Exploring London: Severndroog Castle

Now that the weather is improving MOH and I have vowed to get out and about more as there is just soo much to do in London and us Londoners aren't always the best of making the most of it. Some of this "exploring London" we'll do together and some of it I'll do on my own - that's a logistics thing rather than anything else, as with a full-time job MOH just isn't around as much as I am.

Last Sunday we headed out for a stroll and instead of turning right as we left our house, as we invariably do we turned left and headed up towards Shooters Hill, Oxleas Wood and Severndroog Castle. We walked the back roads avoiding the main A207 with its traffic and fumes and didn't have a set route to follow, just a general direction...

We reached Oxleas Wood and despite being prepared for some mud we took what we hoped would be the least muddiest route up to Severndroog Castle - and it was ok!  

Btw I have a deep irrational fear of getting stuck in mud after a disastrous school trip many years ago where we were ill-prepared for a muddy bridle way and several of the class "lost" shoes in the mud. Anyone who knows me and shoes can guess how much of a problem this would be!

We first heard of Severndroog Castle many years ago when it was part of the Restoration programme fronted by Griff Rhys Jones. Looking back this was in 2004, which hardly seems possible. Back then we had every intention of going to explore this once magnificent folly for ourselves.  Sadly in the intervening ten years, last Sunday was our first attempt to do this. 

I suspect that many of the local people who got behind Severndroog in 2004 have also fallen by the wayside, but thankfully not everyone has. On its website it says that "after eleven years of hard work from the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust (SCBPT), restoration work finally started at Severndroog Castle on Monday 10 June 2013" and it looks as if SCBPT are working towards reopening in Spring 2014 (although no date has been announced yet). 

Severndroog Castle is a folly built in 1784 by Lady James of Eltham as a memorial to her husband, Sir William James, who died in 1783.  It's sited on Shooters Hill, in an ancient bluebell wood just seven miles from Charing Cross, London. It's a 60 foot high triangular brick-built tower designed in the gothic style by architect Richard Jupp and is a nationally listed Grade II building which was on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk register (and may well still be on the list) and has been closed to the public since 1988.

Progress is remarkable and I'm sure there is still a little way to go before it opens, but I hope it gets there and once again stands proud looking across South East London.