Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Walking along Shooters Hill in the 1840s with the help of Darrell Spurgeon

Severndroog Castle, 1784
It’s another story from Shooters Hill.

Over the last few days I have been wandering over the tiny community that lived on this northern edge of Eltham.

And today it’s the landmarks courtesy of Darrell Spurgeon and his Discover Eltham which was published in 1992 and issued as a revised edition in 2000.

The walk along Shooters Hill contains much about the place including Christ Church, the Ypres milestone, the Memorial Hospital, and Castle House Lodge along with Eltham Common the various woods and Holbrook House.

And for those who want to drop down beyond the summit there is even more.

But today I rather fancy staying the land marks which would have been familiar to the people who lived here in the 1840s, and of these I have chosen Castle House Lodge, Severndroog Castle, Holbrook House, and the Bull Inn.

Castle House Lodge, 5. An early 19th century house, originally the lodge for Castle House (built 1823 demolished 1948) whose site is now in the grounds of the Memorial Hospital.



Severndroog Castle, 8.A tall triangular battlemented tower with hexagonal turrets, surrounded by trees in Castle Wood; and extraordinary Gothic folly, it was built to a design of Richard Jupp in 1784. 

The original main entrance is on the south-west face; the other original entrance doors are blocked, with only the fanlights remaining; the small doors under the turrets were added later.  The inscription on the stone plaque over the original main entrance on the south west face is inscribed on a tablet

'Severndroog Castle was built by the widow of Sir William James, a commander in the East India Company, to celebrate his naval exploits, in particular the capture in 1755 of the island fortress of Severndroog off the Malabar Coast of India.  At the time the castle was just north of the grounds of the James mansion of Park Farm Place, Eltham.'

Holbrook House, 162 Shooters Hill.  A stuccoed villa circa 1838, which may incorporate some late 18th century structure; the bay window was added in 1862, and extensions to the rear in the late 19th century.

The Bull, 19. A red brick pub of 1881, ....... the date stone (‘built 1749, rebuilt 1881’)is over the original corner entrance now bricked up.  About 65 metres to the east is a horse mounting block with three steps, dating back at least to 1750.  

It is in front of the site of the orginal pub called the Bull, which was a large and well known tavern, built circa 1749 9possibly much earlier) and demolished in 1881.  The block was re-erected here in 1929, but almost certainly the wrong way up.”

Like many I have fond memories of wandering the woods and especially of Severndroog Castle.

Now I am not given over to idle speculation especially of the historical kind but I do wonder whether the four children of George and Mary Field who ran the Bull in the June of 1841  wandered across the road an into Castle Wood to the folly.

It may be romantic tosh but it is a powerful link back to the community who lived on Shooters Hill a hundred and seventy years ago.


Pictures; Severndroog Castle and map from Discover Eltham

* Discover Eltham, Darrell Spurgeon, Greenwich Guide Books, 2000

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