Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre

Greenwich Visitor Centre

Not to be confused with the Greenwich Heritage Centre, which is located in Royal Arsenal, the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre is located near the Cutty Sark, in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College. Housed in the Pepys Building, originally an engineering laboratory for the ORNC, it opened in 2010.

The free Centre offers an introduction to the history and attractions within the Greenwich World Heritage Site. It has information on the history of the Palace of Placentia, models of Christopher Wren’s original designs for Greenwich Hospital, the carved heads originally intended to decorate the exterior of the Painted Hall, and a model of a lion originally intended for external decoration, too. I particularly enjoyed the section about Greenwich Palace, the birthplace of Henry VIII, and the archaeological work that has discovered more about the palace and its layout and decoration.

Lion

The Centre has other displays about maritime Greenwich and about the history of the Royal Naval College, which occupied Greenwich Hospital and the surrounding area between 1873 and 1998. It also has a Tourist Information desk and a gift shop.

Greenwich Visitor Centre

This free visitor centre is well worth checking out as introduction to Greenwich.

FACTS

Address: 2 Cutty Sark Gardens, Old Royal Naval College, London, SE10 9LW

Website: ornc.org/visitor-centre

Opening Hours: 10am-5pm

Prices: Free

Greenwich Heritage Centre

I visited Greenwich Heritage Centre on my tube jaunt down to Greenwich. The Centre, which is free to visit, is located in Artillery Square in the Royal Arsenal, a short walk from Woolwich Arsenal station.

The small museum is about the development of Greenwich from the earliest times to the present day. It contains a wealth of artefacts including tools that were used in the Royal Arsenal, an Egyptian mummified cat, nineteenth and twentieth-century artworks and material from the Roman temple in Greenwich Park.

The museum takes its unusual logo from an artefact called the Bellarmine Jug. This was excavated in the 1970s from the old Woolwich Dockyard and was made in a large kiln there in the 17th century.

The Main Gallery houses the exhibition Inside the Arsenal, which examines the story of the Royal Arsenal and the Royal Woolwich Dockyard from the time of Henry VIII to the present. The role of the Arsenal during the war years is examined, and there is a piece on the Arsenal football team, who later moved to north London, where they are still.

Alongside the main part of the museum is an exhibition called The Millennium Embroideries, showcasing the incredible talents of local women who have created embroidered panels covering the borough’s history over the past thousand years. When I visited, there was also an exhibition in the Temporary Gallery concerning Asian culture in Greenwich, which was very interesting.

The Greenwich Heritage Centre is a small but free interesting museum, and if you’re passing through the borough on your way to the more famous heritage attractions, it’s worth popping in here to get a sense of the borough’s history.

FACTS

Address: Artillery Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich SE18 4DX

Website: royalgreenwich.gov.uk/heritagecentre

Opening Hours: Tues-Sat 9am-5pm

Prices: Free