Walk 21 - Greenwich - Royal Homes and Quirky Places in the Park

A walk around some interesting historical places in Greenwich. Zoom the map in to look in more detail. If viewing on a phone, drag two fingers to move around the screen. Pinch or spread with two fingers to adjust the zoom.  


Greenwich is an interesting place, full of things of historical interest. This walk looks at fifteen of them, dating from the Roman occupation to the 18th Century, traveling from the shore of the river Thames, towards Blackheath, through Greenwich Park.

The walk is designed to be used directly from your phone. 

There are links within the text to more information about things that are discussed in the walk. You can follow these up later if you wish. 

In the walk: 
- Directions are shown in black italic text.
- History notes are shown in blue text.
- Further info. links are shown in brown text.



The walk starts at the Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich DLR station. 

Leave the station. In the covered walkway that you emerge into, walk past the Gate Clock pub and emerge on to Creek Road.

Cross over Creek Road and turn left. Continue to the junction with Greenwich Church Street. Turn right and walk along until you reach St. Alphage Church on the right hand side of the road.


St Alfege was an Archbishop of Canterbury, taken hostage by Danish warriors in 1012. The Danes tried to ransom him for an enormous 3,000 gold marks, but St Alfege refused to be ransomed, as it would result in his people starving. So, Alfege was murdered by the Danes, here in Greenwich. The murder led to the building and naming of the first church here.

The original church was rebuilt in the 13th century, and again in 1718 with the present building, which was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor. Hawksmoor was a leading architect in the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries. Famous for his use of the English Baroque style of architecture, Hawksmoor was a contemporary of other famous architects Christopher Wren and John Vanbrugh. Some interesting features of the design are, on the eastern front (towards the street) Hawksmoor uses a Tuscan style of column, with a central arch which cuts through, at the top, into the pediment. Pilasters (flat, rectangular columns) are used to run around the rest of the outside of the church.

Southeast View of Saint Alfege's Church, Greenwich Thanks to Doyle of London CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 InternationalIMAGE ABOVE by Doyle of London - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
South-east View of St Alfege Church, Greenwich - Figures Removed

Famous people buried in the church include General Wolfe, chiefly remembered now for his victory in 1759 over the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in Quebec. Wolfe lived in Greenwich in his later years. Also, famous composer (and an organist at St Alfege Church) Thomas Tallis is buried beneath the chancel.

St Alfege Church was seriously damaged in the Second World War. It was restored after the war and rededicated in 1953.


Monday: Closed (except Bank Holidays)
Tuesday: 11am - 4pm
Wednesday: 11am - 4pm
Thursday: 11am - 4pm Free recital: 1.05pm
Friday: 11am - 4pm
Saturday: 11am - 4pm Free recital: 1.05pm
Sunday: 11.15am - 4pm Service: 10am (all welcome)
The main entrance is the north doors nearest to Greggs

Cross over Greenwich Church Street outside of St. Alfege Church and turn left. Continue along Greenwich Church Street. 

Cross over College Approach and continue on towards the glass dome of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel entrance. The Cutty Sark is on your right.


Built in Dumbarton, Scotland in 1869, the Cutty Sark was initially designed as a "Tea Clipper",  for use in the China tea trade. Tea imports were expensive, and initially heavily taxed, but this lead to smuggling, so taxes on tea were reduced to combat this. So, by the early 19th century ordinary working families were able to afford to drink tea. 

There was a Victorian fashion for buying and drinking newly unloaded tea from the docks in London. Tea 'races' developed between tea importers, to get shipments of new teas back to London as quickly as possible, so the Cutty Sark was designed and built to be fast.

IMAGE ABOVE by Ethan Doyle White - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Cutty Sark's maiden voyage to Shanghai started from London on 15 February 1870.

Over the following years, the Cutty Sark was used for a number of other different purposes, including:

- Between 1883 and 1895 it was used as a cargo ship, transporting wool from Australia.

- Between 1895 and 1922 the Cutty Sark was sold off to a Portuguese company to do a number of haulage tasks and it was renamed the 'Ferreira'

- In 1922 the Cutty Sark was bought to Falmouth for repairs. A local retired sea captain, Wilfred Dowman, spotted and recognised it. He bought it, and it was used as a cadet training ship.

