Museum blog

Read our blog to get the lowdown from our experts and go behind the scenes at Royal Museums Greenwich.

Annie Scott Dill Maunder (née Russell) by Lafayette 1931 © National Portrait Gallery, London (tile).jpg

13 April 2019

Working in astronomy has always been a challenge for women but somehow they’ve managed to contribute in their own way, whether it’s observing directly themselves or recording and analysing data from other astronomers. Others contributed by writing popular books and developing education materials to share the subject with others. Their work has long been overshadowed by their male counterparts but in this blog I’d like to focus on one particular female astronomer who worked here at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, during the 1890s and whose story really encapsulates the struggles faced by women in astronomy at the time.

Lieutenant's logs

10 April 2019

Here in the Caird Library and Archive we are often asked about Royal Naval records relating either to specific individuals, events or ships. Most of the surviving records generated by the Navy during its long history are held by the National Archives at Kew. One set of records we hold on deposit here at Greenwich however are logs written by Royal Naval Lieutenants during the period of 1673-1809.

Title page of The Bogus Surveyor

3 April 2019

“If, by repeated efforts, you find the index [of the theodolite] will not return to zero after taking a round of angles…unscrew the instrument from its tripod and replace it in the box, close the lid firmly, then gently roll the box one hundred yards or so down the hill side…”  

Marlag 'O' Feb '44 S.W. Corner of Naval Officers Prison Camp, Westertincke, Germany, in winter

26 March 2019

JOD/332 is a log kept by Captain Stanley Algar while a Prisoner of War at the Milag Nord camp near Bremen. However, the diary is not all it seems, while I was expecting to read Stanley Algar’s story of his capture and the gruelling day to day life in the camp, what it contained was quite different.

The tweed, after converted to sail

19 March 2019

With 2019 marking the 150th birthday of the Cutty Sark, discover the story behind one of its ancestors. What part did The Tweed, an illustrious vessel in its own right, play in the Cutty Sark becoming the fastest ship of her time?

‘Trotsky’ the bear being transferred to HMS Ajax from HMS Emperor of India in 1921

1 March 2019

There is a long history of animals and seafarers coming together at sea. Seamen often kept cats and dogs as pets or ship’s mascots, but more exotic companions such as parrots, bears and monkeys also joined the crew. Horses, mules and even elephants were transported across the sea to be used in battle, while cattle, pigs, goats and chickens on board provided a source of fresh milk, eggs and meat.

A view of Greenwich Hospital from the river (BHC1829)

11 February 2019

The Caird Library and Archive has hundreds of manuscripts and printed works related to Greenwich Hospital, but only one substantial collection of papers of a naval officer from his time as Treasurer of the Hospital.

View of 19th century merchant vessel (BHC3594)

22 January 2019

Death was never far away for crew members on a merchant vessel in the 1860s. In 1865 one in twelve vessels reported the death of at least one member of its complement. More surprising perhaps is that births also occurred, but less often with only 1% of vessels reporting them. This study examines just over 4,000 merchant vessels’ records of births and deaths in 1865.

The pursuit of the 'Graf Spee' by HMS 'Ajax' and 'Achilles' [at the Battle of the River Plate, 13 December 1939]

8 January 2019

This month we take a look into Archive and Library item MSS/75/130/2 concerning Captain Frederick Secker Bell (1897-1973). Bell was educated at the Royal Naval Colleges at Dartmouth, Osborne, Isle of Wight and the Royal Navy Staff College at Greenwich.  He served on board the battleship HMS Canada at the battle of Jutland in 1916, received his Captaincy in December 1938 and took command of HMS Exeter a month prior to the declaration of war on September 3 1939.

Watch spring button

4 January 2019

Diaries written by English prisoners of war captured during the Napoleonic Wars frequently mention their clothing. Whilst the importance of appropriate clothing to the comfort and care of prisoners is obvious, prisoners frequently used clothing for their benefit in other, more creative, ways.

Pages