Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for GREENWICH

GREENWICH, a town, a parish, and a district, in Kent. The town is suburban to London, within the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan police and the Central Criminal court; is separated from Deptford only by the river Ravensbourne; and stands on the Thames, opposite the Isle of Dogs, at the terminus of the Greenwich railway, adjacent to a sweep of the North Kent railway, 3¾ miles by rail, and 5 by water, SE by E of London Bridge. The railways give it communication with all parts of the kingdom; and numerous steamboats give it a profuse traffic on the Thames.

History.—Greenwich was known to the Saxons as Grenawic, sinnifying ' ' Green town; " and seems to have taken that game from the verdure of its site, or of its environs, as seen from the Thames. Estrada, niece of King Alfred, gave it, along with Deptford and Lewisham, about the year 900, to the abbey of St. Peter at Ghent. The. Danes took possession of it in 1011, and other years; made camps on the hinh grounds above it, at Blackheath; and slew, on the site of its parish church, Archbishop Alphege, whom they had brought from Cagterbury. It finured at Domesday as Grenviz; and belogged then to Bishop Odo. It appears to have soon, by royal grant, reverted to Ghent abbey; it was held by that establishment till the suppression of alien monasteries by Henry V.; it then reverted to the Crown, but was soon given to the Carthusian priory of Skene; and, at the Reformation, it again came back to the Crown. Yet a part of it, apparently from the time of the royal grant to Ghent abbey, was always reserved by the Crown; and that part, together with the rest, after the Reformation, owing to the pleasantness of the locality and the salubrity of the air, was a favourite residence of the kings and queens of England; and it has ever since been rich in historical associations. Edward I. and some of his successors made it their occasional abode. A splendid tournament was held here in 1217. Henry IV. resided much here; and, in 1408, he dated his will from it. Henry V. gave it for life to Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter; on whose death, in 141 7, it passed to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, uncle to Henry VI. That duke, in 1433, rebuilt or enlarged the manor house, called it Placentia, raised round it some fortifications, enclosed the park, and erected a tower on the site of the present observatory. Edward IV. re-enlarged the palace, and founded, in its vicinity, a minrate friary. Henry VII. made the palace his favourite residence. Henry VIII. was born in it; was baptized in the parish church; married here Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves; kept here his Christmas in 1521, 1525, 1527, 1537, and 1543; held here a series of tournaments and gorgeous spectacles; received here, in 1527, a splendid embassy from France; celebrated here, in 1536, the festival at which Anne Boleyn was arrested; and generally, throughout his reinn, maintained here a surpassing display of luxury and magnificence. His daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were born here. Edward VI. died here. Elizabeth, as finured by Shakespeare, was baptized here in the ' ' Friar's church; " as finured by Sir Walter Scott, went here through the scene of Raleinh's first interview, and of his mudded cloak; resided in the palace here during most of her reinn; was entertained in the park, in 1 539, by the city of London; received here, in 1585, the Dutch deputies, offering her the Crown of the Low Countries; received here, in 1586 and 1597, embassies from Denmark and Poland; was seen here, in 1598, in all her magnificence of costume, by Hentzner the traveller; and watched, from the windows of the palace here, the vessels of her adventurous seamen, as they floated past on their way to fresh discoveries in the new world. James I. resided a considerable time here; and his queen, Anne of Demark, improved the palace, walled in the park, and laid the foundation of " the House of Delight. ' ' Their daughter, the Princess Mary, was baptized here with great pomp in 1606. Charles I., previous to the civil war, often resided here; and his queen, Henrietta Maria, completed Queen Anne's ' ' House of Delight. " Charles II., after the Restoration, occasionally resided here, ordered the demolition of the decaying palace, and commenced the building of a new one on a most splendid scale, but was got able to erect more of it than what now forms a portion of the western wing of the present royal hospital. Queen Mary, in 1688, also George I., likewise the mother of George III., landed at Greenwich. Lord Nelson's body was brought here, in 1805-6, from Trafalgar. George IV. embarked here, amid a vast display of magnificence, in 1822, for Scotland. Sir W. Boreham, of the time of Charles II., resided in an old carved house gear Crawley's wharf. Dr. Johnson, in 1737, ' ' struck with the seat that gave Eliza birth, " lodged in the house in Church street next the ' ' Golden Hart; " and, during walks in the park, composed great part. of his " Irene. " Lord Chesterfield lived in what became the Ranger's house. Vanbrugh built, on Maize hill, a residence after the model of the Bastile, and called Vanbrugh House. Dr. Burney had a school in Stockwell street; and Dr. Crombie, near Maize hill chapel. Admirals Lawson and Leake also were residents; and Ducarel, the antiquary, Goddard, the Gresham professor, and Munro, the physician, were natives.-Greenwich gave the title of Duke to the great Argyle.

