21 January 2016

The Royal Observatory

Our next stop after the Maritime Museum

Situated on a hill in Greenwich Park overlooking the River Thames, the Royal Observatory is the “home of time” and the Prime Meridian Line. Flamsteed House designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1675 contains a world famous collection of timekeepers. It was commissioned in 1675 by King Charles II and the site was chosen by Sir Christopher Wren. At that time the king also created the position of Astronomer Royal to serve as the director of the observatory, whose job description was: "To apply himself with the most exact care and diligence to the rectifying of the tables of the motions of the heavens, and the places of the fixed stars, so as to find out the much desired longitude of places for the perfecting of the art of navigation." - Phew

King Charles appointed John Flamsteed as the first AR and the building was their home as well as an observatory. Since then ten royal astronomers and their families have lived there.  
The scientific work of the observatory was relocated elsewhere in the first half of the 20th century, and the building became a museum. There is a range of artefacts used by the Royal astronomers including their telescopes and timepieces. There are several astronomy galleries exploring how planets were formed, the mysteries of the universe and the opportunity to guide a space mission!

We took the fairly long steep walk up and the steps back down

Can you see  some gnarled faces?

The Royal Observatory is famous for supplying Greenwich Mean Time. 
Greenwich Mean Time is a time zone, the mean solar time at the prime meridian (the line of longititude where east meets west) which runs through Greenwich, London. There are lots of in depth explanations online, but my head was spinning trying to understand it all!

From 1833 astronomers made a daily signal to mariners in the Thames at 1pm (1300 hrs) by raising and dropping the time-ball on Flamstead House. In 1852 electric technology enabled them to send the time to the nation by telegraph. Visitors could also get the time without disturbing the astronomers, from the Shepherd Gate Clock outside of the observatory. The Shepherd Gate Clock is a slave dial that originally received electrical impulses from the master clock within Flamsteed House. 

Sitting Room

The Great Equatorial Telescope

This 23 inch refracting telescope is the largest of its kind in the UK and the seventh largest in the world. It was commissioned in 1885 by William Christie, Astroner Royal and completed in 1893

It was built to research double star systems and remained in use until the late 1960s. With the recent addition of a computer-aided guidance system and CCD camera, it continues to work as an excellent visual aid to observing the night sky.

The Meridian Line
Me  - black boots, grandson - trainers

I didn't take many photos this time, for three reasons:
I was getting tired
Grandson was getting fed up
I wanted to get back to a vintage market I had spied earlier

Lovely grandson saying "No more photos nan, you have enough now"

He was right of course, it was time to go.

And what better way to end the day than with a browse round the brilliant Greenwich market

And the vintage market

Need some cutlery


maybe a vintage fur coat

or a pretty tea set

a lace christening gown

some stuff

or a dog!

I bought this pretty ring

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my day at Greenwich as much as I've enjoyed writing about it.


  1. I love the Royal Observatory. I was there for hours, you couldn't tear me away. Thanks for taking me back.

    1. My pleasure Amalia, I'm glad you enjoyed it x

  2. I love getting to the top of the hill and then looking back over at the Isle of Dogs, that is my favourite view and have done this hundreds of times watching the high rise office towers build up over the decades. Did you know that if you get to the top of the hill, instead of going straight into the observatory and paying silly amounts of money to look round and have your picture on the meridian line, you can turn right before you get to the clock and there is an old meridian line on the wall? The metal fencing is full of love locks which I love to see too. Thanks again for a lovely trip down memory lane and my favourite place xx

    1. It is a wonderful view. I did know about the line on the wall. I like the walks around the park as well. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip xx

  3. Time it was... such lovely stuff.


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