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.
ILLUSTRATED TALK on HONEYBEE KEEPING IN OXLEAS WOODS from Oxleas Wood Honeybee Apiary.
7:00PM THURSDAY 26MAY 2016
£3.50 per visitor includes access to the viewing platform
Jars of Honey are the on supermarket shelves, local honey can be found on sale at markets or by the side of the road. Honey comes from the bees we see flitting from flower to flower but does every type of bee make honey?
How does honey differ from place to place?
Is honey made throughout the year?
How is it collected?
Now is the chance to discover the answers to these questions and many more.
John Large, the Oxleas Wood Apiary apiarist, will be at Severndroog Castle to introduce the art and mystery of beekeeping, together with some of the known facts and science of A. Mellifera. He will venture into some of the remaining mysteries about the anatomy of the individual bee and social behaviour of the bee colony, including the gaps in our knowledge and the enigmatic and sometimes perplexing traits of bee behaviour that persist for several thousands of years since man first endeavoured to domesticate these fascinating creatures.
Weather and seasonal development permitting, John Large will bring along an observation hive stocked with bees, so that the wonderful world of the honeybee can be witnessed at first-hand. The fully illustrated presentation will include a question and answer session and, perhaps, close with a sweetener to those participating.
Tickets will be available on the door but if you wish to book in advance click on the link below. Please note when booking via Eventbrite there will be a booking fee. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bee-keeping–tickets-24844043202
Sounds fascinating, and with the added bonus of a twilight view from the top of the castle!
Our local woodlands are awash with bluebells and other wild flowers: it’s the perfect time for a walk in the woods, and there’s a great opportunity this Sunday, 1st May, when Woodlands Farm have organised a guided walk through the woods from Severndroog Castle to Woodlands Farm starting at 2.00pm.
Hannah Ricketts, the farm’s education officer, wrote with details:
View the delights of springtime bluebells with this guided walk through Oxleas Wood and Woodlands Farm. Starting at Severndroog castle this walk will meander through Oxleas Wood taking in the signs of spring as well as a chance to find out more about the history of the woodland, it will end at Woodlands Farm with a trip up to Clothworkers Wood if you still have the energy to enjoy the farm’s display of bluebells. This walk is free, donations are welcome. For more information call 020 8319 8900.
This is more than just a chance to admire Oxleas’ and Woodlands’ bluebells. Previous bluebell walks have revealed some of the woods’ hidden treasures, such as the Redwood trees planted by the London County Council in the middle of our native woodlands, not to mention native plants that are indicators of ancient woodland, such as the Wild Service Tree and Butchers Broom – species that would be threatened if a road was ever built through the woods. One year we heard about the historic cants of coppiced Hazels and Chestnuts deep in the wood and their place in medieval life. This walk is very educational and very highly recommended.
St George’s Garrison Church will be open for London Open House weekend, despite not appearing in the Open House brochure. Between 10am and 5pm on the 19th and 20th September we’ll be able to see the marvellous mosaics after phase 1 of their restoration and the new tensile fabric roof that protects them. It is planned to have a mini-autumn festival at the church, with food and arts and craft stalls. There is no charge for stalls, if you’d like to take part contact Julie Ricketts, the Heritage Project Officer, on email@example.com. Also contact Julie if you’re interested in helping other Friends of St George’s to show visitors round on either of the two days.
It’s a mystery why the restored church isn’t included in the Open House brochure, especially when an article about the restoration and the new roof appeared in the RIBA journal. The only reason I’ve heard is that they “had too many churches already”.
The weekend of 19th and 20th September looks like being packed with interesting local events. As well as St George’s Garrison Church and London Open House, Shrewsbury House is hosting its own open house on the Saturday, there’s the Woolwich Carnival also on Saturday, Severndroog Castle are holding an autumn festival as part of their Open House on Sunday, and The Walking Time Machine has a Battle of Britain Anniversary Special walk on Sunday. More about all of these below.
Shrewsbury House‘s Open House is free and runs from 12 ’til 4 on Saturday. It includes:
Activities & Presentations by User Groups
Photography, Yoga, Keep Fit, Singing, Fencing, Wine Making, Short Matt Bowls, Tai Chi, Beavers, Jujitsu, Pilates, etc etc Children’s & Family Activities
Toddler & Pre-School activities, Face Painting, Ballet & Street Dance. Live Music & Dance
in the Princess Charlotte Room Bubbly & Cake on the Kent View Balcony
A Pop Up Indulgent Cafe with a View complete with Millinery, Hand Made Jewellery & More Tours of the House
with Spoken Guide by Local Historian
There is also a “What do you want your Shooters Hill to be?” wall chart quiz which sounds interesting.