- After the World War II  the ship fell into disrepair. Frank Carr, the Director of the National Maritime Museum, formed the Cutty Sark Preservation Society. This managed to raise public funds for a restoration, and found it a new home in Greenwich.

- After the millennium, the Cutty Sark had a second restoration to bring it to its present state, and it reopened in 2012.

Facing the river, turn right and walk along the Thames Path. Pass the Old Naval College buildings on your right.

Continue along the Thames Path until you get to the Greenwich Palace Steps. 

IMAGE ABOVE The Greenwich Palace Steps


Behind the fence here is the site of The Palace of Placentia, also called Greenwich Palace, now the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College, which contains The Painted Hall, painted by Sir James Thornhill in the early 18th century.

Leading down to the river, through a metal arch, you can see the Greenwich Palace Steps. Also, if the tide is out and you can see the edge of the river bed, 50 metres west of the steps are lines of wooden stakes sticking up. These are the remains of a Tudor jetty, for boarding boats from the palace.

The History of the Palace 

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, while he was Lord Protector to Henry VI before he was old enough to rule, started building a palace here  in 1433 under the name Bella Court.  In 1447, Humphrey fell out of favour and was arrested for high treason. Humphrey died in prison. This is thought likely that his death was due to a stroke, although it was rumoured at the time that he was murdered.

After Humphrey's death, Margaret of Anjou took over Bella Court, renaming it the Palace of Placentia, meaning 'pleasant place'. In 1485, Edward IV gave some land and property adjacent to the palace for the foundation of a friary by the Observant Friars (a branch of the Franciscans).

Henry VII rebuilt the palace between 1498 and 1504, with a design based around three large courtyards. It remained a principal royal palace for the next two centuries.

The palace was the birthplace of Henry VIII in 1491. After Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Placentia became the birthplace of Mary I in 1516.

After Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn, his daughter, later to become Elizabeth I, was born at Placentia in 1533. Henry also married Anne of Cleves there in 1540. Both Queen Mary I and Elizabeth I lived at Placentia during the sixteenth century.

The Queen's House was designed by Inigo Jones, and erected just to the south of the palace, straddling the London to Dover Road. Initially built for Anne of Denmark (wife of James I), although she died before it was finished. When Charles I became King, he had it finished for his wife, Henrietta Maria. The Queen's House part of the palace still remains, and we will be visiting it later. 

The Palace of Placentia fell into disrepair during the English Civil War. In 1660, when Charles II had been restored to the throne, he decided to rebuild the palace, engaging John Webb as the architect for a new King's House. The only section of the new building to be completed was the east range of the present King Charles Court. Standing at the Palace Steps facing away from the river, this is the first building on the right. The King Charles Court building was never occupied as a royal residence. Most of the rest of the palace was demolished, and the site remained empty until construction of the Greenwich Hospital began in 1692.

IMAGE ABOVE: Plaque to Charles II on the East Range of the King Charles Court

In 1692 the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich was created on the site on by order of Queen Mary II, who had been inspired by the sight of wounded sailors returning from the Battle of La Hougue. Architectural highlights of the building include the Chapel and the Painted Hall, which can still be viewed. The Painted Hall was painted between 1707 and 1726 by Sir James Thornhill. The first Pensioners arrived at Greenwich Hospital in 1705. By the end of the century there were more than 2,000 pensioners living there.The hospital closed in 1869 and the buried remains of thousands of sailors and officers were removed from the hospital site in 1875 and re-interred in East Greenwich Pleasaunce, a park and naval cemetery about 1.7km to the east of here. The Hospital was closed in 1869.

In 1873, four years after the hospital closed, the buildings were converted to a training establishment for the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy finally left the College in 1998 when the site passed into the hands of the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College. Some of the buildings are now used by the University of Greenwich.

Continue along the Thames Path until it turns right away from the river and passes The Trafalgar Tavern, which has a statue of Admiral Lord Nelson outside it. Past the Tavern, the path turns into Park Row. Continue along it until you get to the junction with Romney Road. 

Cross Romney Road at the crossing and continue up Park Row. After 50 metres, on the right are gates to The Queen’s House. If it is between 10.00am - 5pm when you get here, the Queen's House will be open. Entrance is free.

