New Church Saturday 6th July 1957  The original church consecrated in 1881, was destroyed by enemy action in 1944”. This contained a history of the church from its origins in 1867, starting with this passage:

In 1867, when a zealous Diocesan Missioner came searching for a place in which to set up the banner of Jesus Christ he found lightly wooded country where now we have our hilly streets and closely packed houses. A large meadow extended from what is now Eglinton Hill to Plum Lane and a country lane led up from Herbert Road to Shrewsbury Lane with a stile where now we have the junction of Genesta Road and Eglinton Hill. The area was sprinkled with a few cottage houses, but there were no houses at all on what is now called Ripon Road.

According to David Lloyd Bathe’s “Steeped in History” the country lane leading up to Shrewsbury Lane was Mayplace Lane. The diocesan missioner, the Rev. William Nesbit McGuiness, set up a church in a large tent at the top of Eglinton Hill, where the fire station flats now stand. He attracted a congregation of 200 people to hear him preach.  In 1868 an iron building was erected lower down the hill which was used as a church until the Rev. McGuiness was given grants to buy the plot of land between Cantwell and Herbert roads and build a day school there. This was completed in 1872.
The Rev. McGuiness then took on the task of raising money to build a church next to the school. For several year he wrote, by hand, an average of 10,000 letters a year asking for money for the church. He received about £9000 in donations from all over Britain, as well as from Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. The first part of the church, the nave, was consecrated in 1875 and the final part of the building, the tower consecrated on 11th April 1881. A sketch of the Rev. McGuiness’ All Saints Church from the Greenwich Heritage Centre is shown below, and there is a coloured photo taken from “Steeped in History” further down. It was located higher up Ripon Road than the current church, as can be seen in the bomb damage map.

Sketch of original All Saints Church from Greenwich Heritage Centre
Sketch of original All Saints Church from Greenwich Heritage Centre

During the war the church was hit a number of times, but was repaired by the vicar, the Rev W.H.G. Gilbert and his team of volunteers. It was finally destroyed on 30th August 1944. The snippet from the LCC bomb damage map below shows the church near the top and the day school to its North. Heavy damage is shown in darker colours, with black indicating “total Destruction”, purple “damaged beyond repair” and red “seriously damaged – doubtful if repairable”. The circle indicates a V2 rocket hit which,  “Steeped in History” says was what finally destroyed the old All Saints Church.
The All Saints congregation kept going with services held in temporary buildings such as an iron building at the junction between Eglinton Hill and Cantwell Road for 4 years until 1948 and then in the church hall which the civil authorities had been using during the war. Over the years the congregation donated £5000 to the rebuilding fund which augmented the war damage allocation. The foundation stone for the new church was laid on 18th February 1956 and the consecration took place on 6th July 1957, almost 60 years ago – a second anniversary to be celebrated.

Snippet from LCC bomb damage map
Snippet from LCC bomb damage map

The new church was built down the hill on the site of the destroyed day school near the junction of Ripon Road and Herbert Road. The architect was Thomas F. Ford who, according to wikipedia “was a prolific ecclesiastical architect, Diocesan Architect for Southwark, an Ashpitel Prize winner at the Royal Institute of British Architects, founder of Thomas Ford Architects and with his brother Ralph, who owned the largest and most complete collection of English Bibles in England, a translator in 1948 of the New Testament.” He was also the architect for the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Welling and All Saints Church at New Eltham. In the consecration pamphlet Thomas described the architecture of All Saints Shooters Hill as follows:

The architectural style of the building is derived from the Greek Classic of the early 19th century, modified and adapted to suit modern materials and requirements. What little detail there is of mouldings and enrichments retains that precision of line and care for proportion which earned for this style the title of “The Reign of Elegance”.

