Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Greenwich and the Maritime Museum

August 21, 2009 · No Comments

I love UNESCO world heritage sites and am thrilled to be able to count Maritime Greenwich among those I have visited!  I honestly didn’t know what to expect before going to Greenwich this morning.  I knew that there was an observatory, which meant that there was at least one really big hill, and the Prime Meridian, which my mother had requested I take a video of myself dancing on (yes, I did and it’s a long story). 

What struck me first at the observatory was the practical elegance of the buildings.  The original observatory, designed by Christopher Wren, had a beautifully decorated dome that was perfect for viewing the sky, but it also had the necessary living quarters for the Royal Astronomer.  My favorite exhibit in the observatory museum was of the clocks.  I found it really interesting to see the progress of clocks over time and the timepieces used in specific jobs to this day (ex. the diver watch and the Underground/Bus driver clock).  I didn’t know that wristwatches were seen as feminine before WWI, but were found to be more practical in the trenches, causing men to adapt them. 

After lunch, Chelsea and I headed over to the Maritime Museum and spent a fair bit of time wandering around the exhibits.  In one of the rooms there was a really neat display that showed Butler’s Wharf (which we passed on the boat) as it was in 1937 and then again in 1997.  It was very clear to see the development that happened over that 60 year span.  In 1937 it was a heavily worked dock and warehouse area, while in 1997 it had been converted to luxury apartments.  That display illustrated the expansion of the upper-middle class city into what had been a very working class area. 

One of the other rooms in the Maritime Museum that I found fascinating was the reconstructed stained glass from the Baltic Club.  The Baltic Club was a high-end club in the center of London and it was bombed in 1992. This exhibit showed the damage that had been done to the windows and what the conservationists had to do in order to restore them to their original state. 

Greenwich Market was a curious place.  It had just about everyone and everything you can think of: different languages being spoken,  ethnic crafts, clocks made out of vinyl records, jewelry, lots of soap/incense places, and, of course, food.  It didn’t take me too long to get through the market, but it was very charming.  After the market, Chelsea and I, after much searching and walking, managed to find a 188 bus stop that was not closed for construction. Neither of us had really been on a bus in London, so we figured it was as good a time as any to figure out the system.  A very long bus ride later, we got the Russell Square and made our way back to the hotel.

Categories: Kelley · Markets · Museums
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