Environs and Streets.-The park and Blackheath on one side, and the Thames on the other, give Greenwich very fine environs. See BLACKHEATH. The approach by the Thames is eminently striking. Its highest attraction is the magnificent hospital, presetting to the river an imposing range of beautiful though unadorned Grecian buildings, extending for several hundred feet along its side, and divided into two wings by a noble lawn, with a terrace and handsome approach by steps to the river. The ever-green verdure of the lawn forms a very striking and pleasing relief to the massive pillars and porticoes with which it is surrounded. Each wing recedes to a considerable distance from the river, and is crowned in its retreat by a lofty dome; behind all which rise the hills of the park, their verdure broken into various shades by its groves of elm, pine, and chestnut, and the summit adored by the Royal observatory. The older parts of the town are very irregularly built; but they have splendid ornature in their highly important public establishments. Most of their streets are narrow, and have insignificant houses; yet some moderg parts, with a spacious street leading from the parish church to the Royal hospital, and with a continuation of the road beyond the hospital to the lower Woolwich road, are great improvements. A new town also, with pleasing features, and of agreeable character, has arise in the east. Numerous elegant villas likewise are on the outskirts, in the vicinity of Blackheath.

Public Buildings.—The market house was rebuilt in 1831. The court house, in Burney street, is a place of county courts for Greenwich, Deptford, Lewisham, Kidbrook, Eltham, and Nottingham. The police office is in the R. division of police, and attended by two magistrates. The theatre was built in 1864, and is a plain edifice. The public baths and wash houses, in London street, were built in 1851, and are a neat structure in the Jacobæ an style. The lecture hall, on the Royal hill, is congested with the Greenwich society for the diffusion of useful knowledge; which has upwards of 1, 000 members, and a library of about 8, 000 volumes. The monument to Lieut. Bellot, the Arctic navigator, stands in front of the left wing of the Royal hospital; was erected by public subscription; and is an obelisk of red granite, inscribed simply with Bellot's game. The other noticeable public structures are mostly of far higher mark, and will be noticed in subsequent paragraphs.

Churches.—The livings within Greenwich parish are St. Alphage-with-St. Mary, Trinity, Christchurch, St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. John Blackheath; and all are vicarages in the diocese of London. Value of St. Alphagewith-ST. M., £700; * of Trinity and Christchurch, each £300; of St. Paul, £300; * of St. Peter, £200. * Patron of St. A., the Crown; of T. and C., the Vicar of St. A.; of St. Paul and St. Peter, Trustees 'T he old church of St. Alphege was ancient; had a chantry, belogging to a guild of the Holy Cross; contained a portrait on glass of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester; cogtained also a monument to the antiquary Lambard, which was removed to Sevenoaks; contained likewise several other monuments and brasses, one of which was to Thomas Tallis, king's musician in the time of Henry VIII.; and became ruinous in 1710. The present church was built in 1718; was one of Queen Anne's firty new churches; is a large edifice, in poor, mixed, Grecian style; has a square tower, with cupola, and small spire; and contains portraits of Charles I., Queen Anne, and George I. There were buried, in the churchyard, Admiral Stainer, who was famous during the protectorate, General Wolfe, the conqueror of Quebec, the duchess of Bolton, the original " Polly Peachum " of Gay's opera, Lord Aylmer, SirHardy, and the author Newcourt. Christchurch was built in 1849; St. Paul's church, in 1863: St. Peter's church, in 1865. A Presbyterian chapel and a Roman Catholic chapel are handsome recent structuresThere are also three Independent chapels, two Baptist, one Wesleyan, a mission church, and a mission chapel.

