The Observatory will be the perfect TV backdrop
LONDON’S oldest enclosed Royal Park is located just a few miles to the south of the Olympic Park and was therefore the obvious choice to stage the equestrian events, including the show jumping and three-day event.
There will be few more Olympic venues dripping in history than Greenwich Park, which covers 183 acres between Blackheath and the River Thames, and is situated on a hilltop with impressive views across the River to Canary Wharf, Docklands and the City of London.
The Observatory, which stands at zero longitude and is seen as the historical home of time, has already been identified by United States television executives as a perfect backdrop for their coverage.
The Park provides a setting for several other historic buildings, including the Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House.
There has been a settlement on the site since Roman times, but Greenwich will always be strongly associated with royalty. Since the Duke of Gloucester, brother of Henry V, inherited the land in 1427 generations of monarchs have taken this magnificent park to their hearts.
Greenwich was the birthplace of Henry VIII who introduced deer to the park. His two daughters Mary I and Elizabeth I were also born here and his son Edward VI died in Greenwich before he reached his 16th birthday.
In the early 1600’s, the park was laid out in the French style with many trees planted, some of which remain today. James I gave the palace and the park to his wife Queen Anne, who commissioned Inigo Jones to design her a special home which became know as the Queen’s House.
It was Charles II’s great interest in science that resulted in the founding of The Royal Society in 1661. Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to build The Royal Observatory, named Flamsteed House after the first Royal Astronomer John Flamsteed, and is now part of the National Maritime Museum.
Today Greenwich is a World Heritage Site and is most famous for Greenwich Mean Time. During World War Two there were anti-aircraft guns in the Flower Garden, and the tips of some of the trees were cut off to widen the field of fire. Evidence of this can still be seen in the truncated shape of some of the trees.
After the war, the park was restored to its former glory and in 2012 is sure to bewitch television viewers around the world.