There is a security person there who can advise you about access.

Information about visiting The Queen’s House

 When you have looked around the Queen's House, return to this gate.


As mentioned earlier, the Queen's House was designed by Inigo Jones and built between 1616 and 1635. It was initially built for Anne of Denmark (wife of James I), but she died before it was finished. When James' son Charles I became King, he then had it finished for his wife, Henrietta Maria. 

ABOVE - Creative Commons Image - Thanks to © Bill Bertram 2006, CC-BY-2.5

The Queen's House was commissioned as a place to display artworks that the Queens had accumulated.

Queen's House is a very important building in British architectural history, as it was the first classical or Palladian building to be constructed in the country. It was designed by Inigo Jones as his first major commission after coming back from a "grand tour" of Italy looking at Roman, Renaissance, and Palladian architecture. Inigo Jones is credited with the introduction of Palladianism into Britain with his design of the Queen's House, closely followed by his design for the Banqueting Hall, now in Whitehall.

After its brief use as a home for Royalty, the Queen's House was renovated and used by the Royal Hospital for Seamen. The Queens House is both a Grade I listed building and also a scheduled monument.

From the Queen’s House gate on Park Row. Turn right into Park Row. When you get to an iron fence with gates ahead of you, leading into Greenwich Park, go through these gates. 

Walk straight ahead on a path that has an avenue of trees. When the path divides, take the second path on the left. It heads very steeply up hill. 

Carry on up the steep path until it curves right to the One Tree Hill Vista Point
(see image above).


One Tree Hill has been popular with artists and visitors for centuries. It provides a fantastic view across the River Thames to London.

In the 17th century, it was called Five Tree Hill , and has also been referred to as Sand Hill, because of its sandy summit, which has now been paved over. Since the 18th century, the name One Tree Hill has been used because of the single prominent tree showing at its highest point, currently a London Plane tree. An oak tree which was the current tree's predecessor was blown down during a storm on 22 August 1848.

During the Greenwich Fair, the hill was used for "Tumbling", when couple would run, and very often fall running down the hill. 

IMAGE ABOVE: From "The Illustrated London News" 1853. Whitsuntide at Greenwich Park drawn by Phiz.

"The principal amusement is to drag young ladies up the steep hill which leads to the Observatory, and then drag them down again, at the very top of their speed, greatly to the derangement of their curls and bonnet-caps, and much to the edification of lookers-on from below."

Views of One Tree Hill has been depicted by a number of artists, including J.M.W. Turner, and Louis Jules Arnout, who painted it in 1845 from a balloon.

Image above: Tate - London from Greenwich by Joseph Mallord William Turner c.1808–9
Released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) https://www.tate.org.uk

From the One Tree Hill Vista Point looking over London, turn left and walk along the path. The path goes downhill and meets (on the right, going in the same direction) a wide path called Lovers Walk. There is an old unused fountain here called the Motherstone Fountain.

Image above: The Motherstone Fountain

The Motherstone Fountain is now out of use. Originally it was fed by an underground spring, but because it uses lead piping it has been taken out of service.

Apparently, local pagans consider the fountain a shrine, and sometimes leave burning candles on it, or leave flowers as offerings.

Turn left (uphill) along Lovers Walk, which turns into Temple Walk after crossing another path. Continue along Temple Walk. On the left, just before Temple Walk comes to a junction, there is a sign on the left announcing the location of the site of a Romano-Celtic Temple. 


The large mound that you can see from here is called Queen Elizabeth’s Bower. It was the site of a Roman Temple dating from around AD 40 to AD 425. You can's see any remains today on the ground, but look at the information panel which describes the buildings that were once here. There is also an artists impression of what the temple may have looked like.

In 1902, an initial small archaeological dig at the Queen Elizabeth’s Bower uncovered of a small area of mosaic flooring. This dig was then expanded, and evidence showing the remains of substantial building, thought to be a temple, was uncovered. Other artefacts, including Roman coins dated between AD 43 to AD 410 were also found. This suggested that the site was very significant and in use for a considerable time. Excavations in the area in 1978 found the south-west corner of a building.