Woolwich Carnival is on Saturday 19th between midday and 5.00pm. Sounds good from their description:
Inspired by the diverse and active community groups in the Greenwich area the Woolwich Community Carnival Committee are bringing back carnival to Woolwich this summer on Saturday 19th September.
Woolwich Carnival will be a celebration of local culture and community. There will be a parade, costumes, live music, dance, community stalls, food and crafts, steel drums and plenty of good vibes – a great way to bring neighbouring communities together for a day of collective summer festivities.
This year’s theme is Feeling Good – all things that make us happy.
The local highlights of London Open House for me are the Gordon Square walk and talk and the opening of the Christ Faith Tabernacle Cathedral (formerly Granada Cinema), both on Saturday, and the Severndroog Castle Autumn Festival on Sunday.
Meet: Sat 10.30am next to the big TV screen, General Gordon Square SE18 6HX. First come basis. N D T
A tour and talk looking at the problems and potential of seating in public places, focusing on Gordon Square, Woolwich. A ten minute documentary film will be shown in a nearby venue, made in collaboration with users of Gordon Square.
Gustafson Porter 2011.
An unexpected highlight of Open House a couple of years ago was a walk and talk about the Woolwich Squares. This gave a fascinating insight into the challenges of designing and developing Gordon and Beresford Square and the solutions that were adopted, often with tricky negotiations, such as the late addition of a requirement to have the large screen in Gordon Square. The description of the project to transform the square has some fascinating snippets:
This project aims to transform Woolwich into one of London’s best-connected, most sought-after riverside areas. Developed with the local community, the landscape masterplan draws on the town’s rich architectural and military heritage to create two multi-functional, fully-accessible spaces called ‘Garden’ and ‘Ballroom’, connected by Greens End’s revitalised streetscape.
Gordon Square is a daytime garden which can be layered with different uses, including specialist markets and public events. A scrim of water in its lawned amphitheatre can also be transformed into an ice rink. Beresford Square is a more formal space supporting a daily market. Its east side illuminates with the setting sun and changing patterns of light encourage local residents to linger and meet against the dramatic backdrop of Arsenal Gate.
I’ve never heard the water feature called a “scrim of water” before, and love the thought that it could be turned into an ice rink, though the slope might make it interesting!
The former Granada Cinema at the end of Powis Street, which is now the Christ Faith Tabernacle Cathedral, is a very welcome new addition to Open House this year. It will be open on Saturday between 1.00pm and 5.00pm. Its description in the Open House guide barely does it justice: “Lavish and atmospheric former cinema with interior by Theodore Komisarjevsky, converted to Bingo Hall in 1960s. Grade II* listed.” Komisarjevsky, once a stage designer for the Russian ballet, designed the interior in gothic style and used motifs from European cathedral buildings such as Amiens, Rouen and Lyons in the auditorium, so it doesn’t seem inappropriate that it is now used as a cathedral. I was allowed to have a look round the cathedral last year, some of my photos are here on Flickr, and was very impressed both by the building itself and by the care with which it had been restored. Well worth a visit.
Severndroog Castle is always worth a visit, both for the building itself and the excellent views from the top. For this years Open House the volunteer team are also planning an Autumn Festival, with “singers, musicians and folk or Morris dancers. Also, local food producers, in particular fruit and vegetables or cheese.” The castle will be open on Sunday between 10.30am and 4.30pm, with tours every half hour.
On Sunday it would easily be possible to combine a visit to St George’s Garrison Church and Severndroog Castle with an afternoon guided walk, the Walking Time Machine Battle of Britain Anniversary Special, led by local archaeologist Andy Brockman. Andy’s last guided walk was fascinating, and this one promises to be equally so. It starts at at 2.00pm at the Oxleas Wood Cafe, and is described in the History Mill Facebook group:
To remember the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz the History Mill invites you take take part in a special guided walk to see how in the Autumn of 1940 Shooters Hill and Plumstead prepared to face the Luftwaffe and a possible German Invasion.
Where: Meet at the Oxleas Wood Cafe
When: 2pm Sunday 20 September 2015
Duration: Approximately two hours ending at the Old Mill Pub, Plumstead Common.
The Battle of Britain and the Blitz are part of the mythology of modern Britain but seventy five years ago they were all too real.
