Greenwich Day by Day

Greenwich Day by Day is written by David Male and is published on this site by permission. Copyright © 2005 David Male.

Foot tunnel
Greenwich Foot Tunnel. See June 25


Jun 1

a) Charles II visits Greenwich 1667. "I went to Greenwich where his Majesty was trying divers grenadoes shot out of cannon at the Castle Hill from the house in the Park." (John Evelyn's Diary quoted in Greenwich Antiquarian Society records of 1905-6 and 1906-7)

b)The first 42 Pensioners arrived at the Royal Hospital, Greenwich, 1705. (27)

c) William IV attended the Chapel of the Royal Hospital 1834. King William's visit was in commemoration of Lord Howe's naval victory over the French 'the glorious first of June' (1794) (See also: Oct 11)

d) John Masefield b. 1878 (29). The long-serving (from 1930 to his death in 1967) Poet Laureate for some time lived in No.1 Diamond Terrace, Greenwich.

Jun 2

a) Emperor Charles V met his intended bride, six year old Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, at Greenwich, 1522 (7)(see: Jun 19).

b) Charles II and the Duke of York visit Greenwich 1666. ". . . I went on shore with Capt. Erwin at Greenwich and into the parke and there we could hear the guns from the Fleete most plainly. Thence he and I to the King's head and there bespoke a dish of steaks for our dinner about 4 a-clock. While that was doing , we walked to the waterside, and seeing the King and the Duke come down in their barge to Greenwich house, I to them and did give them an account what I was doing. They went up the park to hear the guns of the fleet go off. . ." (The Shorter Pepys selected and edited by Robert Latham. Penguin, 1987).

c) Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II 1953 (celebrated by many street parties throughout Greenwich).

Jun 3

1769: Captain James Cook, a year into his circumnavigation of the world in Endeavour, observed the transit of Venus over the Sun's disc at Otaheiti (or Tahiti) - the main purpose of his voyage. The reading from Tahiti, halfway round the world, together with an observation of the transit from the Zero Meridian at Greenwich would provide data to indicate the distance of Earth from the Sun. (See also: Jun 8) Endeavour arrived back in England 11 June 1771. Cook's statue stands in the grounds of the National Maritime Museum.

Jun 4

George III b. 1738. George was a frequent visitor to Woolwich Arsenal. (See: Jul 6) He reviewed troops on Blackheath in June 1770 (3rd Regt. of Foot Guards), 1772 (3rd & 4th Battalions of Royal Regt. of Artillery) (8) and again in 1787. (1) George III visited Blackheath twice in May 1788. (8) He once, apparently in a deluded state, rode from Westminster to see his daughter-in-law, Princess Caroline, who was then living in Montagu House in Blackheath. [Alan Bennett's play The Madness of George III was filmed, as The Madness of King George, in and around the Royal Naval College, several of the scenes being shot in the colonnades and the Painted Hall.]

Jun 5

a) Wolfe statueMajor-General James Wolfe's statue unveiled by Le Marquis de Montcalm 1930. The statue, by Robert Tait Mackenzie, was a gift from the Canadian people, and stands at the northern end of Blackheath Avenue in Greenwich Park. The Marquis of Montcalm was a direct descendant of Wolfe's adversary at the Battle of Quebec on the Heights of Abraham. (See: Sep 13)

b) Peter the Great's Statue on Millennium Quay Deptford unveiled 2001. The statue, which commemorates Tsar Peter's visit to Deptford in 1698, (see: Jun 9) was unveiled by Prince Michael of Kent who is Patron of the Peter the Great Educational Trust which offers opportunities to young people in deprived areas.

