A Greenwich People Walk

Route & what to see


Greenwich is now a Royal Borough and World Heritage Site. Many famous people have been associated with it from royalty to rebels, astronomers and explorers. These are commemorated with plaques and statues to be seen on this walk. Plenty of places to eat in central Greenwich at the end of the walk. Cafes at the Observatory and Maritime Museum en route.

A 3 mile walk from Maze Hill Station (National Rail) to Cutty Sark (DLR). This themed walk overlaps other routes on the site.

Exit the station into Maze Hill and go left.
John Vanbrugh built this 'Castle' for himself. It served as a school before being converted to apartments.

Enter the park at the gate opposite. Take the path going half left (not sharp left).
Greenwich Park was the grounds of Bella Court, the riverside palace of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Humphrey was regent & uncle of Henry VI who was only 9 months old when he succeeded to the throne. The 200 acre park was appropriated by the Queen after Humphrey’s death.

Exit at the Blackheath Gate and go left.
A plaque commemorates two Cornishmen who led a revolt against Henry VII's tax levy. Blackheath was the site of the Peasants Revolt in 1381 and Jack Cade's rebels in 1450. Royal assemblies included Henry V after Agincourt, Henry VI after his coronation, Henry VIII welcoming Anne of Cleves, Charles II on the Restoration. John Wesley preached here and there were Chartist meetings. A road is named after Duke Humphrey.

Return through the gate and take the path to the left. Exit at the Chesterfield Gate and go right. Right along Chesterfield Walk.
The avenue of lime trees was planted to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth in 1977. There is a plaque on the wall further along. Ranger’s House was built in 1700 for Admiral Francis Hosier who died in 1727 in Porto Bello of yellow fever. The Earl of Chesterfield lived there 1749-73 with 18 servants and added a south wing. It became the official residence of the Ranger of Greenwich Park in 1816. James Wolfe lived in MacCartney House with his parents 1751-9. There is a plaque on the park side of the house.

Just beyond MacCartney House take the path on the right through to the park. Bear left to the large sculpture.
Henry Moore’s ‘Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge’ was inspired by a piece of bone and cast in bronze in 1976.

From the sculpture walk towards the observatory buildings (to the right hand side). Go around to the first entrance and up the steps.
There is a bust of John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, in the pediment above the entrance to the South Building.

Go into this building, down the stairs and out to the cafe terrace.
The statue of Yuri Gargarin, presented by the Russian Space Agency, was unveiled in March 2013. There is an information panel inside the building.

From the terrace go up the steps towards the Platetarium Building. Exit past the Altazimuth Pavilion and go across to the viewpoint.
General Wolfe has a bronze statue by Tait Mackenzie. ‘This monument, the gift of the Canadian people, was unveiled by the Marquis de Montcalm’ in 1930.

Go across to the large clock.
The Belville family ‘sold time’ by setting a watch to Greenwich Mean Time and then correcting the clocks of people who subscribed to their service. The Observatory, designed by Wren, was built on the site of Duke Humphrey’s tower in 1676.

Go through the gate alongside the clock and follow the path around. Exit onto The Avenue and go right. Exit the park gates then go right.
William IV’s granite statue by Samuel Nixon 1843 was originally at north end of London Bridge (moved 1938).

Continue ahead.
The new wing of the National Maritime Museum, named after its benefactor, Sammy Ofer was opened in 2011. The 'Ship in a Bottle' is Nelson's Victory. Further along is the Titanic Memorial Garden.

Go around the Queen's House.
This was designed by Inigo Jones for Anne of Denmark, wife of James I in 1616-9. It was completed for Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I in 1635. It housed the Naval School from 1806 until 1933 and is now part of the museum. There is a plaque on the NE corner of the main museum building.

Exit and cross Romney Road at the lights into the ORNC complex. Bear right and go between the two blocks into the open area.
A new royal palace was begun by John Webb for Charles II but only one section was completed when William & Mary came to the throne. When Mary died in 1694 William decided to incorporate the building into a new naval almshouse which would be a memorial to her. It was designed by Wren and noted architects such as Hawkmoor and Vanbrugh contributed.

Go into the Painted Hall.
The vestibule has 3 plaques listing benefactors. The paintings were done by James Thornhill and took 19 years. He has depicted himself in the main wall painting. A model shows the Painted Hall as a gallery and dressed for the lying in state of Nelson. If the anteroom is open there is a statue of Nelson.

From the Painted Hall go along the colonnade and into the courtyard of this block.
The Nelson Pediment was designed by Benjamin West from his painting ‘The Immortality of Nelson’ and made in Coade stone.

Head towards the riverside Grand Square.
The statue of George II depicted in Roman dress was commissioned by the Governor of the hospital in 1735 from Michael Rysbrack. Nearer the river a plaque on the ground records the births of 3 Tudor monarchs at Greenwich Palace.

Exit at the river gate and go left along Five Foot Walk.
Joseph Bellot is commemorated with a granite obelisk by Philip Hardwick (1853). Bellot was killed whilst searching for the lost Franklin expedition in the Arctic.

Continue along the river walk to the Cutty Sark.
Cutty Sark, the last remaining tea clipper was built on the Clyde in 1869 for Jock 'White Hat' Willis. He was proud of his Scottish heritage and passionate about Robert Burns, reflected in the names of his ships.

Enter the railed area opposite the ship and head towards the Discover Greenwich Building.
There is a statue of Sir Walter Raleigh who was a courtier, explorer and author. He was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth but after her death he was tried for treason. The building has 13 medallions of famous naval figures: Anson, Drake, Cook, Howard, Blake, Benbow, Sandwich, Rodney, Duncan, Collingwood, Howe, Nelson, St Vincent. Find out more about Greenwich People by exploring 'Discover Greenwich' (free admission).

Exit on the far side. Cross King William Walk and go along College Approach to Cutty Sark Station.


london-footprints.co.uk 2013

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