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Greenwich

Greenwich - An Old Royal Navy base - 19 September 2017
The Queens House Greenwich
I had not visited Greenwich for many years and so I decided to spend the day there and see what was available in the way of photographic opportunities. I arrived shortly before sunrise and walked to the top of the hill in Greenwich Park hoping for some impressive early morning light. This was not to be as the day dawned rather grey and foggy. I took a number of images at this time, more in hope than expectation of anything usable. However, later in the day I returned to the top of the hill and took the picture shown below. By this time the sky was still unappealing but the fog had cleared.

After my initial trip up the hill I walked down to the Queen's House and walked around its interior as it opened at 10 am. This enabled me to have the base of the Tulip staircase to myself for photographic purposes before other visitors started to arrive. This staircase is a much photographed part of the building. These stairs are the first geometric self-supporting spiral staircase in the UK. Although called the 'tulip' stairs, it is thought that the flowers in the wrought-iron balustrade are actually fleurs-de-lis, as this was the emblem of the Bourbon family of which Queen Henrietta Maria was a member. i achieved my image by setting my lens at it widest setting of 17mm and then laying it on the floor with a 2 second delayed shutter release. This gave me enough time to move out of sight. A number of such exposures were necessary to obtain a good composition.

The Queen's House is nowadays part of the National Maritime Museum. It was originally part of the Royal Palace of Placentia. It was meant by King James I to be the home of his consort, Anne of Denmark. Inigo Jones was the architect, and construction started in 1616. The Queen died in 1619, however, and work was stopped until ten years later, when King Charles I gave it to his new Queen, Henrietta Maria. Inigo Jones was recalled and the exterior work was completed some six years later. The Queen stayed there only briefly, however, and in 1642 the Civil War started.

After the Restoration Charles II had the House enlarged by John Webb in 1662 to provide a residence while the new palace of Placentia was being built, as the original had been badly damaged during the time of the Commonwealth. It is not known if he ever actually lived there, however, and the building was in fact used by Henrietta, by now the Queen Mother, until her death in 1669. In 1690 it became the official residence of the Ranger of Greenwich Park.

The interior was completely restored in the 1980s and the House was reopened in 1990 after a six-year closure. It is fitted out in the style of the 1660s as much as possible, and contains a mixture of original and replica furnishings. There are many carvings, paintings, sculptures, and other works of art on display; again, some are replicas, some original.

The Queens House Greenwich
 
The Old Royal Naval College fromThe Queens House
 


I made further forays into the grounds and impressive architecture of the Old Royal Naval College as well as the exhibits at the National Maritime Museum. The exhibits in the National Maritime Museum are very interesting but not very good photographic subjects. However, the people wandering around do offer an element of interest (unbeknown to them).

After some lunch I visited the Cutty Sark and then took the Greenwich foot tunnel to the other side of the river. The tunnel is reached via lift or spiral staircase and at first appearance is a rather dilapidated scruffy tunnel. It can make an interesting subject though with the diminishing lines of the tunnel and, at the northern end, reinforced steel wall sections placed there after bomb damage suffered at the beginning of the blitz. Curiously enough I recently noticed this section of the tunnel being used in the film "Darkest Hour" as part of the WW2 war rooms. Gary Oldman, as Churchill, was seen walking through it with his secretary!

The Sinister Tunnel
 


Having emerged from the tunnel I was able to set my tripod up and take a number of long exposures of the Old Royal Naval College with the Queen's House in the centre and the Thames in the foreground.

it was a most productive day and I mean to return in the near future.