Jun 6

a) Charles Mason observed transit of Venus, 1761. Mason and Jeremiah Dixon (later surveyors of the Mason-Dixon Line, the borders of Pennsylania and Maryland, begun 15 November 1763) embarked autumn of 1760 but a French frigate caused them to return to Plymouth for a refit - so they were unable to reach Sumatra, their original destination, and they observed the transit from Cape of Good Hope. Charles Mason was assistant to James Bradley, Astronomer Royal, at a salary of £26 per annum.

b) Queen Mary visited the Home for Mothers and Babies, 65 Wood Street (now Woodhill), Woolwich, 1917. (38) Queen Mary also visited the site in Samuel Street, Woolwich, which was being prepared for the building of the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies. Opened in March 1922, it was closed and demolished in 1984.

c) D-Day and PLUTO comes into its own, 1944. Pipeline-Under-The-Ocean was the seen way to keep vehicles supplied with fuel during the invasion of Europe. A mass of pipelines was an attractive idea but presented problems - of pumping fuel through the unquiet waters of the Channel and those of unwinding long flexible pipes from huge drums over long distances - to the people working in secrecy at Siemens. One main difficulty lay in the joining of pipes. Frank Stone and his brother Albert were summoned (from their father's firm in Brockley) to attend a secret meeting at Woolwich where they demonstrated a method of jointing 700-yard lengths of lead alloy pipes - this method was known as lead-burning, the welding of joints using the same metal - lead or lead alloys - as the main pipe being welded. The pipes were tested in 1942 and a 45-mile test was carried out successfully in the Bristol Channel. One failed joint would have put the entire length of any one of the pipes out of action. Pluto was manufactured by Siemens at Woolwich and Callender's at Erith. Almost 800 miles of pipeline were laid from August 1944 and at its peak was delivering a million gallons of fuel a day.

d) Transit of Venus, 2012 (See: Jun 8) But this transit will not be seen from this country ( England). [No one should be tempted look at the Sun with the naked eye and certainly not through a telescope or binoculars. The best way to view the Transit is to project the image of the Sun onto a screen.]

Jun 7

a) Aefthryth (Elfrida) of Wessex d. 929. Elfrida, the daughter of Alfred the Great (King of Wessex 871-899), gave her name to a charter of 918 (the year her husband, Baldwin II 'The Bald", Count of Flanders, died) which donated lands she had been given by her father to the Abbey of Ghent: the lands being those of Lewisham, Greenwich and Woolwich. The charter, which is now regarded as spurious, stayed in being and was continually renewed (by Edgar in 964, for instance) for several centuries until revoked in Henry IV's reign.

b) Martin Frobisher's first American voyage departs from Greenwich, 1576 (13) (See: May 26)

Jun 8

Venus in Transit, 2004 (15). A momentous day in Greenwich history, when the attention of the nation and, perhaps, of the whole world was concentrated on the Old Royal Observatory, for an event that no living person had seen before, since the last transit of Venus occurred in 1882 (122 years previously). History will repeat itself eight years on in 6 June 2012 but the next Transit of Venus will not occur until 11 December 2117 after a gap of 105 years (15) The next to be visible from Britain will not take place until 2247. (The Times 12/5/04) (See also: Jan 14).

Jun 9

a) Peter the Great, Czar of all the Russias, b. 1672. On receipt of an invitation from William III, Peter visited England and spent some part of his time here in Deptford, working hard to amass all sorts of information. In Deptford he stayed at the home of John Evelyn, leaving England in April 1698, and carrying with him English engineers, artificers, surgeons, artillerymen and such to the number of 500 men. (See: Jun 5)

b) Charles Dickens d. 1870. (11) (See: Feb 7)

Jun 10

a) James Stuart (the son of James II), a.k.a.. the "Old Pretender" b. 1688. His birth precipitated the revolution of 1688, the precursor of the joint reign of William III and Mary II.

b) Prince Philip b.1921. HRH the Duke of Edinburgh has played a lively and interested part in the recent history of Greenwich. He was prominent in the campaign to have the Cutty Sark permanently docked at Greenwich, which became fact in 1954. He was a leading Trustee of the National Maritime Museum and has made many visits to Greenwich over the years, several times as guest of honour at Trafalgar Night dinners: The Duke and the Queen in 1955, for instance, the 150th Anniversary of Trafalgar and, again in 1988 when the Duke took a major part in the Royal Navy's closing ceremony.(See also: Oct 21)

