lived in Kidbrooke and Blackheath for over 20 years, passing the
Queen's House and the Cutty Sark every day on the way to school in
Greenwich. Kings and queens of England enjoyed this park, I visited
it regularly whilst I lived there, and I hope you will do the same
through these pages.
absolutely delighted that the shorthand dictionary gives the correct
pronunciation of Greenwich, i.e. "grinnidge".
Word counts: dates are counted as one word e.g. 1945, and
kings/queens counted as 3 words e.g. Henry the Eighth, although the text
says Henry VIII.
Introduction, Blackheath, General Wolfe, South Building, Planetarium, Altazimuth Building, Onion Dome
1. Greenwich Park lies on an escarpment on the south side of the
River Thames, six miles east of the City of London. The southern end
of the park is on the flat land at the top of the scarp with views
of the entire sweep of the river and northwards. The land continues
hill to river level. There has been a royal residence here since
before 1300. The Manor of Greenwich was owned by King Henry IV
and King Henry V. The park itself began when the Manor was inherited
by the Duke of Gloucester, who gained permission to enclose 200
acres. He built Bella Court Palace and the tower of Greenwich Castle
on the hill. On the Duke's death, the Manor estate reverted to the
Crown. King Henry VII rebuilt and renamed Bella Court as the Palace
of Placentia or Pleasaunce, which means pleasure garden. King Henry
VIII was born here, as were his daughters*
Mary I and Elizabeth I.
* "daughters" Always insert the vowel in this and "auditors",
likewise "editors, debtors"
2. Blackheath Gate is on the south side of the park, facing the expanse
of the heath. This is best known nowadays as the starting point of the
London Marathon which
takes place* every April. The runners form their
huge queue in the long avenue in the park and the marathon route turns
left outside the gate and makes for Charlton and Woolwich. There the
route doubles back on itself, passing the park again on the lower road
through the town of Greenwich, making a detour over to the Isle of Dogs
and finishing in The Mall by St James's
The route thus goes from a former royal residence to the present one at
Buckingham* Palace. Just inside is the Gate Lodge built in 1851 for the keeper of the park,
to replace the 17th century Keeper's Lodge that was in the middle of the
park. It is decorated in the ornate Victorian style, with multi-coloured
brickwork and intricate floral bargeboards*. The top half is faced with
buff-coloured glazed tiles in a diamond pattern and the roof has
alternating courses of plain and fish-scale tiles. It was designed by
John Phipps who gave it an additional Tudor flavour with the timber
jetty and beams at the front. It is not presently part of the amenities
but it is nevertheless a fitting ornament to welcome visitors to the
royal park. The plainer buildings
opposite the Gate Lodge are the park and police offices, where visitors
can obtain information and literature on the park.
* "Buckingham" The H is not pronounced
* "board" Full strokes B + Rd when written on its own
3. Here is Blackheath Common just outside the main park gates and this view
shows about a third of the large area of flat grassland.
Blackheath means "dark coloured
heathland". The heath was a barren wilderness and not used for farming,
but the stony* soil was dug for ballast and gravel. After the Second
World War, most of the diggings were filled in with rubble from
bomb-sites and the common is now level, apart from a small area of dips
and undulating ground at the north-east corner, called Vanbrugh Pits,
and a similar area in the opposite corner of the heath called Eliot*
Blackheath was one of the rallying places for the Peasants' Revolt led
by Wat Tyler and the rebellion headed by Jack Cade, both of whom have
named after them on the south-west side of the heath.
the 17th and 18th centuries, stagecoaches crossing the heath were at the
mercy of the notorious highwaymen and it was not the safe and pleasant*
place that we know today. The heath
has always been a natural meeting point and today is used for
recreation, football, sports, firework displays, kite flying, funfairs
and other events. The edge of Blackheath Village is on the right of the
* "stony" Insert the final vowel, as "stone" could also make sense
* "Eliot" Names tend to have full strokes for greater clarity
* "pleasant" Insert the vowel in this and "pleasing"
4. In the background is Shooters Hill,
named from the archery practice that took place there in the Middle
Ages. The Victorian water tower at its summit can be clearly seen from
all the surrounding countryside. The tower is situated directly on
Shooters Hill Road and is still in use by Thames Water. On the
south-west side of Shooters Hill is Oxleas Wood, one of the few
remaining pieces of ancient deciduous forest, which is estimated to be
over 8,000 years old. Jack Wood and Castle Wood are visible in the
photo, and Oxleas Wood, Oxleas Meadows and Shepherdleas Wood are on the
other side of the* hill.
