The Royal Museums Greenwich is made up of 4 sites which are: the Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House. The four sites have a considerable impact that has global reach as collectively it is deemed as a World Heritage Site. This shows the importance of the museums in London, to the UK and the rest of the world.
This iconic ship is a worldwide traveller. The Cutty Sark has visited every major port in the world ensuring that it has a rich and fascinating history. It has been docked in Falmouth and Greenhithe before finally resting in Greenwich in 1954 where it has been there since. The ship bears more importance as it is the last surviving tea clipper. A tea clipper ship was designed for routes between Europe and East Indies. The name of the ship derives from the poem by Scottish poet Robert Burns the ‘Tam O’ Shanter’. The poem tells the story about how a farmer named Tam was chased by a witch who was scantily dressed. She was dressed in a cutty sark which is an archaic word for a short night dress.
Once a renowned sailing ship, it now contains various fascinating collections of items including merchant navy figureheads and paintings and drawings of the famed ship. The Cutty Sark provides a great space for learning as there are many events that are on board the ship. This has included comedy shows and various activities and workshops.
Overall, the story of the Cutty Sark has been brought to millions of people each year and it serves as one of the best sights in London. However, it is also as a reminder of the men who lost their lives in both world wars and at sea.
The Queen’s House
The Queen’s House is a stunning architecturally 17th century building that, as the name suggests, was a royal residence. The Queen’s House was given to Henrietta Maria, queen to Charles I. However, the building was commissioned by Anne of Denmark, wife to James I.
Even though the Queen’s House is a 17th century building, it has a few surviving features including: The Great Hall which is a huge space that references the ideals of the Renaissance. When visitors step into the hall the most striking feature is the marbled black and white floor. This stunning part of the hall reflects the grandeur and opulence. The painted ceiling of The Great Hall is decorated with a series of 9 paintings. The Tulip Stairs is also a stunning feature in the building. The spiralling stairs is the first self- supporting spiral stair in the UK.
The Queen’s House hosts many exhibitions and a range of the finest artwork with paintings from artists like Thomas Gainsborough, the English landscape and portrait artist.
The Queen’s house is more than a museum that has galleries and other such collections. For the 2012 Olympics, the grounds behind the house were used for a stadium to host the equestrian events. It also doubles up as venue for a wedding, private parties and corporate events.
Less than 30 minutes away from Greenwich Station, the Royal Observatory is on top of the hill which will give visitors fantastic views of the London skyline. Founded by Charles I in 1675, The Royal Observatory marks the official starting point for the day and year. The Royal Observatory is historically significant as it has been involved with the developments of astronomy and navigation. Representing the Prime Meridan Line, The Greenwich Meridian Line is a special part of the Observatory as it divides the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Standing feet apart above this line means that a person can be in the Eastern and Western hemisphere simultaneously! The Prime Meridian serves as the base to calculate the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This established time was significant as it drew the standard for an international time.
The Royal Observatory is an important part of history and shapes the way we understand time and space. The museum is always evolving with a redevelopment programme that saw £15 million invested into state of the art facilities which included a planetarium, astronomy and time galleries as well as an education centre.
National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum is the world’s largest maritime museum. It was established in 1934 by Parliament but it was only opened to the public by King George VI in 1937. The National Maritime Museum tells visitors and the wider public the interesting stories of sea and exploration. With over 2 million items in the collection, the museum also boasts the world’s largest maritime reference library. This holds over 100,000 books including rare books that date from the 15th century. The galleries within the museum also hold a large portrait collection which is only surpassed by The National Portrait Gallery. One notable exhibition is the Royal Navy uniform. This was worn by Lord Nelson in The Battle of Trafalgar and it has a bullet hole on the left shoulder.
The Royal Museums Greenwich gives a fascinating insight into the history of London. However, the museums are just one of the many places to visit in London. With a range of museums and galleries, West end theatre shows, desirable shopping departments and iconic landmarks like The London Eye, London is certainly a city that has something for everyone.