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Greenwich 3


Views from hill, Sundial, Vanbrugh Castle, Roman remains, Flower Garden, Ancient trees, Bandstand, One Tree Hill, Drinking Fountain & Deer Trough, Deer Enclosure

Greenwich Park - view from hill over Queen's House and River Thames

27. Beyond the Observatory the land falls steeply to river level, over a large open grassed area, leading to the Queen's House. This was at one time* cut into giant steps, with a slope in the centre for walking down. The steps have since collapsed through natural erosion, but their shadows can sometimes be seen from below when the light is right. Beyond is the Old Royal Naval College, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1694 to serve as a Royal Hospital for Seamen. It occupies the site of the former Palace of Placentia, King Henry VIII's favourite palace. The buildings are now managed by the Greenwich Foundation. Behind that is the River Thames and the Isle of Dogs and Docklands, with the bend in the river on the left passing Deptford and leading to Central London.

* "at one time" Halving to represent the T of "time"

Greenwich Park - playground

28. In the north-east corner of the park is a children's playground, which started in 1900 as a sandpit to be a "seaside in the park." In the distance are the towers of Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs on the former marshes on the north side of the Thames. This was the first part of London to have such tall buildings spring up, and the outlook from the park has changed dramatically since these skyscrapers have made their looming presence felt. Instead of views reaching into the distance, beyond London and on to Essex, these buildings seem to bring the other side of the Thames nearer and interrupt the spacious views that the inhabitants of Greenwich have enjoyed throughout history. It is possible* that the Isle of Dogs was so called because Henry VIII, and possibly other royalty, kept hunting dogs there, to be fetched whenever they were needed.

* Omission phrase "it is poss(ible)"

Greenwich Park - boating pond

29. The boating pond next to the children's playground provides a very refreshing contrast to the dry slopes of the park and brings back memories of being taken on the pedal* boats as a child. In our* minds we were voyaging over the sea or along the Thames, even though the water is very shallow. The boat number would be chalked up on a big board when it was time for that boat to come in. If you delayed coming back to the hut, having used up the time allowed, the keeper would call out your number and request that you return. There were* always long queues to go on the boats, so prompt return was expected by all. I always wondered what would happen if someone ignored all this and stayed out in their* boat, but it would obviously have been a simple matter for the keeper to walk through the pond to the boat and pull it back!

* "pedal" Insert the vowel in this and "paddle"

* "in our " R Hook to represent "our"

* Omission phrase "there (w)ere"

* "in their" Doubling to represent "their"

Greenwich Park - Meridian Sundial by boating pond Greenwich Park - part of Meridian Sundial

30. The modern Meridian Sundial next to the boating lake is marked out in granite setts and stone paving*, with twelve points of the compass marked in shiny pink marble. The sundial was misplaced from the meridian line two metres westward, so if you have yourself photographed standing on the northwards-facing line, the photo is not going to deserve the title that you might wish to give it. The time shown by fixed sundials is unlikely to match that shown on your watch. The low number of sunny days, and hence shadows, in the English climate reduces the chances still further of making a comparison. The sundial will always show apparent solar time, but there will most often be a discrepancy between that and the mean solar time that we live by in normal daily life. To study this difference further, you should look up the term "equation of time".

* "paving" Keep the Ing proper length and thick, so it does not look like a halved N, which would be "pave(m)ent". Halved N used for "-ment" is never vocalised.

Greenwich Park - Greenwich Park - Vanbrugh Park Gate  Greenwich Park - view along path parallel to Maze Hill

31. We return to the top of the park, and start another journey through Vanbrugh Park Gate at the very top of Maze Hill where it joins the heath. Going straight ahead through the gate leads to the ornamental gardens, but the part visible through the gateway in the photo is a long path parallel to the wall, lined with rows of mature trees. Having taken the route down the avenue, the second picture is the view looking back, with the park wall and Maze Hill now on the left. The trees are well managed, and there are many newly-planted saplings to replace the old trees that have died. The ornamental gardens are in the distance to the right.

Greenwich Park - Maze Hill entrance Vanbrugh Castle, Blackheath Blue plaque on wall outside Vanbrugh Castle, Blackheath

32. At the end of the avenue of trees there is a grander gate to the park. This is situated immediately opposite Vanbrugh Castle – not actually a castle but a house built to resemble a fortress by the architect Sir John Vanbrugh. Vanbrugh assisted Sir Christopher Wren as surveyor to Greenwich Hospital and was the architect of Blenheim Palace, Castle Howard and Seaton Delaval Hall. At the time his house would have enjoyed more extensive views over the park and Greenwich, and it would of course have been surrounded by countryside and not the suburbs of London, as it is now. It has had a variety of uses and is now converted into apartments, and so is continuing its function as purely* a place of residence.

* "purely/pure" Distinguishing outlines, "poor/poorly" use downward Ar.

