After last week’s little frisson of excitement that in the reworking of the army barracks at Woolwich for the soon-to-be-arriving King’s Troop Royal Artillery the beautiful but sadly falling -apart Georgian Rotunda would be renovated and loved again I’m afraid that I have some rather sad news for you.
After our discussion last week, Paul actually wrote to the architects, Scott Brownrigg, to see whether this extraordinary Georgian confection was included in their designs or just a pretty backdrop for them (well done Paul – thanks…). He pointed out that it was an asset that would make everything not only look better, but was desirable to keep in at least reasonable shape.
He received a reply from them a day or so ago:
Thanks for your email, I am afraid that your assumption is correct the Rotunda is not part of the King’s troop relocation scheme.
All we know is that the building is still under military ownership.”
Well, at least we know where it all stands. I know that money is tight just now, but this is a sublime, unique building by a famous architect. Surely it deserves a better fate than this?
I still feel that it would make a good events venue that, once it was brought back to a reasonable state, would pay for itself in hire fees, much as the Cutty Sark is hoping to do next year.
Its one crime is that it’s not in a posh area. If this was Godalming or Henley, the Rotunda would never have suffered a fate like this. It would have been lovingly restored, dressed in white ribbons and pink roses every weekend for fluffy brides and squiffy bridesmaides, been the setting for several international smash-hit Richard Curtis rom-coms and occasionally been the backdrop for well-heeled amateur theatrical productions of Shakespeare’s comedies. As it is, it’s gated off, surrounded by the detritus of military hardware and falling to bits.
There is an unpalatable but radical idea that I don’t actually condone but this morning I feel like paying devil’s advocate. Hang on, I’m going to don my tin helmet and dig myself a trench…
The Rotunda wasn’t always here. It started out in King George’s back garden in the centre of town.
I would hate to see it moved from its present position, but I would hate more to see it crumble and collapse completely. Would moving it to save it be such a terrible idea?
Right. I’m just going to take cover before the firing begins.