Image above: The site of the Roman Temple

In 1999, the archaeological television programme ‘Time Team’ did a dig here. Things found included a roof tile, part of a marble plaque dedicated to the God, Jupiter, oyster shells, and pottery. This dig also established that Watling Street, the busy Roman road from Dover to London went through what is now Greenwich Park near where the temple was, and probably accounts for the Temple's position.

Continue down Temple Walk and then turn right into Bower Avenue.

Turn first right again and continue until you get to another path crossing yours. On your right is the site of the Queen Elizabeth Oak, now fallen and with a fence around it.


Queen Elizabeth's Oak is a very old oak tree. It dates from the 12th century, making it about 900 years old now, and about 400 years old already in the time of the Tudors. The tree grew here in what became part of the grounds of the Palace of Placentia, the site of which was viewed earlier in the walk. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn are said to have danced around it, and their daughter, Elizabeth I, is said to have picnicked under it, and also inside its hollow trunk. Since then, it has been called Queen Elizabeth's Oak.

IMAGE ABOVE: The Queen Elizabeth's Oak

When the palace grounds became Greenwich Park in the 18th century, the hollow tree was used as a temporary prison for criminals who had been caught on the grounds. 

The tree died in the 19th century, but was left standing and covered in ivy which helped to support the dead tree. 

It fell in a storm in June 1991 and has been left lying where it fell, protected by a fence and marked with a plaque.

"The old oak referred to, beneath which Royalty have frequently congregated, must, in its heyday, have been a tree of giant proportions, the hollowed trunk in which Queen Elizabeth oft partook of refreshments, and where offenders against the Park rules have been confined, being fully twenty feet in girth, while the internal cavity is six feet in diameter." From the book, "Greenwich Park – Its History and Associates" by A.D. Webster, originally published in 1902.

Sadly, since it fell over, the ancient tree has started to slowly rot away.

There are over 3000 trees in Greenwich Park. Apart from the Queen Elizabeth Oak, there are other ancient trees here too. 

In 1660 Charles II returned from France to be crowned King, after the end of Oliver Cromwell's "English Commonwealth". Charles found that the royal palaces in and around London had been sold off or destroyed by Cromwell. The only place suitable for a monarch to live in around London was Greenwich Palace. So, not long after his return to England, Charles commissioned André Le Nôtre, a gardener to Louis XIV, to plan the landscape and the avenues of trees in the Greenwich Palace grounds. Some of these old trees remain, specifically the sweet chestnuts, and these are now almost four hundred years old. See if you can spot them as you walk around the park.

The Royal Parks are planning a restoration of the landscape and the tree avenues in Greenwich Park. This is due to be competed in 2025.

When standing at the gate in the fence around the Queen Elizabeth Oak and reading the information sign, directly behind you is the path to continue on until you get to the Statue of General James Wolfe and another panoramic view point.


This statue of General James Wolfe, (2 January 1727 – 13 September 1759) was a British Army officer. He is remembered for his modernising training reforms and for his victory in 1759 over the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in Quebec. In this battle, Wolfe led 4,400 men in small boats to land at the base of the cliffs west of Quebec along the St. Lawrence River. His army, with two small cannons, scaled the 200-metre cliff from the river below early in the morning of 13 September 1759. They surprised the French under the command of the Marquis de Montcalm, who thought the cliff would be unclimbable. The French thought that the British would haul more cannons up the cliffs and knock down the city's remaining walls, so they fought the British on the Plains of Abraham. The battle was won by the British in fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, when Wolfe began to move forward, he was fatally shot in the arm, shoulder, and the chest.

The statue was erected in 1930 and bears the inscription "This monument, a gift of the Canadian people, was unveiled by the Marquis de Montcalm". 

General Wolfe lived in  Greenwich at the end of his life, and is buried in St Alfege's, the parish church, .

Walk along the road that is at the back of General Wolfe until you get to the Greenwich Royal Observatory building on your right.


In the 16th and 17th centuries there was a great expansion in Europeans using the seas to explore the world and trade with other countries. Accurate navigation needed to work out longitude, as well as getting accurate astronomical and time measurement information. Charles II appointed a Royal Commission in 1674, to plan how the country could do this. One of the people sitting on this Royal Commission was Sir Christopher Wren. Although best remembered as an architect, he was also a former Oxford professor of astronomy.