The east wall of the church is covered with a painting by Hans Feibusch. Hans was an artist and sculptor who was best known for his murals in Anglican churches: he worked in 28 UK churches as a muralist. Originally from Germany, and of Jewish heritage, he came to Britain in 1933 when the Nazis came to power. Thomas Ford, who often worked with Hans, described the All Saints’ mural in the consecration pamphlet:

The East wall is covered with a large painting by Mr. Hans Feibusch depicting the Ascension scene with Our Lord in the act of going up into Heaven. Below him are two angel figures speaking to the assembled disciples, who are in postures that suggest wonder, adoration and worship. This work is painted direct upon the plaster wall, and in form and colour makes a magnificent end to the church. The colouring of the rest of the interior has been most carefully considered so as to enhance, and not conflict, with the riot of colour on the East wall.

Hans’ mural will provide the backdrop to WOW’s singers in what I’m sure will be another excellent concert on Sunday. Don’t forget to wear a hat.

A rare coloured photograph of the original All Saints Church from David Bathe's "Steeped in History"
A rare coloured photograph of the original All Saints Church from David Bathe’s “Steeped in History”
All Saints Church, Herbert Road
All Saints Church, Herbert Road

Woodlands Farm Summer Show and Mid Summer Hay Meadow Walk

Woodlands Farm Summer Show 2017 poster

Woodlands Farm‘s annual Summer Show is next Sunday, 11th June, between 11.00am and 4.30pm, and entry is free. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

The Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show is on Sunday 11th June from 11:00am-4:30 pm.
All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show. Come and meet our animals and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey.  Relax in our café to live music by The Short ‘n Curlies, get involved in craft activities and games, and enjoy displays of country crafts.  Entry is free, donations are always welcome. All proceeds go towards keeping Woodlands Farm here as a conservation project and valuable resource for the community. There is no parking on the farm, please use public transport.
The Woodlands Farm‘s Summer Show is combined with Open Farm Sunday again this year, so it will include farming related demonstrations such as sheep shearing and rural crafts.

Open Farm Sunday is the farming industry’s annual open day, and hundreds of farms across the country will be open to the public. Open farms are listed on  Open Farm Sunday‘s website. The event is organised by the LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) charity.

The farm is a registered charity and relies on events such as the Summer Show to raise funds to continue to operate. It’s their 20th anniversary this year, the farm trust was founded in 1997, so a good time to show your support.

Bantam at Woodlands Farm
Bantam at Woodlands Farm
Bantam at Woodlands Farm
Bantam at Woodlands Farm

A couple of weeks after the Summer Show the farm host the latest of their regular series of guided walks, the Mid-Summer Hay Meadow Walk. Hannah sent details:

Mid Summer Hay Meadow Walk
Sunday 25th June, 10am
Join us for a leisurely stroll through our Hay Meadows. In June the meadows are full of wild flowers and an array of different types of grasses. Find out how we manage these hay meadows throughout the year and about some of the lovely plants you will find there. The walk will start at 10am, meeting at the Green Building in the Farm yard. This event is free, although as a charity we do appreciate donations. Unfortunately, this walk is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.
For more information, see our website or email

The Farm manages the grass in their fields either by grazing with their cows and sheep or by cutting hay with tractors and mowers in mid-summer and they don’t use any fertilizers or herbicides on the farm.  This type of management enables the wild flowers and grasses to produce their seed ready to grow again next year, resulting in a large diversity of flowers, grasses and sedges in the fields and meadows, which in turn supports many species of insects. The Farm is part of  Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme which  encourages farmers to manage their land sensitively, to benefit wildlife and the local environment. This walk is a good chance to learn more about the meadows and how they are managed, and enjoy some beautiful countryside.

Woodlands Farm Meadow
Woodlands Farm Meadow
Woodlands Farm Wild Flower Meadow
Woodlands Farm Wild Flower Meadow

Shrewsbury Park Bat Walk on Friday 19th May

Bat Walk Poster 2017

Bats are fully active in May after their winter hibernation, and the females are starting to form maternity colonies and look for suitable nursery sites, such as buildings or trees, getting ready for June when they give birth to a single tiny pup which they feed on their milk. So the first Friends of Shrewsbury Park bat walk of the year should be perfectly timed to see plenty of bats, provided the weather is favourable.

