What’s happening at Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust? An update from Cllr Gary Parker

Charlton House SE7
Charlton House is managed by Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust. Photo by Neil Clasper.

An update on activities at Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust from board member and Charlton councillor Gary Parker:

I would like to update you on the work of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust (RGHT) which has been busy managing and developing their significant portfolio of Royal Borough of Greenwich heritage assets.

Much has taken place at the Trust over the last few month, and residents will be aware that Greenwich Heritage Centre i Woolwich closed its doors on 21 July to make way for Phase I of the Creative District development.

A new facility is in development with the Royal Borough of Greenwich with public access to a new Research Room. The Greenwich Archive Users Forum has been established and RGHT are working with the Forum to ensure access to the borough’s archive collections continues and can be enjoyed by many more residents in our community in the future. The Museum & Archive team are now based at Charlton House.

Pauline Watson, the archivist, has continued to deal with enquiries from the public by email and telephone since the closure of the Heritage Centre, and is looking forward to working with researchers in person again as soon as the new facility is up and running. At the moment she is carrying out some incredibly useful research into past repairs and maintenance of Charlton House since the 1920s, the Trust will be sharing some of its findings on its blog in the coming weeks. 

Layers of London

RGHT is providing the ‘Hub’ at Charlton House for a new project, Layers of London. Launched at an event last week, the project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in partnership with London Metropolitan Archive and University of London, aims to work with the community to record layers of ‘London’s rich past’. The first meeting at Charlton House saw a wide attendance, not only from the Charlton and wider Greenwich communities but from interested people across the south east. Some very interesting projects were shared at the meeting and anyone can take part by adding their story to the site. RGHT looks forward to seeing the content grow over the next two years as the project develops. 

Making Woolwich

The Making Woolwich exhibition, from the Heritage Centre is the focus of the teams work now as they manage the redesign and relocation of the display to Woolwich Town Hall. This exhibition opened in December 2016 to celebrate the 300-year history of the Royal Artillery. Elements of this story will transfer to the Town Hall in November where new audiences can find out about the important story of the Royal Artillery in Woolwich and the men and women who have served in the Borough over the last 300 years. The rest of the Museum & Archive collections will not be mothballed during this period of closure. The Trust team will take this opportunity to develop a programme of exhibitions and events that will see the collections travel out into the community. 

WWI Centenary

Charlton Village War Memorial
The war memorial in Charlton. The borough’s war memorials are maintained by Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust. Photo by Neil Clasper.

As the centenary of the end of the First World War approaches RGHT has 4 Tommies’ from the There but not There project. If community groups are interested in loaning a Tommy for an event they can contact Edward@rght.org.uk for details. You can find out more about the First World War Victoria Cross recipients of the borough on the RGHT blog where each week the story of one of the four local heroes will be revisited. 

The new RGHT What’s On leaflet is now available. You can pick up a copy at Charlton House. You can also collect a copy of the Woolwich History Walk leaflet, designed and printed with a generous grant from the Ministry of Defence Community Covenant Fund. If you can’t drop into Charlton House, you can download the leaflet here www.greenwichheritage.org/visit/woolwich-history-walks. Alternatively, if you would like to take part in the walk or would like copies of either the adult or family version for your group please contact office@rght.org.uk and copies can be sent to you for display. 

I will publish a further report early in 2019.

Best Wishes, Cllr Gary Parker

The Charlton Champion is keen to know: do you use or visit Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust facilities? What do you think of their current plans? What could they be doing, and what are they are getting right (or wrong)? Let us know in the comments below (but keep it constructive, please!)


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How was 2018’s Horn Fair at Charlton House?

Charlton House Horn Fair 2018

The Charlton Champion is grateful to LARA RUFFLE COLES for sending us her photos, videos and observations from Sunday’s Horn Fair event at Charlton House:

Even though the grey and rainy weather may have stopped some from venturing outside, this year’s Horn Fair at Charlton House was lively and entertaining – if not as bustling as 2017.

My favourite element of the day was the live music from the Royal Air Force Cadets, The Friends’ Musick and the Horn Fair Players. The music generated a very warm and inviting atmosphere, and it was wonderful to hear the music floating around the house as you moved from room to room.

The range of stalls was more arts and crafts than food, this was a bit disappointing as last year there were more food stalls including a really good quality smoked salmon stall selling sandwiches. Only chocolate, honey, coffee and Caribbean food was on offer, and The Giggly Pig Company had already packed up when I arrived at peak eating time just before 2pm. We couldn’t find Wandercrust Pizza, unfortunately; the tea rooms were open, but I would have liked to scoff down a few slices of pizza!

If you ventured outside, visitors were able to have a good nosy round the newly reopened Summer House. The main room and undercroft (also a WWII air raid shelter) could be viewed, and panels were on display detailing the recent refurbishment.

This year’s theme was the hundred year anniversary of Charlton House opening as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) hospital – which felt a little odd given the Horn Fair’s previous reputation as a bawdy and debauched affair! It might have better to focus on the upcoming Armistice centenary as a whole, and the VAD theme didn’t feel very present as you moved from room to room. The theme also seemed at odds with the commercial aspects of the event.

However, balancing the commercial and educational parts of any charitable organisation is always tricky, and is something that the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust – only established four years ago – is still working on.

More importantly, we should all be supporting events like the Horn Fair as they allow charities to keep beautiful and historically vital buildings like Charlton House open for all of us to enjoy. Roll on 2019!

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A sneak peek into Charlton House’s Summer House before Open House weekend

Charlton House Summer House - September 2018-14-1

Charlton’s architecturally significant Summer House will be open for visitors to look around this weekend as part of Open House London. The Charlton Champion is grateful to the Charlton House team for letting us in for a look around in advance, and the opportunity to take a few pictures of the refurbishment in progress.

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.

Charlton House Summer House - September 2018-13-5Charlton House Summer House - September 2018-12-4Charlton House Summer House - September 2018-10-2

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.

Charlton House Summer House - September 2018-9-6Charlton House Summer House - September 2018-8The undercroft space - formerly an air raid shelter - below Charlton's Summer House

The Charlton Champion provides news and information about issues and events in London SE7.
– Help us by telling us your stories
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– NEW! Become a monthly patron at patreon.com/charltonchampion
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