Tuesday was such a beautiful morning. A little chilly but bright sunshine, the ideal weather to go for a walk in the park. I had seen a posting on twitter saying that the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery were having their annual inspection in Charlton Park and I decided to go along and see it for myself.
Charlton Village is in South East London, just a few minutes walk from Charlton Station. The village itself is a conservation area and Charlton Park falls within its boundaries. The park itself is on land that used to be part of the grounds of Charlton House, a Grade 1 listed Jacobean Manor House that still retains many of its original features. The house was built between 1607-1612 for Adam Newton, who was tutor to Henry, Prince of Wales, and is the largest of its type remaining in the Greater London area. In later years the estate was taken over by the Maryon-Wilson family but, due to high maintenance costs, was sold to the council in 1925. Part of the estate was then converted into a public park.
I went into the park via Charlton Lane entrance and I was surprised to see a small coffee shop just inside the entrance, the Old Cottage Coffee Shop. I went inside to ask where I would find the King’s Troop parading. When I opened the door of the café I was quite taken back because it felt as though I had walked into someone’s living room.
A man sat at a table in the coffee shop very kindly took me outside and showed me the section of the park that I needed. I thanked him and said I would be back later for a coffee . Later on I found out that he was actually the proprietor of the Old Cottage Coffee Shop.
Charlton Park is part of the Green Chain walk and has excellent outdoor leisure facilities including a floodlit football and rugby pitch, a cricket pitch, a play and picnic area for children.There is also an adiZone, an outdoor multi-sports gym, supplied by Adidas as part of the 2012 Olympic Legacy. And of course the wonderful Old Cottage Coffee Shop.
I found my way to the area of the park where the parade was being held. Ten minutes later I could see the King’s Troop procession making their way up Ha Ha Road. They turned into the Cemetery Lane entrance of the park and started their warm up in readiness for the inspection. They were accompanied by the Royal Artillery Band and started to do a manoeuver that is known as a ‘Musical Drive’.
A musical drive involves at team of 6 horses, pulling a WW1 13 pounder field gun, charging at full gallop from one side of the parade ground to another. At the same time they are criss-crossing another team of 6 horses. It was a spectacular display of horsemanship and skill and unbelievable to watch.
Michael, the owner, welcomed me back and again I marvelled at the interior of the shop. He told me when he took over the café 7 years ago it was in a very bad state of repair but he has transformed into what it is today.
Michael loves Charlton Park and is very community minded. Over the years he has been involved in many projects to improve the facilities of the park. So much so, the coffee shop has now become the heart of the local community. By 12 noon the place was buzzing with local people coming in for lunch, a snack, or just to have a coffee. The staff were so friendly and had the time to greet and welcome everyone who came in. A wonderful place and I will definitely be back.