Thursday, July 04, 2024

Severndroog Castle and Tea Room

Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle.

Sunday June 30, 2024.

It was a beautiful summer morning as Keilyn and I visited Severndroog Castle and Tea Room, in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. It was a place that I wanted to visit for a while, but finding a Sunday when we were both free, plus ensuring that we picked a clear day, had always been tricky. 

We took the Metropolitan line to Finchley Road, where we changed to the Jubilee line to North Greenwich. From here we clambered aboard the 486 bus towards Bexleyheath, grabbing the front seats on the top deck, at which point the heavens opened and it began to rain... hard.

Fortunately it stopped as we stepped from the bus, at Memorial Hospital and walked the 10 minutes to Castle Wood and Severndroog Castle.

Severndroog Castle
A covered area to enjoy tea and cake.

We stopped for a hot drink in the Tea Room before we ascended the spiral stairs to each of the floors, checking out the shop and various rooms, before we went up on to the viewing platform.

View from Severndroog Castle
Looking out across London.

Although the rain had stopped it was still slightly overcast, but the views were quite impressive. 

Keilyn atop Severndroog Castle
Keilyn is Queen of the Castle.

A volunteer was on hand to point out various locations, relating to the James family, along with pointing out the landmarks that could be seen. There was even a box of binoculars, which Keilyn enjoyed looking through.

Suitably satisfied we made our way down the staircase, stopping at the various rooms, signing the Visitor Book and heading out into the noon sun, ready to begin our walk towards Woolwich... and beyond.

We will be returning and hope that it will be a clearer day.

Brief History

Castle is a misnomer as the tower was originally built as a folly, to commemorate Commodore Sir William James.

Chandelier
Chandelier.

The Commodore's widow, Lady James of Eltham, had the folly built as a memorial to her late husband, with the first stone being laid in 1784, by the architect and designer Richard Jupp.

Built on Shooter's Hill, the highest point in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, has meant that, over the years, this folly has been used for many different people for a range of interests.

In the 1780s William Roy used the tower as part of the Anglo-French Survey, linking the Royal Greenwich Observatory with the Paris Observatory. It was this survey that would lead to the creation of the Ordnance Survey.

The Royal Engineers used the tower for their London Survey, in 1848.

In 1798, following Lady James' death, the castle passed through the hands of several owners, before being purchased, in 1922, by London County Council, when it became a tourist attraction with a tea room.

In 1954 it was granted Grade II* listed status.

Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle.

Following the abolition of the Greater London Council, in 1986, Greenwich Council took over responsibility for the castle.

Due to the rising costs of the upkeep of the building it was boarded up in 1988. In 2002 the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust was created with the hope of restoring the building and opening up to the public once again. 

After years of campaigning and with a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant of £595,000 secured, in July 2013 renovation finally began.

On July 20, 2014, the castle was officially opened to the public, with new tea rooms and a viewing platform on the roof.

Severndroog Castle Window and Stairs
Heading down the stairs.

The castle is 132 metres (432 feet) above sea level, thereby offering a unique panoramic view across London and the surrounding counties.

Commodore Sir William James

In 1775 Commodore Sir William James, 1st Baronet (1721-1783), of the East India Company, attacked, captured and destroyed, the island fortress of Suvarnadurg between Bombay (Mumbai) and Goa, on the western coast of India. He was made a director of the East India Company following this victory and other triumphs.

Severndroog Castle Plant Pot
Even the plant pots resemble a castle.

At the time of writing the viewing platform is open to the public on Sunday, with the Tea Rooms open Thursday through Sunday.

Click the link below to learn more about Severndroog Castle.

Severndroog Castle and Tea Rooms

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