On 4 March 1675, the Commission reported back to Charles II. Its recommendation was the foundation of an observatory together with the appointment of an astronomer. Charles immediately took on John Flamsteed as an ‘astronomical observator’, who held the post for 42 years. Wren suggested using the site of the old Greenwich Castle (originally a hunting lodge for Henry VIII), having existing solid foundations and a good position on top of a hill. Wren also oversaw the design of the building. The new "Royal Observatory" became Britain’s first state-funded scientific institution. The Octagon Room, was completed in 1676 and was designed to give astronomers an uninterrupted view of the night sky. It also housed some of the most advanced clocks of the age. Flamsteed House nearby was built as a home for the Astronomer Royal.

The Royal Observatory ran for almost 300 years, with in total ten Astronomers Royal. In the 1760s, Nevil Maskelyne created tables for calculating your longitude when at sea by using astronomy. This, together with accurate timekeeping devices, made it possible to work out your ship's position with much greater accuracy. In 1833, the first ever public time signal was shown from the roof of Flamsteed House. It did this by raising and then dropping a ball at a predetermined time. Captains on the river below could then set their own chronometers with this signal. This still happens at 1.00 pm every day. Since the late 1800's, the Royal Observatory has been the Prime Meridian of the world, at Longitude 0° 0' 0''. This line divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the world. International longitudes and times are calculated from this point.

Flamsteed House and the other buildings of the observatory were opened to the public between 1960 to 1967. The Royal Observatory was later refurbished then reopened in 2007 with new galleries, an education centre, and a Planetarium.

Go down the path down the left hand side of the Greenwich Royal Observatory, cross the larger path and continue in the same direction along the grass path. 

IMAGE ABOVE: The path to the Anglo-Saxon Barrow Cemetery

Continue to where there is an open area with dips and mounds. This is the site of an Anglo-Saxon Barrow Cemetery.


Beneath the undulating ground here is an Anglo-Saxon barrow cemetery. A barrow is an artificial hill of earth and stones, built over the remains of the dead. There are at least thirty one barrows here, which date back to the sixth to eighth centuries AD. They vary from 3.4m to 9.5m in diameter and from 0.1m to 0.7m in hight. About a third of the barrows have an ditch around them which show as small hollows or marks in the grass. Most of the barrows have been disturbed, whether by excavation or tree roots, and at least four of the barrows have been cut by paths.

IMAGE ABOVE: The Anglo-Saxon Barrow Cemetery

The cemetery was first mentioned in Harris' book, the History of Kent (1719). The barrows were first excavated in the early eighteenth century by a keeper named Hearn. Following this the Rev. James Douglas did a more thorough survey in 1784. Items which were found in the barrows included glass beads, wool, hair, shields and swords. The finds indicated that the barrows were early Anglo-Saxon pagan, not Christian, burials. It’s also possible that the site was used for burials from as far back as early as the Bronze Age (roughly 2500-800BC) and that the Anglo-Saxons were simply reusing existing plots.

Continue in the same direction along the path until you come to a wall. Straight ahead is a gate in the wall. Go through the gate and bear left. Here you will find a house once belonging to General Wolfe, Macartney House.


Macartney House is the house where General Wolfe was born and where he lived his final years, It has an English Heritage blue plaque commemorating  Wolfe. A road behind the house leads south into General Wolfe Road, which was named after him after his death.

IMAGE ABOVE: General Wolfe's House

In 1761 the Wolfe Society was formed, and which still meets annually in Westerham in Kent where Wolfe's childhood home was, to commemorate Wolfe at a "Wolfe Dinner".

The house has now been developed as a number of houses and apartments.

Return to the gate in the wall, and go back through. Turn right and walk along the path with a wall, and the rear of Macartney House on your right. 

Continue along the path, then through a gate across the path. Here is a rose garden, with the Ranger's House on your right.


The Ranger's House dates from 1722 to 1723. It was originally built for Captain (later Vice-Admiral) Francis Hosier (1673–1727).

IMAGE ABOVE: The Ranger's House

The house at that time had easy access to London by road and river and also a superb view of the City. Hosier's fortune had been made through trade at sea. Captain Hosier occupied the house until he died of yellow fever at sea in 1727, off Panama.

