View from One Tree Hill: the Queen's House and the Royal Observatory, Greenwich

(Updated, June 2017) A painting showing a panoramic view of Greenwich including the Queen’s House, the Royal Observatory and the Thames, all in an artificially opened-out perspective. It shows the view from One Tree Hill in the early days of the Royal Observatory, before London spread out as far as Greenwich. The part of the Observatory depicted is the original Flamsteed House, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke and completed in 1676. A number of people can be seen walking up to the Observatory with, to the left, the 'Giant Steps' constructed as part of Charles II's redesign of the Park in the 1660s.

The double avenue of trees (in fact aligned on the axis of the steps, and not as shown) leads down to a three-quarter view of the Queen's House. To its left are the remains of Inigo Jones's gate into the walled Greenwich to Woolwich road running under the House. To its right is the remaining ruined tower of Henry VIII's tiltyard attached to the old Palace of Greenwich, which was at this time nearing the end of a long process of demolition. These details date the view to about 1695 since the road was moved north and the tiltyard tower demolished by 1699.

Charles II had intended building a new palace here and the first range of it, designed by John Webb and begun in 1664, can be seen on the right. This building, which was left inclomplete by 1672, was incorporated as the east range of the King Charles block of Greenwich Hospital from 1696 on. The Queen Anne, King William and Queen Mary blocks were subsequently erected by 1752. In the mid distance are the towers of the medieval St Alfege, Greenwich, and St Nicholas, Deptford. On the horizon are the towers and spires of several post-Fire churches in the City of London and also the Monument completed in 1676. The River Thames is full of shipping and the Isle of Dogs, with its row of windmills along MIllwall is visible on the right. There are several other versions of this painting in existence, with similar faults of perspective that suggest copying. While the detail suggests the view is about 1695 the painting is likely to be a little later.

Object Details

ID: BHC1817
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Griffier, Jan
Places: Greenwich; Royal Observatory The Queen's House
Date made: circa 1695; circa 1700 Late 17th century
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Painting: 845 x 1355 mm; Frame: 920 x 1390 x 75 mm

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