Old and New London, A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places.Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources. vol 6Walford, Edward
The town and parliamentary borough of Greenwich, which we now enter, lies immediately eastward of Deptford, from which parish it is separated by the river Ravensbourne. As to the origin of the name, Lambarde, in his
says that in Saxon times it was styled that is, the
and the transition from to in the termination is easy. Lambarde adds that in
it was written
to distinguish it from Deptford, which, as we have already stated, is called
in old documents. Under the name of West Greenwich it returned members to Parliament, in the reign of Elizabeth; but no fresh instance of such an honour is recorded in its subsequent history. Down to about the time of Henry V. the place was known chiefly as a fishing-village, being adapted to that use by the secure road or anchorage which the river afforded at this spot. It was a favourite station with the old Northmen, whose
was frequently encamped on the high ground southward and eastward of the town, now called Blackheath. In the reign of King Ethelred, when the Danes made an attack on , a portion of their fleet lay in the river off Greenwich, whilst the re. mainder was quartered in the Ravensbourne Creek at Deptford. It was to Greenwich that, after their raid upon Canterbury in , the Dane. brought Archbishop Alphege to their camp, where he was kept a prisoner for several months; and the foundation of the old parish church of Greenwich, which we shall presently notice, was probably intended to mark the public feeling as to the memorable event that closed his personal history. A native of England, St. Alphege was abbot of Bath, then Bishop of Winchester, in A.D. , and years later translated to the see of Canterbury. On the storming of that city by the Danes under Thurkill, in the year above mentioned, he distinguished himself by the courage with which he defended the place for days against their
| assaults. Treachery, however, then opened the gates, and Alphege, having been made prisoner, was loaded with chains, and treated with the greatest severity, in order to make him follow the example of his worthless sovereign Ethelred, and purchase an ignominious liberty with gold. Greenwich, as we have stated, at that time formed the Danish head-quarters, and hither the archbishop was conveyed. Here he was tempted by the offer of a lower rate of ransom; again and again he was urged to yield by every kind of threat and solicitation. |
was the noble Saxon's answer;
At last the patience of the heathen Danes was worn out; so day, after an imprisonment of months' duration (the --on which day his festival is still kept in the Roman Catholic Church), they sent for the archbishop to a banquet, when their blood was inflamed by wine, and on his appearance saluted him with tumultuous cries of
Calm and unmoved, Alphege gazed on the circle of infuriated men who hemmed him in, and who presently began to strike him with the flat sides of their battle-axes, and to fling at him the bones and horns of the oxen that had oeen slain for the feast. And thus he would have been slowly murdered, but for Thrum, or Guthrum, a Danish soldier, who had been converted by Alphege, and who now in mercy smote him with the edge of his weapon, when he fell dead.
writes Hone, in his
quoting from the
From the encampments of the Danes in this place may possibly be traced the names of East Coombe and West Coombe, estates on the borders of , as well as signifying a
The manor of Greenwich, called in the early records East Greenwich, as we have already seen, belonged formerly to the abbey of St. Peter at Ghent. It remained in the possession of the monks, however, but for a very short time, being seized by the Crown upon the disgrace of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. At the dissolution of the alien priories it was granted by King Henry V. to the monastery of Sheen, or Richmond. Henry VI. granted it to his uncle, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who was so pleased with the spot that he built on it a palace, extending, with its various courts and gardens, from the river to the foot of the hill on which the Observatory now stands. Upon his death it became again the property of the Crown. The royal manors of East and West Greenwich and of Deptford-le-Strond still belong to the sovereign, whose chief steward has his official residence at Macartney House, on Blackheath.
