When we last looked inside the Summer House it still had its public toilets in situ (albeit unused for some time); now with the toilets, internal walls and an amount of asbestos removed – plus new clear windows letting the light in – it’s easier to imagine the space in use for events. Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust (RGHT) is still looking for ideas for future use of the Summer House that will balance its aims of historical interpretation, community use, and revenue generation – if you’ve got any ideas, get in touch with the team.
As you can see from the pictures below, the refurbishment is still underway; amongst other work to be done we were told that stone flagstones will be put down soon and, pending the reconnection of the electricity supply, temporary lighting put in to light the building up at night.
We were also able to have a look in the Summer House’s undercroft, the basement space which saw use as an air raid shelter in WWII. We were told this won’t be open this weekend, but RGHT hope to use for future special events, including possibly the Horn Fair.
Asbestos has been removed and the interior cleaned up, revealing the public toilets last used in the early 1990s. The next phase of work will see these removed, interior partitions taken down, the windows replaced, then the space made available for temporary (dare we say pop-up?) uses.
We understand that the building will be lit from the inside at night, which should improve that particular corner of Charlton Village after dark.
Work has begun to restore Charlton House’s Summer House, thanks to a donation from the World Monuments Fund.
The Grade I listed Summer House, attributed to Inigo Jones, once gave panoramic views back along the River Thames to The City of London and has stood empty and unused since the public toilets within it were closed in the early nineties. It has been included in Historic England’s ‘Register of Heritage at Risk’ for many years. Work has now begun to remove asbestos and to clear the building of the modern toilet fittings and masonry partitions to leave it open and available for a wide variety of temporary uses.
Tracy Stringfellow, Chief Executive of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, said, “Charlton House is one of London’s unsung architectural gems and this work is the first step of a process to re-imagine the house and its grounds to provide enhanced facilities for visitors that befit this historically significant site. It will give the estate a ‘front-door’ where small exhibitions and other temporary events can be staged and the Trust looks forward to working with local stakeholders to begin this journey.”
Architect Charlie MacKeith, overseeing the initial project, says “it is a great privilege to be working with the Trust at the start of Charlton House’s revival. This fascinating little building, currently hidden and locked, has started revealing tantalising fragments of its history even before we’ve started to remove pre-war additions. The reopened pavilion will have a dramatic impact on the park and village”.
The Charlton Champion understands that following the first stage of restoration, RGHT will be looking for ideas for temporary uses of the space – time to start thinking about what you’d like to see in the Summer House!