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

Film Night at Shooters Hill Local History Group

Entrance to Beresford Square Market
Entrance to Beresford Square Market

Shooters Hill Local History Group‘s next meeting at Shrewsbury House this Thursday, 21st January at 8.00pm is a film show featuring three locally-made local history films. Steve wrote asking me to post a reminder:

It would be appreciated if you could provide a brief update about Thursday’s film show featuring:
‘The Catherine Wheel Dig’ – the archaeological search by members of the Shooters Hill Local History Group and friends for the “Catherine Wheel” ale house at the crest of Shooters Hill, which predated the “Bull” as a stop for stage coaches on the road to Dover.
‘This Girl went to Market’ – a young lady researches the history of Beresford Square market and finds her future (real life) husband.
‘The Plumstead Make Merry’ – the preparation for this popular local festival and the many aspects of how people enjoyed themselves at the two day event on Plumstead Common.

All are welcome. There’s a small visitor fee to cover the cost of the room.

A Christmas Carol at Shrewsbury House

Front Room Theatre A Christm,as Carol flyer

Local theatre group Front Room Theatre will be presenting their adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at Shrewsbury House on Saturdays 12th and 19th December at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from TicketSource and cost £10 (concessions £8).

The adaptation is billed as a “multi-sensory experience for all the family”, and includes new music by local actor Natalie Wilcox and a special composition with lyrics by Natalie and music by Joseph Finlay. The play’s narrator is Sarah Barrowman.

Shrewsbury House has also hosted Front Room Theatre‘s previous productions “Lie Back and Think of America” and “Maya and Natalie’s Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals“.

Oh, and there’ll be mulled wine.

Natalie Wilcox at the Shrewsbury House Christmas Fair
Natalie Wilcox singing at the Shrewsbury House Christmas Fair

Christmas Fairs

Woodlands Farm Christmas Fair Poster 2015

Woodlands Farm and Shrewsbury House have their Christmas fairs on the same day this year, Sunday 6th December. Both are free and run from 11.00am to 3.00pm, and they’re close enough to take in the pair and double the Christmas shopping opportunities.

Maureen from the farm e-mailed their poster and details:

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Christmas Fair on Sunday 6 December, 11am-3pm. Visit Santa’s Grotto, sip mulled wine whilst browsing stalls of local produce and crafts for early Christmas present ideas, or relax in our cafe while the children enjoy crafts and games. A great festive day out for all the family. Entry is free, but donations are always welcome and go towards the running of the Farm. No parking on the farm, please use public transport.

There are two new calves at the farm, a cross between Aberdeen Angus and Holsteiner I believe, so an extra incentive to visit.

One of Woodlands Farm's new calves
One of Woodlands Farm’s new calves

Shrewsbury House Christmas Fair

Shrewsbury House is always packed with a variety of craft and produce stalls throughout the house at its Christmas Fair, which also includes face painting, a raffle, tombola and children’s crafts. This year they have the added attraction of the Wild Science Show – exploring the world of fluffies, mini beasts and creepy crawlies. Entrance to the fair is free, but there is a £3.50 charge for the Wild Science Show, which includes a visit to Father Christmas.

And of course both fairs have mulled wine.

Local artist Ray Marshall at the Shrewsbury House Christmas Fair in 2012
Local artist Ray Marshall at the Shrewsbury House Christmas Fair in 2012

Open House Weekend

St George mosaic at St George's Garrison Church after first phase of restoration
St George mosaic at St George’s Garrison Church after first phase of restoration

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 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”.

New tensile roof protecting  St George's Garrison Church
New tensile roof protecting St George’s Garrison Church

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.


Shrewsbury House open house poster

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.

The Gordon Square walk and talk is intriguingly entitled “Many Ways to Sit: The Social Dynamics of Gordon Square“.

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.

 Christ Faith Tabernacle Cathedral, formerly Woolwich Granada Cinema

Christ Faith Tabernacle Cathedral, formerly Woolwich Granada Cinema
Detail of auditorium at Christ Faith Tabernacle Cathedral, formerly Woolwich Granada Cinema
Detail of auditorium at Christ Faith Tabernacle Cathedral, formerly Woolwich Granada Cinema

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.

