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Greenwich ( , , or ) is a district in south-east London, England, on the south bank of the River Thames in the London Borough of Greenwichmarker. It is best known for its maritime history and as giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time.

The town became the site of a Royal palace, the Palace of Placentiamarker from the 15th century, and was the birthplace of many in the House of Tudor, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The palace fell into disrepair during the English Civil War and was rebuilt as the Royal Naval Hospital for Sailors by Sir Christopher Wren and his assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor. These buildings became the Royal Naval Collegemarker in 1873, and they remained an establishment for military education until 1998 when they passed into the hands of the Greenwich Foundation. The historic rooms within these buildings remain open to the public; other buildings are used by University of Greenwichmarker and the Trinity College of Musicmarker.

The town became a popular resort in the 17th century with many grand houses, such as Vanbrugh castle established on Maze Hill, next to the park. From the Georgian period estates of houses were constructed above the town centre. The maritime connections of Greenwich were celebrated in the 20th century, with the sitting of the Cutty Sarkmarker and Gipsy Moth IV next to the river front, and the National Maritime Museummarker in the former buildings of the Royal Hospital Schoolmarker in 1934. Greenwich formed part of Kentmarker until 1889 when the County of London was created.


Early settlement of Greenwich

Tumuli to the south-west of Flamsteed House, in Greenwich Parkmarker, are thought to be early Bronze Age barrows re-used by the Saxons in the 6th century as burial grounds. To the east between the Vanbrugh and Maze Hill Gates is the site of a Roman villa or temple. A small area of red paving tesserae protected by railings marks the spot. It was excavated in 1902 and 300 coins were found dating from the emperors Claudius and Honorius to the 4th century.

The Roman road from London to Dovermarker, Watling Streetmarker crossed the high ground to the south of Greenwich, through Blackheath. This followed the line of an earlier Celtic route from Canterburymarker to St Albansmarker. As late as Henry V, Greenwich was only a fishing town, with a safe anchorage in the river.

Alphege and the Danes

During the reign of Ethelred the Unready, the Danish fleet anchored in the river Thames off Greenwich for over three years, with the army being encamped on the hill above. From here they attacked Kentmarker, and in the year 1012, took the city of Canterburymarker, making Alphege the Archbishop their prisoner for seven months in their camp at Greenwich. They stoned him to death for his refusal to allow his ransom (3,000 pieces of silver) to be paid and kept his body, until the blossoming of a stick that had been immersed in his blood. For this miracle his body was released to his followers, he achieved sainthood for his martyrdom, and in the 12th century the parish church was dedicated to him. The present church on the site west of the town centre is St Alfege's Churchmarker, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor in 1714 and completed in 1718. Some vestiges of the Danish camps may be traced in the names of Eastcombe and Westcombemarker, on the borders of nearby Blackheathmarker.

Royal Greenwich

The Domesday Book records the manor of Greenwich as held by the Bishop Odo of Bayeux; his lands were seized by the crown in 1082. A royal palace, or hunting lodge, has existed here since before 1300, when Edward III is known to have made offerings at the chapel of the Virgin Mary. Subsequent monarchs were regular visitors, with Henry IV making his will here, and Henry V granting the manor (for life) to Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, who died at Greenwich in 1417. The palace was created by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the regent to Henry VI in 1447; enclosing the park and erecting a tower on the spot of the Royal Observatorymarker. It was renamed the Palace of Placentiamarker or Pleasaunce by Henry VI's consort Margaret of Anjou after Humphrey's death. The palace was completed and further enlarged by Edward IV, and in 1466 it was granted to his Queen, Elizabeth.

The palace was the principal residence of Henry VII, and his sons, Henry (later Henry VIII) and Edmund Tudor were born here, and baptised in St Alphege's. Henry favoured Greenwich over nearby Eltham Palacemarker, the former principal royal palace. Both Mary (February 18, 1516) and Elizabeth (September 7, 1533) were born at Greenwich. The palace of Placentia, in turn, became Elizabeth's favourite summer residence.

During the English Civil War, the palace was used as a biscuit factory and prisoner of war camp, then with the Interregnum, the palace and park were seized to become a 'mansion' for the Lord Protector. At The Restoration, the Palace of Placentia had fallen into disuse and was pulled down. New buildings began to be established as a grand palace for Charles II, but only the King Charles block was completed. It was suggested that the buildings be adapted for a Greenwich Hospital, designed by Wren, and later completed by Hawksmoor. Anne of Denmark had a housemarker built by Inigo Jones on the hill above, overlooking the hospital and river - now the centrepiece of the National Maritime Museummarker, founded in 1934 and housed in the buildings of the former Royal Hospital Schoolmarker.

