The Queen's house
This house was built by Queen Anne of Denmark, the wife of James I. hence its name. However Anne died before the house was completed and no Queen ever lived here. For most of its life it served as a Royal Navy asylum.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Let's go fly a kite.
Blackheath is a vast open space, situated near to the "village" that bears the same name. It is a place of great history .
Originally straddling the Roman Watling Street which ran from London to Kent, it has been witness to some notable events over the centuries.
Wat Tyler's Peasants Revolt of 1381 camped here prior to marching on london.
The Cornish rebellion of 1497 emulated Tyler and pitched camp here before commencing the Battle of Deptford Bridge nearby, where they were soundly defeated by forces led by Lord Daubney acting for King Henry VII.
Later, it had a more macabre use as a mass grave for plague victims in the 17th century. No-one is sure how many victims are actually buried there and the graves are unmarked.
Due to it's elevated position, it often gets quite breezy up here, and people gather to fly kites - a very pleasant way to while away an afternoon.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
A day in the Park.
Greenwich Royal Park is rich in history, housing the Royal Observatory, being bisected by the Greenwich Meridian, and also being the site of a former Roman settlement (as excavated by the Time Team archaeologists on the TV series). Apart from all this, it is an extremely spacious and pleasant place, and a good summer's day (or even a reasonable one for that matter) brings people out in droves for picnics, playing with the kids and so on.
A walk to the top affords great views over London, as you can hopefully see from the picture. As you can also probably see, it wasn't a particularly sunny day, even though it was June. That's the British weather for you, I suppose.
One of the images shows the destruction caused by the staging on the equestrian events during the 2012 Olympics. Despite promises that it would all be repaired and improved quickly after the Games, it is not being done nearly fast enough much to the annoyance of the local people. Yet another deceit by the Olympic organisers!. This report from a respected UK newspaper tells the story.
Hopefully it will be back to normal soon.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
The Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul.
The Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul in Greenwich is one of Sir Christopher Wren´s designs. I have added tips on most of his churches on my London page. The Chapel is absolutely beautiful. There are twin buildings opposite one another, one is the Chapel and the other one is the Painted Hall.
The Chapel was a part of the Royal Hospital for Seaman and was the last part to be built in 1751. It burnt down in 1779, leaving only the shell intact, and was redesigned in neo-classical style and decorated in Greek Revival style in 1881. It was later restored in the 1950s. The ceiling is absolutely beautiful, a work of art in itself.
The sailors staying at the hospital had to attend daily services in the original chapel and had to remain standing through the service, as back then there were no pews in the chapel.
The 7.5 meter painting above the altar, painted by Benjamin West, shows St. Paul´s shipwreck by Malta. My photos without flash don´t do it justice though.
The organ is made by Samuel Green, the noted organ builder and dates back to 1789.
There are Sunday services at 11:00 in the Chapel. I have attended one of their services and visited the Chapel again on another day to have a closer look at it and take photos. The Chapel is open from 10:00-17:00 and on Sundays it is open to visitors after the service, i.e. from 12:30.
Photos without flash are allowed.
The Greenwich foot tunnel.
When I first visited Greenwich, Fergy "Planxty" came up with the idea of us taking the Greenwich foot tunnel. I.e. that we walk under the river Thames via the foot tunnel.
So we met up at the last DLR station before the tunnel, at Island Gardens on the Isle of Dog, and walked down to the Dome entrance to the tunnel. There are identical Dome entrances to the tunnel on both sides of the river Thames. And a lift which takes one down to the tunnel.
The beginning of the tunnel was quite narrow and the ceiling was relatively low, so Fergy could touch the ceiling with his head. This is apparantly a section of the tunnel that got damaged in WW2 and was repaired in this way. But after a short while we entered the main part of the tunnel, which had white tiles (200.000 all in all) and was wider. There were quite a few people walking there and ca 1.5 million people use it every year.
I found it quite strange thinking about walking under the river Thames, and maybe I was imagining it, but I felt as if I could feel the pressure of the water and kept swaying and leaning towards the left side of the tunnel ;)
The exit/entrance on the Greenwich side is directly by Cutty Shark.
The Greenwich foot tunnel was opened in August 1902, designed by Sir Alexander Binnie and is 50 feet (15.2 m) deep and 1.217 feet (370,2 m) long. The tunnel was opened so that the South-Londoners in this area could go to the Isle of Dogs for work.
There is a lift which takes one down to the tunnel, and also spiral staircases leading to the tunnel which are open 24 hours a day. We took the lift.
The Rose Garden
Made in the 1990's, is a part in the southern section of the Park, next to the Blackheath entrance.
Flowers are blossoming in springtime and I really liked the circular beds of flowers..and perhaps Zeno loved them more. He was very respctful of the flowers and just loved running around them with his little friends.
A small area is dedicated to deers, and you can quietly try to spot them from a couple of observation points between some bushes. The way to the bushes, is an enjoyable walk, a bit of change if compared to the open spaces of the park.
The rose garden is closed to dogs, and although I love them, I think flowers can be preserved more easily and ducks/birds are more relaxed in approaching humans.
Mind that if you drop a pice of your sandwich a squirrel will quickly get hold of it !