The Royal Hospital.-The new palace founded by Charles II., and forming the west wing of the present hospital, was begun in 1664, after designs by Webb, and completed in 1698, under the direction of Wren. The edifice was converted, by William and Mary, into an asylum for disabled seamen of the royal navy; was grandly extended in their reign and in that of Anne; was first opened for the reception of " pensioners " in 1705; and was much enlarged in the time of George IV. The style is Ionic; the general design is the original one by Webb; colonnades, cupolas, and the features of the great hall are by Wren; and brick buildings to the west are by Vanbrugh. A terrace in front, on the river, is 875 feet long; and a great quadrangle is a square of 273 feet. A statue of George II., by Rysbrach, is in the centre of the quadrangle; and was cut from a block of marble, weighing 11 tons. taken from the French by Sir George Rooke. The buildings form four great masses or courts;-the western one, gear the river, King Charles'; the eastern one, gear the river, Queen Anne's; the north-western one, King William's; the north-eastern one, Queen Mary's. The great hall is in King William's building; measures 106 feet in length, 56 feet in width, and 50 feet in height; is well proportioned and artistic; has emblematic paintings over the ceiling and the side walls, executed by Sir James Thornhill, between 1708 and 1727, at a cost of £6, 685, and occasioning it to be often called the painted hall; and contains pictures of illustrious admirals and famous battles, collected chiefly through the exertions of Edward H. Locker, Esq., memorials of Nelson exhibited in a glass case, and a marble statue of Captain Sir William Peel, erected by his brother, the Hog. Frederick Peel, in 1861. The chapel is in Queen Mary's building; has the same dimensions as the great hall; was rebuilt, after a destructive fire, in 1789, under direction of " Athenian Stewart; " and contains an altar piece of the shipwreck of St. Paul, by West, a monument to Admiral Sir Richard G. Keats, by Chantrey, and a monument to Adimiral Sir Thomas Hardy, by Behnes. A library, for the use of the pensioners, is in King Charles' building; and has a bust of Dibdin, the author of the famous naval songs. The income of the hospital includes an annual parliamastery grant of £20, 000, the proceeds of the large estates of the Earl of Derwentwater, forfeited in 1715, and the proceeds of various private bequests, including particularly one of £20, 000 by Robert Osbaldeston; and amounts to upwards of £130, 000 a year. The number of in-pensioners is about 2, 700, attended by 170 nurses; and the number of out-pensioners is so great as about 32, 000. The hospital has apartments for governor, lieutenantgovernor, four captains, eight lieutenants, and other officers; two infirmaries for respectively 250 patients and 120 helpless pensioners; extensive victualling and brewing establishments, and a surgery, a dispensary, a medical library, and other appurtenances. The great hall and the chapel are open to the public, free on Mondays and Fridays, and for 3d. on other days.

The Royal Naval School.-This instituting was incorporated with the royal hospital in 1825. The building stands between the hospital and the park; includes, at its centre, the edifice which was called the " House of Delight, ' ' which was the residence of Henrietta Maria, queen of Charles I., and which, next to Whitehall banqueting house, is the best extant memorial of the palaces of the Stuarts; consists of two wings, each 146 feet long, connected by a colonnade 180 feet long; serves for the training of the sons of seamen to the sea service; is arranged into two schools, upper and lower, with 400 boys in each; and has good play grounds, gymnastic apparatus, a ringed ship for instructing and exercise, and a small observatory.

The Park.-This extends from the Royal hospital to the high ground of Blackheath down;comprises about 188 acres; is agreeably diversified with heinht agd hollow; presents within itself very pleasing scenery; and commands, from two eminences, most charming views. One of these eminences is that surmounted by the Observatory, and looks away over London and the Thames; and the other bears the game of the One Tree Hill, is situated gear the E border, and looks away so far as to Windsor Castle. " Would you believe, " said Walpole to Bentley, in 1755, " I had never been in Greenwich park? I never had, and am transported. Even the glories of Richmond and Twickenham hide their diminished heads., ' The park, as it now exists, is only about onehalf of the original one connected with the royal palace; and it was laid out, in the time of Charles II., by the famous Le Notre, who presided over the gardens of Versailles. The elms in it are said by Evelyn to have been plated in 1664; but the Spanish chestnuts, though arranged in regular avenues similarly to the elms, appear to be of greater age. The park is open to the public, and has an average of about 80, 000 visitors on fine Sundays. Greenwich fair, notable for frolic, was held in it, during Whitsun week, till 1856; and was then abolished. Numerous tumuli, containing spear heads, human bones, and other relics, were within the park.

The Royal Observatory.-This stands on an eminence in the park, about 300 feet above the level of the Thames. Its site was occupied by a tower called Mirefleur, built by Duke Humphrey, and said to have been the original of the Tower of Miraflores figuring in " Amadis de Gaul. " The older part of the observatory was erected in 1675, after designs by Wren; the lower part is the residence of the astronomer royal. The parts in sight are little used for hourly operations; but two turrets on the leads are in constant active service. One of them has an anemometer, for hourly registering the direction and force of the wind; and the other has a time ball, about 6 feet in diameter, which drops at one o'clock, notes the time to the shipping on the Thames, and telegraphs it to time balls and signal guns at distant stations. Meridional observations of the sun, the moon, and the stars are regularly made, to the aggregate of upwards of 5, 000 in the year; magnetic observations also are made; the choicest instruments of the London chronometer makers are brought hither to be tested; and all English charts and maps reckon from this point the degrees of longitude, E and W. The first astronomer royal appointed for the observatory was Flamstead; and others have been Halley, Bradley, Maskelyne, and Airy. The cost of maintaining the observatory is about £4, 000 a year; and the salary of the astronomer royal is £800.