The Royal association with Greenwich was now broken, but the group of buildings remain that form the core of the World Historic Site.


Greenwich is covered by the Greenwich West and Peninsula wards of the London Borough of Greenwich, which was formed in 1965 by merging the former Metropolitan Borough of Greenwichmarker with that part of the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwichmarker which lay south of The Thames. Along with Blackheath Westcombe, Charlton, Glyndon, Woolwichmarker Riverside, and Woolwich Commonmarker, it elects a Member of Parliament (MP) for Greenwich and Woolwichmarker; currently the MP is Nick Raynsford.



The town of Greenwich is built on a broad platform to the south of the outside of a broad meander in the River Thames, with a safe deep water anchorage lying in the river. To the south, the land rises steeply, through Greenwich Park to the town of Blackheathmarker. The higher areas consist of a sedimentary layer of gravely soils, known as the Blackheath Beds, that spread through much of the south east over a chalk outcrop – with sands, loam and seams of clay at the lower levels by the river.

Greenwich is bordered by Deptford Creekmarker and Deptfordmarker to the west; the former industrial centre of the Greenwich Peninsulamarker, and the residential area of Westcombe Parkmarker to the east; the river Thames to the north; and the A2 and Blackheath commonmarker to the south.


This data was collected between 1971 and 2000 at the weather station situated in Greenwich:

Sites of interest


The Cutty Sarkmarker (a clipper ship) has been preserved in a dry dock by the river. A major fire in May 2007 destroyed a part of the ship, although much had already been removed for restoration. Nearby for many years was also displayed Gipsy Moth IV, the yacht sailed by Sir Francis Chichester in his single-handed, 226-day circumnavigation of the globe during 1966–67. In 2004, Gipsy Moth IV was removed from Greenwich, and after restoration work completed a second circumnavigation in May 2007. On the riverside in front of the north-west corner of the Hospital is an obelisk erected in memory of Arctic explorer Joseph René Bellot.

Boats at Greenwich at the end of the Great River Race

Near the Cutty Sark site, a circular building contains the entrance to the Greenwich foot tunnelmarker, opened on 4 August 1902. This connects Greenwich to the Isle of Dogsmarker on the northern side of the River Thames. The north exit of the tunnel is at Island Gardensmarker, from where the famous view of Greenwich Hospital painted by Canaletto can be seen.

Rowing has been part of life on the river at Greenwich for hundreds of years and the first Greenwich Regatta was held in 1785. The annual Great River Race along the Thames Tidewaymarker finishes at the Cutty Sark. The Trafalgar Rowing Centre in Crane Street close by is home to Curlew Rowing Clubmarker and Globe Rowing Club.

The Old Royal Naval Collegemarker is Sir Christopher Wren's domed masterpiece at the centre of the heritage site. The site is administered by the Greenwich Foundation and several of the buildings are let to the University of Greenwichmarker and one, the King Charles block, to Trinity College of Musicmarker. Within the complex is the former college dining room, the Painted Hallmarker, this was painted by James Thornhill, and the Chapel of St Peter and St Paulmarker, with an interior designed by James 'Athenian' Stuart. The Naval College had a training reactor, the JASON reactor, within the King William building that was operational between 1962 and 1996. The reactor was decommissioned and removed in 1999.

To the east of the Naval College is the Trinity Hospital almshouse, founded in 1613, the oldest surviving building in the town centre. This is next to the massive brick walls and the landing stage of Greenwich Power Stationmarker. Built between 1902 and 1910 as a coal-fired station to supply power to London's tram system, and later the London underground, it is now oil- and gas-powered and serves as a backup station for London Underground. East Greenwich also has a small park, East Greenwich Pleasauncemarker, which was formerly the burial ground of Greenwich Hospital.

The O2marker (formerly the Millennium Domemarker) was built on a disused British Gas site on the Greenwich Peninsulamarker. It is next to North Greenwich tube stationmarker, about east from the Greenwich town centre, North West of Charltonmarker. The Greenwich Millennium Villagemarker is a new urban regeneration development to the south of the Dome.

