One of London’s real curiosities, the Severndroog Castle is a folly that sits in the middle of Castle Wood just off Shooters Hill in south London.
This three-sided brick tower was built in 1783 as a memorial to Sir William James, the head of the East India Company’s merchant fleet. Severndroog is named for the island off the Malabar coast in India where James routed a pirate stronghold which had been used as a base for sorties against his ships and their cargoes.
Because of its height and commanding view over London, Severndroog Castle has proved genuinely useful over the years. It was used to help measure distances from England to France by General Roy in 1797 and much later served as part of the air-raid warning system during World War II, not surprising given that this is the highest point above sea level between south London and the continent.
You can visit Severndroog Castle and its surrounding woodland at any time, although the building is shuttered at present. The Severndroog Castle Building Preservation Trust, formed in 2002, is trying to raise sufficient funds to renovate it as unfortunately it has been closed to the general public since 1986. You can read more about the history of the Castle and the plans to save it over at the Preservation Trust’s website.