Maritime Greenwich (1997)
Great Britain

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The ensemble of buildings at Greenwich, an outlying district of London, and the park in which they are set, symbolize English artistic and scientific endeavour in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Queen's House (by Inigo Jones) was the first Palladian building in England, while the complex that was until recently the Royal Naval College was designed by Christopher Wren. The park, laid out on the basis of an original design by André Le Nôtre, contains the Old Royal Observatory, the work of Wren and the scientist Robert Hooke. 

Great Britain 1975. World Cultural Heritage. Greenwich Observatory. Great Britain 1990. World Cultural Heritage. Green Observatory.

Greenwich is a borough of Greater London, southeastern England, on the southern bank of the Thames River. The borough was formed in 1965 with the merging of the former metropolitan boroughs of Greenwich and Woolwich. Among the landmarks of Greenwich is the Royal Naval College (1873), which occupies a late 17th-century building designed by the architect Sir Christopher Wren. In the Tudor period the building's site was occupied by a royal residence. Also in the borough is the National Maritime Museum. Greenwich is famous as the site of the prime meridian, or 0° longitude, which passes through the old Greenwich Observatory. 

Also here are the clipper ship Cutty Sark and the Gipsy Moth IV, on which Sir Francis Chichester made a solo circumnavigation of the earth. 

Great Britain 1969. World Cultural Heritage. The Tea Clipper Cutty Sark docked at Greenwich Observatory. Great Britain 1967. World Cultural Heritage. Gipsy Moth IV, docked at Greenwich Observatory.

In 1984 England celebrated the centenary of the official designation of the international prime meridian passing through London's Greenwich Observatory.  Although the equator had been an obvious choice as the prime parallel, being the largest, no one meridian was uniquely qualified as prime. Until a single prime meridian could be agreed upon, each nation was free to choose its own, with the result that many 19th-century maps of the world lacked a standardized grid.  As an example of this, France had chosen a line going through the St. Sulpice Church in Paris, which was built on the exact location of the ruins of an ancient heathen temple. 

Great Britain 1984. World Cultural Heritage. Centenary of Greenwich Meridian. View of Earth from Apollo 11. Great Britain 1984. World Cultural Heritage. Centenary of Greenwich Meridian. Navigational Chart of the English Channel.

Officially known as the Royal Greenwich Observatory, it was founded in 1675 by Charles II, king of England, to keep accurate tables of the position of the moon for the calculation of longitude by English ships. In 1750 publication of the tables was begun in the Astronomical Observations, which were published annually after 1838. 

Great Britain 1984. World Cultural Heritage. Centenary of Greenwich Meridian. Greenwich Observatory. Great Britain 1984. World Cultural Heritage. Centenary of Greenwich Meridian. Sir George Airey's Transit Telescope.

Meridian observations of the sun, stars, and planets were also made at the observatory. Photographs of the sun were taken daily, conditions permitting, and a continuous photographic record of sunspots was kept, starting in 1873. Faint satellites of the planets Neptune and Uranus were discovered by the British astronomer William Lassell in 1846 and 1851, respectively, using the 24-in (61-cm) Newtonian reflector telescope. Another discovery made at the observatory was that of the eighth satellite of Jupiter. The observatory is managed by the Science Research Council. Its director is called the Astronomer Royal. Famed Astronomers Royal have included Edmond Halley and Nevil Maskelyne. 

Sources: 

Many thanks to Mr. Gerry Fisk (Great Britain) for all help and research. 

Other World Heritage Sites in Great Britain (on this site). Inactive links are not described on postage stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, United Kingdom Section, for further information about the individual properties. 

 

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Revised 19 jul 2006  
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