Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

English/British History in Greenwich

August 21, 2009 · 1 Comment

Since I think everyone seemed to enjoy the same things about the first half of today, I thought I’d talk about what I did after we left lunch. Brandon, Grace, Henry and I went to the National Maritime Museum (as did a few others, I believe). It was a fairly big museum with a great variety of exhibits.
Among them was an exhibit on the Atlantic in British maritime history, which covered the slave trade and the American colonies, among other things. Another was on art with British ships and naval battles as its subject. A third was on passenger ships since the early twentieth century which, though undeniably is a part of British maritime history, was less interesting to me. The most important thing I noticed about the museum was how almost all of its patrons were British and not tourists, which was nice to see. I wonder if this is because Brits like to look back upon the naval and trade prowess of their past, despite its negative connotations of war and colonialism, as something unique to Britain and something to be proud of still today.
We then visited, as well as others did I’m sure, the Painted Hall and the Chapel. The Painted Hall, which commemorates and glorifies William and Mary’s 1689 ascension to the throne, was evocative of the Christopher Wren/Isaac Newton/Early Georgian era we’d been seeing bits and pieces of all day. The Painted Hall has grandeur, beauty, innovative architecture, represents England’s growing financial and political power, and throws in some anti-Catholic propaganda, too.
The Naval Chapel was not nearly as ornate and boastful, but was still beautiful. It’s a reminder of the centrality of the Navy in British life, and of the gratitude the British have had and continue to have for those who’ve served their country.

Categories: Aidan
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