According to Lysons, in his
however, there appears to have been a royal residence here as early as the reign of Edward I., when that monarch
though by whom the palace was erected is not known. [extra_illustrations.6.166.1] dated his will from his
and the place appears to have been his favourite residence. The grant of acres of land in Greenwich, made by Henry VI. to Duke Humphrey, in , was for the purpose of enclosing it as a park. years later the duke and Eleanor, his wife, obtained a similar grant, and in it licence was given to its owners to
their manor of Greenwich, as well as
Accordingly, soon after this, Duke Humphrey commenced building the tower within the park, now the site of the Royal Observatory, which was then called [extra_illustrations.6.166.2] ; and he likewise rebuilt the palace on the spot where the west wing of the Royal Hospital-or, more properly speaking, Royal Naval College--now stands, which he named from its agreeable situation, Pleazaunce, or Placentia; but this name was not commonly used until the reign of Henry VIII. Edward IV. enlarged the park, and stocked it with deer, and then bestowed the palace as a residence upon his queen, Elizabeth Woodville. In this reign a
| royal joust or tournament was performed at Greenwich, on the occasion of the marriage of Richard, Duke of York, with Anne Mowbray. In the Lady Mary, the king's daughter, died here; she was betrothed to the King of Denmark, but died before the solemnisation of the marriage. Henry VII. having--as shown in a previous page
--committed Elizabeth, queen of Edward IV., on some frivolous pretence, to close confinement in the Abbey at , where some years afterwards she ended her days amidst poverty and solitude, the manor and appurtenances of Greenwich came into his possession. He then enlarged the palace, adding a brick front towards the riverside; finished the tower in the park, which had been commenced by Duke Humphrey; and built a convent adjoining the palace for the Order of the Grey Friars, who came to Greenwich about the latter end of the reign of Edward IV., |
The convent above mentioned, after its dissolution in the reign of Henry VIII., was re-founded by Queen Mary, but finally suppressed by Elizabeth soon after her accession.
Henry VIII. was born at Greenwich in , and baptised in the parish church by the Bishop of Exeter, Lord Privy Seal. This monarch spared no expense to render Greenwich Palace magnificent; and, perhaps from partiality to the place of his birth, he resided chiefly in it, neglecting for it the palace at Eltham, which had been the favourite residence of his ancestors. Many sumptuous banquets, revels, and solemn jousts, for which his reign was celebrated, were held at his
On the , Henry's marriage with [extra_illustrations.6.166.3] was solemnised here. Holinshed, in his
informs us how that on May-day, in ,
On other jousts were held here, as also in , , and . In the king kept his Christmas at Greenwich
and in the following year
In an account of Greenwich and Palaces, in , the writer observes:--
The following amusing account of these Christmas festivities may be appropriately quoted here from Hall's
At the Christmas festivities in was introduced the masquerade ever seen in England. The following account of it and the other ceremonies on the occasion, given in the work above quoted, may not prove uninteresting, as it affords some insight into the amusements of the period:--
At the palace here both of the daughters of Henry VIII., Mary and Elizabeth, saw the light. On the , the marriage of Mary, Queen Dowager of France (Henry's sister), with Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, was publicly solemnised in the parish church of Greenwich.
Of the many splendid receptions and sumptuous entertainments of foreign princes and ministers, that which was given here in to the French ambassadors appears to have been particularly striking; so much so, in fact, that honest old John Stow is obliged to confess that he
to describe it with sufficient eloquence. This embassy, we are told, that it might correspond with the English Court in magnificence, consisted of persons of high quality, attended by horse ; they were received with the greatest honours,
The great tilt-yard was covered over, and converted into a banqueting-room. The banquet given by Wolsey to the same personages just before was, says the annalist, a marvellously sumptuous affair; yet this at Greenwich excelled it
and no beholder had ever seen the like.
Stow further tells us,
writes Charles Mackay, in his
Here, on the following, was born, writes Miss Lucy Aikin,
Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry VIII. by his consort, Anne Boleyn. Her birth is thus quaintly but prettily recorded by the contemporary historian Hall:--
[extra_illustrations.6.169.1] following, in the midst of great pomp and ceremony, at the neighbouring church of the Grey Friars, but of which ancient edifice not a single vestige is now remaining.
In , on May-day, after a tournament, Anne Boleyn, the mother of the Princess Elizabeth, was arrested here by order of the king, who saw her drop her handkerchief, and fancied that it was meant as a signal to of her admirers. She was beheaded on the of the same month, on , as every reader of English history knows.
observes Charles Mackay,
in his work on the |
Here, in , Henry VIII.,
as Miss Lucy Aikin remarks with dry humour, was married
to his fat and ungainly consort, [extra_illustrations.6.170.1] . years later the king here entertained of the Scottish nobility, whom he had taken prisoners at Salem Moss, and gave them their liberty without ransom.
