History of Greenwich

Greenwich is a Royal Borough in a southern district of London, originally named by Danish Settlers, and inhabited since Roman times. The famous Roman road from London to Dover was just to the south of Greenwich, following an earlier Celtic route from Canterbury. Up to around 1400, Greenwich was still just a fishing town before it was included in London districts.

Greenwich is famous for its maritime history, for the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time. It has been the site of a 17th Century royal palace (this palace has since been demolished and replaced by the Old Royal Naval College, although a previous royal palace or hunting lodge had existed in the same place since 1300) and was the birthplace of many royals, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

In 1616 Queen Anne of Denmark (wife of King James I) built The Queen’s House, which then later passed to Queen Henrietta Maria from King Charles I. Around this time the Royal Observatory was built. King James II suggested building a Royal Naval Hospital and eventually this was built around 1696, originally a hospital for seaman, but now the Old Royal Naval College, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The National Maritime Museum was created around the late 1800s and King George IV donated around 40 paintings to create an art gallery. In 1845 Prince Albert purchased Nelson’s Trafalgar coat and donated it to the Naval Gallery.

The Cutty Sark ship in dry dock at Greenwich was opened in 1957 by the current Queen. She was one of the last tea clippers (a very fast type of merchant ship for crossing the ocean carrying goods) to be built in 1869, and one of the fastest. She is also one of only three remaining original composite construction clipper ships from the 19th Century.

Some things to do in London, Greenwich:

  • The Royal Observatory
  • Cutty Sark
  • National Maritime Museum
  • The Queens House
  • Old Royal Naval College
  • Rangers House
  • Greenwich Market
  • O2 Arena
  • Greenwich Park
  • Thames Barrier
  • Museum of London Docklands
  • Greenwich Tourist Information Centre

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