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  • hilly 4:36 pm on January 23, 2015
    Tags: , , severndroog,   

    Winter Wander with a bonus 

    View from Cox's Mount, Maryon Park

    View from Cox’s Mount, Maryon Park

    There are some very interesting sounding walks in Walk London’s Winter Wanders this weekend – “Secret Diaries and Public Spaces – The Legacy of Pepys and Wren and Hidden Alleyways” and “Courtyards; Printing, Priories and Prisons – St Pauls to Chancery Lane” both sound fascinating. But the one that really caught my eye was the walk led by our old friend Ian Bull: “The best landscape and views in London – Charlton to Plumstead via Shooters Hill“. This is a great walk with an added bonus: an opportunity for an exclusive guided tour of Severndroog Castle (costing  a very reasonable £2.50) and a chance to see the amazing views from the top.

    The Walk London web site describes the walk:

    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, ianbull@btinternet.com  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 restored Severndroog Castle

    The restored Severndroog Castle

  • hilly 3:17 pm on December 7, 2014
    Tags: , severndroog   

    A Christmas Carol at Severndroog Castle 

    A Christmas Carol at Severndroog Castle poster

    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.

    Dr. Barry Gray from the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust wrote with details:

    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.

    The Lady James room at Severndroog Castle

    The Lady James room at Severndroog Castle

  • hilly 11:08 am on November 20, 2014
    Tags: , severndroog, ,   

    Christmas Fairs 

    Woodlands Farm Christmas Fair poster

    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

    Severndroog Castle

    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.”

    Seems like time to start Christmas shopping.

    Mudlarkers Christmas Posterhop psoter

  • hilly 9:29 am on July 14, 2014
    Tags: , severndroog   

    Severndroog Castle Opening 

    Severndroog Opening Poster

    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.

    Castlewood Tea Room Leaflet

    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 volunteer@severndroogcastle.org.uk                .

    I’ll end with a link to the teaser video that Dr. Barry Gray of the trust sent to me a few months ago.

    The restored Severndroog Castle

    The restored Severndroog Castle

  • hilly 9:29 pm on September 11, 2013
    Tags: , , severndroog   

    Open House London 2013 

    Severndroog Castle under wraps

    Severndroog Castle under wraps

    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?

    Don’t misunderstand me, there’s still a huge number of interesting buildings to see, all round London, and some new ones close to home. The Woolwich Arsenal Clock Tower restoration sounds fascinating, and there’s also an intriguing sounding tour round Woolwich’s squares with a landscape architect.

    I’m just greedy to see even more of our local historic buildings.

    Officers Mess at the Royal Artillery Barracks - not in this year's Open House

    Officers Mess at the Royal Artillery Barracks – not open in this year’s Open House

    • Gerry 9:14 pm on September 21, 2013

      It was with great reget that the Officers Mess at the Royal Artillery Barracks was not able to be open to the public this year. A major build ing project to replace the roof from the South Arch to the East Gete is underway. Due to the building being listed other remedial work ( pointing all of the brickwork, repairing windows etc) is being carried out. The whole project will take 2 years. The garrison church was not planned to be opened . This was due to the fact that a roof structure will be placed over the alter area. This work has been delayed due to some slight changes to the design but it was too late to get an entry in the booklet so a decision was taken not to open. The good news is that once the roof is in place it will be open to the public on a regular basis and not just during the Open House weekend. I hope this answers your questions.

      • hilly 10:50 am on September 22, 2013

        Thanks for the update Gerry. I was wondering when the work would start on the Garrison Church.

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