Greenwich Park - Roman remains Greenwich Park - Roman remains, part of tessellated pavement

33. This small square of land enclosed in iron railings is the location of the remains* of a Roman* temple. The remains were accidentally discovered during normal park work in 1902 and revealed three pieces of flooring, at which time it was thought to be a villa. The piece now visible amongst the grass is part of the reconstructed tessellated tile floor. Subsequent investigations in 1978 and 2000 found the corner of a building, fragments of painted wall plaster, stone inscriptions, a stamped tile, a marble tablet*, the arm of a statue, pottery and animal bones. More than 300 coins were found, dating throughout the first four centuries AD, which suggests the site was in constant use by Romans and Britons for that entire period.

* "remains" "Roman" Best vocalised in an archaeological context in order to distinguish

* "tablet" Insert the last vowel, as it is similar to "table" and "tableau"

Greenwich Park - Roman remains - illustration on noticeboard
This is the artist's version on the railings in the park. Photographic digital reconstruction www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/greenwich-park/things-to-see-and-do/ancient-greenwich/roman-remains and note the millennium dome in the background!

34. The notice board details the known history and the finds, and shows a painting of how the temple might have looked, courtesy of the archaeology television programme that undertook the excavations in 2000. The London area has been settled since prehistoric times, with the forests, marshes and river providing a wide diversity of food and resources. The River Thames was much shallower and wider in the past, with tributaries, islands and marshes on both sides. There was no large settlement at London until the Romans arrived in approximately 43 AD. The temple is positioned on the route of the old Watling Street. This is believed to have started as a trackway used by the ancient Britons, which the Romans improved and paved for their own military use. It continues southwards along Old Dover Road in Blackheath, over Shooters Hill and on to Canterbury and the Kent coast. Northwards it goes to St Albans and on to Wales. The term "street" means a paved road, from the Latin word "stratum" meaning flat.

Greenwich Park - bedding plants Greenwich Park - duckpond Greenwich Park - heather bed

35. Circular flower beds are dotted around throughout the ornamental gardens, with bold displays in the traditional Victorian style. With such a large area to cover, bold is the only style that will make any impact amongst the mature trees. The borders are filled with a wide variety of flowering shrubs, and there are sections where grit paths wind around behind the shrub borders, ideal for hide and seek or to enjoy a shady walk. In the centre is a large duck pond with a fountain, Canada geese, ducks, pigeons and crows. The pigeons seem to have an easy life here, helping themselves to duck bread and squirrel nuts provided by the visitors, and taking naps on the grass, unconcerned by passing people. There is a heather bed near the pond with a continuous soft cover of brilliant yellow, green, white and purple, which looks as if someone has turned a spotlight on it. Blackheath is named after the dark-coloured heather that grew on the wasteland, but this bright patch redeems that plant species from a possibly gloomy reputation.

Greenwich Park - ancient chestnut tree 1 Greenwich Park - ancient chestnut tree 2 Greenwich Park - ancient tree

36. The park has a large number of ancient trees of enormous girth. Each time you think you have discovered the biggest and oldest, a short walk will present another contender for the title. I am sure that many people are convinced they have met an ancient oak tree, but a glance at the leaves shows that most of them are chestnuts*. Their shapes and textures* are fascinating, and the swirling folds and layers of wood seem to flow down like striped lava. One cannot help but wonder how long ago it was that each of these trees started its precarious journey of growth from seedling or newly-planted cutting, and what the park, the surroundings and the daily lives of the inhabitants were like at the time. Trees and forests were the supermarket of their day, full of valuable resources. Everything in them was used to its fullest extent but in the case of this park everything belonged to the king.

* "chestnuts" Omits the first T

* "textures" The singular "texture" has the U diphthong written through the end of the stroke

Greenwich Park - "Queen Elizabeth's Oak" chestnut tree

37. The plaque reads: "Queen Elizabeth's Oak – this ancient tree known as Queen Elizabeth's Oak is thought to have been planted in the 12th century and it has been hollow for many hundreds of years. It has traditions linking it with Queen Elizabeth I, King Henry VIII and his Queen Anne Boleyn. It may also have been a lock-up for offenders against park rules. It died in the late 19th century and a strong growth of ivy supported it until it collapsed in June 1991. The English Oak alongside was planted by His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, KG, KT, Baron Greenwich, on 3rd December 1992. The tree was donated by Greenwich Historical Society to mark the 40 years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II."

38. The trunk was reputedly 6 metres or 20 feet in diameter, with a door and window cut into it, the interior paved and a rustic seat installed with room for 15 people. According to the* English Heritage National Monuments Record, the tree was marked only as a sweet chestnut on the Ordnance Survey first edition map, and the above name appeared only on the second edition of the map. The tradition of venerating oaks to enhance history has apparently replaced botanical accuracy in this case. The tree was last alive in 1878, but despite the advanced decay of the fragments, one still tends to peer into and under the remains, to see if there are signs of new growth from any surviving roots, such is the hopeful human* spirit! If any such growth did appear, it would more likely be from a seed brought there by squirrel or pigeon, as evidenced by the seedling hollies in the photo.