Jun 11

a) Henry VIII married Catharine of Aragon in the Chapel of the Franciscan Observant Friars, Placentia, Greenwich, 1509 (7) with William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury officiating. Henry's troubles began when he chose to marry the widow of his elder brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales. Papal dispensations for the union had to be obtained. Of Catherine's five children only one, Mary, survived infancy. Henry desired a son and began to look elsewhere, and, after meeting Anne Boleyn, Henry informed Catherine that until the validity of their marriage could be confirmed their relationship should cease. In 1534 the Pope pronounced their marriage valid.

b) George I d. 1727 in Osnabruck. George died of apoplexy and was buried in Hanover. According to Dent's Everyman's Encyclopaedia George regarded England merely as a great country of which he was the nominal ruler, and which was to raise the prestige of Hanover and fill his pockets and those of his German followers with English gold. (See also: May 28 & Sep 18)

c) First dinner in the Painted Hall (ORNC) 1730 (27a)

d) Sir John Franklin d. 1847 of natural causes off King William Island whilst attempting to find North West Passage. (see: May 12)

e) E(dward) V(errell) Lucas b. 1868 at 3 Wellington Road, Eltham. Author and editor, he wrote many travel books, and became chairman of the publishing house of Methuen. His other works include a biography of Charles Lamb and The Letters of Charles Lamb; his own memoirs Reading, Writing and Remembering appeared in 1932, in which year he was made a companion of honour.

Jun 12 & Jun 13

Wat Tyler and John Ball led Kentishmen to Blackheath, 1381. (The Peasants' Revolt) (3)

Jun 12

Henry VIII with two others challenged all comers to fight at the barriers within Greenwich Park, 1510.

Jun 13

a) Richard II, with members of his Council, embarked in five barges at the Tower and went down to Greenwich,1381. The crowds on the bank looked so wild, however, that the ministers grew alarmed and the barges returned to London. Wat Tyler's men marched on London. (2) (See also: Jun 14)

b)Henry Grace a Dieu launched at Erith, 1514.(7) Of about 1,000 tons, the vessel had five masts and 21 guns as well as a multitude of small pieces. Around King Henry VIII's neck hung a whistle on a gold chain, the insignia of the Supreme Commander of the Navy. The "Great Harry", as she was popularly known, was accidentally burned at Woolwich (see: Aug 25)

c) Marriage of Charles I and Henrietta Maria of France 1625 (see: Jan 30, May 13)

Jun 14

a) The Peasants' Revolt 1381 (cont). On June 14 1381 the rebels were met by the young Richard II himself and they presented him with a series of demands including the dismissal of the more unpopular ministers and the effective abolition of the feudal system. The mob then seized the Tower and murdered Archbishop Sudbury and Sir Robert Hales. The following day - 15th June 1381 - Richard again went to make peace at Smithfield; Wat Tyler was slain there by the Lord Mayor of London, Sir William Walworth. The revolt was broken.(10) In July 1381 John Ball (see: Jul 15) and other rebel leaders were executed and the rising suppressed. Wat Tyler Road is on Blackheath; John Ball is also commemorated in the name of the primary school in Baizdon Road.

b) H.R.H. the Prince Regent visited the Royal Arsenal 1814. Normal work proceeded and employees who for any reason were prevented from working received a day's pay. (18)

Jun 15

a) Jack Cade's rebels encamped at Blackheath 1450. (3) Ordered to disperse before Henry VI, but choosing instead to stand and fight, Cade's rebels defeated a section of the pursuing royal army causing the King to flee north, the rebels pressing on to London being repulsed at London Bridge. Terms of peace were arranged but Cade refused to accept defeat, though most of his supporters returned home. Cade went into hiding and he was finally killed at Heathfield. (See also: Feb 23)

b) George Anson's Centurion arrives in Plymouth after 4 year circumnavigation of the world, 1744. Anson's epic voyage is described in some detail in Dava Sobel's Longitude (Fourth Estate, 1996). The Anson Gates, at the west end of the Royal Naval Hospital for Seamen, Greenwich, were erected to commemorate Anson's achievement, while the figurehead of Centurian (that of a huge lion) later found a home for a time within the Hospital's wards.

