Severndroog Castle - Sir William James and Eltham, by Sally Simmons and Margaret Taylor

Severndroog Castle - Sir William James and Eltham, by Sally Simmons and Margaret Taylor

Published by the Eltham Society in 2004, 28 pages. A5 size booklet (N7707X1)

From the introduction: Hidden amidst the woods on Shooters Hill in the Royal Borough of Greenwich is a triangular tower known locally as 'The Castle'. Sevemdroog Castle, as it is correctly named, is surrounded by woodland, now managed by the Royal Borough of Greenwich as a public park. From the viewing platform at the top of the tower it is said that on a clear day one can see a distance of over thirty miles across London, Kent, Surrey and Essex. Now the tree growth restricts the view but when first erected there were few tall trees around. It has been calculated that the top of the castle is 46 feet higher than the top of the cross on St Paul's Cathedral.

The woods were once managed to provide wood and timber for the local community by coppicing. Trees were cut every few years to produce poles and firewood and allowed to grow in the intervening years.

The name 'Castle' is a misnomer. It is not a medieval fortress, but a triangular belvedere or folly erected in 1784 as a memorial to Sir William James of Eltham Park. Why erect such an unusual monument with a strange name? The plaque above the entrance gives some clues to this man's life but does not tell all:

"This building was erected in 1784 by the representative of Sir William James, Bart, to commemorate that gallant officer's achievements in the East Indies during his command of the Company's Marine Forces in those seas and in a particular manner to record the conquest of the castle of Severndroog, on the coast of Malabar, which fell to his superior valour and able conduct on the 2nd day of April 1755"

We shall endeavour to tell the story of this adventurer in these pages.....

Condition of the booklet is generally very good. The cover has one or two very minor scuffs but is clean and bright, the staple spine is intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound.