The Queen’s House is a former royal residence built between 1616 and 1635 in Greenwich, a few miles down-river from the then City of London. Its architect was Inigo Jones, for whom it was an early commission, for Anne of Denmark, the queen of King James I. The Queen’s House was the first classical building to have been constructed in England. It was Jones’s first significant commission after returning from his 1613–1615 grand tour of Roman, Renaissance, and Palladian architecture in Italy.
Some earlier English buildings had some borrowings from the classical style, but these were restricted to small details not applied in a systematic way. The Queen’s House would have appeared revolutionary to English eyes in its day. Jones is credited with the introduction of Palladianism with the construction of Queen’s House. Today the house now forms part of the National Maritime Museum and is used to display portions of their substantial collection of maritime paintings and portraits.
Highlights of the Queen’s House, Greenwich
- Maritime art
- Royal art
Inigo Jones (1573 – 1652) was the first significant English architect in the early modern period and the first to use traditional Roman rules of proportion and symmetry in his buildings. Jones was the first person to introduce the classical architecture of Rome and the Italian Renaissance to Britain. He left his mark on London by his design of buildings, such as the Queen’s House, which is the first building in England designed in a pure classical style. He also designed the Banqueting House, Whitehall, as well as the layout for Covent Garden square, which became a model for future developments in the West End.
Anne of Denmark
Anne of Denmark (1574 – 1619) was Queen by marriage to King James VI and I. She was the daughter of the King of Denmark and married James in 1589 at age 15 and bore him three children who survived infancy, including the future King Charles I. Anne appears to have loved James at first. Still, the couple gradually drifted and eventually lived apart, through mutual respect, and a degree of affection survived.
Anne eventually focused her energies on the patronage of the arts and constructed her magnificent court, hosting one of the most lavish cultural salons in Europe.
Greenwich has had associations with the sea and navigation since the landing for the Romans. Henry VIII lived here, and Charles II founded the Royal Observatory in 1675 for “finding the longitude of places.” It is the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian since 1884. Greenwich has long been a center for astronomical study, and navigators across the world have set their clocks according to its time of day. Greenwich is an area of south-east London, England, located 5.5 miles (8.9 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross. Greenwich has given its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time.
The town of Greenwich became the site of a royal palace, the Palace of Placentia, from the 15th century. It was the birthplace of many Tudors, 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. These buildings became the Royal Naval College in 1873, and they remained an establishment for military education until 1998.
Royal Museums Greenwich
Royal Museums Greenwich is an organization comprising of four museums in Greenwich, London: the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House, and the Cutty Sark.
National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum has essential holdings in the history of Britain at sea comprising more than two million items, including maritime art, cartography, manuscripts including official records, ship models and plans, scientific and navigational instruments, instruments for time-keeping and astronomy. Its holdings including paintings on Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson and Captain James Cook.
The Queen’s House is a former royal residence built between 1616 and 1635 in Greenwich, a few miles down-river from the then City of London. Its architect was Inigo Jones, for whom it was an early commission, for Anne of Denmark, the queen of King James I. The Queen’s House was the first classical building to have been constructed in England. It was Jones’s first significant commission after returning from his 1613–1615 grand tour of Roman, Renaissance, and Palladian architecture in Italy. Today the house forms part of the National Maritime Museum and is used to display portions of their substantial collection of maritime paintings and portraits.
Royal Observatory, Greenwich
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich is situated on a hill in Greenwich Park, overlooking the River Thames. It has played a significant role in the history of astronomy and navigation and is best known for the prime meridian passes through it, and thereby gave its name to Greenwich Mean Time. The observatory was commissioned in 1675 by King Charles II, and Sir Christopher Wren chose the site.
Cutty Sark is the last surviving tea clipper ship and the fastest of her time. She is now a museum ship and part of the Museums Greenwich. The ship, which was built in 1869, has been raised over three meters allowing visitors the unique experience of exploring underneath and inside this 150-year-old sailing ship.
Queen’s House, Greenwich
- Museum: Queen’s House, Greenwich
- City: London
- Country: United Kingdom
- Inscription: 1995
- Type: Historic House Museum
- Location: Greenwich, London, United Kingdom
Explore London’s Museums and Heritage Sites
- The British Museum
- The National Gallery, London
- Tate Britain
- The Wallace Collection
- The Victoria and Albert Museum
- Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
- Courtauld Gallery
- Tate Modern, London
- Science Museum, London
- National Portrait Gallery, London
- Natural History Museum
- Charles Dickens Museum
- Hampton Court Palace
- Sherlock Holmes Museum
- British Library
- Imperial War Museum
- Churchill War Rooms
- Florence Nightingale Museum
- Foundling Museum
- Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy
- Cutty Sark, Royal Museums Greenwich
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
- Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
- Queen’s House, Greenwich
- Royal Observatory, Greenwich
“There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.”
– Joseph Conrad
Photo Credit: JOM