Kris Inglis, Chair of the Friends of Shrewsbury Park sent details of the walk:

Meet in the car park at twilight for an introduction from bat-wise FSP members who will lead the adventure using our eyes, ears and bat detectors!
Walk is free to members, £2 others (but free to join on the day)
• Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather
• Children must be accompanied by an adult
• Walk lasts about 1 1/2 hours and torches are helpful
• Dogs must be kept on a lead
If you have mobility issues or enquiries please contact us on and we will help you participate. The trail is a mix of paved path, gravel and grass.
If it rains neither the bats nor us will be coming out!

Summer is a busy time for bat surveyors: they will be walking their NBMP transects, such as that at Woodlands Farm, at the start and end of July looking for pipistrelles, noctules and serotines, then in August there’s the waterway survey for daubenton’s bats and other surveys such as the sunrise/sunset survey. Anyone can volunteer to help in these surveys, and the Bat Conservation Trust provide training in using bat detectors to identify bats, and even loan out bat detectors for the surveys.

At the last Shrewsbury Park Bat Walk, last September, bats were detected almost immediately the walk started. Fingers crossed we’ll have similar luck this time.

Brown Long-eared Bat at Bat Fest
Brown Long-eared Bat at Bat Fest
Brown Long-eared Bat at Bat Fest
Brown Long-eared Bat at Bat Fest




Barn Dances and Bee Walks at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Barn Dances Poster 2017

There’s a chance to don your gingham, denim and Stetsons, grab your partner and dosey-doe at  Woodlands Farm Barn Dances on Saturday 3rd June and Saturday 8th July.  No skill or experience in barn dancing is required, and usually little is demonstrated at the dance: the steps and sequences are all called out by the band, the excellent Skinner’s Rats.  Hannah from the farm e-mailed the details:

Woodlands Farm Barn Dances
Come along to one of the Woodlands Farm Summer barn dances, taking place in a real farm barn!  With music and calling provided by Skinners Rats the barn dance is guaranteed to be a fun evening.   Bring along your own food, drink and glasses and dine on hay bales to complete the rustic evening.  The barn dances are taking place on Saturday 3rd June and Saturday 8th July from 7.30pm – 11pm.  Tickets are £14.  To book visit our website
For more information, see our website or contact The Woodlands Farm office on 020 8319 8900.

Barn dance at Woodlands Farm
Barn dance at Woodlands Farm

The ecological surveys at the farm continue this week with May’s monthly bee walk this Thursday, 18th May, meeting at 2pm at the farm office near the scarecrows. At least seven different types of bee were spotted on last month’s walk: a white tailed bumblebee; garden bumblebee; field cuckoo bumblebee; common carder bee; honey bee; buff tailed bumblebee and a hairy footed flower bee, plus some others that were too quick to accurately identify. Contact Hannah on for more details.

Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm
Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm
Buff-tailed Bumble bee at Woodlands Farm
Buff-tailed Bumble bee at Woodlands Farm
Bee at Woodlands Farm
Bee at Woodlands Farm

Kharny Day at Oxleas Wood Café on Bank Holiday Monday

Kharny Day Picture poster

Bank Holiday Monday, 1st May, sees the second annual Kharny Day at Oxleas Wood Café from 11.00am to 5.00pm. This family fun day and dog show, which attracted over a thousand people last year, includes live music, a dog agility competition, bouncy castles, stalls, a BBQ, face painting and a Gladiator knock out for adults.

Kharny Day was set up by Rachael Webb to commemorate the death of her dog Kharn, killed by an illegally-ridden quad bike in Oxleas Woods on Bank Holiday Monday 2013. Kharn, a Staffie/Lab cross, was  a special dog: Rachael is a disabled woman, and a qualified dog behaviour therapist, who personally  trained Kharn to help her do things she found difficult like emptying the washing machine, supporting her getting up when she fell over and helping her feel more confident in going out. The loss of Kharn was devastating for Rachael.

