Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The day starts (and ends) here

The Greenwich meridian is marked by a timeball tower, like the one at Deal. While the one at Deal is black, this is red - nice!
The phrase "The day starts and ends here" amused me, although places in France, Spain and a number of African countries, not to mention Catford, can make a similar claim to be on the meridian. After some thought, however, (the brain works slowly these days) I realised that the claim is wrong....the day starts and ends on the other side of the world, as the celebrations of the new millennium made clear.
At the bottom of the hill is a fine collection of buildings making up the Royal Naval Hospital for Sailors, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and now mostly occupied by the University of Greenwich. One of two main domes has a clock-face showing the wind direction, presumably moved by the weather-vane above it.
Between the Royal Observatory and the Hospital is the Queen's House, built to compliment the Palace of Placentia which stood on the site of the Hospital, and which was the main palace of monarchs including Henry VIII and Elizabeth, both of whom were born there.
The Queen's House is by Inigo Jones for Anne of Denmark, the wife of James I.
As the buildings have recently been relinquished by the Navy, many are now open to the public, and, with the Royal Observatory and Maritime Museum, provides a fascinating area of museums and art galleries - all free. The extensive parkland gives a great sense of space, while the town is attractive and interesting too. If you find London oppressive, the World Heritage Site of Greenwich is a fine alternative.

Across the river, of course, stands Canary Wharf. When the first tower was built, it was stunning, like a building places there by a God. Now it looks rather cluttered.
Which is the taller - the Natwest Tower (alright, number 42) or the gherkin? A clue is that the latter was built later.

4 comments:

Mel Lloyd said...

Hi Steve. You been up in Big Smoke then? I'm up there next week. I plan to visit the British Museum on Monday morning (I have a clinical assessment in the afternoon so need to chill beforehand). I think I fancy seeing the India Landscape display. Mel

Kingsdowner said...

Mel,
Hope the assessment goes well.
Look out for the Isle of Lewis chessmen if you go to the British Museum - insiration for Noggin the Nog (you're probably too young tho.....)

Mel Lloyd said...

Sadly Steve and bless you for being so kind, I am not too young. There are some lovely clips of NTN on You Tube if you ever feel the need.
I have set up a blog. Not quite got it set out right yet. I want it wider like yours but am working on that. Aleady spent 3 hours this morning playing with the HTML editor! Who's the noggin now then?

Mary said...

Nice to see shots of such historic places. Some how you hear about Greenwich time, but never associate it with a real place. At least I haven't until now. That one building...the gherkin..... is really odd....would like to see what it is like inside.