Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Walking with Legends in Greenwich

 My photo of the day is again, not one of the greatest shots ever taken, in fact it's downright poor, but for anyone who has the slightest interest in English history, the place pictured is steeped in legend.

 The steps on the sea wall, leading down to the River Thames is, supposedly the spot where Sir Francis Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth after defeating the Spanish Armada in the 16th century.

 I am no expert on the attempted Spanish invasion of England during the reign of that great Queen but I do know it was her rather irate ex-brother-in-law, Phillip of Spain, who was trying to land his men in her realm but I am not sure how true the tale of the Queen knighting her country's saviour on these particular steps actually is. The captain of our ferry taking us down to the Royal Borough of Greenwich related the story and I will have to check it's veracity some time. But it is nice to show a photo of a place which is linked to such a famous episode is English history.

 I do hope I am not boring anyone with photos and recollections from my late trip to the United Kingdom but looking through the pictures on my computer often brings me to a shot which inspires me to write and this was one of them. I have 2500 shots from that trip to choose from!

 It's a nice ride down the Thames to Greenwich. A leisurely journey among the German tourists and one of the only places I heard a real English accent in London! The fellows crewing the boat were definitely Londoners of fame and legend and years of watching British television has tuned me to a point of recognition of their Cockney accents.

 The forty-five minute boat trip will bring you to the town of Greenwich a place made famous by the old Royal Navy College of which Lord Nelson, England's greatest war hero was of course once a student. It is also the home of Greenwich Mean Time and Linda having taught geography was very happy to visit the place from whence our timing in the modern world emanates and where the Prime Meridian is located.
Myself at the Gates of the Old Naval College, Greenwich
 The opposite side of the river from Greenwich was also highly developed in the late 20th century and has become a hub for finance in London and, given the swish high-rise apartments which dot the waterfront, home to many of the high-fliers of the business and banking worlds no doubt. Not a bad spot to live one would think but a little too up market for a mail sorting blogger such as myself. Lord Nelson wouldn't recognise the view!

 Many tourists also come to Greenwich to visit the Royal Observatory from where mean solar time is observed. This time is of course adopted as the standard means of telling the time around the world and although the gift shop below the observatory was open, one has to pay to see the observatory itself. We contented ourselves with observing it from the outside.

 The Prime Meridian, the basis of longitude is also observed at Greenwich Observatory and Linda enjoyed a photo of herself on the line outside which depicts the Meridian itself. She was also photographed at the Greenwich clock which displays the imperial measurements which were once standard for much of the world and is still used in the UK today.
Linda at the Greenwich Clock

 Greenwich is also home to the Cutty Sark, a ship of sail which once held the record for a crossing of the Atlantic but now sits high and dry on shore as a tourist attraction. It was all but destroyed by fire some years ago but has been perfectly rebuilt and one wouldn't know it had been so ravaged looking at her today.

 Greenwich is a quaint, popular and busy market town today, teeming with tourists and has more to offer than a simple glimpse back to the glorious days when Britannia ruled the waves.

The old Royal Naval College still sits majestically below the observatory, in pristine condition and one can almost imagine the young Lord Nelson or Admiral Lord Cochrane, young, confident, ready to take on the world, striding through the leafy surrounds, discussing their lessons with their contemporaries or telling tall tales of what they will do to the French when the Admiralty finally lets them board a Man O' War!

 Much of the history and magnificence of the British Empire was forged by men who attended here so it too is worth a look. Next time you are watching or reading of Horatio Hornblower, or Jack Aubrey, (yes, I know they are fictional characters), remember, they are based on real men who went to school and learned their trade here at Greenwich. A famous place in history.
Greenwich: Where history meets modernity

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