As well as remembering Kharn, Rachael set up the event to raise awareness that it is illegal to ride bikes in public woodlands and open spaces and to raise funds for animal charities.  Last year funds were raised for Battersea Dogs and Cats, this year it is for the Blue Cross Hospital for Animals and the Old Blue Cross Pet Cemetery on Shooters Hill Road.

What a great way to spend Bank Holiday Monday.


Kharny Day poster

Woolwich Opera Works’ Incanto: The Magic of Naples

Woolwich Opera Works Incanto: the magic of Naples poster

Following their very popular Spanish Siesta concert in February, Woolwich Opera Works (WOW) are holding another free concert at All Saints Church in Herbert Road this Sunday, 30th April. Their website provides more detail:

WOW presents three exciting singers and multi-faceted artist Peter Knapp accompanied at the piano by Jeremy Silver. Together they will transport you to Naples in Italy with their operatic gems from Donizetti’s most famous opera The Elixir of Love, sung in Italian with the story line narrated in English. After the interval the concert continues with popular Neapolitan songs including O sole mio and Funiculì Funiculà. Donizetti lived in Naples for 22 years and 51 of his 70 operas were staged there during that time

The soloists on Sunday are bass-baritone Tony Baker, soprano Chiara Vinci and tenor Tristan Stocks with Peter Knapp narrating L’elisir d’amore in English.

Tickets are not required for Sunday’s concert, but it is possible to reserve seats (until 3.50pm) through this website. Tea, coffee and cakes will be sold in the interval by All Saints and there will be a retiring collection for WOW Opera.


Sally Silver, Donna Bateman, Ricardo Panela and Dominic Natoli at Woolwich Opera Works’ Spanish Siesta
Sally Silver, Donna Bateman, Ricardo Panela and Dominic Natoli at Woolwich Opera Works’ Spanish Siesta

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day, Easter activities and ecological surveys

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day 2017

It’s a busy time at Woodlands Farm, with the lambing season in full swing and the lambing trained volunteers on a rota to support the ewes. This leads up to the Lambing Day fair on 9th April, Easter Holiday children’s activities and the start of the surveys of the farm’s flora and fauna.

Some 38 of the farm’s 70 pregnant ewes have given birth so far, and there seem to be more triplets this year. The first to lamb were the recently arrived, rare breed Manx Loaghtan which have striking black lambs, now old enough to be gambolling in the fields. The newly born lambs will be on display at the farm’s annual Lambing Day fair on Sunday 9th April from 11am to 4pm, entrance price £2 for adults £1 for children.  The fair will also have the usual stalls, country crafts, children’s activities and café and barbecue.

New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm

The week after Lambing Day the farm will host its Easter Holiday events for children. Hannah, the Education Officer, wrote with details:

Easter Holiday Events
Tuesday 11th April  Mad Hatters Tea Party  10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm – 4pm
The second in our series of events to celebrate 20 years of the Woodlands Farm Trust.  Come along to our Mad Hatters Tea Party, dress up and join our celebrations as we make fun hats and prepare some food to start the party!  £4 per child.  Booking is essential, to book call 0208 319 8900.  Don’t be late for a very important date!
Wednesday 12th April    Marvellous Minibeasts 10am-12noon or 1pm-3pm
Do you love creepy crawlies and bugs?  Join us as we find out all about minibeasts.  We will be doing a craft as well as using magnifying glasses to see what we can find in the woods.   £4 per child.  Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.  This walk is not suitable for buggies.
Thursday 13th April   Egg-cellent Easter Trail    Any time between 10am and 2pm
Join us for our annual Easter Trail.  Can you find all the different Easter Eggs and Spring Animals hidden around the farmyard? Find them all and you will get your own Chocolate Easter egg to take home.  Drop in any time between 10am and 2pm.  £2 per child
For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on

Hannah is also the person to contact if you are interested in helping with the comprehensive set of surveys of the wildlife and plants at the farm. They start with the monthly bee walks to record the numbers and types of bumble bees, the next one of which is on Wednesday 19th April, then there is the first of the pond surveys, mainly looking for amphibians, on Thursday 27th April. Later surveys will include wild flowers, hedgerows, butterflies, moths, mammals and bats.

