Blog > The Queen's House in Greenwich

October 25, 2013

Less than 6 miles from Safestay Hostel is the Queen's House in Greenwich.  By car the excursion will take less than 20 minutes.  Public transport will be a bit longer. Walk to Elephant and Castle and take the Northern Line Subway towards Barnet. You will disembark at the London Bridge stop.  It will be a short walk to London Bridge.  Take the London Cannon Street Train to Dartford. (Stop ID: LBG)  From there disembark when you arrive at Maze Hill.  (Stop ID: MZH).  The train ride will be about 11 minutes. From there you will need to walk to your destination.  It will take you less than 9 minutes. Your total travel time will be about 43 minutes.

The Queen's House in Greenwich was a royal residence built between 1616 -1619. At the time of construction it was a few miles outside the city of London along the river Thames. Today it is part of a district inside the city. This historic building is open 7 days a week from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (17:00) and has free admission to its collections. However this attraction can often be closed at times as a result of special events and occasions that can be private or public so it would be a good idea to check by calling + 44 20 8858 4422.

The original architect was Indigo Jones commissioned by Queen Anne of Denmark wife of of King James I of England. The building would undergo some alteration upon its completion in 1635. By then it would be for the wife of King Charles I. Queen Henrietta Maria was then able to occupy one of the most essential buildings in the history of British architecture. It would be the first major classical building to be constructed in the kingdom.

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Today the house is part of the National Maritime Museum. It is used for the display of an impressive collection of portraits and paintings from the museums collection. It definitely gives one the taste of the role the sea has played in the growth of Britain over the last few centuries. In 2012 the site was used as a place to entertain important guests of the Olympic Games. The grounds behind the house were used for the equestrian events of the 2012 Games. The modern pentathlon was also held in the adjacent area of Greenwich Park.

The Queen's House was originally built as part of the Tudor Palace of Greenwich complex. The original purpose of the building would not last long as a result of the English Civil War beginning in 1642. Inside there are 3 ceilings and some wall decorations that survive but not in their original state. As early as 1662 renovations and remodeling had already begun. Paintings originally commissioned for the house today reside elsewhere and are part of other collections.

The Queen's House would survive as a public building unlike the rest of the Tudor Palace which would be slowly demolished from the 1660's to the 1690's. The old Tudor Palace would be replaced by the Royal Hospital for Seamen built between the years 1696 to 1751. The design would be from plans made by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren. Today this complex is known as the Old Royal Naval College. The construction of the college followed an order from Queen Mary II that the view of the Thames would not be obstructed from the Queen's House. This opening exactly 115 feet long remains to this day. The entire area as of 1997 has become a World Heritage Site as designated by UNESCO.

In the 19th century the building was home to the Royal Hospital School for the sons of seamen. This brought about the construction of new wings connected to the House by colonnades. In 1933 the school would move and in 1937 the site would become the new National Maritime Museum. The grounds to the north of the House had already been restored in the 1870's and work still continues with that to this day.

Interior restorations would continue between the years 1986 to 1999 though it has brought about some controversy in what style is being presented. One notable architectural feature inside the building is the Tulip Stairs. These are the first centrally unsupported helical stairs constructed in England. The Queen's House and its paintings as part of the National Maritime Museum are easily one of the most notable sites in this area of London.