Destination Friday: Greenwich & Hampton Court Palace

January 18, 2008 at 10:34 am 2 comments


Today I’m taking you just outside the city centre (don’t you love how the Brits spell things differently from us Yanks?) of London to Greenwich and Hampton.

While planning my 2005 trip, I realized that I hadn’t yet visited Greenwich (“gren-itch,” not “green-witch”;)).  It’s in south-east London on the River Thames.  It’s most famous for being the home to the Prime Meridian and zero longitude.

Getting there: There are two options: boat and tube.  If the weather is nice, I’d suggest taking the boat one way (from Tower Pier, 30 minute ride) and the train (Cocklands Light Railway) the other.  It was chilly and gray when we went, so we skipped the boat ride in favor of the quicker train ride.

What to see: The Royal Observatory, commissioned in 1675 and home to the Prime Meridian (great place to learn some history, neat architecture); National Maritime Museum, just what it sounds like (interesting history opportunities, neat architecture, check out the Chapel, Painted Hall, and Crown Jewels exhibit); Cutty Sark, a clipper ship built in 1869; Royal Naval College, formerly a Royal Navy training spot and now home to a university and school of music (the point for visitors: pretty architecture); the Queen’s House, designed and begin un 1614-15 and used as a model for our own White House.

Pubs: Gipsy Moth – a large pub in the shadow of Cutty Sark; very popular; large garden.  Trafalgar Tavern  – historic tavern nex to the Royal Naval College, great views of the River Thames, Charles Dickens frequented and used the place as a setting in “Our Mutual Friend.”

Hampton Court Palace
Regardless of when you visit, there will be something fun to do at Hampton Court Palace.  This former royal palace in south-west London was first built in the 14th century, rebuilt from 1515-21, then overhauled by Henry VIII while he ran it (1525-29), worked on again by William and Mary (1689-94), etc.  The most recent restoration was completed in 1995 after a fire.

Getting there: There’s a direct train from London Waterloo to Hampton Court.  You might also take the Tube to Richmond and change to the R68 bus to Hampton Court (45 mins on the bus).  From London Victoria, take the train to Clapham Junction and change there for the train to Hampton Court.

What to see: The Palace itself, home to art and furniture from the Royal Collection and possibly the ghosts of Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard, Anne Boleyn, and Henry VIII; the Royal Tennis Court, the oldest real tennis court in the world still in use; and the maze, a hedge maze planted for William III of Orange (1689-95).  If you visit during the Christmas season, you might enjoy the ice rink.  June is the month of the Festival, presenting legendary artists such as Elton John.  If you’re there in July, you might check out the Flower Show

Pubs: Kings Arms; more options.

Image of Hampton Court from Wiki.

*Greenwich images from Elizabeth’s collection of our trip (thanks for putting them online so I could snag them!).


Entry filed under: CenturyClub, Destinations, Europe, UK.

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