Official Greenwich is easy to spot. The Cutty Sark, the perfect green of the Royal Park, the trinkets and object-d’art of the markets and the museums dedicated to Naval might built on the site of palaces built for Monarchs and masters. Seemingly everywhere one goes there is the crush of tourists streaming through the place, except for the one place they were all meant to go, the giant pimple of the Millennium Dome that sits quivering at the end of Greenwich peninsular.
Which is all good, well, mostly good but it is not the whole story. The Greenwich that gets me excited is the weird trinket stuffed beside the tat and toss at the market, the old paperback, the postcard from a place I’ve never heard of. The museum is a fantastic display of history but it is also a place where the dead still walk. The park is also the site of a pagan temple to Diana, bronze-age barrows and the home, some say, to a frost Goddess. It’s also the site of the UK’s only ever anarchist act of terrorism, loopy folk events from the past and a possible sighting of a sickly green spirit.
Geraldine Charles, the archivist of the National Maritime Museum, will talk at SELFS on 'Trails of the Unexpected in Royal Maritime Greenwich' from 8pm on Monday 9th May.
This talk will cover folklore, ghost stories and earth mysteries in and around the sites of the Palace of Placentia, Queen's House, Greenwich Hospital and more, which is the site now occupied by Greenwich University and The National maritime Museum. The talk will be illustrated with photographs.
Geraldine is a registered archivist working at the National Maritime Museum, she is also a biologist with a special project on Pythons & Boas, a parasitologist (squirrel’s gut and rectal content), an expert in the Victorian and Egyptian Symbolism of Abney Park Cemetery, a published poet, a founding Trustee of the Families in British India Society, trainee bongo player and sings in the ‘world music’ group Songlines. Our kind of person.
SELFS meets every second Monday of the month (except this August) upstairs at The Spanish Galleon, 48 Greenwich Church Street, SE10 9BL. Talks start at 8.00pm and costs £2.50 / £1.50 concessions.
Greenwich Mainline & DLR: Turn left from the main exit, walk about 5-10 minutes, the Galleon is on your right, at the cross-roads.
Cutty Sark DLR: Turn left from the station, right when you get to the road, the Spanish Galleon is across the road. Buses: 177, 180, 188, 199, 286, 386. Contact SELFS.
Pirates have sauntered, gut-girls have belly laughed and, very recently, Morris men have danced badly. The Deptford Jack-in-the-Green paraded through there last year, mitten crabs creep about the place, the church of the High Street is linked in with Old Nick Hawksmoor and his possible mad plans and the site of the Millennium Dome is said to be haunted by George Livesey. The pub SELFS meets at, the Spanish Galleon, has secret tunnels allegedly linking it to the Maritime Museum and a sailor’s uniform was found walled up in the cellar.
Local Story-teller and GreenSpace Guide Rich Sylvester is running a series of two-hour story-walks “[e]xploring the Stories of Greenwich Peninsula from Vikings to the Dome”. The first is this Sunday, 8th May, meet at 2.30 pm at the top of the escalator North Greenwich Tube, the route is from the Dome to Greenwich. “It all happened here!” says Rich. “With a few facts, several stories and many myths we will shine a light on Viking kidnappers, Elizabethan pirates [phworr, pirates], convicts, Ship-builders and Entrepreneurs of the Greenwich Peninsula.”
For Friday 20th May meet at 6.30 pm and do the same route as the above, but widdershins, so meet at the Cutty Sark to walk to the Dome. It being Friday night there will be a 20 minute break for liquid refreshment.
Sunday 22nd May is back from the top of the escalator North Greenwich Tube and is a circular ramble called "Shades of Green". Rich says: “[a] blend of stories of the past while we "keep 'em peeled" for sightings of the surprising Wildlife of River and Peninsula."
Tickets are £5 (£4 concessions) and advance booking (which is recommended) from Rich at 07833 538143 or email Rich from here. Buses to North Greenwich: 108, 422, 188, 161, 486. Tube to North Greenwich: North Greenwich.