It will not be there long ! Squirrels are very domesticated and friendly in this part of the park.
Be in the audience of a BBC show - fifth show.
Our fifth show was the next day - and way down in Greenwich. It was called Thom Tuck Goes Straight to DVD for BBC Radio 4. There were several recordings for that show on other days, but we had applied for the tickets on the 4th of March.
So down to Greenwich I went ahead of time to find the Up The Creek Comedy Club, which was easy enough as it is just opposite the exit for the DLR at Cutty Sark. I spent the day in Greenwich and my friend came later. There was no queue, so we went to a restaurant opposite the Comedy Club and had wine. When there was an hour until they should open the door for us we joined the queue, which was now quite long. It was absolutely freezing and I had the flu, so I was not enjoying standing there. Little did we know that we had to wait for 1 hour and 45 minutes in the freezing cold. People were frozen and furious and started leaving, but we were told that it would only be a couple of minutes so we stuck with the queue. When the doors finally opened there was not a happy audience that entered. We were told that rehearsals had dragged on. Not an excuse. This is just not acceptable. Even if it is for free, then it is just not worth it.
Thom Tuck goes straight to DVD is a stand-up comic. We were so pissed off in the beginning that we didn´t think he was funny at all and didn´t applaude. But he gained on us and we enjoyed the rest of the show - it was quite funny - and quite long.
What I like about going to the BBC shows is that one gets to know different theatres in London, Up the Creek Comedy Club is f.ex. a club which the comedian Malcom Hardee opened in 1991.
I then got tickets to 3 more shows...
The Royal Observatory.
Dominating Greenwich Park is the Royal Observatory, which will be familiar to astronomers the world over. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, it has seen all the great astronomers, and many momentous discoveries. The first Astronomer Royal here was Sir John Flamsteed, although other famous people like Halle (he of the comet fame) and Airey have been incumbents here. One of the major reasons for setting up the Observatory was to investigate methods of measuring longitude. Hitherto, sailors had no means of measuring it, often with catastrophinc results.
When longitude was eventually measurable, all lines of longitude were, and still are, measured from here. It is the Prime Meridian, or zero if you will. Tourists are fond of standing with one foot in the Western hemisphere and one in the East.
Admission is free although you must get a ticket from the office before entering (why I can't imagine.)
There are numerous displays of old astronomical equipment, although at the time of writing (December 2005) many of these are closed to the public for restoration work. You can see some of the work in one of the photos, taken on a prticularly dull afternoon! The other photos were added after a November 2012 visit with VT member Regina1965.
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
You must be joking.
It is an extremely rare event for me to write a tip on VT bout something that I have not done myself as I think that somewhat defeats the purpose but in this case I am going to make an exception for reasons I will explain. I submit this for those of you daredevil readers who are brave / foolhardy enough to do things like bungy jumping, parachuting and all those other myriad activities likely to get you killed.
Durning the weekend of the recent 2012 London VT Treasure Hunt some of us had agreed to meet at North Greenwich to get the Emirates cable car across to the North Bank and go for a bit of a walk. This is the subject of a seperate tip and, had I known how terrified that would make me I wouldn't have bothered doing that.
Whilst waiting for some members to arrive I was taking a few photos og the O2 arena, formerly known as the Millenium Dome, one of the largest and most recognisable structures in London. I looked closely and saw what I thought was a maintainance gang going up what looked like a precipitous walkway traversing the top of the dome. A closer examination and some asking about provided the truth of the matter. These adrenaline junkies had actually paid for the privelege of doing this, although why anyone would want to is beyond me. I have subsequently done a little research and if you feel so inclined, here are the nuts and bolts of scaring yourself silly at great height although I believe the views are stunning.
Climbs take place every 20 minutes on weekdays from 12:00 to 18:20 and at the weekend from 10:00 to 18:20. The cost is £22 during the week and £28 on Saturday and Sunday. You are given full equipment and are guided all the way.
Remarkably for such an activity wheelchair using adventurers need not be left out. Dedicated wheelchair ascents are provided monthly on every second Tuesday at 12pm, 1pm, 4pm and 5pm. I won't go into the complete technical details here but they are comprehensively explained on the attached website should you be interested. The telephone number given is for wheelchair enquiries only.*
As I say, it is not something you would get me doing in a thousand years but it takes all sorts to make a world, so if adrenaline is your thing, you might want to try it. For those of a more delicate disposition, you may just want to watch the video on the website.
- Adventure Travel
New houses, some of them reconstructed
Royal Borough of Greenwich, somewhere in the east London, upon the River Thames, opposite of the airport of London – it turned out a spot where our friends rented a flat and they hosted us for few nights in autumn 2007. If I travelled just to London, and stayed in a hotel, I would probably not see that part of the city. I could ride by a tube, a new line, passing by the legendary Canary Wharf. The train was driven by computer, without a living man in the front of the wagons. I admire not only, modern architecture there, but highly well reconstructed buildings in a style of late 18th century. It was an amazing sight. To get to our friends’ house we have to take a ferry or go through a tunnel built in the 19th century. Terrific experience. I also, admire something, which I later read about – I mean a modern, automatic dam on the river to unable water to flood the city.
