A new slant to a ‘bee’s eye view’ of Greenwich

A new slant to a ‘bee’s eye view’ of Greenwich

One of the joys of living by the river as depicted by the Italian master painter Canaletto is to be part of the ‘Greenwich Hospital’ masterpiece circa 1750 showing the wonderful river frontage.  ‘The Crane’ can be spotted at the head of our street which alas is no longer there.  But do walk down the little ‘Crane Street’ passageway where Frank Dowling has mounted a magnificent floral display throughout the seasons, just recently revitalised by a team of elevated plants men from across the Channel!!  Our little street has to be closed during the installation this ‘Fall’.  Worth a visit, the Trafalgar Tavern is revitalised to palace standards:  paintings galore feature on every wall – so do go and view on the ground floor and on the wonderful first floor riverside grand reception rooms.

Likewise the internationally known Painted Hall, reached by the grand avenue of the Old Royal Naval College – now the University of Greenwich, is open again after its fantastic restoration.  Do visit the undercroft where once guests at the State Banquets were primed before climbing up the grand stairs to Britain’s biggest dining room. Through the years I have been fortunate to attend Trafalgar Day celebrations.  James Thornhill’s ceiling is indeed another masterpiece to savour in its magnitude, especially in candlelight, with diners celebrating Naval traditions, music provided by the Band of the Royal Marines – wow!!!

As a fellow artist I have depicted such occasions with Guildhall and Fishmongers Hall just as the guests settle after the honoured guests file in.  Somehow I think those days are over, but one can recall with pleasure.

I have often thought of Canaletto and his grand clients taking the ferry over to Island Gardens to select and study his viewpoint perched on the then sea wall keeping tide and grazing cattle at bay!  Those were days before the camera could hold the view, never mind the architectural and maritime detail.  Let’s rejoice in these treasures, now there for all to see.

Don’t forget to see the Bee Hive store in the Painted Hall undercroft – also an excellent shop selling Christmas presents galore!!  (The association with bees comes from those that were kept at the Old Friary, later built over by Henry VIII’s Tudor Palace.

About RiverWatch returns

Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

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