Charlton Assembly Rooms given Grade II listing by Historic England

Charlton Assembly Rooms
Part of the frontage of Charlton Assembly Rooms (photo: Neil Clasper)

The Assembly Rooms in Charlton Village have been given a Grade II listing by Historic England in recognition of the building’s special architectural and historic interest.

Opened in 1881 and funded by Sir Spencer Maryon-Wilson, whose family lived at Charlton House, the building continues to function as a community facility and is currently run by the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust.

It was used by Siemens for war production before being handed over to St Luke’s Church in 1946. But by the early 1970s, the building was under threat of demolition. It was saved by the Save Charlton Assembly Rooms Project, which handed the building to Greenwich Council in 1983.

Historic England says:

The Charlton Assembly Rooms, a community hall of 1881, designed by J Rowland in the Jacobean Revival style, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:
* a good example of a late-C19 Jacobean Revival style community hall, designed in an exuberant, thoughtful and richly decorated form;
* good quality materials are used to strong architectural effect, including red brick, terracotta and stone detailing;
* the exterior of the hall is little altered, and the interior retains its original plan and stage.

Historical interest:
* the assembly rooms illustrate the continued influence of Charlton House and the Church of St Luke with Holy Trinity on the community of Charlton during the late-C19 and C20;
* as an example of Victorian philanthropy, and the impact of a wealthy benefactor on community hall design.

Group value:
* with the Grade I Charlton House, through their shared Jacobean design characteristics and mutual benefactor;
* with the Grade II* Church of St Luke with Holy Trinity, with which it shares some classically inspired design characteristics, and through C20 use and ownership.

You can read more on the Historic England website.

18-32 Bowater Road
English Heritage has opted not to list 18-32 Bowater Road (photo: Neil Clasper)

Meanwhile, Historic England has issued a “certificate of immunity” for one of the former Siemens factory blocks by the Thames Barrier, 18-32 Bowater Road, meaning it cannot be given a national listing in the next five years.

Developer U+I plans to redevelop the site, keeping this building but demolishing adjacent 37 Bowater Road, as part of a scheme to build shops, offices and up to 520 homes. Both sites are locally listed by Greenwich Council.

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Talk about Charlton Village and the future of SE7 at the Charlton Society on Saturday

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Here’s the Charlton Society‘s chair, Carol Kenna…

Please join us in the first of the Charlton Society’s ‘HAVE YOUR SAY’ sessions. The aim is to strengthen the community’s influence over Greenwich Council’s planning and environmental policies.

The starting point for the session is Charlton Village – still the heart of Charlton. Our guest speaker will be Clare Loops, the council’s planning policy manager. 

To kick off the Council’s consultation process, we’ve asked her to tell us about its draft Charlton Village Conservation Area Management Strategy.

And that’s just the start! After Clare’s presentation, questions and a short tea break, we will split up into four groups for the ‘HAVE YOUR SAY’ session.

The groups will discuss not only the Village Conservation Area proposals but also what we like or dislike about Charlton as a whole, what’s special or unique about it, and how we see its future – from Shooters Hill to the River Thames. And don’t forget: this is a future that must take into account the avalanche of change happening all around Charlton.

Comparing notes together at the end of the session, we believe we can begin to lay the basis on which the community can help shape Council policy.

We look forward to seeing you at Charlton House.

The event’s open to all, and runs from 2.30pm to 5pm on Saturday 19 March.

The Conservation Area Management Strategy’s something all councils have to do with their conservation areas – they update them, take bits out, add new areas, and set requirements for what you can or can’t do if you own a property in the area.

This plan sees the council expand the area around Charlton Church Lane, Lansdowne Lane and Hornfair Park. You can find out more about what the council wants to do in this draft document. (The full, final document is released on Monday 21 March, so don’t take this version as gospel.)

If you’re at all interested in the history of Charlton, an accompanying document sets out the history of the area, and just why the area around Charlton Village is so special. It’s a hefty tome, quite different in tone from the usual council documents, and well worth a read. You’ll find a draft of the Character Appraisal here. (Again, a final version is released on Monday 21 March, which will supersede this one.) 

Want to see more? You can find out more about the borough’s conservation areas and read appraisals for other districts on the Greenwich Council website. Even more? Try Blackheath’s appraisal on Lewisham’s website.)

With the hugely important new Charlton riverside masterplan due to come after the mayoral election, the Charlton Society hopes Saturday’s event will start to get local people properly involved in the discussions about the area’s long-term future.

Local historical records ‘rediscovered’ at Charlton House

Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust have been in touch with news of a discovery in the cellar of Charlton House: 

WW1 History of Greenwich Borough uncovered as Charlton House’s Locked Vault is opened for the first time in memory.

Staff and volunteers at Charlton House in London have made an extraordinary discovery, in the cellar of the historic building.

Charlton House, part of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, has ‘rediscovered’ historical records and leather bound documents relating to the local area, and dating back more than 150 years.

Hidden deep in the basement of Charlton House, the vault containing the records has been locked since before the building was handed over to the Trust 8 years ago. Amongst the items discovered inside is the First World War Memorial Book for the Borough, containing the names of local men who served during the 1914-1918 war and a 100 year old log book for the local church – St Luke’s, which details all services and is annotated with significant events such as the Silvertown Explosion.

Tracy Stringfellow, Chief Executive of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust explained: “We don’t know exactly how long it is since the vault was last opened, but the documents inside are very exciting and likely to be of significant interest to local historians and genealogists”

The Trust plans to display the discoveries at their forthcoming Great War exhibition, which takes place at the Greenwich Heritage Centre in February.

The documents and books will now be examined by preservation experts to ensure that their condition does not deteriorate.

There’s not been much information available on progress with Charlton House since it was quietly transferred to Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust in 2014, so we’re glad to hear that things are happening, and hope to see more video updates from the Heritage Trust. A shame, though, that their latest finds aren’t going on display in Charlton House itself.