It was here that Will Sommers, the Court fool to Henry VIII., was chiefly domesticated. He used his influence with the king in a way that few Court favourites--not being
--have done before or since. He tamed the royal tyrant's ferocity, and occasionally, at least, urged him on to good and kind actions, himself giving the example by his kindness to those who came within the humble sphere of his influence and act. Armin, in his
published in , thus describes this laughing philosopher:
It is a comfort to think that Henry VIII. had at least honest and kind-hearted counsellor, even though he was a-Court fool.
Henry VIII. at period of his reign was so much attached to Greenwich Palace, that he passed more of his time there than at any of his other royal abodes. He adorned and enlarged it at considerable expense, and made it so magnificent as to cause Leland, the antiquary, to exclaim with rapture, as he gazed upon it-
Such, at least, is Hasted's translation of Leland's Latin verses. During the reign of the succeeding sovereigns, Greenwich lost that renown for gaiety which it had acquired from the festivals and constant hospitality of Henry VIII. Here his son, the boy-king, Edward VI., died on the , not without some suspicion of poison; and here Dudley sent for the Lord Mayor, and aldermen and merchants of London, and showed them a forged will, or letters patent, giving the crown to the Lady Jane Grey, who had married his son.
[extra_illustrations.6.170.2] , too, during her brief reign, was an occasional resident at the Palace of Placentia. It is recorded that on occasion of her sojourn here a very singular accident occurred. The captain of a vessel proceeding down the Thames, observing the banner of England floating from the walls, fired the customary salute in honour of royalty. By some oversight the gun was loaded, and the ball was driven through the wall into the queen's apartments, to the great terror of herself and her ladies. None of them, however, received any hurt.
With the reign of Elizabeth the glories of Greenwich revived. It was her birthplace, and the favourite residence of her unfortunate mother; and during the summer months it became, for the
| greater part of her reign, the principal seat of her Court. In the year of her accession she here reviewed a large force of companies, raised by the citizens of London in consequence of the Duke of Norfolk's conspiracy. The number of men present on this occasion was , and the proceedings included a mock fight in the park, which, we are told, |
The following is the account of the
as told by Miss Agnes Strickland, in her
While Elizabeth kept Court at her natal palace of Greenwich, she regularly celebrated the national festival on Day, with great pomp, as the Sovereign of the Order of the Garter, combining, according to the custom of the good old times, a religious service with the picturesque ordinances of this chivalric institution.
Elizabeth's chapter of the Order of the Garter was certainly held in Hall, at Greenwich; for we find that the same afternoon she went to Baynard's Castle, the Earl of Pembroke's place, and supped with him, and after supper she took boat, and was rowed up and down on the river Thames, hundreds of boats and barges rowing about her, and thousands of people thronging the banks of the river to look upon her Majesty, all rejoicing at her presence, and partaking of the music and sights on the Thames. It seems there was an aquatic festival, in honour of the welcome appearance of their new and comely liege lady on the river; for the trumpets blew, drums beat, flutes played, guns were discharged, and fireworks played off, as she moved from place to place. This continued till o'clock, when the queen departed home.
Great hospitality was exercised in the palace at Greenwich, which no stranger who had ostensible business there, from the noble to the peasant, ever visited, it is said, without being invited to either table or the other, according to his degree. No wonder that Elizabeth was a popular sovereign, and her days were called
for the way to an Englishman's heart is a good dinner.
The royal park was the scene of a good story, thus told by Miss Agnes Strickland:--
indeed, our author adds that
Holinshed relates in his
that in , at the reception of the Danish ambassadors here, there was a bull-bait, at the end of which the people were delighted with the sight of a horse with an ape on his back--a sight which, no doubt, gave birth to the sign named among those of London centuries ago, in the , the
The old annalists make constant mention of other proceedings of Elizabeth at Greenwich. interesting ceremony which has been described was that enacted on Maundy Thursday, on . The Court being then located here, the queen, according to ancient custom, washed the feet of the poor on that festival, in remembrance of our Saviour washing the feet of the apostles.
writes Agnes Strickland,
Our readers will remember that part, but part only, of the same ceremony is still annually performed by some representative of the sovereign on each Maunday Thursday, at .