Greenwich park

Behind the former Naval College is the National Maritime Museummarker housed in buildings forming another symmetrical group and grand arcade around the Queen's Housemarker, designed by Inigo Jones. Continuing to the south, Greenwich Parkmarker is a Royal Parkmarker of , laid out in the 17th century and formed from the hunting grounds of the Royal Palace of Placentiamarker.

The park rises towards Blackheathmarker and at the top of this hill is a statue of James Wolfe, commander of the British expedition to capture Quebecmarker, nearby a major group of buildings within the park is the former Royal Observatory, Greenwichmarker and the Prime Meridian passes through the building. Greenwich Mean Time was at one time based on the time observations made at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, before being superseded by Coordinated Universal Time. While Greenwich no longer hosts a working astronomical observatory, a ball still drops daily to mark the exact moment of 1 p.m., and there is a museum of astronomical and navigational tools, particularly John Harrison's marine chronometers.

The Ranger's Housemarker lies at the Blackheath end of the park and houses the Wernher Collection of art, and many fine houses, including Vanbrugh's house lie on Maze Hill, on the western edge of the park.

Town centre

Georgian and Victorian architecture dominates in the town centre which spreads to the west of the park and Royal Naval college. Much of this forms a one-way system around a covered market, Greenwich Market and the arthouse Greenwich Cinema. Up the hill, from the centre there are many streets of Georgian houses, including the world's only museum dedicated to fans, the Fan Museummarker, on Croom's Hill. Nearby at the junction of Croom's Hill with Nevada Street, is Greenwich Theatremarker, formerly Crowder's Music Hall - one of two Greenwich theatres, the other being the Greenwich Playhousemarker.

Greenwich Mean Time

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is a term originally referring to mean solar time at the Royal Observatorymarker in Greenwich. It is commonly used in practice to refer to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) when this is viewed as a time zone, especially by bodies connected with the United Kingdommarker, such as the BBC World Service, the Royal Navy, the Met Office and others, although strictly UTC is an atomic time scale which only approximates GMT with a tolerance of 0.9 second. It is also used to refer to Universal Time (UT), which is a standard astronomical concept used in many technical fields and is referred to by the phrase Zulu time.

As the United Kingdom grew into an advanced maritime nation, British mariners kept at least one chronometer on GMT in order to calculate their longitude from the Greenwich meridian, which was by convention considered to have longitude zero degrees (this convention was internationally adopted in the International Meridian Conference of 1884). Note that the synchronization of the chronometer on GMT did not affect shipboard time itself, which was still solar time. But this practice, combined with mariners from other nations drawing from Nevil Maskelyne's method of lunar distance based on observations at Greenwich, eventually led to GMT being used worldwide as a reference time independent of location. Most time zones were based upon this reference as a number of hours and half-hours "ahead of GMT" or "behind GMT".

World heritage site

In 1997, Maritime Greenwich was added to the list of World Heritage Sites, for the concentration and quality of buildings of historic and architectural interest. These can be divided into the group of buildings along the riverfront, Greenwich park and the Georgian and Victorian town centre.In recognition of the suburb's astronomical links, Asteroid 2830 has been named 'Greenwich'.

The Old Royal Naval College Visitor Centre provides an introduction to the history and attractions in the Greenwich World Heritage Site. It is located in the Pepys Buildings near to the Cutty Sarkmarker within the grounds of the Old Royal Naval Collegemarker, (formerly Greenwich Hospital). Admission is free.

The Centre explains the history of Greenwich as a royal residence and a maritime centre. Exhibits include:
  • The history of the Palace of Placentiamarker.
  • Models of Christopher Wren's original designs for Greenwich Hospital.
  • Six of the carved heads originally intended to decorate the exterior of the College's Painted Hallmarker.
  • Exhibition displays about Maritime Greenwich and its connections with the sea and exploration.
  • "By Wisdom as much as War" – an exhibition about the history of the Royal Naval College during the years it occupied Greenwich Hospital (1873–1998).

Heritage Centre

Greenwich Heritage Centre is a museum and local history resource run by the London Borough of Greenwichmarker, and is based in Artillery Square, in the Royal Arsenalmarker, Woolwichmarker, south-east Londonmarker.

It was established in October 2003, combining materials from the Greenwich Borough Museum and the local history library (previously at Woodlands Housemarker in Westcombe Parkmarker).


