Archive for the ‘Greenwich venues’ Category

A Use For The Rotunda?

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Rather slow off the mark this morning, folks, thanks to a tedious hacking incident with Twitter. Apologies to anyone who discovered rather more than they needed to about “The Phantom’s” love life…

All fixed now, I hope – thanks to everyone who let me know about the security breach.

But onto happier things. You may remember Robbie, who plays with local band The Mores. Well, he’s getting married to his ‘Amazonian photographer’ (what an image that conjures up…) and wants to have the wedding somewhere around Woolwich.

I don’t normally cover wedding-venue questions on the main blog any more, since they got so frequently asked that they’ve got their own page these days, but something he’s been saying intrigues me.

He says ” I have been dealing with Major Gleeson on the matter of hiring the Rotunda for our party. All was going well, we went to have a look at it, he seemed fairly excited by the idea, saying nobody had ever done anything like that before (that’s what I like to hear!), and thought it could be done.

He came back with a fairly stiff figure for the hire charge, but we managed to swallow it, until today when he called to say that the fire regs guy had just had a look, and would only allow us to have 60 guests in there! No good. So I am currently trying to negotiate some sort of fire safety situation with the army, possibly hiring a fire engine to sit outside for the day, but it is looking like it might be a shade too pricey for us.”

Before I get onto Robbie’s next question, which of course, is about alternative venues, let’s just think about this.

A few months ago, I was very worried about the Rotunda, and I continue to be concerned about what will happen to it – when we discussed it before, we wondered if it could be done up and used for dignitaries during the Olympics – but using it as a wedding venue afterwards would bring in money to pay for its upkeep and give us that all important ‘legacy’ that everyone’s talking about. I know it’s not an obvious area for the type of people who can afford such places, but I suspect that word might get around and it could be a newly trendy spot (not least from Household Cavlary people…)

The reason why the fire safety guy must be concerned about it is, I presume, the somewhat fragile condition the place is in – but it it was given proper upgrades and facilities, it’s surely big enough to take more than 60 people – not least because of the space around it, now that the big guns are gone. It has a wonderful green area around it, it’s not that hard to travel to and it could make some serious cash for the Army, who own it.

I truly hope that Robbie manages to work something out with the Major – the guy’s a good bloke, charged with an impossible task of protecting a truly unique building with no cash. If it works as a wedding venue once, perhaps he could be persuaded to petition for money as a long-term investment.

In the meanwhile, though, we have to assume that Robbie and his Amazonian Beauty (don’t you just long for them to have a Midsummer Night’s Dream-themed wedding – with the pair of them dressed as Theseus and Hippolyta, her being given away by Oberon, Titania being head bridesmaid and the Rude Mechanicals as the ushers? I’d pay good money to hear Bottom’s best-man speech…) have to make alternative arrangements.

I’ve already directed him towards the Phantom Shindigs page, but there may be a bit more thinking-cap required. He says:

“We are really desperate to have our wedding party somewhere in Woolwich, we think it is a fantastic area with so much potential, and we have a brilliant opportunity to get a large number of people to come and see the place.

I am really running out of ideas for suitably quirky places for us to have our party, we’ll be expecting around 200 people or so, and we don’t have too much time left, especially if the Rotunda isn’t possible.

We really don’t want to do anything that is too traditional, we have been trying to do something that shows how amazing an area this could be if people just use a bit of imagination, and realize it’s potential. If you can think of anywhere, however weird, indoors, outdoors, derelict, someone’s house, it doesn’t matter, I would hugely appreciate your thoughts.”

My first thought would be Peggy Middleton House – I don’t actually know what state it’s in just now I haven’t been to that area for ages – but if it’s a shell, it would be a great bow-out for the place – very grungy (good luck persuading the Council…)

Another, slightly left-field idea would be to contact the Council Film Unit and ask them what they have on their books – I bet they have abandoned warehouses etc.

Woolwich isn’t quite my area – but it definitely IS some Phantophiles’ manor – so – any ideas, guys?

Tudor Barn

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Well Hall Pleasaunce, Eltham.

What staggers me about this building is that in the good old days of the 16th Century when it was at its peak, this fabulous moated Tudor pile was just the barn. The great house of Well Hall is long gone, and even its successor (both of which I’ll talk about another day) has been dead for 80-odd years. Today, I’m just looking at the barn as a place to scoff tea and cakes.

