It is said when the wind howls across the crest of Shooters Hill, the folk of Eltham, South London, draw their shutters and bolt their doors. For over the shrieks of the gale can still be heard the howls and lamentations of Lady James as her spirit waits eternally in her dark, crumbling tower of heartbreak….. Severndroog Castle!
This derelict Gothic tower stands abandoned and forlorn in a clearing of Oxleas Wood, overlooking seven counties with a grim, brooding aspect. Severndroog Castle was built in 1784 by the grieving widow Lady James as a memorial to her dead husband: a macabre homage of the island fortress Suvarnadurg that Sir William James attacked and blew-up off the coast of India in 1755.
This late Georgian ‘Gothick’ construct was designed by the East India Company architect Richard Jupp. Now boarded up and in a state of ill-repair, the efforts of The Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust will hopefully see the magnificent tower open tho the public. The views of London will be fantastic, the architectural details stunning – and who knows? Perhaps the ghost of Sir William James himself will be tempted back to his own memorial, joining the shade of his wife in blood-curdling undead howls on a wild, windswept night…?
Shooter’s Hill is the highest point in South London, named for the medieval bowmen who practised their archery here – and also for the numerous gibbet cages for the gristly display of executed highwaymen.