In 1748 the lease was inherited by the 4th Earl of Chesterfield who was a politician, diplomat, and man of letters. He eventually became Secretary of State. He had the bow windowed gallery added tto use for entertaining, and for displaying his art collection.

In 1782, Richard Hulse (1727–1805) bought the house. Hulse was the High Sheriff of Kent, a JP, and a Deputy Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company between 1799 and 1805.  He added a room with a bow window on the north side of the building to balance Chesterfield's gallery.

Chesterfield House, as it was known, was briefly renamed Brunswick house while occupied by the Duchess of Brunswick from 1807 to 1813. It was first used as the official residence of the Ranger of Greenwich Park in 1816 and renamed again as the Rangers House.

At the invitation of Queen Victoria, Field Marshal Lord Wolseley and his family moved from their former home at 6 Hill Street, London to the much grander Ranger's House in 1888.

The London County Council purchased the house in 1902 from the Commissioners of Woods and Forests and it became a council sports club and tea rooms. It was requisitioned in both World Wars. Two blue plaques were erected by the London County Council in 1937 to commemorate Wolseley and Chesterfield at the house. Later it was used to display the Dolmetsch collection of musical instruments and the Suffolk Collection of Jacobean portraits which has been since moved and is now on display at Kenwood House.

In 1986 the Ranger's House came into the care of English Heritage.

Continue on the path, and go through another gate out of the rose garden. 

Carry on walking a short distance until you come to a plaque on the wall to your right, and near it a low hedge surrounding an old bath.


This plaque honours Charles Ignatius Sancho (1729 – 1780). Charles was born on a slave ship where his parents were bound, as slaves, for the Spanish colony of New Granada. When he grew up, he became a British slavery abolitionist, as well as a writer and a composer. 

IMAGE ABOVE: The hedge around Queen Caroline's Bath, and the Ignatius Sancho Plaque

Charles' parents died when he was two, and his owner took him to Britain. There, he was given as a gift to three unmarried sisters, who were living in Greenwich. He remained there for eighteen years, as a servant, but then ran away to Montagu House, which was once on this site. There, John Montagu, the second Duke of Montagu, gave Charles a job as a butler. He also taught him to read, and encouraged his interest in literature. Charles eventually left his job, and with support from Montagu set up his own business as a shopkeeper in Mayfair. He also kept up his interest in literature, and starting to write and publish essays, plays and books.

Charles Sancho took an interest in, and became involved with the British slavery abolitionist movement. Because he was a property-owner, Charles Sancho could vote in general elections. He became the first known African to have vote in a British election. Sancho died in 1780. A book, 'The Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African', was edited and published after his death, in 1782.


The remains of this Georgian bath is hidden behind a rectangular low hedge, next door to the Ignatius Sancho Plaque. 

The name 'Queen Caroline's Bath' refers to the fact that it was once used by Queen Caroline of Brunswick, the wife of George, the Prince of Wales and sometime Prince Regent (the son of King George III) and who was later to become George IV

IMAGE ABOVE: Queen Caroline's Bath

George and Caroline had had an arranged marriage in 1795, which did not go well. George claimed Caroline was short, fat, ugly and smelt! In a letter to a friend, the prince claimed that he only had sexual intercourse with Caroline three times: twice the first night of the marriage, and once the second night. He wrote, "it required no small effort to conquer my aversion and overcome the disgust of her person." Caroline claimed George was so drunk that he "passed the greatest part of his bridal night under the grate, where he fell, and where I left him". In spite of this, Caroline became pregnant, and nine months later gave birth to Princess Charlotte. George was suspicious and claimed that the child wasn't his. George then wrote Caroline out of his will three days after the Charlotte's birth, and an investigation was launched by the House of Lords to determine if Charlotte had been adulterous, but no evidence to show this was found.

Unsurprisingly, the marriage didn't improve. Ten years before his marriage to Caroline, George had illegally married his lover, Maria Fitzherbert, and was still seeing her. He was also getting deeply in debt due to his gambling and overspending, and was a heavy drinker. 

The marriage deteriorated further, and about four years after the wedding, Caroline moved to Montagu House on the edge of Blackheath. She held parties and other social engagements there, which started rumours of adultery. Queen Caroline had a glazed bathhouse and this bath built, adjoining the house. Baths like this were very fashionable in the Georgian period among the upper classes. They were considered health giving, particularly cold baths. Caroline lived in Montagu House from 1799 to 1814 when she left the country to live in France.

