Swimming in History

Well, it’s been a busy year so far. I’ve been out and about with the camera but haven’t got around to writing and sharing what I’ve been up to – it’s about time I fixed that!

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 23/03/2019

Last Saturday saw me finally visit the Greenwich Museum – some of it at least, it really is quite the spread!

It’s easiest to think of Greenwich as one big historical playground, home to no less than the National Maritime Museum (containing Nelson’s jacket), the Cutty Sark, Queen’s House (and the Armada Portrait), The Royal Observatory, The Prime Meridian, The Old Royal Naval College (and the Painted Hall) and, unsurprisingly, Greenwich Park. Birthplace of Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I, it’s hardly surprising that this entire area is a World Heritage Site. You can even arrive in style via either ferry or the foot tunnel – not sure how stylish the foot tunnel is, I think it’s pretty cool though.

Yinka Shonibare’s replica of Nelson’s HMS Victory in a bottle, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 23/03/2019
An overcast view back across Queen’s House and the Old Royal Naval College to Canary Wharf, Greenwich, 23/03/2019
And to the left – central London, Greenwich, 23/03/2019

Got a little ahead of myself, let’s head back to the National Maritime Museum.

Nelson’s other column,
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 23/03/2019

There are some rather good figureheads in the museum’s collection recovered from a wide variety of vessels. The image below is of the figurehead Ajax from, unsurprisingly, HMS Ajax (you can see his plume jutting out from behind Nelson’s Column in the above pic). HMS Ajax was built in 1809 and served in both the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars – not a bad resume!

If you’re wondering why there’s a replica of Nelson’s Column in the image above it’s because this is the column that formed part of the display at the showjumping event at the London Olympic Games – this took place directly in front of Queen’s House and there are some pretty spectacular photos on the web of the event. You can see one such photo on the wall behind the statue!

Figurehead of HMS Ajax,
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 23/03/2019
Not really keeping in the spirit of things there Roderigo,
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 23/03/2019
Miss Britain III,
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 23/03/2019

This rather futuristic looking vessel is Miss Britain III. Built in 1933 (!), this was the first single-engined boat to travel over 100mph.

Miss Britain III,
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 23/03/2019
Model of the Prince Royal,
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 23/03/2019

This rather brilliant model is of the Prince Royal and it hangs on display with a few of it’s fellows and was proving quite the attraction to the kids. Meanwhile the adults were having a quick look then filtering on to Nelson’s jacket – being a big kid I spent ages looking at both!

After a wander up to the observatory, and to take in the views back across London, I headed over to Queen’s House to see what was hiding in there.

Queen’s House has a fabulous array of paintings and I particularly liked the works of Eurich, Wilkinson and Bone – Wilkinson has the added feather in his cap of being the inventor of dazzle camouflage. Alongside these works hang the museums pride and joy, The Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. You may be aware that the National Portrait Gallery also claim to have a copy, as does Woburn Abbey, which they do – there are 3 surviving versions all on public display which is brilliant for such an iconic painting!

The biggest surprise of Queen’s House though, for me, was the Tulip Staircase.

The Tulip Staircase, Queen’s House, Greenwich, 23/03/2019

I’ve seen images of this stairwell in numerous magazines and blogs over the years but had never realised it was here. In fact I only found it by literally looking for the stairs to the first floor! This was the first staircase without a central column built in Britain and was designed by Inigo Jones who also designed Banqueting House and Covent Garden square and who also single-handedly popularised the beanie hat.

Here’s the same pic but in colour – I need to go back with a wider angle lens!

The Tulip Staircase, Queen’s House, Greenwich, 23/03/2019

That’s probably enough photos and waffling for one post so I’ll leave you with one last one of another figurehead. I definitely recommend a day at Greenwich – think I need to save up for a membership!

Doug

Figurehead believed to have come from HMS Anson – probably needed a little more DoF, Queen’s House, Greenwich, 23/03/2019

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