This beautiful 163 acre park
is set on a hill between Blackheath and the River Thames,
and once formed the grounds of Greenwich Palace and the land
is owned by the Crown to this day.
Greenwich Park was enclosed by
Henry VI in 1433 and its brick wall was constructed in the
reign of James I. The remains of a Roman temple and
Saxon mounds have been found here but this lovely riverside
park is more famous for its Tudor and Stuart history.
Henry VIII was born at Greenwich
Palace, then known as Placentia, in 1491. Deer were
introduced in 1515, and a herd still grazes the 13 acre Wilderness.
With its hunting grounds and proximity to his home fleet at
anchor on the Thames, Greenwich Palace remained Henry's favourite
residence. His daughters Mary I and Elizabeth I were
both born here. It
was at Greenwich that Sir Walter Ralegh put his cloak over
a puddle so Elizabeth I would not get her feet wet.
1616 James I commissioned Inigo Jones to rebuild the Tudor
palace, and the resulting 'Queen's House' was the first Palladian
villa built in England. Later in the 17th century the
park was redesigned by André Le Nôtre, the French landscape
gardener, who had laid out the gardens at Versailles.
The broad avenue, rising south up the hill, formed part of
his plan. Charles II's designs for a new palace was
later adapted to become the Old Royal Naval College.
Royal Observatory and Flamstead House, created
by Sir Christopher Wren, stand at the top of the hill. The
meridian (0º longitude), which passes through Greenwich Park
at the Old Royal Observatory, divides the globe into East
and West. At 13:00 every day the Observatory's big red
ball can be seen to drop. This event, which has taken
place every day since 1833, was to enable the makers of chronometers,
navigators' clocks and sailors on the Thames to set their
clocks by it.
the top of the hill there are superb views over the National
Maritime Museum and Docklands and on a fine day
most of London can be seen.
To the south-west of the park
stands the Ranger's House, dating from 1700. This was
allotted to the Park Ranger in 1815 but now it has the Suffolk
Collection of 17th century English portraits by Sir Peter
Lely, William Larkin and others, as well as a display of historic
Other features of the park include
a pond with wildfowl, a flower garden, and a children's playground.
In the summer brass bands perform in the park and there special
events such as open air theatre, puppet shows in the playground
and café music.
The information centre has details
of these events and displays about the history of Greenwich