Over the years, the Observatory received its funding from a variety of sources. Originally funded via the Board of Ordnance, financial control switched to the Admiralty in the early 1800s and then to the Science Research Council (SRC) in 1965. The SRC’s successor body the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) took over the funding in 1981 followed by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council in 1994. Other funding came via the Civil List until 1830 and the budget for Civil Services which funded the running of the Magnetic Observatory and most of the computers from the 1830s until 1868/9. In the twentieth century, it also came from The Board of Trade which part funded the transmission of Time Signals from Rugby, and from the Ministry of Works, which became responsible for the exterior of Herstmonceux Castle in 1951. Significant funding was also received through private patronage, particularly in the form of telescopes. The cost to the public purse was further reduced by the loan of instruments from other institutions. The not inconsiderable cost of printing the volumes of Greenwich Observations was transferred to the Stationary Office (HMSO) in 1835.


Background information

Board of Ordnance funding (1675-1818)
Admiralty funding (1811-1965)
Funding by the Research Councils (1965-1998)
Civil List funding (1752-1875)
Treasury funding via the budget for Civil Services and Stationary Office
Ministry of Works funding (Ministry of Public Buildings and Works from 1962)
Board of Trade funding
Private Patronage
Instruments on Loan



Navy Estimates for the Observatory, 1812–1881/2
Navy Estimates for the Observatory, 1881/2–1886/7 & 1898/9