Greenwich Palace, was a favourite residence of The Tudors. King Henry VIII and his daughters, Queen Mary I of England and Queen Elizabeth 1 were all born there.
Henry and Elizabeth Tudor, were both Christened here in the Church of the Observant Friars, which was right next to the Palace and Henry married two of his wives, Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves here.
Sitting alongside the River Thames, it provided easy access, much quicker and safer than travelling along the muddy and quite dangerous roads.
Although only a matter of five or six miles away from the busy heart of London, that was a long way in those days. Far enough away from the horrendous smells, noise and diseases so prevalent in the dirty, rat infested city of their day and age.
King Henry V Died suddenly on 31st August 1422 near Pris in France, apparently after succumbing to dysentry, which he had contracted during the siege of Meaux. He was thirty five years of age.
Henry's wife Catherine brought his body back to London and he was buried in Westminster Abbey on 7th November 1422. Henry had presented his brother Humphry, Duke of Gloucester with the manor of Greenwich.
ABOVE: A PORTRAIT OF KING HENRY V BY AN UNKNOWN ARTIST. ONE OF THE MEDIEVAL KINGS OF ENGLAND.
After enclosing Greenwich Park, the Duke proceeded to build a Palace there from 1427, calling it Bella Court.
However, he fell out with the Queen, King Henry VI's wife, Margaret of Anjou in 1447 and was arrested for high treason. Whilst being held in custody he died. Some of his contemporaries suspected he had been murdered.
(It is Margaret of Anjou who is credited with providing the spark which ignited the Wars of the Roses, by excluding the Yorkists from the Great Council she had called for in 1455. It was a Civil War which brought untold suffering and misery to thousands, decimating the whole country for thirty years)
ABOVE: MARGARET OF ANJOU. A HISTORIC FANTASY PORTRAIT.
Both Margaret and Henry VII enlarged the Palace, Henry completely covering the whole building with red brick facings.
It was a most popular Palace for Henry VIII. He increased its size, building extensively, adding a new banqueting Hall, new armouries, forges and stables. A huge tilt yard was added for tournaments and jousting practice.
It was here in one tournament in 1536, just before the last miscarriage suffered by Anne Boleyn, that Henry VIII was thrown from his horse and lay unconcious for two hours. He never jousted again. Anne blamed the worry over that accident for the miscarriage, which almost certainly led to her execution.
There is a famous story which I think we have all heard at one time or another, in which Sir Walter Raleigh places his cloak down in the mud for Queen Elizabeth 1 to walk on.
ABOVE: A PORTRAIT OF GREENWICH PALACE VIEWED FROM THE RIVER THAMES.
Some suggest that it happened here in Greenwich, where the Royal Family crossed the road to enter into the royal park. Others maintain that the incident took place in nearby Deptford. I suppose we will never know for certain.
Greenwich Palace fell into disrepair during the English Civil War of 1641-1651 and was used as a prisoner of war camp. King Charles II attempted to rebuild it in 1660, but the east end of the present King Charles Court was the only section of the Palace to be completed.
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As King James I did not like the place, it would seem that Queen Elizabeth 1, was the last monarch to use it as a royal residence.
Most of Greenwich Palace was demolished, the site remaining unoccupied until the Greenwich Hospital was constructed. Designed by Christopher Wren, work began in 1694.
In 1873, the naval college moved there from Portsmouth ,the complex being renamed The Greenwich Royal Naval College. Nowadays the buildings are occupied by the University of Greenwich.
Lord Nelson's body lay in state in the Painted Chapel, on being returned to England after his victory at The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. His remains arrived there on 5th January 1806.
This site and the whole of Greenwich is well worth a visit.
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