In September 1940 the sky above London was criss crossed with the vapour trails of Luftwaffe bombers and British Spitfire and Hurricane fighters while down below the ARP Service, the Home Guard and other civilian services worked with the anti-aircraft and barrage balloon crews to help protect London and its civilian population from the German onslaught.
At the back of everyone’s mind was the fear of a German invasion which could come at any moment and would inflict on London the damage wrought in Madrid and Warsaw.
This special anniversary History Mill timewalk will be led by conflict archaeologist Andy Brockman and will visit the sites associated with that momentous Summer of 1940 on Shooters Hill, including some of the sites seen in the Time Team “Blitzkrieg on Shooters Hill”, and demonstrate how the local landscape was taken over by a Total War, the effects of which we are still seeing today.
Families and well behaved dogs welcome.
Please dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable footwear suitable for a two hour walk on pavements and through local parks.
Free: Donations to the Plumstead Make Merry welcome.
What a great weekend in prospect, I feel exhausted just thinking about how to get round everything. Oh, and I almost forgot that Woodlands Farm has its Autumn Equinox Walk on Sunday at 10.00am too.
If you’re interested in the ecology and history of Oxleas Woods then make sure you go on the Bluebell Walk through the woods and Woodlands Farm on Sunday May 3rd. Hannah from the farm wrote with details:
Enjoy a leisurely walk through ancient Oxleas Woodlands on the bank holiday Sunday May 3rd. The walk is led by staff of the Woodlands Farm Trust and starts at the historic Severndroog Castle on Shooters Hill and end at Woodlands Farm. Barry Gray, Chair of the Woodlands Farm Trust said ‘Oxleas Woodlands are a riot of new growth at present, with bluebells, wood anenomes, wood violets and many other plants coming into flower. Perfect for a walk describing some of the interesting ecology, history and uses of Oxleas over the years’.
The walk starts at Severndroog Castle at 1.30pm and ends at Woodlands Farm, and should take between 1 ½ – 2 hours. Why not get to Severndroog early for a guided visit and a coffee or brunch in the café. The café at Woodlands Farm will be open for further refreshments at the end of the walk.
The last time this walk took place we saw not only bluebells but many other wild flowers, including Stitchwort, Ladies Smock, Wood Sorrel, Wild Garlic and Wood Anemones. We learned about and saw plants that are rarely seen outside ancient woodland, such as the Wild Service Tree and Butchers Broom – species that would be threatened if a road was ever built through the woods. You can see photographs of the plants and wild flowers of Oxleas Woods in a Flickr album here. We also walked by the historic cants of coppiced Hazels and Chestnuts deep in the wood and heard about their place in medieval life.
This special walk, historically Walk London’s most popular, was first devised to demonstrate that you can walk through London without realising that you are in a city. It still does, but this time there’s a bonus that turns an excellent walk into an unforgettable experience that you’ll want to return to.
The walk takes us through wonderful parkland, heathland, and dense woodland to a very special place that offers stupendous views rivalled only by the Shard. Yes, after years of tireless fund-raising and painstaking restoration Severndroog Castle can at last accept visitors. The walk will feature an exclusive guided tour of this perfectly formed historic building which has an important and intriguing past. The building also has views over London ‘to die for’ and some visitors really do gasp at their first sight of the breathtaking vista. The ‘Castle’ is usually closed at this time of year and is being opened specially for Walk London.
We start by traversing a most pleasant complex of parks which include a principle location from the cult 1960s film ‘Blow up’. Shortly afterwards we’ll pass some comfortably large animal enclosures, one housing a small Deer Herd which has been present for over a Century. Gentle climbing via Charlton Common takes us up onto the openness of Woolwich Common with distant views of Essex farmland, it’s wildness then giving way to the dense woodland of the flanks of Shooters Hill. We climb a little more steeply now for Shooters Hill is very nearly as high as the highest part of Hampstead Heath. Suddenly, in Castle Wood, the trees part and before us is the well proportioned tower of Severndroog Castle and our private visit.
After visiting Severndroog Castle those who have done enough in their day, just over 4 miles, may wish to retire to the nearby bus stops. Those wishing for more wonderfully dense woodland and wide vistas are welcome to continue around Shooters Hill for views over huge swathes of Kent, Surrey, Essex and the Thames Estuary. We’ll then drop down steeply to Plumstead Common for buses into central London and finish at Plumstead railway station for trains.
PLEASE NOTE. Severndroog Castle has been saved by a small charity with limited resources and they cannot be expected to open and guide us around the building without some recompense. The usual admittance charge of £2.50 will have to apply. If ever there was a bargain this is it, for you can see seven Counties at a tenth of the price of a visit to the Shard.
The route is steep in parts, contains many steps, and depending on weather conditions it may be muddy. We will be very high up by London standards and warm, windproof, clothing and gloves are most strongly recommended. A packed lunch is essential and, if you have them, binoculars are a must.
There’s no need to book but feel free to ask the Walk Leader, Ian Bull, for more details. Email, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone, 020 7223 3572.
The weather forecast for Sunday looks good for walking and viewing, so it should be a great experience. And if it’s done by 2.00pm there’s a members’ meeting down the hill at Woodlands Farm to go to.
The Lady James Room at Severndroog Castle is the venue on Sunday 14th December for a performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” using the reading script that Dickens himself adapted from his book and followed for his own public readings. Dickens gave the first public reading in December 1853 and read it 127 times up to the time of his death in 1870 with audiences of up to 3,700 people.
The Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust have arranged to have a fundraising reading of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” for one night only, at Severndroog Castle, on the evening of Sunday 14th December 2014. Seats are strictly limited by the constraints of the castle size, and early booking is advisable. The reading is by Roger Gartland, formerly of the National Theatre company, who has performed this traditional Christmas work for a number of years, to sell-out houses in a variety of venues.
The tickets are £12 each and include a mulled wine/soft drink and mince pies during the interval. Tickets can be brought for cash at the castle during opening times on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, or online from http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-christmas-carol-a-ghost-story-by-charles-dickens-tickets-14748817109 There is a small booking charge when booking online. Show lasts approx. two hours, including 15 min interval. Probably not suitable for children under 10 years.
Roger Gartland trained in repertory and was a National Theatre player for seven years. He was a co-founder of, and toured with, the touring theatre company “Not The National Theatre”. He has appeared at the Globe Theatre and in the West End, and his work also includes film, radio, voice-overs and TV.
What a very Christmassy thing to do – a performance of A Christmas Carol in a gothic folly in the woods accompanied by mulled wine and mince pies.
We have three local Christmas Fairs to look forward to this year – Woodlands Farm, Shrewsbury House and Severndroog Castle all have Christmas events in the next few weeks. Plus there is an early Christmas shopping opportunity this weekend at the “Mudlarkers Christmas Pop-up Shop” run by local artist Tide Line Art.
Maureen from Woodlands Farm wrote with details of this year’s Christmas Fair:
All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Christmas Fair on Sunday 30 November 2014, from 11am to 3pm. Come and watch the arrival of Father Christmas on the pony trap driven by Bob the Shetland pony, sip mulled wine whilst browsing stalls of local produce and crafts for early Christmas present ideas, or relax in our café while the children enjoy crafts and games. A great festive day out for all the family. Entry is free – to visit Father Christmas is £3 including a gift. Donations are always welcome – all money raised helps us to care for our animals.
If you are a supporter of Woodlands Farm you might want to think about becoming a member, which you can do at the farm stall at the Christmas Fair. As well as getting the farm’s excellent newsletter and free participation in some activities such as bat walks members can attend the farm’s AGM and vote for board members, and membership fees help support the farm’s animals and educational events. Individual membership is only £12 a year, with family membership £18. Having a strong set of regular supporters will also help protect the farm against any future threats, such as a motorway to a new river crossing.
Shrewsbury House and Severndroog Castle both have their Christmas events on 7th December. The Christmas Craft Fair at Shrewsbury House has become an annual event and is usually packed with interesting stalls. It is open from 11.00am to 4.00pm, entry free. This year they also have two shows by the Wiggly Wild Show, at 11.15am and 1.15pm. The Wiggly Wild Show teaches environmental education to children assisted by a variety of animal accomplices, such as “hermit crabs, hissing cockroaches, praying mantis, toads, newts, garter snakes, bearded dragon, scorpions, giant millipedes, beetles, giant snails, gecko, hedgehog, stick insects and more!” Father Christmas will be at Shrewsbury House too, hopefully rested after his exertions at the farm the week before.
Severndroog Castle’s Christmas Market is one of a series of events they are running in December. The market will be open from 11am-3.00pm and promises “Mulled Wine & Mince Pies, Cakes & Cupcakes, Hot Food & Drinks, Craft, Food, Drink & Sweets Stalls, Storytelling & Family Activities”. The Castle have another Christmas event, “Step into Christmas”, the day before the market. Their web site gives details:
Step into Christmas
Saturday, 6 December Performances 12 to 2pm and 3 to 5pm
Severndroog Castle introduces Eldorado Extra (a subsidiary of Eldorado Musical Productions) to bring you a programme of songs and poems to put you into the Christmas spirit. Some songs you might expect but others will surprise you. So come and join the fun. The performance will last an hour and will be followed by mince pies and a glass of wine/soft drink
Ticket includes access to the castle, viewing platform, an optional historical tour and a glass of wine with a mince pie.
