Grounds and Gardens

The site of the Royal Observatory grew in size as the years went by to accommodate the changing needs of the Astronomers Royal. This was achieved by enclosing tranches of land from Greenwich Park. Thirteen such enclosures took place, ranging in size from just a few a square metres to about an acre. After the passing of the Crown Lands Act 1851, the enclosures were authorised by Royal Warrant except in 1873 when the enclosure was of a temporaray nature, in 1897 when the amount of land involved was very small and in 1911 when title was not transferred. The earlier enclosures were authorised through the offices of the King’s Surveyor of Woods until 1810, and then though those of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests.

By the 1940s when the Observatory came to move to Herstmonceux, its land holding at Greenwich was 3.36 acres or 1.81% of the Park. The main site occupied 2.46 acres, whilst the smaller Christie enclosure of 1897 (located some 400 metres to the east of Flamsteed House) occupied the rest. The Christie enclosure and part of the gardens on the main site were returned to the Park in 1959/60.

The Courtyard
The Astronomers’ Garden
The Meridian Garden
The Garden to the west of Flamsteed House
The Magnetic and South Grounds
The Observatory Garden (now part of the Royal Park)
The Christie Enclosure (now part of the Royal Park)
The ‘Reserve(d) Ground’ of Greenwich Park (used on a temporary basis from c.1872)


List of Enclosures and Reversions
Extracts from the Reports of the Astronomer Royal relating to the Buildings and Grounds (1836–1964)