In Hentzner's (), written at the close of the century, will be found a graphic account of the court of Queen Elizabeth, at Greenwich Palace, in the latter years of her reign. The writer tells us how he was admitted to the Presence Chamber, which he found hung with rich tapestry, and the floor,
[rushes]. It was a Sunday, when the attendance of visitors was greatest; and there were waiting in the hall the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, a great number of councillors of state, officers of the court, foreign ministers, noblemen, gentlemen, and ladies. At the door stood a gentleman dressed in velvet, with a gold chain, ready to introduce to the queen any person of distinction who came to wait upon her. The queen passed through the hall on her way to prayers, preceded in regular order by gentlemen, barons, earls, knights of the Garter, all richly dressed and bareheaded. Immediately before the queen came the Lord Chancellor, with the seals in a red silk purse, between officers bearing the royal sceptre and the sword of state. The queen wore a dress of white silk, bordered with pearls of the size of beans, her train borne by a marchioness. As she turned on either side, all fell on their knees. She
The ladies of the court,
In the ante-chamber, next the hall, she received petitions most graciously; and to the acclamation,
After the service in the chapel, which lasted only half an hour, the queen returned in the same state as she had entered. The table had been set
in the banquetingroom, but the queen dined in her inner and private chamber.
The German traveller is particular in describing with exact minuteness the personal appearance of the queen, who was then in her year, and
We may add here that in Walpole's
there is a curious head of Queen Elizabeth when old and haggard, done with great exactness from a coin, the die of which was broken. A striking feature in the queen's face was her high nose, which is not justly represented in many pictures and prints of her. She was notoriously vain of her personal charms, and, affirming that shadows were unnatural in painting, she ordered artist, Isaac Oliver, to paint her without any. There are engravings of her Majesty after this artist, by Vertue, and , a whole length, by Crispin de Pass, who published portraits of illustrious personages of this kingdom during the century.
Greenwich Palace was, as we have just seen, much mixed up with the domestic life of Queen Elizabeth; but it was not all sunshine with her, as the following episode, told by Miss Agnes Strickland, will show:--
On the return of Sir Walter Raleigh to England, with a high reputation for courage and discretion, after successfully quelling the disturbances of the Desmonds, in Munster, he was introduced to Queen Elizabeth at Greenwich Palace, and soon obtained a prominent position in the Court. His advancement is said to have been greatly promoted by an almost fantastic display of gallantry, which he made on occasion before the queen. He was, it is stated by some historians,
The grounds of Saye's Court have been fixed upon by some writers as the scene of this little episode; others, however, state that Raleigh placed his cloak on the landing-stage opposite the palace at Greenwich on occasion when her Majesty alighted from her barge, the customary floor-cloth having by some oversight been forgotten.
The antiquarian reader will not have forgotten the fact that ladies, when as yet coaches had not been invented and introduced into England, were accustomed to make their journeys on horseback, seated on pillions behind some relative or servingman. In this way Queen Elizabeth, when she went up to London from her palace at Greenwich, used to seat herself behind her Lord Chancellor or Chamberlain.
In James I. settled Greenwich Palace and Park on his queen, Anne of Denmark, who forthwith rebuilt with brick the garden front of the palace, and laid the foundation of a building near the park, called the
in which the governor of Greenwich Hospital afterwards resided, and which now forms the central building of the Royal Naval Schools. In the following year the Princess Mary, daughter of James I., was christened at Greenwich with great solemnity.
