We begin the week with a visit to Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum.
The exhibit within is entitled 'Power, Pageantry and The Thames,' and focuses on the ways in which the Thames River has impacted, supported, and represented London over the last 500 years. I really enjoyed this exhibit, as it blended the history and progression of the river with the history and progression of the royal family. They had some great artifacts (which we were unfortunately unable to photograph) and I learned a lot about the growth of the power of London.
Two of the coolest things in the exhibit:
- Anne Boleyn's prayer book, which included a message to King Henry VIII: 'Be daly prove you shall me fynde/To be to you both lovynge and kynde'
- John Snow's On the Mode of Communication of Cholera which published his findings about the spread of cholera during the outbreak in the 1850s
- The Thames was considered 'London's grandest street.'
- By 1512, all of England's principal royal palaces were within reach of the Thames- the river served as a way to connect them all- but London Bridge was the only way of crossing the river
- Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, the Thames was used as a stage to display royal power
- The Greenwich Royal Hospital for Seamen was built on the Thames riverbank in 1696 and was designed by Christopher Wren, the same architect who designed St. Paul's Cathedral and a multitude of other locations. It was built on the site of Greenwich Palace, which was the birthplace of Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I
- By the 18th century, the Thames was used to provide both public recreation, as well as private entertainment
- The 19th century witnessed a transformation of the river as more bridges and tunnels were added the Palace of Westminster was rebuilt after it burned in 1834, and sewers were installed to rid the city of 'The Great Stink.'
- The Thames linked London to the 'wider world,' serving as the site of royal departures, as well as arrivals- Princess Alexandra of Denmark arrived via the Thames before her wedding to Prince Albert
And now for a wonderful surprise- today is a double entry! Hooray!
In addition to the National Maritime Museum, I visited the museum on the Cutty Sark, the last remaining tea clipper in the world.
- A clipper is a narrow ship designed to move 'at a clip,' or to move quickly through the water. The Cutty Sark set the record for fastest transport from Sydney to London in 1885- 73 days!
- A cutty sark, which is, by definition, a short undergarment for women, is also the nickname of the witch in the poem 'Tam o'Shanter' by Robert Burns. The figurehead was created to depict this character.
- The underside of the ship was covered with metal plates to prevent barnacles from attaching.
- The Cutty Sark made its first tea voyage to China in 1870. Although it was originally meant to trnasport tea, in later years it transported a number of other cargoes, including wool.
- It was sold to the Portuguese and renamed Ferriera in 1895, but was bought back and named the Cutty Sark again in 1922.
- The Cutty Sark has been permanently located in Greenwich since 1954, after the Duke of Edinburgh help to support the formation of The Cutty Sark Society.
- Queen Elizabeth II opened the ship to the public in 1957.
- Renovations on the ship began in 2006 to strengthen the framework of the boat, but was halted by a fire in 2007. The ship reopened to the public in April of this year and, remarkably, it was once again Queen Elizabeth II who christened the opening.