* "8,000" Keep the Ith well curved so it does not look like 81
* Omission phrase "on the oth(er) side of the"
Duke Humphrey Road
5. This length of granite sett pavement
is in Duke Humphrey Road just outside the main gates, used for many
years for donkey rides which are still offered at weekends and holiday
periods. It is fitting that the road named after the creator of the park
is directly opposite the main entrance gates. On the right of the
granite path can be seen the stony* nature of Blackheath soil, a reminder
of its past as a wilderness covered with gravel diggings, a danger for
the unwary traveller who strayed from the established trackways. The
sharp spire of All Saints Church in Blackheath Village is in direct line
of sight, although the road is short and does not cross the heath to
reach the church. The sharpness of the spire led to its being dubbed the
Needle of Kent when it was first built.
* "stony" Insert the final vowel, as "stone" could also make sense
News article from 2008 about the Len the Donkeyman
who ran the donkey rides for many years.
6. Blackheath Avenue leads from the gatehouse northwards through the
park to the edge of the hill, and ends with the statue of General Wolfe.
The inscription on the back of the statue reads, "This
monument* the gift of the Canadian people was unveiled on the fifth of
June 1930 by Le Marquis de Montcalm*". Major General James Wolfe lived in Macartney House in Greenwich Park and started his military career at the
age of 13. He led the battle in 1759 that ended French control of
Quebec, which paved the way for the English to gain control of Canada
from the French. He died in that battle at the age of 32 on the Plains
of Abraham, and is buried in St Alfege Church in Greenwich. Immediately
in front of the monument is the viewing area, with seats and public
telescopes overlooking the grassy slope down to the Queen's House, the
River Thames and the panoramic views of North London.
* "monument" The U diphthong sign can't be placed against the final
halved N because here that stroke represents "ment"
* "Le Marquis de Montcalm" Outlines use Anglicised pronunciation
7. At the end of Blackheath Avenue are the buildings that comprise the
Greenwich Observatory. This is the South Building which was
completed in 1899 as an astrophysics observatory. Over all the first
floor windows imprinted in terracotta brick are the names of notable*
scientists and astronomers. The bust on the pediment is John Flamsteed,
the first Astronomer Royal, and his name appears over the entrance
below. Edmond Halley was the second Astronomer Royal. He noticed that
four previous comets had the same orbit, and concluded that these were
just one comet and that it would be seen again in 1758. He died in 1742
but when the comet returned as predicted, it was named after him. Halley
also has a lunar crater and a Martian crater bearing his name, as well
as Halley's Method for the numerical solution of equations. James
Bradley was the third holder of the post and is known for the discovery
of the "Aberration* of Light" which further proved the* theory, first
proposed by Nicolaus* Copernicus, that the earth was in motion and
therefore not the immobile centre of the universe. This enabled Bradley
to improve the accuracy of the existing estimate of the speed of light.
* "notable" See
* "aberration" Insert the first vowel, as "operation" would also
* "proved the" The vowel would normally go at the very end but is
moved inwards because of the tick
* "Nicolaus" Using German pronunciation, compare the English
Nicholas in para 68 Part 5
8. This is the ship weather vane on top of the South Building and is a
depiction of the Great Harry, Henry VIII's flagship built
Dockyard. She carried heavy and light guns, and bronze cannon, and was
the first English two-decker gunship, and had a crew of between seven
hundred and a thousand. She suffered problems from being top-heavy and
was later restructured to improve performance. The weather vane is a
reminder that the astronomical work carried on here was principally to
improve navigation at sea, both military and
trading. The little
vertical blobs on the weather vane are not figures but turret-like
structures. The ship's crew are obviously still waiting
patiently for the astronomers to deliver their completed accurate
star-maps and timetables, so that they can undertake their next voyage
in safety and return home successfully without loss. Meanwhile, they are
bemused by the fact that they are constantly facing into the wind,
instead of having it behind them filling their sails.
What would they
have made of the strange metal bird overhead, descending on its flight
landing at Heathrow* Airport?
* "Heathrow" Using separate strokes. Outlines for "hither,
use the hooked stroke.
9. Entry to the South Building is free
and you can visit several astronomy galleries, many of which have
interactive displays. A darkened room shows a looping film on three
large screens, describing the story of the beginning* of the universe, as
understood by present-day scientists, a free taster* of what might
be enjoyed on a much larger scale in the main planetarium, which is
accessed from this building. There are two soft benches for about 16 people,
plus plenty of standing room. The item lasts about 5 minutes and is
accompanied on screen by the text of the narration and signing for the
deaf. You can also see and touch a 4.5 billion year old meteorite that
landed in prehistoric times in Namibia.