- Budget Travel
A Free Concert at Trinity College
One of the buildings in the Old Royal Naval College is now Trinity College, or the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. It is a music college and on weekends it also hosts music lessons for children. There are frequenty free concerts given to the public on-site or in venues around Greenwich. See the web-site listed below for listings.
Even with no concerts, you can hear students practicing their various instruments as you walk through the courtyard.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Cable Car Ride from North Greenwich to Excel
This is a cable car link across the River Thames from North Greenwich right next to the O2 Arena to Victoria Docks on the north side of the river, near to Royal Victoria Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station and the Excel exhibition and convention centre. The cars must be high enough to go over any visiting ships, so it is fairly high up and you get sweeping views of the O2 Arena, the Thames Barrier, London City Airport, Canary Wharf, and London's landmark towers in The City. It's not the most fantastic cable car ride in the world, but if you're in East London or Greenwich, it's worth the trip.
It opened in July 2012. We went on the opening weekend, so it may have been much busier then than what "normal" will be, once the Londoners have seen it and the Olympics are over. We heard others complaining that the line-up to pay cash for boarding passes took 45 minutes, so having the Oyster Cards was a definite bonus.
The line is currently sponsored by Emirates Airline, so it is called the Emirates Air Line on the Transport for London web-site, listed below.
It takes 4 minutes to make the crossing. It's cheaper if you can use your Transport for London Oyster Card, which must be pay-as-you-go. Adult and child (5-15) cash fares are £4.30 and £2.20 respectively each way, and Oyster rates are £3.20 and £1.60. Children under 5 ride free and bicycles are allowed in the cars. There is full wheelchair access at both ends. (Note that while children ride free on the Tube and DLR, they will need to pay here by cash or Oyster.)
You can make a loop trip using public transport from central London. You can take the Jubilee Line Tube to North Greenwich Station on the Greenwich side and the DLR from Bank or Tower Gateway stations in The City to Royal Victoria Station on the north side of the river.
If you are in the touristic centre of Greenwich, the Cutty Sark area, bus 188 leaves from Stop C every 8 minutes and takes up to 20 minutes to get there.
- Family Travel
Stand on the Prime Meridian
I think the 1st thing that 99% of visitors to Greenwich do is hike up the hill and head to the Royal Observatory and stand with a foot on either side of the Prime Meridian of the world, Longitude Zero (0° 0' 0"), one foot in the eastern hemisphere and one foot in the western hemisphere. When we visited in January 2008, there were hardly any people there but in July 2008, there was actually a line to have your picture taken standing on the line. We just headed to the other side of the sculpture and took my niece and nephew's picture there.
The Observatory used to be free to visit but on my last visit in July 2011 they were charging an admission fee of £7. You can see the Prime Meridian from outside the gates but in order to stand over it, you have to go inside and pay the admission fee.
I was a little bummed, after climbing to the top of the hill to the Royal Observatory to show my niece the Prime Meridian to find out that they had instituted an admission charge, something they never had in all the years I've been going to London. All I really wanted to show her was the Prime Meridian and Camera Obscura and it really didn't make sense to have to pay £7 per person for such a short visit. You can still see the Prime Meridian from the gates, you just can't stand on either side of it.
If you do decide to fork over the admission charge, there are several other things to see at the Royal Observatory besides the Prime Meridian and Camera Obscura:
The Time Ball The red time ball located on top of the Flamsteed House was installed in 1833 as a signal for ships on the Thames to check their chronometers, it drops every day at 13:00 (GMT in winter, BST in summer), it's raised up halfway five minutes before 13:00 and to the top 2 minutes before 13:00 and then dropped. It wasn't working the day we were there though.
Shepard 24 Hour Gate Clock, this 24 hour clock always shows GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) so in the summer it will appear to be an hour off, one of the earliest electric public clocks
Planetarium, there are shows at the Planetarium which you can book online, there is a charge for the shows
Last but not least, there is a wonderful view over Greenwich and all the way into Central London from the Observatory since it is at the top of the hill in Greenwich Park. This view is still free for the "price" of the walk up the hill.
Pleasant, but I don't get it.
I have given my opinions about modern "art" in other VT tips, I just don't get it. My experience of the Tate Modern, supposedly one of the premier places in the world was almost entirely negative. When I wanderd, therefore, into the Linear House gallery in central Greenwich i wasn't quite sure what to expect. What I got was one fairly small room with a lot of quite pleasant photographs on the wall, although somewhat spoiled by the pretentious written garbage accompanying them.
What really got to me however was the "installation in the corner. A disarrayed desk, a black jacket over a chair with more pretentious drivel chalked on the back of it, two jigsaw pieces on the chair, and that is art? How? A messy child, apart from destroying a perfectly good jacket, does that on a daily basis. OK, rant over.
If this is your thing, I have included all the details for your visit.
The gallery is open -
Mon-Fri: 9am - 5pm
Sat & Sun: 12 - 4pm
Admission is free and it is fully wheelchair accessible.
Here is the website as the URL is too long for the field below.
Here is the phone number as VT is playing up again.
- Budget Travel