Amassing Activities in Greenwich
The most handsome borough in London has something for everyone.
Greenwich emanates history from its very core. It has been recognised as an area of both cultural and scientific importance for an array of reasons. Perhaps it is best known for the Old Royal Observatory through which runs the Prime Meridian, although the entire area is a treasure trove of beautiful historic buildings, palaces, works of art, and entertainment. Its location in South East London pulls it away from the condensed chaos of the inner city, rendering it to a calmer demeanour. Awarded the status of a World Heritage Site in 1997, it is not difficult to see why. When walking across the fields in Greenwich Park, if you ignore the contemporary dress of those surrounding you, it feels as though you have been transported into the midst of a period drama. The choice of Henry VII to establish Greenwich Palace as the primary royal residence during the Tudor era ultimately led to its later Stuart remodelling under James I which drew the best international artists and architects to work in the area. In fact the first major project awarded to pivotal Baroque architect Inigo Jones was the Queen’s House and was the first building in England to be built in the Palladian style. Quite possibly the most architecturally majestic area of London, Greenwich is the perfect location to spend a day discovering staggering Baroque masterpieces, galleon ships, new plays, and new restaurants.
Museums and Historic Buildings
Aside from South Kensington, Greenwich is the most museum-dense area of London. The Old Royal Observatory is a masterpiece of 18th century architect Sir. Christopher Wren which has now been converted into a planetarium that offers breath-taking views of the capital. The Palace of Placentia (a.k.a. Greenwich Palace) has been a centre point of royal life since the 15th century and houses some incredible ceiling frescoes that show off all the glory of the Baroque era. The Old Royal Naval College is placed right next to it and is the accompanying creation to Wren’s Observatory, albeit on a far larger scale due to its intended purpose as the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich. In keeping with the naval importance of the area, the National Maritime Museum is regarded as the world’s largest museum of its kind. Housing enchanting recreations of illustrious expeditions and explaining the nitty-gritty realities of naval engineering, the museum is sure to capture the imagination. The Cutty Sark expands upon the contents of the Maritime Museum, bringing the excitements of the sea to life. Recently refurbished, the Cutty Sark is the last surviving tea clipper and was regarded as the largest and fastest of her time, now lovingly preserved in a high-tech encasements that allows the visitor to peer beneath her belly as well as travel within. Smaller museums consist of the absolutely charming Fan Museum, and the Pepys Building which gives a well-rounded brief history of the area within.
There is no shortage of entertainment in Greenwich and in keeping with its vibrantly refined history, this tends to lean on the cultural side. Greenwich Picture house is an independent art cinema that gives a more luxurious viewing experience to film fanatics. In particular, it has note-worthy large and comfortable seating and two bars. Greenwich Theatre is a seasoned community theatre with a highly varied programme that supports new writing, especially that of new plays aimed at younger audiences. The Up The Creek Comedy Club has a decidedly quirky flavour, providing a warm and intimate atmosphere in which to watch some of the major names in British and international comedy perform. Voted the best comedy club in the UK by the Guardian and named best comedy club of the year by TimeOut, it’s worth a visit to Greenwich just to catch a show here. The O2 is now the biggest furore in entertainment in the area. Previously home to the Millennium Dome, the megalodon of events hosts exhibitions, live music, comedy, plays, and fairs. Chances are, if you’ve seen an advert for it, it will probably be based at the O2.
Shopping and Food
Shopping and cuisine in Greenwich nicely completes the experience of the area. Partially twee, partially graceful, and with a global worldview, there are plenty of coffeehouses, tea rooms, sultry tapas bars, and local goods at the market to choose from. Greenwich Market is the epicentre of shopping in the area. Consisting of a covered market with up to 120 stalls on display, it is geared heavily towards antiques, collectables, craft and design. A wonderful place to buy gifts for loved ones or find that special item to furnish home with, the market draws local artisans with a shared ethos of craft behind their wares for sale. Restaurants are clean and refined here, echoing the civilised manner of the buildings that surround them. Goddard’s Pie and Mash Shop is the most famous eatery in the locale, featuring a simple yet historically accurate menu where you can sample the same dishes served since the 1800s. Their dedication to tradition is most impressive, and their meat pies are a requirement during your visit. However, due to this very reason they do tend to be very busy with tourists, though this is a price worth paying for some good old fashioned comfort food. San Miguel is a wonderfully decorated tapas bar with a rustic farmhouse interior and a fantastic wine list. What is special about this Spanish restaurant is their regular live performances of flamenco dancing and music that have cemented it as a firm favourite of locals. Finally, the Pavilion Tea House is a superb way to garner some much needed refreshment between museum visits. Although it has counter service (so lacking a personal feel), the architecture makes up for this, allowing you to enjoy a succinct cup of tea whilst admiring the view.