On The Greenwich Road, 1827
Artist: Scharf, George senior
This watercolour depicts an inn found on the Greenwich Road.
The town of Greenwich derives its name from Old English, meaning 'green harbour' or 'port'. It became popular in the 16th century, when Henry VIII holidayed there, and its popularity with royalty and gentry increased during the reign of Elizabeth I, who quarantined herself from the Black Death in the Queen's Palace in Greenwich Park. Adjacent to the park lies the Royal Naval College, a superb Baroque pile designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The site was formerly the Greenwich Hospital, established in 1694 by Royal Charter for the support of seamen and their dependants. The hospital remained in operation until 1869 when it became a training centre for the Royal Navy. King William Court possesses one of the greatest painted halls in Europe. Sir James Thornhill was commisioned to paint the hall, which took 19 years to complete. It is said that the artist was not entirely happy about the late payment for this monumental task, and has pictured himself on one of the walls holding out his open hand to the King.
Greenwich is known internationally as the home of the Royal Observatory, site of the Prime Meridian Line and GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). It was founded in 1675 by Charles II and is the official starting point for each new day, year and millenium.