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Maritime Greenwich: A World Heritage Site

Other buildings of interest
 

The Ranger's House and Wernher Collection

The Rangers House, Greenwich.
View full size imageThe Rangers House in Greenwich Park, 1781. © NMM
The Ranger's House, at the top of Croom's Hill on the west of the Park, was built about 1700–20 for Captain (later Admiral) Francis Hosier. He was commemorated in the 18th-century political ballad 'Admiral Hosier's Ghost' after he died of fever on the Spanish Main.

The House's most famous occupants were:

  • the author, Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, who lived there 1749–73
  • Field Marshal Sir Garnet Wolseley (1833–1913), when he was Ranger of Greenwich Park.

Chesterfield added the fine gallery wing by Isaac Ware on the south side, around 1750, later matched by one on the north.

The Ranger's House is run by English Heritage. It is now home to the fabulous Wernher Collection of pictures, furniture, sculpture and other works of art, many from the Renaissance period. This was put together around 1900 by the diamond magnate Sir Julius Wernher.

Vanbrugh Castle, Maze Hill and Park Vista

Bastile House, Greenwich.
View full size imageVanbrugh Castle, Greenwich. © NMM
Vanbrugh Castle, on Maze Hill, to the east of the Park, was built from 1718 by the playwright and architect Sir John Vanbrugh. He lived there after he became Surveyor of Greeenwich Hospital in succession to Sir Christopher Wren.

Sir John Vanbrugh Knt. Comptroller of His Majties Works & Clarenceux King of Arms OB: 26 March 1726 Aet: 60.
View full size imageSir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726). © NMM

This castle-style mansion is the only survivor of a group that Vanbrugh built around it for other members of his family. It now forms several private houses and is not open to the public.

Vanbrugh, who died in London, not at Greenwich, wrote a famous epitaph on himself:


'Lie heavy on him earth, for he
Laid many heavy loads on thee.'

There are some attractive late-17th and early 18th-century houses on the east side of Maze Hill below the Castle. (But there is no 'maze' - this is a version of 'May's Hill'.)

On the west side, backing on to the Park, house numbers 32-40 were originally the Infirmary of the Royal Naval Asylum, which was in the Queen's House from 1806. They stand on the original Greenwich Hospital burial ground (1707–49).

Park Vista, which connects Maze Hill to the National Maritime Museum, also includes early and late-18th-century houses. The wall along much of its length also conceals the former enclosed 'dwarf orchard' of the Queen's House, which is now a wildlife area.

The Chantry (no. 35 Park Vista, a private house) features the restored arms of Henry VIII on what was originally a water tank for the Tudor Palace of Greenwich. The carved wreath on the façade of St Alfege Rectory (no. 33, built in 1829) is also salvage from the Palace.

Croom's Hill

Crooms Hill.
View full size imageCroom's Hill in Greenwich. © NMM
Croom's Hill, on the west side of the Park, is one of the best-preserved historic streets in London.

  • Macartney Lodge, on the Park side at the top, was the home of Major-General James Wolfe, killed at the siege of Quebec in 1759. He is buried in St Alfege Church and his statue stands in the park by the Royal Observatory.
  • The adjacent 18th-century White House was once the home of the seventh Astronomer Royal (1835-81), Sir George Biddell Airy, 'founder of Greenwich Time'.
  • The Manor House, opposite and just below it, is an exceptional private house of around 1679, originally built for a naval officer.
  • Brick-gabled Heath Gate House (no. 66) was completed even before the Queen's House, in about 1630.
  • The  'Gothic revival' Roman Catholic parish church, Our Lady Star of the Sea (1851), is an early building by William Wardell – later an important government architect in Australia. The architect John James, who completed the tower of St Alfege, built Park Hall just below this in 1724.

Greenwich Theatre.
View full size imageGreenwich Theatre. © NMM

  • The walled Grange, with its summer house (1672) on Croom's Hill, overlooks the Park. It is another fine house of about 1665, built for Sir William Hooker, Lord Mayor of London. A number of those below it as far as the Fan Museum and Greenwich Theatre have late-17th or 18th-century facades, some hiding earlier structures.
  • On the corner of Nevada Street (before 1697–99 the main road east out of Greenwich) stands the arched entrance of 'The Spread Eagle', formerly the local coaching inn (c. 1780).

The Fan Museum

This private museum, in one of a row of fine town houses built in 1721, is the only one in the world dedicated to the history of fans. It contains an exceptional collection, with a regular programme of exhibitions and other events.

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