Our Tudor past and royal connections

A potted history of Greenwich's royal past

Greenwich became a Royal Borough in 2012. Here are some of our borough's royal births, deaths, marriages, establishments and connections in a timeline through the ages.

Royal births at Greenwich


  • 1491 Henry VIII
  • 1499 Edward
  • 1516 Mary
  • 1533 Elizabeth
  • 1536 Ann Boleyn miscarried


  • 1605 Mary
  • 1606 Sophia

Births at Eltham

  • 1316 John


  • 1480 Catherine and Bridget, 6th and 7th daughters of Edward IV

Marriages at Eltham

  • 1403 Henry IV married by proxy to Joan of Navatle

Marriages at Greenwich

  • 1509 Henry VIII to Katherine of Aragon
  • 1540 Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves

Deaths at Greenwich

  • 1553 Edward VI

Establishment timelines

Royal Dockyards

  • 1512 Woolwich founded by Henry VIII. Closed 1 October 1869
  • 1513 Deptford founded by Henry VIII. Closed 1869
  • 1843 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert embarked from Woolwich Dockyard to Scotland
  • 1844 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert embarked from Woolwich Dockyard to Scotland
  • 1841 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert present at the launch of the Trafalgar
  • 1854 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert present at the launch of the Royal Albert.

Royal Naval College, formally Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich

  • 1694 Hospital founded by William and Mary as a charity for Royal Naval pensioners. Closed 1869
  • 1873 buildings occupied by Royal Naval College (Students include present Duke of Edinburgh and York)
  • 1997 College closed and buildings now a campus of the University of Greenwich.

Royal Observatory

  • Founded by Charles II 1676. Astronomers Royal have included Flamstead, Halley and Airy.

Greenwich Park

  • 1433 Park enclosed by Humphrey Duke of Gloucester
  • 1447 Park became property of the Crown on Humphrey's death
  • 1510 Park stocked with deer for Henry VIII
  • 1661-1665 Park landscaped for Charles II
  • c.1730-1857 notorious Greenwich Fair held in the park.

Royal Patronage

  • Cutty Sark - Duke of Edinburgh
  • National Maritime Museum - Duke of Edinburgh/Duke of York
  • Firepower - The Queen
  • Trinity College - Duke of Kent

Knighthoods awarded in Greenwich

  • 1581 Elizabeth I knighted Sir Francis Drake on board the Golden Hind at Deptford Dockyard
  • 1967 Elizabeth II used same sword to knight Sir Francis Chichester at Greenwich
  • 1714 George I knighted Sir John Vanbrugh, surveyor to the Royal Hospital, and Sir William Sanderson, Captain of the Peregrine.

Horatio Nelson and Greenwich

  • 1797 Stayed at Royal Hospital for Seamen to have his portrait painted by Lemuel Abbott
  • 1806 Lay in state at the Royal Hospital for Seamen for four days before burial at St Pauls.

Notable buildings

Royal Blackheath Golf Club

  • Founded 1716
  • 1901 granted the use of the word 'royal' in their title.

Charlton House

  • 1607 Built by Adam Newton, tutor to Henry Prince of Wales
  • 1887 Visited by Princess Louise and husband Marquis of Lorne to open charity bazaar.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital

  • 1978 Opened by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Royal Arsenal, Woolwich

  • 1696 Fireworks 'as well as for war as triumph' began to be manufactured at Tower Place, Woolwich
  • 1697 New Carriage Yard for the repair of old gun carriages
  • 1717 Royal Brass Foundry for the casting of guns
  • 1773 George III visited site
  • 1805 On his second visit he suggested name be changed from The Warren to The Arsenal, from then on known as the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich
  • 1914-1918 Reached its peak employing close to 80,000 people
  • 1967 Most activity on site ceased
  • 1994 MOD vacated site.

Royal Artillery

  • Founded 1716
  • First barracks 1720 on the Royal Arsenal site
  • New barracks built on Woolwich Common 1781-1802
  • Royal Artillery relocated to Larkhill after 300 years in Woolwich.

Royal Herbert Hospital

  • Opened 1865
  • Granted Royal status in 1900 when Queen Victoria visited soldiers from the Boer War
  • Closed 1975, replaced by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Royal Hospital Schools

  • 1806 Queens House used by Royal Naval Asylum, a school for the sons and daughters of Seamen
  • 1807-1816 East and west wings added by Daniel Asher Alexander
  • 1933 School moved to Suffolk
  • 1937 Buildings opened as National Maritime Museum by George VI. Three queens attended - Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and the future Queen Elizabeth II.

Royal Military Academy

  • Founded 1741 in the Royal Arsenal
  • Moved to Woolwich Common 1806
  • Most famous cadets probably Lord Kitchener and General Gordon of Khartoum.

Royal Armoury

  • c.1515 Founded by Henry VIII at Greenwich
  • 1519-1574 Erasmus Kirkener, Master Armourer, made, among other things, the famous suit of jousting armour for Henry VIII which still survives
  • By 1660 disbanded.

Royal Charters

  • 918 Elfridce (Elstrudis) gives Lewisham with Greenwich, Woolwich, Mottingham and Coomb to the Abbey of St Peter at Ghent
  • 964 Confirmed by Edgar
  • 1044 Charter of Edward the Confessor reaffirming grant to Ghent
  • 1081 Charter of William the Conqueror reaffirming grant to Ghent
  • c.1120 Charter of Henry I reaffirming grant to Ghent
  • c.1165 Charter of Henry II reaffirming grant to Ghent
  • 1209 Charter of King John reaffirming grant to Ghent.

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