The market

There has been a market at Greenwich since the 14th century, but the history of the present market dates from 1700 when a charter to run two markets, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, was assigned by Lord Romney to the Commissioners of Greenwich Hospital for 1000 years.

Greenwich Market also has a variety of bargain clothes on offer

Greenwich Market sits in Greenwich town centre within an area called the Island Site, which is bounded by College Approach, Greenwich Church Street, King William Walk and Nelson Road. The Island site forms part of the World Heritage Site, which also includes the National Maritime Museum, Old Royal Naval Collegemarker, the Queens House and the Royal Observatorymarker.

The buildings surrounding the market on the island site are Grade 2 listed, and were established in 1827-1833 under the direction of Joseph Kay. Later significant phases of development occurred in 1902-8; in 1958-60 and during the 1980s. The current market roof dates from 1902-08 and the buildings on either side of the market from 1958-60.

Greenwich Market trades five days a week but the shops, cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants around the Market are open seven days a week, including Greenwich Printmakers, the oldest-established printmaking co-operative in the UK.

Wednesday is a food and homewares market day, Thursdays and Fridays specialise in antiques and collectibles and arts and crafts. Weekends and bank holidays attract arts & crafts and food stalls.There are a wide selection of specialist shops, bars, restaurants and a café, all open seven days a week.

The market is currently being considered for redevelopment by its owners, Greenwich Hospital.


The University of Greenwichmarker main campus is located in the distinctive buildings of the former Royal Naval College. There is a further campus of the university at Avery Hill in Elthammarker, and also, outside the borough, in Medway. Near the main campus at Greenwich, the Trinity College of Musicmarker is housed in the buildings of the former Greenwich Hospital.


Two railway lines cross Greenwich: the Greenwich Line, which runs west to east and follows the route of the London and Greenwich Railway, which was the first railway line in Londonmarker, and links the South Eastern Main Line with the North Kent Line at Charltonmarker; and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which runs north to south. Both lines are served by Greenwich stationmarker; with the DLR having a separate station at Cutty Sark DLR Stationmarker near the river, and the Greenwich Line having Maze Hill railway stationmarker to the east, on the boundary with Westcombe Parkmarker. DLR trains run from Lewishammarker to Bankmarker and Stratfordmarker via Canary Wharfmarker. The Greenwich Line carries trains from London Charing Crossmarker and London Cannon Streetmarker in central London to Dartfordmarker in Kent, with a limited service to Gravesend, Kentmarker and Gillingham, Medwaymarker. There are no London Underground stations in Greenwich itself - North Greenwich tube stationmarker on the Peninsulamarker is the nearest tube station.

There are a number of river boat services running from Greenwich Piermarker, managed by London River Services. The main services include the Thames commuter catamaran service run by Thames Clipper from Embankmentmarker, via Tower Millennium Piermarker, Canary Wharfmarker and on to the O2marker and Woolwich Arsenal Piermarker; the Wesminstermarker-Greenwich cruise service by Thames River Services; and the City Cruises tourist cruise via Westminster, Waterloomarker and Towermarker piers.

Pedestrian and cyclists

The Thames Pathmarker National Trail runs along the riverside. The Greenwich foot tunnelmarker provides pedestrian access to the southern end of the Isle of Dogsmarker, across the river Thames.

National Cycle Network route 1 runs through the foot tunnel (although cycles must not be ridden in the tunnel itself).

Notable residents

(In alphabetical order)


Grenewic, or Grenevic originates with the Saxons, and is literally the green village or the village on the green. It became known as East Greenwich to distinguish it from West Greenwich or Deptford Strond, the part of Deptfordmarker adjacent to the Thames, but the use of East Greenwich to mean the whole of the town of Greenwich died out in the 19th century. However, Greenwich was divided into the two Poor Law Unions of Greenwich East and Greenwich West from the beginning of Civil registration in 1837, the boundary running down what is now Greenwich Church Street and Crooms Hill, although more modern references to "East" and "West" Greenwich probably refer to the areas east and west of the Royal Naval Collegemarker and National Maritime Museummarker corresponding with the West Greenwich council ward. An article in The Times of 13 October 1967 stated:

"East Greenwich, gateway to the Blackwall Tunnelmarker, remains solidly working class, the manpower for one eighth of London's heavy industry. West Greenwich is a hybrid: the spirit of Nelson, the Cutty Sark, the Maritime Museum, an industrial waterfront and a number of elegant houses, ripe for development."


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