Meet the Collection: Major exhibition starts at Charlton House

Work going on in Charlton House

It’s a big day at Charlton House today as its first big exhibition in over two years opens up, with lots going on all month. Here’s why you might like to take a look…

Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust’s museum and archive pop-up programme Meet the Collection begins its extended final stop at Charlton House today. The month-long event marks the trust’s first in-person exhibition and Charlton House’s longest re-opening since before March 2020.

The Living in Greenwich: Meet the Collection exhibition includes new art installations from artists-in-residence Fiona Veacock and CraftA, who worked with local community groups Mycenae House ReachOut, Listening Ears, Community Direction, and Eltham Crotchet N’ Natter to create table setting of pottery and seven textile banners. Each piece of art is inspired by Greenwich Heritage’s museum collections and archive, as well as the participants’ understanding of home.

In keeping with the theme, the trust has prepared an accompanying museum display inspired by food and home. The exhibit includes a variety of pieces and documents ranging from those preserved from Charlton House over time to Roman dishes discovered in the Greenwich Park archaeological excavation. Attendees will also be able to hear stories from Greenwich Heritage’s audio archive, as Greenwich’s locals describe the tangible and intangible things that mean home to them, in their own voices and words.

The exhibition will also mark the debut of five brand new costumed tours of the House, designed for families by historical actor and educator Hilary Wood, available for booking at a cost of £5 per person (free for those 5 and under). The line-up for these hour-long Sunday tours is as follows:

Today: Jacobean
8th May: East India Company and Charlton House
15th May: Victorian
22nd May: World War I
29th May: World War II

As well as Sundays from 11am to 4pm, the Trust will open the exhibition Wednesday to Fridays from 9:30am to 3:30pm, including craft sessions with our artists-in-residence. For a small fee, attendees will be invited to take part in a community textile (Thursday 5th and Friday 6th May) and make their own pottery work to be professionally fired (Sunday 15th May).

The trust is still operating cautiously, with the health and safety of their team and visitors in mind. Visitors can expect smaller-than-usual capacities for events, open windows to allow for the free flow of fresh air, and hand sanitiser available on site. They recommend that those visiting indoors wear a face covering where possible.

Meet the Collection is generously supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Tanner Trust, and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Visit greenwichheritage.org for more details, including booking information.


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Charlton House needs £1.2m to fix leaking roof – but local groups asked for summer house ideas

Charlton House
More than 20,000 people have had Covid-19 jabs at Charlton House

Charlton House needs £1.2 million to fix its leaking roof, the chief executive of the trust that runs the Jacobean mansion has told Greenwich councillors.

Tracy Stringfellow, the chief executive of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, said that she would soon be launching a fundraising appeal to mend the roof, and that the issue had delayed wider plans for a £25 million refurbishment of the house.

She also told councillors that local groups would be able to use its summer house after the end of the current phase of refurbishment works.

While over 20,000 people have visited the house for coronavirus vaccines since the start of the year, some have spotted the damage caused by water getting into its old library, she said.

Councillors on the regeneration scrutiny panel were told last night that Historic England had funded a detailed survey of the roof to examine the damage.

“The assessment of complete and replacement works has come back at about £1.2 million,” Stringfellow said.

“We will be carrying out some work over the next few months to identify how we will raise the funds, and we will be launching an appeal with the Big Give campaign, giving local people the opportunity to support the roof works as well.

“There was some significant water ingress during the lockdown period which runs the risk of damaging some of the most significant spaces on the second floor.”

Charlton House summer house
Charlton House’s summer house is being restored

Asked by Woolwich Common councillor David Gardner about the broader future of Charlton House, Stringfellow said that a plan had been produced in 2018 that envisaged a £25m million refurbishment of the Grade I-listed building.

Stringfellow said that the plan had been to approach the National Lottery Heritage Fund for money to begin work, beginning with the ground floor, but the pandemic had forced a rethink, as the fund had changed its priorities.

“We will be looking at that strategy again,” she said. “We now need to prioritise the roof repairs and the rooms on the second floor as urgent. Those of you who have had your jabs in the old library might have noticed damage to the ceiling because of the water ingress – I’ve had lots of emails from people asking about the hole in the roof.”

The second phase of works to restore the summer house was coming to an end, Stringfellow added, with some of the original panelling being restored, ahead of a final phase where the ceiling would be restored.

Stringellow said that the trust would be interested in community groups using the summer house for exhibitions or other uses before the final phase of works started.

“If there are any local organisations who might want to come and have a look at that – a commercial hire might be at a later stage but for exhibitions or programming, we would be open to approaches from the local community,” she said.


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Timber! Why 12 trees are coming down at Charlton House

Twelve trees outside Charlton House are to be felled next week because inspectors have found rot and disease in them, the trust that runs the house has said.

Five of the trees have already died, while the others have rot, bark wound, decay or fungal disease, Greenwich Council’s tree inspectors found. Work is scheduled for 26 August.

Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust plans to plant at least one new tree to replace each one lost. Its chief executive, Tracy Stringfellow, said: “This is part of our active management of the Charlton House estate in partnership with the Royal Borough of Greenwich. We welcome the opportunity this provides to improve the gardens for the local community.”

Neighbours with questions can email the trust – info[at]rght.org.uk – if they have any questions.

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