The secrets of Severndroog

Kate Duffy

Over the centuries, London’s defenders have been housed in a wide range of structures from Roman fortresses to the subterranean War Rooms. One of the more unusual is The Severndroog ‘folly’ that provided a look out point for London’s wardens during WWII. Designed in 1784 by architect Richard Judd, the castle has been a great asset to London. Now once again it has been given a new lease of life.

Sitting amongst the bluebell woods of Shooters Hill, this hidden castle and childhood wonder of mine was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund Award in 2010 and has been lovingly restored.  Work has been undertaken by contractors Hilton Abbey Ltd, a local firm with credentials in heritage restoration after working on The Queen’s House and The Royal Observatory in Greenwich. They have worked meticulously to replace the crumbling sections of brickwork and have constructed a large viewing platform at the top of the tower for all to enjoy.

Offering unspoilt views across London, the newly reopened Severndroog Castle is attracting local walkers and tourists alike.  Climb to the top of the 60ft tower to take in the views across seven counties and then descend to the café for a well-earned slice of cake.

An historical gem, I can see why American Express recently listed the Castle as a top urban location and a place of inspiration sitting among the company of Kensington Palace Gardens and Denmark Street London.  Neglected by the council for years and voted out of the BBC’s Restoration competition in 2004, the future of the tower seemed uncertain until recent years.  Many local treasures are left to decay and aren’t lucky enough to be given such a classy makeover.  Is this right?  Funding for restoration has to be fought for in our current climate and you should expect wounds along the way.

This towering folly has become a castle once again and I feel the effort has been worth it.  Take yourself on a ramble through the woods, sponsor a brick to ‘do your bit’ and embark on the climb to the top of the tower; draped in history you can almost hear the voices of the past as you ascend to the top.