Jun 16 – 24

a) Greenwich Night Pageant 1933. The Pageant, which was written and produced by Arthur Bryant, related the history of Greenwich from the birth of Elizabeth I (the 400th anniversary of which event was commemorated in 1933 (see : Sep 7)) to the reign of George V. The motivating force behind the Pageant was Vice Admiral Barry Domvile, CB, CMG, the President of the Royal Naval College, who organised thousands of local people to contribute their skills in costume making and acting abilities (the cast was 2,500) to perform before daily audiences (apart from the Sunday) of up to 12,000. The music was conducted by Dr Malcolm Sargent. A sideline was that of whitebait dinners which were served throughout the Pageant in the dining hall of the Royal Hospital School adjacent to the Pageant ground at a price of 5s.6d. (£0.27p.) per head.

b) The Greenwich Industrial Exhibition was held concurrently, 1933. The Industrial Exhibition was held in the gymnasium of the Royal Hospital School. There were 35 exhibitors including: Siemens Bros & Co. Ltd; Johnson & Phillips Ltd.; the South Metropolitan Gas Co. Ltd.

Jun 16

The first night of the Night Pageant, 1933.

Jun 17

a) Battle of Blackheath 1497. (3) [Also known as the Battle of Deptford Bridge.] Some 10,000 Cornish rebels protesting against Henry VII's taxes, and led by An Gof (Michael Joseph: The Smith), Thomas Flamank and Lord Audley encamped on The Point at Blackheath, where they were defeated by King Henry VII's troops. Accounts of the Cornish dead vary from 300 to 2,000 [ compared with a claimed 8 of the King's soldiers] - their bodies buried on the Heath - with the remainder forced to surrender. Their leaders were executed - An Gof and Thomas Flamank were hanged, drawn and quartered on 27 June 1497 and Lord Audley on the following day. (via the Internet) For his bravery at the Battle of Blackheath. Sir Reginald Bray was made a knight banneret. There were other Cornish rebellions in 1498 and 1546, but both were crushed. In 1997, 500 years later, thousands of Cornishmen took part in a memorial march from St Keverne to Blackheath, some walking all the way.

b) 18 Gentlemen agreed to subscribe to setting up of Dispensary for the Poor in Greenwich, 1783. The Dispensary in Greenwich High Road became known as the Royal Kent Dispensary in 1837 when Queen Victoria became its patroness. The Rev. Canon John Cale Miller, Vicar of St Alfege, the conceiver of 'Hospital Sunday' and who from his earliest days was involved with fund raising for Royal Kent Dispensary, died in 1880. In 1883 the Governors of the charity decided to add a hospital to the dispensary on its centenary. Foundation stone was laid in 1883. The hospital became known as the Miller Hospital for South East London in 1908. It was the first hospital to have round wards, which were championed by Professor John Marshall, President of the Royal College of Surgeons. From 151 beds in 1928, it had 180 beds in 1947. It was considered too costly to upgrade the hospital and closure was announced in 1974. The hospital was demolished in 1975.

Jun 18

a) Sir George Biddel Airy succeeded John Pond as Astronomer Royal 1835, and completely re-equipped the Royal Observatory Greenwich with instruments designed by himself. It was at this time that George Airy negotiated a stipend of £800 for himself (£200 more than his predecessor John Pond) and a pension for his wife, Richarda, of £300. Sir George Airy resigned his office in 1881 after having served as Astronomer Royal for 46 years.

