The Open Weekend coincides with Open House London, and also with Wapping Open Studios (a dozen local artists are exhibiting).
Hermitage gates open 11am to 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday and there is the usual pop-up cafe in the pier house providing refreshments.
This weekend we have visiting vessel Thames Sailing barge “Lady Daphne” mooring at Hermitage for visitors to have a look at.
Lady Daphne is a 28m x 6.5m (90’9″ x 21’5″) spritsail barge and was built of timber (mainly oak) in 1923 in Rochester, Kent. It did mainly coastal work, transporting china clay, portland stone, cement and grain amongst other things. A fast barge, voyaging in 14 hours from London Docks to Ipswich with a 190 ton load of wheat. It was not until 1932 that an engine was fitted, driving a propeller on the port side (the large timber rudder making a central propeller not practical on timber sailing barges). In 1957 the sailing rig was removed and it continued to trade as a motor barge, until 1973. In 1975 it was sold, re-rigged and converted to a charter barge, for corporate and promotional work, this use continuing today under the third owners since 1975. It cruises mainly on the Thames, based from St Katherine Docks, and also regularly enters barge races in the Swale and elsewhere. In 2012 Lady Daphne took part in the avenue of sail for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant.