Jeweller opens independent cafe in 19th century building

A jeweller has just opened an independent cafe in a 19th century guardhouse building.

House of Denna, a cafe, event venue and jewellery all in one, opened its doors on July 3 at the Royal Arsenal Riverside in Woolwich

Its owner, Denna Giddons, 39, lives in Compton House at Royal Arsenal Riverside and rents one of two guardhouses at Royal Arsenal Riverside that have been transformed into commercial buildings by the housing company Berkeley.

Ms Giddons said she moved to Royal Arsenal Riverside in 2013, in search of one of a kind accessories. 

The 1814 guardhouse that now home to Denna Giddons and her cafe (Picture: Christopher Poynton)

Unable to find what she was looking for, she learnt the skills required to make her own bespoke jewellery in her spare time and started selling her items at the Royal Arsenal Farmers Market in August 2017.

Ms Giddons said: “It is incredible to think that this all started with me wanting to make and sell my own jewellery, something that my grandfather did as a profession in Hatton Garden during the 70’s and 80’s for the rich and famous. 

“Over the last six years I have undertaken various jobs in hospitality and health and wellbeing sectors at Royal Arsenal Riverside to supplement my income as I built my business.

“Now, I have a place of my own where I can hold events which bring people together, teach them the skills I have learnt and allow other creatives the opportunity to hold workshops. “

Ms Giddon’s business also offers jewellery workshops, wine pairing and cocktail evenings.

When she was not running special events, Ms Giddons trained baristas, all of whom live in the Royal Arsenal Riverside, who now hand serve hot and cold drinks, cakes, pastries and cheeseboards seven days a week.

She said: “The community here have been so supportive and I feel that by evolving my offering I have been able to fill a gap that the community has been looking for.”

Located at the bottom of No1 Street, the former guardhouse building can trace its history back to 1814 and is affectionately referred to as a “pepper pot” due to its unique shape.

Royal Arsenal Riverside has one of the largest concentrations of Grade I and Grade II listed buildings converted for residential use in Britain. 

Around 28 buildings remain from the original Royal Arsenal complex including 16 Grade II listed buildings, six Grade II buildings and the Grade I listed Royal Brass Foundry, some dating from the 17th century. 

Berkeley Group is working in partnership with Historic England to repair and convert these buildings into homes or commercial and cultural properties. The property developers have built 3,750 homes at Royal Arsenal Riverside.

Pictured top: Denna Giddons in House of Denna (Picture: Berkeley Group)

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