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GREENWICH - where time begins.

Greenwich and time are inextricably linked. The prime meridian line - longitude zero - runs through the town and in 1884 it became the place from which time - Greenwich Mean Time - was calculated around the world.

   
THE LONDON EYE. The British Airways London Eye is a spectacular examples of British innovation and creativity.
THE OLD ROYAL OBSERVATORY where John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal lived, houses the telescopes, astrolabes and sextants that enabled him and his successors to plot navigational charts and to determine time by observing the position of the stars and the moon. The prime meridian line of the world is marked out on the cobbles and it is possible to stand with one foot on either side of it and be in the eastern and western hemispheres simultaneously.

THE NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM tells the story of Britain at sea, as one director put it, Man's Encounter with the Sea. Paintings, elaborately carved state barges and vessels from all ages are on show, and the social background of all who went down to the sea in ships is outlined in the galleries. In the exhibition devoted to Admiral Lord Nelson, a poignant item is the coat he was wearing when he was killed in 1805: the hole through which the musket ball passed is clearly visible.

THE ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE on the site of the Tudor palace in which a Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I were born, is a range of some of the most palatial buildings in the country. Begun for Charles II by architect John Webb, it was completed by Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor and John Vanbrugh as the Royal Hospital. It is no longer a working college but the magnificent Painted Hall, the work of Sir James Thornhill in the 18th century, and the celebrated Chapel, designed by James 'Athenian' Stuart, are open to the public.
THE QUEEN'S HOUSE a Palladian villa designed by Inigo Jones in 1616, stands in splendid isolation at the foot of the hill in Greenwich Park. A recent refurbishment has restored the gleaming white house to the condition it was when Queen Henrietta Maria lived in it after the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.
THE CUTTY SARK in dry dock on the river's edge, is the only tea clipper to survive. In the last century she plied the seas to China and later the wool route to Australia. Displays depict life on board during her voyages. Her name comes from the distinctive shift - or 'cutty sark' - worn by the figurehead, the bewitching heroine of Robert Burns's poem 'Tam o' Shanter'.
ELTHAM PALACE AND THE COURTAULD HOUSE The palace was a popular royal home from 1311 until 1526. Legend insists that the Order of the Garter was established by Edward III at a gathering here in 1347. Erasmus was introduced to Henry VIII here in 1499. Only the great hall, completed in the reign of Edward IV in 1482, survives. A sliding Chinese- style screen leads from the great hall into the house built between 1933-37 for Sir Stephen Courtauld. The house is an outstanding example of the architecture of the period.
THE THAMES BARRIER sometimes referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. It is an impressive sight and the great gates that restrict the flow of the incoming tide when there is a danger of London becoming flooded are raised at regular intervals. A multi-media exhibition in the visitors centre illustrates the construction of the barrier and shows how it protects London.
THE GIPSY MOTH is the 54ft ketch in which Sir Francis Chichester sailed around the world between August 1966 and May 1967. The voyage was the first solo continuous circumnavigation of the world and Chichester was hailed as a hero on his return and Knighted by the Queen. His boat was preserved as a national monument and now resides close to the Cutty Sark.
  ST ALFEGE CHURCH was designed in 1714 by Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren. It is on the site of the 12th century church dedicated to St Alfege, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was slain in 1012 by marauding Danes.
GREENWICH PARK was enclosed by Henry V's brother Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, in 1433, making it the oldest of London's royal parks. The park was stocked with deer in 1515, and their descendants still roam in the area known as the Wilderness. Charles II had the park landscaped in a style inspired by the French gardener Andre le Notre, a scheme that has been retained. The formal gardens are beautifully planted. Concerts are held by the bandstand in summer and occasional entertainments take place near the Old Royal Observatory.
THE FAN MUSEUM, situated in a fine Georgian building, is the only museum in the world devoted to the history and use of fans. There are regular changing exhibitions.
THE RANGER'S HOUSE, built between 1700-10, was inherited by Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, in 1748. Here he wrote the famous letters of advice to his natural son. Subsequent residents have included the Duchess of Brunswick, George III's sister, and her niece Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester, the ranger of Greenwich Park from 1815 to 1844.

Greenwich Nightlife

In the evening when the doors to the daytime attractions close Greenwich stays open. There are pub theatres, jazz programmes in a number of inns, a renowned comedy club, recitals and performances of classical music in the oldest concert halls in London in Blackheath village and also in the Royal Naval College chapel. There are cinemas, art galleries, leisure centres and dance agencies.

The annual Greenwich and Docklands Festival presents the best in music, theatre, dance, literature and the visual arts from around the world. The festival starts at the beginning of July and takes place in a variety of prestigious venues.

More than 60 restaurants, pubs and wine bars within a quarter-mile radius of the town centre offer a variety of fare that embraces traditional English as well as Mexican, Italian and Thai. Some are centuries-old coaching inns; others have moved into the fast food era. Further afield in Blackheath, Woolwich and Eltham even more places to eat are to be discovered.

The great weekend draw in Greenwich is the covered market. On Saturdays and Sundays it buzzes with activity, and with the surrounding specialist shops it is one of the most popular of London's markets.

Time and tide do not stand still in Greenwich, where time begins.


 

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