Greenwich is well known as the place from which the rest of the world takes its time. It is also a historic town on the eastern approach to London by sea or by land and home to the Naval Museum and the Queen’s House, a magnificent building designed by Inigo Jones.
1) The Royal Observatory
The Meridian that divides the earth’s eastern and western hemispheres passes through here and today, the line is projected by a laser onto the ground so that visitors can have their photographs taken with a foot on either side of the line. The Old Royal Observatory is still standing and was built by Wren, on the foundations of the palace where Henry the VIII and his daughters Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor were born. The building has an octagonal structure, crowned with two turrets and at 1pm everyday, a ball on a rod is dropped and has been ever since 1833. Greenwich Mean Time was established nearly 50 years later in 1884 and became the basis of time measurement for most of the world following an international agreement. The Observatory, also known as Flamsteed House, after the first Astronomer Royal appointed by Charles II, has an interesting exhibition of astronomical instruments, chronometers and clocks.
2) National Maritime Museum
As an island nation, Britain has a long seafaring history. The museum, also built by Wren, includes exhibits from Elizabethan galleons to modern cargo and naval ships. One of the highlights is the uniform worn by Nelson when he was wounded and killed in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The bullet hole and bloodstains are clearly visible. Even more spectacular are the Royal Barges that were built for Prince Frederick in 1732, elaborately decorated with gilded mermaids, shells and garlands with the Prince of Wales feathers on the stern. The museum also has collections of memorabilia of Captain Cook’s expeditions and other great seafarers.
3) The Cutty Sark
This has been beautifully renovated after the disastrous fire which left this historic clipper very much the worse for wear. Fortunately, as the ship was being renovated, most of the original artefacts had been taken off so that renovation of the ship itself could go ahead. The Cutty Sark was launched in 1869 and won the annual clipper race from China to London in 1871 taking 107 days. It made the last sea voyage in 1957and was put on display in 1957. The Queen opened the Cutty Sark and the Museum in April 2012 and it remains one of the biggest attractions in Greenwich.
4) The Queen’s House
This was designed by Inigo Jones after his return from Italy and was completed in 1637. It was originally intended for Anne of Denmark, the wife of James I, but she died while it was being built. It then became the home of Henrietta Maria, Charles I’s queen. Although Henrietta Maria loved the house and later occupied it during the civil war as dowager queen, it was not much used by royalty after that. It has been restored and furnished in the style of the late 17th century. It boasts a magnificent ‘tulip staircase’ named after the design on the balustrades and a main entrance hall of a perfect cube, 12 metres in all directions.
5) Greenwich market
No trip to Greenwich is complete without a visit to the Greenwich market. It is especially popular on Sundays and hosts a vast range of stalls, dealing in everything from clothing and crafts to a variety of food produce from many different countries. Traditional dishes such as eel pie, fish and chips are available along with spicy sausage baguettes, curry and samosas.
Getting to Greenwich could not be simpler and if you are renting one of the
London apartments from Worldwide Accom, the river is always an easy option. Clipper boats run to Greenwich daily and from a variety of locations along the river. Taking a trip along the river is an interesting and relaxing way to get to Greenwich, it is also a delightful way to see more of London and learn about the history of this capital city.