It wasn’t so long ago you could quaff as well as scoff. The barn and surrounding grounds (lovely in their own right – I’ll get onto them when I talk about the Pleasaunce) were bought by Woolwich Metropolitan Borough Council in 1930 and the barn became first a restaurant, then a pub. To be honest it wasn’t a very good pub – it had a great shell, but the interior was dull and the beer boring. The ambiance was flat and the atmosphere unwelcoming. I got the feeling the guv’nor didn’t really care about the place. Greenwich Council got that feeling too and the place closed down.

After an unsuccessful attempt at a French restaurant – nice idea; was never going to work where it was without the TV clout of some celebrity chef – Greenwich Council have decided to turn it into a tea rooms during the day, and a venue for hire whenever they can get some cash.

I went to check out the teas one Friday afternoon whilst procrastinating. That will probably explain why I was the only person under the age of 80 and without a blue-rinse, though it was definitely well-used. They’ve cleaned it up since its pub days, but to be honest, there’s still not an awful lot of atmosphere about it, given the place’s history, fabric and surroundings. The walls are still painted creamy yellow and the furniture is municipal-cottagey. I can’t quite explain it, but it still does feel a bit – well – civic. The interesting features – like the old fireplace and the stalls – weren’t being used when I was there, and were plied up with spare chairs.

What I will give them, and give them in spades, is the friendliness of the staff. Cheery ladies serving cups of tea (I would have liked a pot – teabags in cups is never something I like to encourage) and huge wodges of very obviously home-baked Victoria Sponge, at really rather decent prices. I like a nice slice of Victoria sponge and this lived up to what it looked like – slightly wonky and slightly too full of jam. Perfect.

This place is so very nearly there. As a tea rooms, it is certainly very ‘nice.’ But in this particular case, I think I would like it to be even ‘nicer.’ I think they could afford to actually push themselves further in the cute-stakes. Normally I’d never suggest anything so naff, but with these particular surroundings, the jolliness of the matrons and the homey-ness of the cakes, I want sugary-sweet pastel cuteness too. Tea in flowery pots, Cath Kidston tablecloths, a whole array of massive cakes on glass stands under glass domes, and ladies in ‘Nippy’ outfits talking like that woman out of Brief Encounter.

I don’t know. Maybe it wouldn’t work. Maybe something as knowing as that would be a bit Tunbridge Wells and this is, after all, Eltham – posh in places, definitely un-posh in others. In the meanwhile, this is a sweet place to take the kids (or Gran) for tea and not break the bank. I haven’t tested it out as a venue for birthday parties, weddings etc. but I can’t imagine it’s too expensive and with a bit of effort it could look great upstairs. You’d probably get a discount with a GreenwichCard too…


Find a few more details here.

Phantom Kneesups

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

My most frequently-asked of all frequently asked questions is about events. Mainly weddings, I’ll grant you – but also birthdays, anniversaries and even kiddies parties. It’s usually venue-hire questions – what, where – and the all-important how much.

I thought I’d just do a monster FAQ to cover it all, but it didn’t take long to work out that that just wasn’t going to cut it. So I’ve made a whole new page to explore the ideas of celebrations in Greenwich.

And here it is – in future you’ll find it listed in the site map to the right under Weddings and Events…

It’s not supposed to be exhaustive – or even particularly inventive – it’s just where I sat down and brainstormed for a while, then burned a bit of shoe leather. I came up with quite a few “whats,” a lot of “wheres” but sadly very few “how-much’s.” Most venues keep that kind of thing to themselves and, when I called them, wanted to assign me to some ghastly ‘personal service planner’ before they would even consider giving me a ball-park figure. So sadly, the leg-work is still mostly for the would-be happy couple. At least I can start you off…

It’s a work-in-progress, which I’ll be adding to as I think of things.

I’ll be delighted to hear your ideas and suggestions – especially if you have good (or bad) memories of places you’ve used yourself.

One thing to bear in mind, Lovely Phantom-People. I’m not really looking to become some kind of local businesses and services listings page, so please don’t ask me to plug your bridal dress shop, limousine hire or wedding planner service just at the moment. Best pages to place that sort of thing is in mags like Meridian and The Guide.

I may change my mind on the services thing, I’ll see how things go in the future – though as always I won’t be doing any paid advertising save for the little GoogleAds down the side over which I have no choice-control.

Let me know what you think, guys, and how it can be improved. Should I just have a bunch of links to services – or steer clear of that kind of thing? Your shout.