b) Mary+MickJohn Taylor (with two others) wins the Victoria Cross, 1855. At the siege of Sebastopol in the Crimean War, John Taylor, captain of the foc'c'sle and a member of the Naval Brigade, and two others proceeded across 70 yards of open space; and in spite of heavy fire succeeded in carrying a soldier of 57th Regiment "the Famous Diehards", shot through both legs, to a place of safety, at the imminent risk of their own lives. John Taylor, V.C., who lived in Woolwich, was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave (it appears he may have died on the day after that on which he was "Gazetted" - 24 Feb 1857) but is remembered in Plumstead cemetery by a special tombstone erected, by public appeal through the good offices of Sergeant Mick Barnbrook, of Greenwich Park's constabulary. (Left: Greenwich Tour Guide Mary Corr with Sgt. Mick Barnbrook.)

c) Explosion within the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich 1903. The explosion occurred in Danger Building E, the old lyddite factory, when a naval 10 inch shell (weighing 453 lb.) blew up. The building was totally wrecked, houses in Plumstead had windows blown out. Sixteen men were killed and fourteen injured. A relief fund was opened for the families of the victims and King Edward VII sent a message of sympathy. (Other explosions took place in the Royal Arsenal [see also: Feb 11], however, this one is regarded as being the worst because of its great death toll.)(18)

Jun 19

a) Emperor Charles V (aged 22) and six year old Princess Mary Tudor formally betrothed, 1522 (7) (See: Jun 2).

b) James VI of Scotland (James I of England) b. 1566 in Edinburgh.

c) The Millennium Dome was given the go-ahead, 1997 (Elizabeth Wilhide The Millennium Dome Harper Collins, 1999.)

Jun 20

William IV d. 1837 at Windsor. William was succeeded by his niece, Victoria.(See also: Sep 18)

Jun 21

a) Inigo Jones d. 1652 (aged 79). Painter, masque designer, antiquarian, connoisseur and architect, Jones is best remembered (in Greenwich) for the Queen's House, begun in 1616 and left unfinished when James I's consort, Anne of Denmark, died in 1618. Inigo Jones did not finally complete the main structure of the Queen's House, for King Charles I's consort Queen Henrietta Maria, until 1635.

b) Parliament accepted the recommendations of a Parliamentary Finance Committee with regard to John Harrison's petition, 1773. (21) This led to the Act of 13 George III, Chapter 77 and, as a direct result, Harrison was awarded £8,750, which represented the unpaid portion of the Admiralty Board's prize of £20,000 for the solving of the "Longitude Problem". Harrison's clocks (H1, H2, H3 and H4) are on permanent exhibition in the Old Royal Observatory, in Greenwich Park. (A fifth Harrison chronometer, H5, is in the Clockmakers' Company collection.)

c) Royal Naval College Chapel Dedication service, 1955, attended by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. No trace having been found of a previous dedication, the opportunity was taken of naming the Chapel after Saints Peter and Paul at a ceremony performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

d)Prince William of Wales b. 1982.

Jun 22

a)Princess Sophia b. at Greenwich Palace 1606. Sophia was the daughter of James I and Anne of Denmark, she was their last child (of seven) to be born alive. Sophia, sadly, lived briefly, dying the following day. Princess Sophia was buried in Westminster Abbey.

b) Royal Warrant of 1675, which directed the Master General of Ordnance to build "a small observatory within our park at Greenwich . . . to the design of Sir Christopher Wren . . . and of such monies as shall come into his hands for old and decayed gunpowder which . . . shall be sold by our order of 1st January last - provided that the whole sum shall not exceed £500". The foundations of the building were those of Humphrey's Tower, which formerly stood on the site; many of the bricks came from Tilbury Fort, a recently demolished gateway in the Tower of London provided some more materials (wood, iron and lead). The exterior was completed by Christmas 1675 but despite cutting corners, Christopher Wren's final budget was for £520.9s.1d thus exceeding the proposed budget by twenty pounds, nine shillings and one penny.(£20.46p.) (1)(See also: Jul 10)

Jun 23

V1 bomb falls on Charlton Church Lane, 1944. (38) Three people died and ten were injured, while Charlton Station was badly damaged .

