Open House weekend 22-23 September 2018 is an annual event when members of the public have an opportunity to explore and learn about some of London’s most interesting architecture and design. The event has grown from year to year and with it the number of buildings you can visit. Here are a few highlights from the Lewisham and Deptford area focusing on buildings not usually open to the public. For visiting details, please see the Open House website
Designed by Trevor Dannatt (OBE) and built in 1972 the building lies within the Blackheath Conservation Area. It might be the only Quaker meeting house in the Country built in the concrete brutalist style. The main meeting house is square on plan, chamfered at the corners, which evokes a medieval chapterhouse.
A 2015 report for the Quaker Meeting Houses Heritage Project, describes it as a ‘Brutalist jewel’ and of ‘exceptional aesthetic value’. Although the building is relatively recent, the Blackheath Meeting goes back to the 17th Century in Deptford and Woolwich. Peter the Great visited the Deptford Meeting house in Deptford High Street. That meeting house is now demolished but there is a plaque on the site above the Salvation Army shop.
Boone’s Chapel, Lee
A Grade I listed, single-storey building attributed to Sir Christopher Wren and built in 1683. Built in red brick and Portland stone details to the window architraves. This former chapel it was restored in 2008 as a studio and exhibition space with Heritage Lottery Funding and support from the London Borough of Lewisham, livery companies and the support of local residents through the Lee Manor and Blackheath Societies. One of only two Grade I-listed buildings in the borough of Lewisham (the other being St Paul's, Deptford).
Sayes Court, Deptford
Home of John Evelyn diarist, gardener, early ecologist and writer and contemporary of Samuel Pepys. 2018 marks the 200 year anniversary of the publication of Evelyn’s diaries which are an invaluable historical source of information on the arts, culture and politics of a turbulent time. It is also the birthplace of the National Trust. Long queues are expected.
The Master Shipwright’s House, Deptford
This private house is the oldest standing building of the former Deptford Royal Dockyard. It was the home and office of the master shipwright since 1513 and was remodeled in the 18th Century. A Grade II listed property, it would have had views of the whole dockyard and is one of the few remaining parts of the dockyard left. If it looks familiar to you it may be because the property is used as a film location.
The Deptford royal dockyard and manor of Sayes Court, London: excavations 2000-2012 by Anthony Francis is a lavishly illustrated book which traces the yard’s development as it evolved and expanded to keep pace with the demands of technology and empire. Available on reference in the Local History and Archive Centre.
Walter Segal Self-Build Houses, Honor Oak Park
Walter’s Way is a close of 13 self-built houses constructed according to a method developed by Walter Segal. Based on traditional timber methods, it eliminated the need for bricklaying and plastering, thereby creating easy-to-build, ecologically sound properties. In the 1970’s Lewisham Council made three sites available, partly in response to the demand for housing. After his death in 1985 a trust was set up in his name to popularize his methods. His best known follower is Kevin McCloud presenter of Grand Designs, Channel Four TV series. With many people unable to buy their own home, could Walter’s Way be the answer for some?
The self-build book-how to enjoy designing and building your own home by Jon Broome and Brian Richardson is available on reference in the Local History and Archives Centre.
Julie Robinson, Local Studies Librarian, Local History and Archives Centre. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org