Tickets £10 each – tickets can be bought at the castle (cash only) or booked online (booking online includes a booking fee)
Tide Line Art create very expressive pieces of art using flotsam and jetsam – driftwood, pieces of glass and pottery, old rope, plastic, and other discarded odds and ends – much of it collected while mudlarking along the banks of the Thames. I especially like their fish made out of pieces of broken glass that have been worn smooth by the tides, and have a beautiful example on my bathroom wall. They are holding a pop up shop at The Studio, 75 Lassell Street, Greenwich SE10 9PJ from Friday 21st November (5pm – 9pm), Saturday 22nd November (9am to 6pm) until Sunday 23rd November (11am to 5pm). We’re all invited to pop along “for tea and biscuits and to have a browse. lovely stocking fillers, art and upcycled jewellery.”
Next Sunday, 20th July, sees the culmination of many years of hard work by the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust: the official opening of the restored castle and its new cafe, Castlewood Tea Room. Apart from an Open House day a few years ago it will be the first chance for 25 years for members of the public to see the panoramic view from the top of the castle towards the centre of London.
On the opening day Severndroog will be open from 10.30am to 4:30pm for a tour of the castle, including the viewing platform, and a range of other activities and stalls:
Storytelling Tent from ‘Storytellers in Hope‘, with a program of short stories for all ages. Sit down under the trees beneath the Castle to hear stories inspired by the magical setting
‘Hawk and Hood’ bird encounters, get up close to the magnificent birds of prey
Woodland tours, short tours of Castle Woods
Outdoor barbecue from the Castlewood Tea Rooms team
Stalls from local organisations including the Green Chain.
Castlewood Tea Room has had a “soft opening” and has been open to visitors for the last few weekends, selling tea, coffee, homemade cake, pastries, sandwiches and Marshfield Farm ice cream, but will also be officially opened next Sunday.
After the official opening the Tea Room will be open from 9am to 5 pm every day except Monday and the Castle will be open every Thursday, Friday and Sunday between 12.30 and 4.30. Entrance to the castle will cost £2.50 for adults and £2 for children and concessions. Children under 14 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Visitors will be looked after by a team of volunteers, and the trust is looking for more people to help out. Current opportunities are listed on their web site, and you can also get details by e-mailing them on email@example.com .
I’ll end with a link to the teaser video that Dr. Barry Gray of the trust sent to me a few months ago.
Open House London, that great opportunity for architecture enthusiasts and the simply curious to have a look inside buildings that are not normally open to the public, is on again the weekend after next – 21st & 22nd September. And it’s all free. If you want to enter the ballot for tickets to visit some of the really desirable buildings – the Shard, the London Eye, 10 Downing Street and Grays Inn – then there are just a couple of days left to enter.
At Severndroog Castle there will be talks about its history and the Trust’s plans for its restoration every hour from 10.00am to 3.00pm on Sunday, and some of the Trustees and the Heritage Manager will be there to answer questions. There will also be an information stall and refreshments, but the castle won’t be open.
I picked up a brochure giving details of what buildings are open and when from the library earlier in the week, and there are some 840 entries this year. Details are also available on the Open House web site. It’s a little disappointing that fewer of our local architectural gems are open: for example the listing doesn’t include the Royal Artillery Barracks, St George’s Garrison Church or Woolwich Town Hall – all of which have been open in previous years. Nor does it include the Crossness Engine House this year.
Earlier in the year Open House asked for suggestions about what buildings we thought should be included in the event. I sent them the following list of amazing buildings which I think are significant locally, and which I’d love to see inside:
The Royal Military Academy Woolwich
The Water Tower at the top of Shooters Hill, and the Brooke Hospital Water Tower at the bottom of Shooters Hill
Herbert Pavilions, Shooters Hill Road – formerly the Royal Herbert Hospital
The former Woolwich Polytechnic buildings around Polytechnic Street in Woolwich
The art deco cinemas in Woolwich – The Granada Cinema, Powis Street and The Odeon Theatre, now the New Wine Church
One of Berthold Lubetkin‘s modernist terrace at 85-91 Genesta Road
But none of them are in the brochure – wouldn’t it be great if they were open for visitors?