Jun 24 Midsummer Day

a) Water Pageant, Midsummer's Day, 1561. This occurred during Elizabeth's reign, in which a mock castle was attacked by pinnaces.

b) Last night of Greenwich Night Pageant 1933. (see: Jun 16)

c) Sammy Ofer, an octogenarian (and one of the richest people in Israel [and the World]) has helped save the fire-ravaged Cutty Sark by donating £3.3m to complete the restoration, June 2008.

Jun 25

a) Rex Whistler, the artist, b. 1905 at 5 Park Place (now Passy Place), Eltham. The multi-talented Rex was killed in World War II whilst serving with the Irish guards at Demouville (7 miles east of Caen) on 18th July 1944.

b) Lifts in Greenwich Foot Tunnel replaced the earlier ones, 1992. (See also: Aug 4)

c) HM The Queen opened Cutty Sark to the general public, 1957. By 1987 10.25 million people had visited the clipper.

Jun 26

a) George IV d.1830. George's connection with Greenwich may be regarded as slight but his daughter was housed here (at Shrewsbury House, Shooters Hill) and it was his orders that caused the wholesale destruction of Montagu House (see: Sep 11), which had been the former home of his wife, Caroline of Brunswick. On 13 April 1829 King George IV, somewhat unwillingly, gave the Royal Assent to the Catholic Emancipation Act (1829) allowing Catholics to become MPs and hold most public offices. The King's opposition so enraged the Duke of Wellington, who was Prime Minister, that he talked of resigning, and "abused [the King] most furiously, said he was the worst man he ever fell in with in his whole life, the most selfish, the most false, the most ill-natured, the most entirely without one redeeming quality". (The Times)

b)Meridian celebrations Celebration of the Zero Meridian's adoption [ 22 October 1884] in Greenwich Park 1984. This event was also commemorated by an Official First Day Cover issued on this day in 1984.
Right: The celebrations in 1984.

c) President Vladimir Putin visited Old Royal Observatory, Greenwich, 2003. The Russian President, who is the first Russian leader to visit this country since Tsar Alexander II in 1874, did what all tourists do and stood astride the Zero-meridian line; he also signed the visitors' book and was particularly interested in the 28 inch telescope. Mr Putin was accompanied by HRH Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

Jun 27

a) Battle of Dettingen 1743. British, German and Austrian forces under George II defeated the French (under Duc de Noailles); this was the last battle in which an English monarch took part. The seventeen year old James Wolfe took part in this battle as adjutant of the 12th Regiment of Foot. During the battle he had his horse shot from under him. James later wrote to his father: "obliged to do the duty of an adjutant all that day and the next on foot, in a pair of heavy boots". (See also: Jan 2 & Sep 13)

b) Joseph Grimaldi gave farewell performance in Drury Lane, 1828 "being wholly unable to stand, went through it seated on a chair". (As recorded in: Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi edited by "Boz". Richard Bentley, 1838.) ("Boz" being, of course, Charles Dickens.) After retirement Grimaldi, the most famous of English clowns, lived in a cottage at 6 Prospect Row, (later renumbered as 23 George Street) Woolwich. Grimaldi died in north London and is buried next to Charles Dibdin in St James' Church, Pentonville.

c) Burney Street bombed by V1 1944. (38) This bombing was centred on the Crown Court at the Royal Hill end of Burney Street.

Jun 28

Henry VIII b. 1491 in Placentia, Greenwich. (see also: April 23)

Jun 29

Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul for whom the Royal Chapel, Greenwich is named. (see: Jun 21)

Jun 30

a) Foundation stone of Royal Hospital for Seamen, an extension to King Charles Building laid at 5 o'clock,1696. Present were: Christopher Wren and John Evelyn, who jointly laid the stone, together with Rev'd John Flamsteed and eleven Commissioners. The time was determined precisely by the Rev'd Flamsteed, the King's Astronomical Professor" (27) who brought instruments from the Observatory for the purpose.(5)

b) Closure of Royal Victory Yard, Deptford, 1961. (27) The Yard was opened in 1742 and was responsible for storing and blending the Navy's rum.

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