Isaac Newton was a good friend of Edmond Halley who encouraged and
helped him to publish his treatise "Mathematical Principles of Natural
Philosophy". It was published in 1687 and contains his statement of the
laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. A copy of the 1713
edition is displayed in the museum and the caption reads "This book is a
copy of Newton's Principia*,
one of the most
important* mathematical works ever published. It is said*
to be bound in leather taken from one of his chairs. In this
revolutionary work, Newton explains his theory of gravity, a
breakthrough in scientific thinking that still underpins our view of the
* "of the beginning"
If more convenient,
this intersection can be written underneath the preceding outline or
* "taster" Insert vowel and ensure Ster loop is large, as "tester"
and "test" could also make sense
* "Principia" Latin pronunciation (the book was written in Latin =
Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica)
* Omission phrase "one (of the) mos(t) important"
* "it is said" The Ses circle representing both S's
(Some of the quotations displayed around the museum)
“Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and
leads us from this world to another.” Plato (428 BC – 348 BC)
“Nothing in the entire universe ever perishes …
this thing may pass into that, and that into this, yet the
things remains unchanged.” Ovid (43BC – 17AD)
“The earth is round and is inhabited on all
sides: it is insignificantly small and is borne* through the
stars.” Johannes* Kepler
“To myself I am only a child playing on the
beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.”
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
* "borne" Note the vowel. Born uses first place thin dash, bourne
(=stream) uses third place thick dash
* "Johannes" For the German pronunciation, use stroke Yay
“I have looked further into space than ever a human being* did before me.” William Herschel
“A quarter of a century ago astronomy was little
more than celestial* topography.” George Phillips Bond
“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
“The history of astronomy is the history of
receding horizons.” Edwin Hubble (1889-1953)
* "human being" The outline for "human" is written above the line to
distinguish from "humane", and "being" uses the short form "be", so
no diphone required for the "-ing"
* "celestial" Omits the T
12. The Peter Harrison Planetarium was
opened in 2007 with a 120-seat* auditorium and a digital display
projector. The building is a truncated cone, made of concrete for sound
insulation and clad in bronze plates welded together and artificially
patinated to a smooth dull mottled appearance, said to resemble
nebulae* seen in photos of deep space. The building is tilted at
approximately 51.3 degrees, the same as the latitude of Greenwich, and
is also placed on the meridian line. The project was funded by the Peter
Harrison Foundation, a charitable trust named after its founder, and not
connected with John Harrison the inventor of the marine chronometers.
* "120-seat" Ensure the circle is on the correct side; written
clockwise it would be "120-seater"
* "nebulae" Latin plural of "nebula", essential to insert the final
vowel in both singular and plural
13. Next to the planetarium is the Altazimuth Pavilion, constructed in 1899 to house astronomical
instruments to measure the altitude* and azimuth of celestial* bodies.
Altitude is the height of a star above the horizon measured in
degrees and azimuth is its position eastwards from due north.
Azimuth is sometimes known as a bearing and can be thought of like a
circular clock face on the ground with the observer at the centre,
with due north being 12 o'clock and the star's position being read
as one of the other times e.g. 90 degrees would be
3 o'clock. Inside
the building are wall boards with astronomy displays but no
equipment is to be seen. The weather vane on the dome is Halley's
Comet and its design is based on the picture of it in the Bayeux* Tapestry, a fiery ball with a fantail. The comet's appearance in
1066 was viewed with great fear, as comets were generally considered
omens of disaster. Another
comet appears next to the figure Astronomia on the ground floor, although this
could possibly be a meteor.
* "celestial" Omits the T
* "altitude" Insert the first
vowel in this and "latitude" to distinguish
* "bayeux" A thick dash written sideways to the stroke represents
this French vowel, similar to the English "sir"
Closeup picture of the embroidered comet
14. The Onion Dome behind the Meridian
Building houses a 28-inch photo-visual refractor* telescope, for the dual
purposes of observation and photography. It was constructed by Irish
optical manufacturer Howard Grubb. The Chance Brothers of
took 3˝* years to produce satisfactory blanks, after 15 casting failures.
Howard Grubb then spent a further 4˝* years grinding and polishing the
200-pound lens, making thousands of accuracy tests and inspecting every
part of its surface through a microscope. The telescope was installed in
1893. The onion shape of the dome came about
when the previous flat-topped structure had to be modified to house this
new telescope, which was over 8 feet longer than its
sides of the new dome were designed to bulge out so that the existing
supporting brick tower and roof seating could be re-used. The outdated
cannonball bearings were not without problems and were replaced with a
better system when the new telescope was installed. The dome suffered
war damage in 1940 and 1944, and the present one is a
* "refractor" Keep the R hook small and insert the vowel after the
Fl stroke, so it does not look like "reflector"
* "Birmingham" The H is not pronounced. There is also a
contracted version which omits the Ing stroke.
Write the numeral first and the dash second, the same order as they
are spoken. More on writing fractions at
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