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.
At that time, the position of Astronomer Royal was created to serve as the director of the observatory.
Also, to “apply himself with the most exact care and diligence to the rectifying of the tables of the motions of the heavens, and the places of the fixed stars, to find out the so much desired longitude of places for the perfecting of the art of navigation.”
He appointed John Flamsteed as the first Astronomer Royal. The building was completed in the summer of 1676.
The observatory buildings became a museum of astronomical and navigational tools, which is part of the Royal Museums Greenwich.
The scientific work of the observatory was relocated elsewhere in stages in the first half of the 20th century, and the Greenwich site is now maintained almost exclusively as a museum.
Highlights of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich
- Astronomical Equipment
- John Harrison’s sea watch, the H4
- Horological artifacts
- Russian-made F.M. Fedchenko clock
- The Shepherd Clock
- 28-inch equatorial Grubb refracting telescope of 1893
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.
The National Maritime Museum has essential holdings in the history of Britain at sea, comprising more than two million items.
The collection includes 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.
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. This elevation allows visitors the unique experience of exploring underneath and inside this 150-year-old sailing ship.
Royal Observatory, Greenwich
- Museum: Royal Observatory, Greenwich
- City: London
- Country: United Kingdom
- Built: 1676
- Type: Historic House Museum
- Location: Greenwich, London, United Kingdom
London History Walking Tour – Royal Greenwich
Royal Observatory Greenwich
ROYAL OBSERVATORY GREENWICH, LONDON
Virtual Tour of 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
- Guildhall Art Gallery, London
Greenwich and the Royal Observatory
“There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.”
– Joseph Conrad
Photo Credit: JOM