Detail of decoration at Severndroog Castle
Detail of decoration at Severndroog Castle

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

Little Shrews playgroup at Shrewsbury House

Little Shrews leaflet

Amelia wrote to let me know about a new play group for babies and young children called Little Shrews which starts at Shrewsbury House next Thursday, 6th November at 1.30pm. She wrote:

The group is aimed at babies and toddlers and will run every Tuesday and Thursday from 1:30-3:30, starting on Thursday 6th November 2014. There is a suggested donation if £1 per family and tea and coffee available for the adults.
The group was suggested to Shrewsbury House by three local mums. Shrewsbury House have been incredibly supportive and aware of the large number of parents in the area. They really want to encourage a friendly community space which will work as a drop-in for parents, carers and their little ones throughout the area. We will be having themed events as the group grows and hope to have guests, nappucinos and even musical entertainment at times!

Shrewsbury House will be a great venue for the playgroup which joins a very wide range of other groups which use the Grade II listed building, from photography and Iyengar Yoga through to French and fencing.
Shrewsbury House entrance hall
Shrewsbury House entrance hall

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

Woodlands Farm and Shrewsbury House Christmas Fairs

Woodlands Farm Christmas Fair poster

Woodlands Farm and Shrewsbury House are holding their Christmas Fairs on the same day again this year – Sunday 1st December. As only a short, scenic stroll separates them it’s easily possible to visit both and will be a good day to go shopping for some distinctive and unusual Christmas presents.

Maureen from the farm wrote with details of their Fair:

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Christmas Fair at 331 Shooters Hill, Welling on Sunday 1 December 2013 from 11am-3pm. Visit Santa’s Grotto, sip mulled wine whilst browsing stalls of local produce and crafts for early Christmas present ideas, or relax in our cafe while the kids enjoy crafts and games. A great festive day out for all the family. Entry is free, but donations are always welcome and go towards the running of the Farm.

Volunteers at the farm have been busy recently. The farm was badly affected by the storm-force winds a few weeks ago, with a number of trees and large branches down along the footpath to Garland Road, and lots of work to clear them away. Also the farm’s new education building has been erected, remarkably quickly, and will soon be ready for the large number of schoolchildren who visit – 3,500 every year according to the farm’s web site.

Hawthorn berries at Woodlands farm
Hawthorn berries at Woodlands farm

Up the hill from the farm, the Christmas Fair at Shrewsbury House has also become a regular fixture in the calendar. Last year they hosted a wide variety of hand-made craft stalls – ceramics, jewellery, textiles and many different cakes and sweets – as well as paintings by local artist Ray Marshall and photographs from the aperture Woolwich Photographic Society.

And, of course, both fairs will have mulled wine and festive music so we can make an (early) start on getting in to the Christmas spirit.Shrewsbury House Christmas Fair poster

Woolwich Great Get Together/Armed Forces Day

Great Get Together Leaflet

The Great Get Together/Armed Forces Day festival will be a sadder event this year following the murder of Lee Rigby just near the Royal Artillery Barracks. However this opportunity for members of the public to show their support for “the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families and from veterans to cadets” is sure to be well attended. Last time it was held, two years ago, some 15,000 people attended.

The festival is organised by the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the Army and runs from 11.00am to 6.00pm on Saturday, 29th June  at the Royal Artillery Barracks. It should be an excellent day, the Armed Forces Day web site lists the events and activities:

On Saturday 29 June the Royal Artillery Barracks will be hosting one of the UK’s largest Armed Forces Day events. The event is combined with the Great Get Together Festival – a large and vibrant community celebration. The array of attractions will include a military and vintage vehicle display zone, historical re-enactments, walk round entertainers, a live music stage, charity and commercial stalls, animal displays, lazer quest, zorbing balls, fairground rides, sports taster sessions and many other things for all ages to see and do. At the heart of the event is a large arena with a thrilling programme of spectacular military displays and marching bands, along with stunt car shows, bird of prey demonstrations, and more. Entry to the event is free. Visitors will be able to park in dedicated parking areas for a small charge. The event is organised by the Royal Borough of Greenwich in partnerhsip with the Army at the Royal Artillery Barracks. When it was last held in 2011 it attracted between around 20,000 people

Amongst the stalls in the marquees will be one from Shrewsbury House who are publicing the many and varied activities that happen at the house, including the fact that they are now licensed to hold civil and marriage ceremonies there.

Royal Artillery Barracks Woolwich
Royal Artillery Barracks Woolwich