We met my Mum’s friend Nora at Embankment Pier to go to Greenwich. But we got there a little early, so we shared a big breakfast and wandered along the Thames for a bit. Came across the Sphinx’s and the Obelisk that were ‘heroically liberated’ from the Bay of Biscay in Victorian times. Can you see all those pock marks? They are the mark of bomb shrapnel from the Blitz! There’s quite a bit of stuff like this in London (if you look), a mark of respect for the damage Britain suffered, but still resisted the German onslaught.
Once we arrived at Greenwich from the very loud ferry journey, we went straight up to the Observatory, where this little red ball rises up a pole, then drops when Greenwich Mean Time hits 1 o’clock (12 in non-daylight saving time!) It was a little anticlimactic. But the museum underneath was great! This place was and still is the Royal Observatory, and some of the rooms have been kept like they where when the first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed lived there, founded by King Charles II in 1675. Then there was the exhibits about time & navigation (they have a lot to do with one another, something I think I’ve only been partially aware of!) The exhibit made much of the discoveries of the late 1700’s that led to better navigation on the seas and of the British ships and sailors saved by this feat. It made it possible for Captain James Cook to follow the transit of Venus and discover Australia.
And you can’t go to Greenwich without visiting The Line, the line that puts all things on one side of it West and everything on the other side East.
Greenwich is not just about the Observatory and London’s only Planetarium. It has a strong naval heritage, being the headquarters for the Navy in London, and therefore Britain. The buildings are beautiful, with painted ceilings and marble columns.
There are scenes like this all over the ceiling of the Great Hall. It has various royals & important people in classical scenes. It’s very impressive and very over-the-top. And this hall was used as a hospital & respite centre for retired sailors!
There is a list, painted on the walls near the entrance to the building, that shows how much people gave towards the construction & decoration of the building. Some gave as little as 50 pounds, and there was one donor who even out-donated the King!
Across the way is the Naval Church, impressive in it’s own way. Beautiful ceilings and an altar piece that depicts a scene from the life of St Paul, when he is collecting firewood after being shipwrecked on the Maltese Coast. He is bitten by a deadly snake, but shakes the snake off his arm and has no reaction to the bite.
The Church is impressive, not really what I would of suspected for a church for sailors, but there you go. The British Navy ruled the world at one stage, and it reflects in the past glory of Greenwich.
Apparantly there are some Roman ruins and a Saxon burial ground somewhere around Greenwich, but I wasn’t sure where they were, so they didn’t get visited. This time.
After some squeezing around the Sunday markets at Greenwich, we got on the light rail and went back to Nora’s for a lovely meal and good chat. We stayed till quite late, and when we finally got on the tube, had to go around in circles because of track work. Some things in cities are never different. Except that London doesn’t fall apart completely when something goes wrong. Hurmph, cough cough.