Just a short ride along the Thames is Greenwich. Iconic sites of London could be seen from the nearly empty clipper this past Spring. The HMS Belfast from World War II, sits majestically waiting for all to see, against the background of Tower Bridge. The Tower of London sits along the Thames, holding treasures of the Queen, and secrets of the past. The bright green grass and blossoming flowers, with magpies courting between the trees, made for a picturesque scene, as I sat foot on the bank of the Old Royal Naval College. With a ticket in hand to see where Admiral Horatio Nelson lay in state after the loss of his life in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar, I walked into a place that transported me back in time. The Painted Hall has undergone some restoration in recent years. There were large benches where one could lay back and see the magnificence of the ceiling above.
The Old Royal Naval College was built as a hospital for those who served on the sea. Christopher Wren who designed many buildings in London after the great fire of 1666, to include St Paul’s Cathedral, was the architect. As I walked toward the painted rooms, I was drawn into a church service about to begin. Later I would learn it was the site of the second wedding in “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” It has been the site for many movies and shows; the “Poldark” series being another of my favorites here. The money the entertainment industry pays, helps with the upkeep. In between the church and the Painted Rooms, is a bowling alley used by the seamen, and in the same room there is a windowsill carved out from the sharpening of knives used during surgeries. The docent said the place is haunted as she smiled.
On the property is the Maritime museum and the birthplace of Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Both places are free to visit. I walked up the hill to see the Royal Observatory, and the Prime Meridian. The view of London and the sites below were amazing. Families were enjoying the nice day despite the occasionally mist of rain. I walked into town for a meat ale pie and mash potato’s for only the equivalent of $5. It was delicious, and warming on the cool day. I made my way back to the clipper for the return to the pier at Westminster with more wonderful memories of another part of London.