With luck, there’ll be some corky fruited water dropworts again.

New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lambs at Woodlands Farm
New lambs at Woodlands Farm

Severndroog Castle film night at the Shooters Hill Local History Group

Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle

Severndroog Castle is the topic of the Shooters Hill Local History Group‘s next meeting, to be held on Thursday, 16th March at Shrewsbury House starting at 8.00pm. Steve wrote to me with the details:

There is a Severndroog Castle film night on Thursday 16th March at Shrewsbury House at 8pm arranged by the Shooters Hill Local History Group.
Films of the campaign to save Severndroog will be shown by the Shooters Hill Camcorder Club and will include the TV Restoration programme; the visit by the mayors of Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark: the opening of the building and an open day event.
A visitor fee applies, everyone welcome.

The story of Severndroog Castle is one of successful community activism, which started when the castle was under threat of being sold off to a private company for use as offices in 2002. The Severndroog Castle Alliance (later the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust) was formed by residents living in the area with the aim of saving the building for community use. The castle was included in the BBC Restoration series in which viewers voted on which listed building should be given a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for remedial work in 2004. Although the castle only managed second place in the south-east section of the programme, ultimately it was Heritage Lottery funding that allowed its restoration, as well as funds from charities such as the Country Houses Foundation; The Pilgrim Trust and The Architectural Heritage Fund. Now the castle is run by volunteers who organise regular events and open the castle to the public on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 12:30-4:30pm. It’s worth a visit for the views alone.

Should be an interesting evening.


Severndroog Castle under wraps for its restoration
Severndroog Castle under wraps for its restoration
Severndroog Castle and rainbow from Westmount Road
Severndroog Castle and rainbow from Westmount Road

Woolwich Opera Works' Spanish Siesta

Woolwich Opera Works Spanish Siesta leaflet


Woolwich Opera Works (WOW) are holding a free concert of Spanish-themed music at All Saints Church in Herbert Road on Sunday, 26th February. Their website provides more detail:

Sunday, February 26, 2017, 4:00pm 5:30pm
WOW are excited to present 4 world class singers to celebrate our one year anniversary. The theme of the concert is Spain and it includes operatic highlights from well known operas in the first half featuring Carmen, Le nozze di Figaro, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Fidelio, Don Giovanni and Il Trovatore. After a short interval the programme continues with a lighter selection of gorgeous Spanish Songs and culminates in a beautiful arrangement of Rodrigo’s En Aranjuez con mi amor.
Sopranos Donna Bateman and Sally Silver are joined by tenor Dominic Natoli and baritone Ricardo Panela who are accompanied on the piano by Jeremy Silver.
Tea, coffee and cakes will be sold in the interval and there will be a retiring collection.

Tickets are not required for Sunday’s concert, but it is possible to reserve seats (until 3.50pm) through this website.

This is WOW’s second free concert at All Saints. Founders Sally and Jeremy Silver along with soprano Namrata Shah, bass-baritone Tony Baker and tenor Tony Stocks performed a programme of opera favourites before the church’s Candlelight Carols service in December. This highly enjoyable evening, even for those like me who usually avoid opera, included operatic greatest hits such as Puccini’s O mio babbino caro, Verdi’s Libiamo ne’ lieti calici and Bernstein’s Maria, and was very well received by the audience. I’m looking forward to Sunday’s concert.


Woolwich Opera Works Spanish Siesta leaflet

All Saints Church, Herbert Road
All Saints Church, Herbert Road