* Omission phrase "according (to) the". The phrase "according to" would need both full outlines

* "human" Above the line, to distinguish it from "humane"

www.thegreenwichphantom.co.uk/2007/12/queen-elizabeths-oak/ An old postcard of the dead tree still standing and held up by ivy

www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=662268&sort=4&search=all&criteria=Elizabeths%20oak&rational=q&recordsperpage=10 English Heritage description

Greenwich Park - acorns Greenwich Park - newly planted tree

39.  These acorns have accumulated at the foot of an ancient oak and will feed the squirrels. Any new trees will be those planted by the gardeners, and not by random growth from seeds. All the trees are well looked after, and replacements are planted as needed. In such a large park, the trees have plenty of space around them, giving them the maximum potential to grow to their full size and shape. The open nature of most of the planting means that the grasses survive very well right up to the trees, so that the park is entirely covered in green, with no bare patches except in the few thickets that exist. Some of the evergreen* firs in the ornamental garden do reach to the ground and in the dark interior is a thick layer of fir needles, providing a soft base for children playing and hiding inside.

* "evergreen" Insert the last vowel in this and in "overgrown" in order to distinguish

Greenwich Park - bandstand

40.  The octagonal cast-iron bandstand* is situated on the south side of Great Cross Avenue. It dates from 1891 and is a Grade II listed monument*. Sunday concerts are held during summer. On a calm summer day we could sometimes hear the faint sounds of the band at our home several streets away. Every visit to the park began with listening for any possible music coming from that direction, and, if heard, we would make our way to the bandstand instead of the flower gardens. The stand would be surrounded by a circular sea of deckchairs and an atmosphere of contented relaxation and friendliness, reminiscent of a family outing to the seaside.

* "ba(n)dstand" Optional contraction

* "monument" Can't place the U diphthong against the final halved N because here that stroke represents "-ment"

Greenwich Park - One Tree Hill viewing area Greenwich Park - View from One Tree Hill to Observatory

41. Towards the north-east corner of the park is One Tree Hill. There is more than one tree on this hill now, and the tree in the photo is doing its best to look the part, but cannot possibly be old enough to bear the title – in fact* the "One Tree" blew down in 1848. In past centuries this hill was used on public holidays for the sport of tumbling, when men and women* joined hands and all ran, and rolled, down the hill for fun, not entirely without serious injury at times. One can imagine people joining in against their better judgment, as people do when in crowds, and the ladies revealing ankles and legs at a time when their normal dress would not have permitted such indecorous sights. These games were part of the twice-yearly Greenwich Fair, which grew from a genteel* event to a crowded, rowdy and disorderly one, and which was eventually banned by the Victorians in 1857.

* Omission phrases "in (f)act"  "men (and) women"

* "genteel" See gentle/genteel on www.long-live-pitmans-shorthand.org.uk/distinguishing-outlines-list2.htm

www.gac.culture.gov.uk/work.aspx?obj=24413 Print from 1774 of the view from One Tree Hill

www.cliveaslet.com/books/the-story-of-greenwich/excerpt.php Excerpt from Clive Aslet's "The Story of Greenwich" describing Greenwich Fair

Greenwich Park - One Tree Hill bench inscription 1 Greenwich Park - bench inscription 2 (carving missing)
Greenwich Park - bench inscription 3 (carving missing) Greenwich Park - bench inscription 4
Greenwich Park - bench inscription 5 Greenwich Park - bench inscription 6
Greenwich Park - bench inscription 7 Greenwich Park - bench inscription 8
Greenwich Park - bench inscription 9 Greenwich Park - bench inscription 10

42. The semi-circular bench around the outside of the viewing area is inscribed with the following poem, although part of it is now missing due to the disintegration of some of the wood carved in 1995:

Here fair Eliza, Virgin Queen
From business free, enjoy'd
* the scene.
Here oft in pensive mood she stood
And kindly plan'd
* for Britain's good:
So record tells and this beside,
Sung ditties to the silver tide
Full worth such honours art thou still,
* of thousands, One Tree Hill.
T.N. One Tree Hill, The London Chronicle May 25-27th, 1784

* "enjoy’d" "belov'd" "plan’d" The apostrophe was used in past centuries in poems to replace the letter "e" to show that the syllable was not to be pronounced separately, in order to aid smooth reading. For belovèd you would insert the vowel after the V

Greenwich Park - drinking fountain Greenwich Park - deer trough

43. The Victorian drinking fountain was built in 1860 and would once have had a cup on a chain. The deer trough was built in 1858, on the site of the old Keeper's Cottage after it was demolished, for the red deer and fallow deer that roamed the park until 1927. The increase of motor traffic through the park and greater visitor numbers meant that they had eventually to be restricted to The Wilderness deer enclosure. The animals were introduced by Henry VIII, and the present-day remnant enjoy greater safety but less freedom in their own* corner of the park. In the past only one fence separated the deer from visitors at this viewing point and people were expected to obey the notice not to feed or touch the animals. Now there are two fences with a large gap between, to ensure both deer and people are not harmed by each other. The Wilderness is also the location of the Secret Garden Wildlife Centre, which is open one day each month, and has a glass screen where children can get a close-up view of the deer.

* "in their own" Doubling to represent "their"

Greenwich Park - Deer in The Wilderness Greenwich Park - Deer in The Wilderness, closeup

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