Severndroog Castle Restoration Starts

Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle

Steve Daly, one of the Trustees of the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust, contacted me to say that the long-awaited restoration work on the castle had started. He wrote

Restoration work started at Severndroog Castle on Monday 10 June with completion due mid-December.

The contractor is Hilton Abbey a company based in the borough of Greenwich.

The Trust would appreciate support from the local community in reporting to the police any suspicious activity/vandalism at the Castle while building work is in progress.

Hilton Abbey, the Greenwich-based company selected to do the work, have previously worked on The Royal Observatory and The Queen’s House in Greenwich. Work on the latter was highly commended by the Painting and Decorating Association.

The trust were recently granted planning  permission and listed building consent for  for applications 13/0228/F and 13/0229/L  which describe the programme of repairs and alterations to the castle. The Design and Access Statement that forms part of the application includes this statement about the future use of Severndroog:

The restored building would provide for the following proposed uses:
• Education for all ages: children, elderly people and people with learning disabilities.
• An exhibition about the Castle and its history.
• Visits to see the view from each storey and from the roof.
• A focus for walkers and wildlife visits.
• Light refreshments served indoors and outdoors.
• Private hiring for weddings, functions and meetings.

I’m looking forward to seeing the views from the top of the castle again.

View from the top of Severndroog Castle
View from the top of Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle Turret
Severndroog Castle Turret


Free guided walks this weekend

Bluebells at Lesnes Abbey Woods
Bluebells at Lesnes Abbey Woods

Ian Bull has been in touch to let us know about two walks he is leading this weekend. Ian led the Midnight Megawalk on the Green Chain and the Best Landscape and Views in London walks mentioned in previous posts.

On Saturday 25th May, Ian is leading The Thames Path Super Walk which is a seventeen and a half mile hike. It starts  from Slade Green Railway Station, near the very end of the Thames Path,  and goes along the Thames to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. As the walk 4 life web site describes it:

… you will receive the almost magical experience of seeing the great river flow from salt water estuary to the heart of urbanity. The contrast really is exceptional for we’ll begin by Dartford Creek, famed for its birdlife and with barely a building in sight. Then the pre-esturine river, fringed by salt-loving flora and onto the post-industrial landscape of Woolwich and Charlton. Very gradually the office blocks of central London come into view with an ever improving sunset behind them. We finish besides one of the most famed examples of the built environment on the planet, Wren’s magnificent work at Greenwich.

The Super Walk starts at 10.00am and is expcted to take about eight hours. Bring food to eat on the way as there may not be time for a fixed lunch break. If anyone wants to join the Thames walk today they can call Ian on 077 998 101 78 and he’ll tell you where they are up to.

Cutty Sark Greenwich residents preview day
View from the Cutty Sark

Sunday’s walk, London’s best woodland and views – without doubt,  is not so long at a mere seven miles taking about 4 hours  and is a little closer to home. As Ian describes it in his e-mail:

The Sunday walk is much more local being from Belvedere to Shooters Hill along the Green Chain. There’ll be a little diversion at Cleanthus Road as we’ll walk down the hill to Eltham Common to regain the Green Chain at Eltham Common. This will give us a chance to see Severndroog Castle and the views on the way round to the Oxleas Wood Café where the walk will end.

On this walk hikers will pass through some stunningly beauriful ancient woodland – it includes  Lesnes Abbey, Bostall  and Oxleas woods. Perhaps there will still be some bluebells to see on the way. The walk starts at 1.00pm on Sunday 26th  at Belvedere railway station.

The  walks are part of Walk London‘s “Spring into Summer” event. Both are free and there is no need to book. The walk leader, Ian Bull, can be contacted by e-mail, or phone, 020 7223 3572 for more details.

Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle

Planning: Severndroog, All Saints and the Eagle

Severndroog Castle on Open House day
Severndroog Castle on Open House day

I notice the Royal Borough of Greenwich has re-vamped the planning applications search facility, which may explain why my regular PlanningFinder e-mails have been a bit brief recently, and why links to planning documents in old e-shootershill posts no longer work. A quick browse through recent applications in the Shooters Hill ward revealed some interesting applications.

Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust have applications for planning  and listed building consent for their long-awaited programme of repairs and alterations to the castle which are part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The summary for applications 13/0228/F and 13/0229/L on the planning page is:

Repairs and alterations including new external steps and landing, new 2 metre high perimeter security fence and gates, infilling of two external door openings, new sliding glazed doors to main entrance, new kitchen and toilet facilities, replacement of lead roofing and timber viewing platform, new electricity supply cubicle. Installation of new and replacement mechanical, electrical and telephone services in connection with the above.

I believe the work is as described in their 2010 applications 10/0346/F and 10/0136/L. There will be a café on the ground floor, a space for functions on the first floor and an education space on the second floor. There will also be access to the viewing platform at the top, which has great views over London (and a video feed for those unable to climb to the top). The documents submitted with planning applications are often a great source  of historical information. In this case the 10/0346/F Conservation Management Plan provides an excellent summary of the history of Severndroog Castle, complete with maps and copies of paintings, engravings and photographs of the castle from the early 19th century onwards.

I’m looking forward to the re-opening of the castle and another chance to enjoy the view over the city from a platform that is 46 feet above the cross on St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Eagle
The Eagle

Further down the hill in Red Lion Lane it is proposed in application 13/0186/F to convert the former Eagle Tavern into 5 flats:

Conversion of existing Public House into 5 flats consisting of 1 x 3-bed, 2 x 2-bed and 2 x 1-bed self contained flats. | THE EAGLE TAVERN, 78 RED LION LANE, PLUMSTEAD, LONDON, SE18 4LE

The application says that the “street scene will not alter ” as a result of the conversion. The frontage of the pub will be retained, but a light-well will be excavated at the front of the building to allow windows for the basement flats. The style of these windows will be carried down from the feature windows of the pub. There will also be a pair of light-wells at the back of the building.

Yet another pub lost. Any comments about the application need to be in by 09/04/2013.

All Saints Church
All Saints Church

Another planning application, 13/0495/F, proposes major changes at All Saints Church on Herbert Road:

Demolition of existing parish hall, erection of a new parish/community hall and vicarage, parking and associated works, remodelling of church entrance to provide level entry.(Reconsultation). | ALL SAINTS CHURCH, HERBERT ROAD, WOOLWICH, LONDON, SE18 3QH

The idea is to replace the old church hall that is to the right of the church with a new 4-bedroom vicarage and to build a new church hall on the Ripon Road facing grassed area to the left of the church, which the agents acting for the church describe as “surplus land”.  The new church hall would be single storey, sedum-roofed and connected with the rear of the church. The Church wish to replace the old timber-framed prefabricated church hall because it is in extremely poor condition, uneconomical to repair, has poor accessibility and is inadequate to the community’s needs. They also feel the old vicarage is unsuitable because it is too large to economically heat and furnish and it doesn’t allow separation of the public and private aspects of the incumbent’s life.

The development is to be funded by selling the vicarage, over the road at 106 Herbert Road and, more controversially, building two 3-bedroom terraced houses, a 2-bedroomed flat and a 1-bedroomed flat on the back garden of the vicarage in Ripon Road. Sounds to me like a bit of garden grabbing. The covering letter for the application says:

These proposals are directly linked to our clients’ residential proposals on land adjoining no. 30 Ripon Road. A planning application seeking outline consent for the erection of 2×3 bed terraced units, 1×2 bed and 1×1 bed flats is submitted simultaneously with this application. From the details accompanying both applications it will be noted that the two developments are closely linked and for this reason it is requested that both proposals are determined together.

I couldn’t find the second planning application on the Royal Greenwich web site, and it is not clear whether it is still possible to comment on either application – the comments tab for application 13/0495/F says that “Comments may not be submitted at this time”. Together these applications would be a significant change to that small area.

Update: A notice on the lamp post near the church in Ripon Road says that comments should be sent to the council before 16th April 2013.

I guess the Royal Borough of Greenwich planning page changes are still bedding in. They didn’t allow me to register to make comments – giving the message “Unable to complete your registration – Unable to send confirmation e-mails at this time. Please try again later.”

The Vicarage
The Vicarage

Dance for Severndroog Castle

Severndroog barn dance poster

A barn dance in aid of the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust will be held on Saturday 7th July 2012 in the barn at Woodlands Farm. Tickets are £10.00, obtainable through the Woodlands Farm Office on 020 8319 8900 or via the trust at .

The SCBPT has successfully raised the significant sum of money needed to restore the castle, but needs further funds for ongoing running costs. The barn dance is part of the fund-raising campaign. As Dr Barry Gray, Chair SCBPT, says:

The Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust have the funding in place for the restoration and are very close to clearing the last legal hurdles. We hope to sign the lease on the castle with Greenwich council in the very near future. The tendering process for restoration can then begin. We have raised and have promised almost £900,000 for the restoration, including an extremely generous grant promise of more than half a million pounds, from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  However, we are still in desperate need of more funds to sustain the project and the barn dance is one of a series of events to allow the local community to make their financial contribution to the restoration. We hope to make further announcements about the signing of the lease at the barn dance, and we are very confident that  within the next couple of weeks Severndroog will once again belong to the community when the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust obtain the lease on the castle. Donors can find out more about giving to the restoration fund by going to our website at

The band  for the dance is the very entertaining Skinners Rats, who have performed at other Woodlands Farm events, so it should be a lively affair. Bring your own food and drink.

Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle
Inside Severndroog Castle
Inside Severndroog Castle

Severndroog gets closer to its public!

Severndroog Castle Roof View

Severndroog Castle Restoration and Development: £595,500 grant, LB Greenwich.

The triangular, three-storey Grade II* listed castle stands on the top of Shooters Hill where it is a local landmark. Built in 1784, it commemorates a long-forgotten British naval victory against pirates marauding in the Indian Ocean. Closed to the public for 20 years, it was identified as a key project for repair in the BBC TV series Restoration in 2004 but failed to reach the finals. Thanks to the HLF grant it will be restored as a visitor attraction, educational centre and tea room. It will be run by a local trust and volunteers will be trained to act as guides, to staff the café and to assume the day-to-day management of the castle as well helping at future heritage events.

David Goodfellow of the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust said:

“We are delighted with the confirmed award from HLF, which is a major step forward in achieving our objective of restoring this unique building. There is still plenty of hard work to be done but this decision, together with grant funding support from a number of other organisations as well as significant support from Greenwich Council and the local community, has greatly increased our sense of optimism about reopening a fully-restored Severndroog Castle to the public.”

According to the mercury the £595k amounts to 70% of the total required (595000÷.7=£850k) so that leaves 255k to go, minus the £1,573 raised by sponsor a brick for severndroog = £253,427 left to go… although that particular arm of the campaign has the aim of raising £50k.

This is a significant move by the Lottery considering that that last time they earmarked money for the campaign it was for the comparatively smaller amount of £250k November 2008. It was additionally interesting to note that after Camden, Greenwich benefits from the most lottery heritage money, so I think this is a timely reminder to get behind the campaign at the grassroots level and buy your loved ones a brick (well, a sponsor’s certificate)!

London Open House Weekend

Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle
Title: London Open House Weekend
Location: Severndroog Castle
Link out:
Description: Grade II* listed triangular brick Georgian tower with Gothic windows. Standing 63ft tall in woodlands it offers spectacular views across the capital. Built to commemorate the 1755 conquest of the Malabar Coast by Sir William James.
Start Date: 2009-09-19
Start Time: 10:00
End Date: 2009-09-20
End Time: 15:00

Arrive early to avoid disappointment as only 20 people can be on each floor at a time, so the queues back up a lot.

If you would like to sponsor a part of the tower for £5, you can do that too, and have your very own Severndroog Brick!

This is probably the best chance this year to have a look at the impressive interiors and views that can be enjoyed at Severndroog Castle, the campaign to save the castle for the public is now in it’s fifth year, and the more support it receives at events like this the better the long term prospects of having our own castle on the hill will become.

On some open house weekends, although not this time, it is possible to visit the unique Lubetkin Houses, which were reportedly the architect’s first commission before going on to design the penguin pool at London Zoo among other things.

Another art deco gem in this area is the mind blowing “Italian Gothic” Gala Bingo Club on Powis street, formerly known as the Granada Theatre “The most romantic theatre ever built” [1. Granada images found on]. This is a fascinating place to visit, not least because it acts as a happy reminder of the impressive art deco achievements of Woolwich, along with the Odeon and the Co-Op (which is now destined to become a multi storey car park as part of the controversial Woolwich Triangle proposals) – note – the Granada is open on Sunday only from 1030 to 1130, although bingo membership is another way to enjoy the place, but it would be hard winning any games if you kept getting distracted by the intricacies of the carved wooden ceiling!

Granada Woolwich Granada Woolwich Granada Woolwich Granada Woolwich Granada Woolwich Granada Woolwich Granada Woolwich Granada Woolwich Granada Woolwich Granada Woolwich Granada Woolwich

Severndroog Castle Preservation Update

severndroog castle by andy linden
Severndroog Castle by Andy Linden (

Title: Severndroog Castle Preservation Update
Location: Shrewsbury House
Link out:
Description: At this meeting the Severndroog Castle preservationists update us on the work on the castle since the BBC Restoration program. The castle attracts nearly 1000 visitors on Open House day and people are willing to queue for 2 hours to climb the stairs to see this fine folly and wonder at the fine views over London.

The ongoing work to preserve the castle is currently looking very rosy, having turned around its fortunes and saved the castle for the public – at one point in its decline towards dereliction it was the subject of an office conversion bid by Cathedral Group, the people behind the re-development of the once beautiful streamline moderne Well Hall Coronet.

Start Time: 20:00
Date: 2009-08-20