The chief place of resort in the daytime, after the public-houses, is the park, in which the principal amusement is to drag young ladies up the steep hill which leads to the Observatory, and then drag them down again, at the very top of their speed, greatly to the derangement of their curls and bonnet-caps, and much to the edification of lookers-on from below. “Kiss in the Ring” and ‘Threading my Grandmother’s Needle”, too, are sports which receive their full share of patronage.
But it grows dark: the crowd has gradually dispersed and only a few stragglers are left behind. The light in the direction of the church shows that the fair is illuminated; and the distant noise proves it to be filling fast. The spot, which half an hour ago was ringing with the shouts of boisterous mirth, is as calm and quiet as if nothing could ever disturb its serenity; the fine old trees, the majestic building at their feet, with the noble river beyond, glistening in the moonlight appear in all their beauty, and under their most favourable aspect; the voices of the boys, singing their evening hymn, are borne gently in the air.
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Charles Dickens, 1836 Spring blossom on one of the Park avenues. Extract from Downstream to Greenwich – The Heritage and Future of the London by Paul Tempest. Each autumn, the Chinese gather the windfall sweet chestnuts in the Park. The oldest sweet chestnut trees were planted in the 17th century.
The Rose Garden in front of Rangers House, formerly the home of Lord Chesterfield, is beautifully tended and a riot of colour throughout the summer.
The Royal Greenwich Observatory, established in 1675, looking south from the Queen’s House.
Notable trees in the park include the remains of an ancient oak, where Queen Elizabeth I played as a child, in which miscreants were held captive in the 19th century.
A splendid cedar originating in the Lebanon beside the hillocks of the Anglo Saxon burial ground with the dome of the Royal Observatory in the background.
One of the 17th century sweet chestnuts.
The Royal Observatory, 1675 with the red Time Ball in the rest position atop the Octagon Room. There is a terrace cafe at the Royal Observatory with outstanding views of the upper park.