Greenwich is often overlooked by visitors to London, perhaps because it does not lie in the city centre like so many of the capital’s attractions. That’s a shame, though, because this Royal Borough is home to some true gems, including some of the finest architecture in London, the world’s most popular entertainment venue, and the world’s last surviving tea clipper – not to mention the thing for which Greenwich is most famous: the point from which every place and time zone is measured on earth. And with Greenwich easily accessible by Tube, train and bus, there’s no reason why you can’t incorporate a trip into your itinerary.
The centrepiece of the Greenwich landscape is the Old Royal Naval College, a stunning collection of buildings which UNESCO describes as the “finest and most dramatically sited architectural and landscape ensemble in the British Isles”. High praise indeed, but you’ll probably be inclined to agree the minute you set eyes on this former naval hospital and training institution, which was originally designed by the great architect Sir Christopher Wren in 1692.The Old Royal Naval College is easily accessible from The Montcalm Brewery London city hotel .
At the Royal Observatory, you can visit the site of what Greenwich is probably most famous for: the Prime Meridian. This is a pivotal site in terms of modern society and culture because of its association with timekeeping. We take it for granted that it will be exactly the same time in any individual time zone. But it’s amazing to think that, before the standardization of time in the 1840s, it could have been 12:00 where you were, and 12:30 just a few minutes down the road. The prevalence of this ‘local time’ was obviously incompatible with expanding national networks like the railways, and would be completely unthinkable in the modern world of globalized commerce and international interaction. In 1847, the railways switched from local time to Greenwich Mean Time, with the rest of British society having followed suit by the mid-1860s. At the Royal Observatory, you can place one leg in the eastern and one in the western hemisphere, straddling the point from which all the world now measures its time.
Also well worth a visit is the Cutty Sark, the world’s only surviving tea clipper which in her prime was the fastest ship on the planet. Today, the ship has been raised three metres off the ground, so you can reach up and touch its gleaming copper hull, and look up at no less than 963 tonnes of lovingly preserved Victorian maritime engineering. Various ticketing options are available at Greenwich depending on how you want to spend your day. A combo ticket to the Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory costs £18.50 for adults, and £8.50 for children. An Astro Ticket will get you entry to the Royal Observatory and a show at the Planetarium, and costs £12.50 for adults and £6.50 for children. Both ticket types are available in a range of family offers which can save you money on your trip.