Greenwich

Royal institutions in Greenwich

The Royal Hospital for Seamen

Sir Christopher Wren designed the Royal Hospital, which opened in 1694. The hospital housed elderly and injured seamen.

As medicine advanced, and alternatives became available, the need for the hospital decreased and it closed in 1869.

In 1873, the Royal Naval College from Portsmouth occupied the building. The college closed in 1997, and is now a campus of the University of Greenwich.

Find out more about the Royal Hospital for Seamen (Old Royal Naval College website)

The Royal Observatory

King Charles II commissioned the Royal Observatory to help with navigation, time keeping and creating maps.

The first Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, laid the foundation stone in August 1675 and it opened in July 1676.

Due to pollution, it moved to Sussex but not before Greenwich was chosen as the site of the Prime Meridian of a time zone system for the whole world. This system is now used not only on land, sea and air but in space as well.

Find out more about the Royal Observatory (Royal Museums Greenwich website)

The Royal Dockyard

The Royal Dockyard at Woolwich opened in 1512 by Henry VIII to strengthen the English Navy. The first ship was built in 1514, and many more were built between the 16th and 19th centuries. Low waters at Woolwich became a regular issue and the dockyard closed in October 1869.

Royal Naval Dockyards (Royal Museums Greenwich website)

Royal Armoury

George III named the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich in 1805. Before that, it had been home to the Gun Depot during the time of Elizabeth I. In 1695 a laboratory was established, and a foundry for casting brass guns was built in 1716. It closed in 1967 as ammunition technology improved.

Find out more about the Royal Artillery (Wikipedia website)

Royal Military Academy

The Royal Military Academy at Woolwich opened in 1741 at the Royal Arsenal. The need for more space led to a move to large new buildings on Woolwich Common in 1806. Cadets learned mathematics, fortifications, French, chemistry, drawing and dancing.

In 1945, the academy transferred to Sandhurst to merge with the academy there. After a period of use by the Royal Artillery Garrison, the academy complex at Woolwich became housing in 2008.

Find out more about the Royal Military Academy (Wikipedia website)

The Royal Herbert Hospital

Lord Sidney Herbert, Secretary at War, built this hospital at Woolwich on the western slope of Shooters Hill. The hospital was constructed for the Woolwich Garrison, in response to the campaign for better care for soldiers led by Florence Nightingale.

Find out more about the Royal Herbert Hospital (Royal Herbert Pavilions website)