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

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Charlton House: Summer House restoration begins

 

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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.

Will this old Borough of Greenwich sign go into the Trust’s historic collection?

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!