Charles I. resided much at Greenwich previous to the breaking out of the civil war; and Henrietta Maria so
the house which Anne of Denmark had begun, that, as Philipott, the IKentish historian, wrote,
| Jones was employed as the architect to superintend the work carried on in the building, and it was completed in . Rubens was frequently in attendance on the Court of Charles at Greenwich; and it is stated that Queen Henrietta was anxious to form a cabinet of pictures here, and to have the ceilings and walls of her oratory and other rooms painted by Jordaens or Rubens, and that negotiations were entered into with those painters for the purpose, but pecuniary or political difficulties intervened. Most of the ceilings in the palace were subsequently painted for Charles I. by Gentileschi. Some idea of the general external appearance of the palace at this time may be obtained from what is called |
printed in ; it is to be seen among the etchings of Hollar, in a few choice collections. It was originally dedicated to Queen Henrietta Maria; and it is said that Hollar worked this plate for a publisher for ! The latter, finding the queen's unpopularity to interfere with the sale of the plate, induced Hollar to erase the dedication, and to substitute in its place a copy of verses which are found in some impressions. In the foreground is the observatory hill and park, with ladies promenading,
and in the distance we see the parish church, and the shipping on the river. The palace, by the river-side, appears as an irregular Gothic structure with towers. In the middle distance stands a more modern mansion, apparently in the middle of a corn-field. As already mentioned by us, over the buttery there formerly stood rude wooden figures, known as |
they are now in the .
King Charles left Greenwich palace with the fatal resolution of taking his journey northward, and the turbulent state of the times prevented him from again visiting it. In the night of the , companies of foot and a troop of horse were sent by the Parliament to search the town and palace of Greenwich for concealed arms; but, says Lysons,
On the king's death, in , the palace passed out of the royal keeping. In , the Commonwealth requiring funds for their navy, the resolved
| A survey and valuation of them was ordered to be made, just as had been done in the case of , and finally an ordinance was passed for carrying the sale into execution. Particulars were accordingly made out of the |
and other smaller premises belonging to the palace, which were sold, but no further proceedings as to the rest of the estate were taken at this time. John Evelyn, in his
under date of , writes:
In , when the Crown lands were sold, Greenwich was reserved, and eventually it was appropriated to the Lord Protector as a residence. On the restoration of Charles II., in , it reverted to the Crown, with the other royal demesnes. The king, finding the old palace greatly decayed by time, and the want of necessary repairs during the Commonwealth, ordered it to be taken down, and a new palace was commenced in its place. wing of this new palace was completed at a cost of , and now forms, with additions, the west wing of the present edifice. Sir John Denham, the poet, was at that time the royal surveyor, or official architect; but as he knew little of building practically, he employed Webb, the son-in-law of Inigo Jones, from whose papers his designs are said to have been made. Evelyn evidently did not think much of Sir John's qualifications as an architect, for he writes in his
under date of :
writes Evelyn, under date of ,
were, he does not tell us; but probably they were in accordance with those of his brother
Samuel Pepys, who, on -, writes:
On the of the following year, Pepys writes:
A few years later-viz., in -Pepys, after recording a visit paid to him by
and his own visit subsequently to Woolwich, goes on to tell us how that he returned
The widowed Queen of Charles I., Henrietta Maria, spent several months at Greenwich after the restoration of her son; bonfires were lit to greet her on her arrival here. She continued to keep her Court in England till , when she finally embarked for France. She died at Colombe, near Paris, in ; and her son, James II., says of her that
Notwithstanding the apparent eagerness of King Charles II., at , for the construction of the palace and the improvements of the grounds, he seems to have given up the idea of continuing the work after the completion of the wing mentioned above, and nothing further was done to the building either by him or his successor to the crown. As William III. divided his time between Ken sington and , Greenwich was no longer thought of as a royal residence; but Queen Mary conceived even a nobler use for the then unfinished building. Charles II. had, in , laid the foundation of the hospital at for disabled soldiers; but this was only completed by William and Mary in . Mary, we are told, thought there should be a similar hospital for disabled seamen.
As such we shall deal with it in the foilowing chapter.
[extra_illustrations.6.165.1] Great Seal of Henry IV
[extra_illustrations.6.165.2] Tomb of Henry IV
[extra_illustrations.6.166.1] Henry IV.
[extra_illustrations.6.166.2] Greenwich Castle
 See ante, p. 119.
[extra_illustrations.6.166.3] Catherine of Arragon
[extra_illustrations.6.169.1] The Princess was baptised on the Wednesday
[extra_illustrations.6.170.1] Anne of Cleves
 See Spectator, No. 28, April 2, 1711.
 See Vol. III., p. 368.
 See Vol. II., p. 87.
 See Vol. IV., p. 380.