In 1815 the house was demolished on George's orders. The bath was covered over.

In 1820 when George III died, his son, the Prince of Wales and Prince Regent, became King George IV, which, as they were still married, would make Caroline his Queen. Caroline returned to England to become crowned, in spite or George’s opposition. Uninvited, she turned up at the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey on the 19th July 1821, but was not allowed to enter. Poor Caroline died just a few weeks after her failed attempt to attend the coronation. Her death was put down to an ‘intestinal obstruction’.

The site of the bath was found in 1909, but then covered over again in the 1980’s. It was re-excavated in 2001. You can see a few blue tiles still remaining inside the bath and on the narrow steps leading down into it. The hedges around the bath show where the walls of the bathhouse would have once been.

Continue along the path. It will bend to the left, and then follow another wall, behind which is the Charlton Road. Continue on until you get to to Blackheath Avenue, which passes through the park, and which has cars parked along it at this end.

There are public toilets here.

Turn right along Blackheath Avenue and go through the park gates. Turn left and walk along Charlton Way until you get to a memorial to the Cornish Rebellion on the wall.


This plaque commemorates the end of the Cornish Rebellion at Blackheath in 1497. Henry VII had imposed new taxes to raise money for a war against the Scots. As a result, ten thousand Cornish men marched to London. They camped on Blackheath, and fought a battle at Deptford against the King's army. They were later attacked by the King's forces at their Blackheath camp. In the 1497 Battle of Blackheath Field, over 2,000 Cornish men were slain. The are thought to have been buried on Blackheath, near Whitefield Mount. Although over the ages, Blackheath was the site of other rebellion camps, this was the only battle that has actually been fought on Blackheath itself.

IMAGE ABOVE: Plaque commemorating the Cornish Rebellion of 1497

The plaque remembers the leaders of the Cornish Rebellion of 1497. Michael Joseph, a blacksmith (An Gof) and a lawyer, Thomas Flaman. The captured leaders of the rebellion were executed at Tyburn (now the site of Marble Arch).

Other times that Blackheath has been used as a military or rebel camp include:

In 1011, Danish invaders camped here.

In 1381, as part of the Peasants' Revolt, Wat Tyler's one hundred thousand anti-poll tax rebels gathered and camped here. From here they marched on London, where they were defeated.

In 1450, Jack Cade led twenty thousand men from Kent and Essex to camp at Blackheath. Cade's rebellion opposed higher taxes being brought in by Henry VI. Despite Cade's attempt to keep his men under control, once the rebel forces had entered London they began to loot. The citizens of London turned on the rebels and forced them out of the city over London Bridge. After escaping to Sussex, Jack Cade was eventually caught by the King’s forces and murdered.

Blackheath has also traditionally been used as a marshalling area for British armies, while waiting to be shipped abroad to fight in wars. 

During the Napoleonic Wars, Blackheath was used as a military training area, and a place to hold parades.


Blackheath was regularly used as a place for Lord Mayors of London to welcome their monarchs, and for royalty to meet distinguished guests. For example, Henry IV met the Emperor of Byzantium here in 1400, and Charles II met the welcoming citizens of London here at the Restoration of the monarchy.

On Blackheath, John Wesley preached about Methodism, and Gladstone held election meetings there in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Highwaymen stalked Blackheath, particularly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In a newspaper article from 1735 it was reported that: 'We hear that for about six weeks past, Blackheath has been so infested by two highwaymen that 'tis dangerous for travellers to pass.'​  The highwaymen mentioned are thought to be Thomas Rowden and Dick Turpin.


On the other side of the heath is Blackheath Village. There is a Southeastern and Thameslink rail service into London from Blackheath Station.

The quickest way back to the Cutty Sark DLR station is back through the Greenwich  Park gates, then straight on past the parked cars on Blackheath Avenue.

After about 390 metres, on the left is a wide footpath and road, sloping down to Greenwich. Walk for about 650 metres to the park gates. Pass through the gates and carry straight on along King William Walk towards the Cutty Sark. Just before you get there, turn left on to College Approach.

Straight ahead is the Cutty Sark DLR station.


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