On the edge of London sits one of the more bizarre castles in all of Britain. It is not a castle in the truest sense of the term, more of a triangular tower, built to look like a castle. Named Severndroog Castle, it was built as a memorial to Sir William James by his wife, Lady James of Eltham.
Sir William James was a fairly prominent figure in the early 1700s. The son of a miller, James ran away to sea when he was a boy, and by 1738 was in command of his own vessel. He joined the East India Company and, after several years of loyal service, was appointed Commodore of their Marine Forces. In this capacity he fought several actions against the natives who lived on western coast of India, conquering territory and trade routes in the name of the Company.
This was during a time where it was seen as normal for corporations to protect their interests through force. In fact, the East India Company had a large standing army and navy in order to protect its trade routes—almost like a modern-day Blackwater, on steroids.
Unfortunately, James’s high-sea adventures took a heavy toll, and he dropped dead of a stroke during his daughter’s wedding in 1783. His widow built Severndroog Castle as a physical testament to the husband she had lost.
The Castle was designed by Richard Jupp and is comprised of a triangular tower with three hexagonal towers, one on each point. Built in the Gothic style, the entire structure is over 60 feet high and, from the top, offers unobstructed views of the Greater London area. The castle takes its name (Severndroog) from an action that Sir James fought against the Indians at the island fortress of Suvarnadurg.
Currently, the castle is under the protection of the Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust. The Trust is attempting to raise money to have the castle renovated and has recently been given over half a million pounds by the English National Lottery to help complete the project. Once the project is complete, they hope to use the Castle for educational purposes and also as an event space for hire.
Know Before You Go
Located off of Bellegrove Rd on Shooters Hill
There's free parking just off the main road with a short walk up to the folly or you can catch a bus from North Greenwich. Entry fee is £4 and there's a little cafe on the ground floor.