The Greenwich site

Greenwich, with London in the distance c.1680. The Observatory is depicted on the left, the River Thames on the right. Jan Vorsterman (Yale Center for British Art)


As a working institution, the Royal Observatory was located at the centre of Greenwich Park from the time of its founding in 1675 until the start of its move to Herstmonceux in the late 1940s. Parts of the site remained operational until late 1957.

Today, the buildings and  grounds are a Scheduled Ancient Monument at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are in the care of the National Maritime Museum.

If you are unfamiliar with the Observatory and its history it may helpful to start by reading:

A brief history of the Observatory
The Quest for Longitude and the Rise of Greenwich – a Brief History


Location map

Location: Blackheath Avenue, London SE10 8XJ

Historic maps of Greenwich


Buildings and grounds

Grounds and Gardens
Building and site plans
Deteriorating conditions at Greenwich and the selection of the new location for the Observatory


Historic locations

The changing nomenclature of the Observatory buildings
Historic locations of the chronometer rooms
Historic locations of the library
The astronomical regulators and their historic locations


In pictures

Aerial Views
Magic Lantern slides
Old Postcards
Newsreels and historic movie clips
The Cecil Beaton photographs (1945)
The George Rodger photographs from the Life Photo Collection (September 1946)


Specific events, publications and activities

Flamsteed’s Historia Coelestis and the etchings of Francis Place – a comparative study
Sheet music from 1746 – On Greenwich Park (complete with engraving of the Observatory)
Burial places of the first nine Astronomers Royal
Christie’s ‘Lady Computers’ – the Astrographic pioneers of Greenwich
The Royal Observatory Hockey Club
The anarchist Bomb of 1894
Wartime (WW1 & 2)
Charitable garden parties
General Relativity and the 29 May 1919 Solar Eclipse
Visit of the International Hydrographic Conference, 26 June 1919
Visit of the King of Afghanistan, 2  March 1928
Unveiling of the Wolfe Statue, 5 June 1930


Anniversary celebrations of the Observatory’s foundation (1875, 1925, 1975)


Other information

Many aspects of the Observatory’s administration and work are covered under separate more general headings which can be accessed via the tabs to the left of this page.