Schools and Charities.—The proprietory school was established in 1849; gives a first class education, at moderate expense; and has an average attendance of 150 pupils. Roan's grey coat school was founded in 1643; educates and clothes poor native boys of Greenwich parish; and has an income of £753. Boreman's green coat school was founded in 1672; educates and supports sons of native seamen, watermen, or fishermen; and has an income of £626. The blue coat school was founded in 1752; educates and supports poor native girls; and has an income of £254. National schools are at Churchpassage and Blackheath hill; British schools, at Groveplace, Park street, and Lewisham road; industrial schools, at East Greenwich and Blackheath hill; infant schools at East street, Lamb lane, and Blackheath hill; and a mission school for girls, at Trafalgar road.-Queen Elizabeth's college was founded, by Lambard, the antiquary, in 1558; had originally an income of £10 4, devoted to the maintenance of 24 meg and their wives; has acquired additional income from bequests; underwent recent enlargement, by the erection of tenements for aged persons; and gives an allowance of £20 to each almsman. Trinity hospital, commonly called Norfolk college, was founded in 1613, by the Earl of Northamptog; has a square central tower; gives support to poor meg of Greenwich and Shottesham parishes; and has an income of £660. The Jubilee alms houses accommodate 15 aged women, and give each of them £10 a year. The total amount of charities is about £4. 464. The Dreadnought ninety gun ship lies moored off Greenwich; serves as an hospital for seamen of all nations; and has usually about 185 patients.

Trade.—Greenwich has a post office under London, SE, a telegraph station, a banking office, and numerous hotels and taverns; and publishes three newspapers. Large support accrues to it from the visits of pleasureparties from London, especially during the white bait season; much, to the lower classes, accrues from employment on the river; and much, to the operative classes, from roperies, a spinning flax factory, iron foundries, iron steamboat works, engineering establishments, and some extensive factories for the supply of materials connected with shipping. Markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays; and two fairs were formerly held, but have been discontinued.

Parish and Borough.-Greenwich parish is divided into two parts, E and W. Acres of E. G., 1, 687; of which 262 are water. Real property, £64, 912. Pop. in 1851, 16, 228; in 1861, 18, 306. Houses, 2, 497. Acres of W. G., 326; of which 25 are water. Real property, £89, 040; of which £2, 330 are in gas works. Pop. in 1851, 18, 800; in 1861, 21, 696. Houses, 3, 651. Part of the parish lies without the borough. Pop. of the part within the borough, 39, 930. Houses, 6, 139. The town sent two members to parliament in the time of Mary; but it afterwards lost its franchise, seemingly through inability to bear the expense of an election; and it was reconstituted a borough by the act of 1832, with right to send two members to parliament. The borough boundaries include the main part of Greenwich parish; the parishes of St. Paul and St. Nicholas, Deptford, with the manor of Hatcham; and parts of the parishes of Woolwich, Plumstead, and Chailton next Woolwich. Electors in 1868, 9, 813. Pop. in 1851, 105, 784; in 1861, 139, 436. Houses, 19, 365.

The District.—Greenwich district or poor law union comprises the sub-districts of Greenwich-East and Greenwich-West, conterminate with the two parts of Greenwich parish; the sub-districts of Deptford ST. Paul and Deptford ST. Nicholas, conterminate with the two parishes of Deptford; and the sub-districts of Woolwich Arsenal and Woolwich Dockyard, conterminate with the two parts of Woolwich parish. Acres, 5, 367. Poorrates in 1863, £53, 233. Pop. in 1851, 99, 365; in 1861, 127, 670. Houses, 17, 821. Marriages in 1862, 994; births, 4, 512, -of which 144 were illegitimate; deaths, 3, 129, -of which 1, 187 were at ages under 5 years, and 67 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 7, 108; births, 37, 503; deaths, 28, 176. The places of worship, in 1851, were 16 of the Church of England, with 16, 907 sittings; 3 of the Presbyterian Church in England, with 1, 776 s.; 7 of Independents, with 3, 858 s 11 of Baptists, with 4, 052 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 1 48 s.; 5 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 2, 130 s.; 2 of Primitive Methodists, with 282 s.; 2 of Bible Christians, with 358 s.; 3 of the Wesleyan Association, with 804 s.; 1 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 111 attendants; 7 mixed and undefined, with 540 s.; 2 of Latter Day Saints, with 252 s.; and 3 of Roman Catholics, with 1, 300 s. The schools were 44 public day schools, with 7, 423 scholars; 271 private day schools, with 6, 022 s.; 39 Sunday schools, with 6, 734 s.; and 4 evening schools for adults, with 389 s. The workhouse is in East Greenwich, and, at the census of 1861, had 980 inmates.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a parish, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Greenwich CP/AP       Greenwich PLU/RegD       Kent AncC
Place names: GREENWICH     |     GRENAWIC     |     GRENVIZ
Place: Greenwich

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