History of Greenwich in 50 Objects

Cutty Sark closure

Visitor notice: Cutty Sark will be closed on Sunday 1 March for the Vitality Big Half Marathon. The Park Row car park will also be closed to the public all weekend. On 29 February and 1 March access to the National Maritime Museum and Queen's House will be via the Romey Road or William Walk gates. Our other museum sites will be open as usual. Plan your visit

Essential information

Date and time: 
Wednesdays 22 April - 27 May | 10am - 12.30pm
£20 per class | £115 for the course
National Maritime Museum
Talks & courses

Inspired by objects in the Royal Museums Greenwich’s sites and collections, from the spectacular to the vernacular, you will investigate the history of Greenwich. 

Drawing on the experience of curators, writers, storytellers, storekeepers and mudlarks, you will have the chance to reflect on new and old perspectives of Greenwich’s rich history. The course will include walks, talks, discussions and debates.

Curated by local historian and storyteller Rich Sylvester. 

This course takes place on Wednesdays from 22 April 2020 to 27 May 2020, 10am - 12.30pm. Refreshments available on arrival. 


Course outline

Week 1 - Greenwich through the Museum's art collection

Guest speaker Dr Melanie Vandenbrouck (Curator of Art at Royal Museums Greenwich) will take us on a tour of Greenwich through some of the jewels of RMG's painting collections displayed at the Queen's House. She will then take us to the Caird Library to look at a selection from the Museum's rich collection of prints and drawings.

Venue: Queen's House Orangery

Week 2 -  Greenwich in 50 Objects

Guest speaker Rich Sylvester (local storyteller and guide) will present a selection of images of the 50 Objects that reflect history – both “authorised” and contested -  across the borough of Greenwich. Objects sourced from local archives or collections.

Venue: National Maritime Museum Seminar Room

Week 3 - History from the River 

Guided walk to Thames Foreshore with Alan Murphy, Thames mudlarker. Alan will lead a guided walk onto the Foreshore to explore a range of objects which symbolise the past of Greenwich. From bones, pottery fragments, clay pipe to nails and coins, we discuss the significance of these objects, material in both local and global history.

Venue: National Maritime Museum and Thames foreshore

Week 4 - Behind the Scenes at the Museum – a visit to the Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre

Reflections on routes into the archive and collection led by Learning Producer Matthew Cahill. Focused on a selection of  objects, artefacts and documents held at the stores. This is an opportunity to reflect on how the collection is managed and some intriguing “object biographies”.

Venue: Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre, Kidbrooke

Week 5 - What is the meaning of the Past in the Present? 

‘Question Time’ style debate with a panel of “history keepers” – people who work to conserve, curate and interpret the material past of Greenwich. Questions and topics will be suggested by course participants. 

Venue: National Maritime Museum Seminar Room

Week 6 - Does this Object say 'Greenwich?'

Course participants choose one object from the National Maritime Museum’s collections online, digitised local history resources or from those featured during the previous 5 weeks.

Individuals or groups may represent their favourite object through a creative response, artwork, poem, story or short speech. 

Venue: National Maritime Museum

Rich Sylvester

Rich presents for the Schools Learning programmes at the National Maritime Museum. He has devised and researched a range of family and public programmes featuring the Great Map, Nelson's Ship in a Bottle, Prince Frederick's Barge and Gloriana the Queen’s Row barge. Rich was also project manager and editor for the East Greenwich History Map (Heritage Lottery funded, 2010). Further afield he has devised and delivered interpretative storytelling at Ironbridge Gorge Museum, Royal Opera House, Royal Parks and the British Library. Rich  has 14 years experience of  training adults, specialising in storytelling and interpretation as well as his other passion of outdoor learning/forest school. He has an MA in Public History (Ruskin College, 2011), and is a Fellow of LEEF (London Environmental Educators Forum).

Discover the History of Greenwich in 50 Objects blog


£20 per session. Concessions available: 10% discount for jobseekers (must have a valid ES40 card) and listed local history societies.