Sunday, December 27, 2009

Time in Greenwich

There was a definite nip in the sunny December air as we took the tube to Greenwich, England from London.
Wanting to take a break from the madding shopping crowds, we rode to this quintessential English town that is just 6 miles from London. A short walk brought us to the Old Royal Navel College which stands on the grounds of the birthplace of Henry Vlll, Queen Mary l and Queen Elizabeth l. This was originally the location of Greenwich Palace, or Palace of Placentia. The Old Royal Navel College, designed by the renowned English architect Christopher Wren, was originally built in 1696-1712 as the Greenwich Hospital. The most spectacular parts of the Old Royal Navel College are the Baroque Painted Hall and the Chapel. Services are held here every Sunday. We were here on a Saturday so we didn't get to hear this magnificent organ that is flanked by Grecian columns. The Spiral Tulip Staircase is thought to be the first spiral staircase in Britain. Some believe it is haunted, but these are my friends walking down...I promise. Outside looking up, you can see the Royal Observatory at the top of the hill. This was the original location of the Greenwich Castle and was a favorite place for the insatiable Henry the Vlll to bring his mistresses, since they could easily be shuttled between the Palace and Castle. After a steep climb to the top we arrived at the Observatory. A very lively gentleman was giving some background history, by the Prime Meridian, 0 degrees longitude line. Until 1954 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was determined here. There is a museum here that takes us through time, literally and the process of how latitude and longitude were devised. After touring the museum, it was time for tea at the Pavilion Tea House. It wasn't a fancy place, but the hot tea and cream scone couldn't have tasted better on this chilly afternoon. By the time we finished, the short winter's day was winding down. The walk back down into town brought us to a majestic gate to the streets lit in Christmas regalia. It was a wonderful day with my friends. My only regret was that I had brought my point and shoot camera with me instead of my DSLR, which my back thanked, but my eyes objected to. Each time I don't bring my DSLR, I swear I'll never do it again, but I do :-(

Next time.

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