Underground Greenwich (13) Greenwich Park’s Lost Steps (1) Tiny
I’ve been back delving into my precious copy of John Stone’s Underground Passages, Caverns Etc. Of Greenwich & Blackheath and have come up with a very strange thing that I never noticed before.
Apparently, in one of the dips to the east of the park, just north of the Roman Villa, are some buried steps. They lead down into the system of conduits and tunnels that burrow throughout Greenwich Park. That particular set of passages seems to go from around the Roman Villa to around Queen Elizabeth’s Oak, though it’s very unlikely that it’s anything to do with the Romans.
It could be medieval; redeveloped and improved around the time Greenwich Hospital was being built. There is, according to Mr Stone, who seems to know it well, also a long passage that leads down to the ORNC, as well as several others ranging across the park.
But here’s an interesting thing. Stone says that although the passages are described as “ancient” in 1780, none of the bricks he’d seen in the early 20th century appeared to be any older than the hospital.
To call something that’s only about 70 years old ‘ancient’ seems like pushing it a bit. He suggests therefore that there may be others that, even in the 18th Century had already been bricked up and abandoned. So. Even if there is a map of the tunnels built for the Hospital somewhere, it is entirely possible that there is a network of even older, medieval tunnels that go all over the place no one knows about.
If this is so, it may well be worth doing a bit of proper Geo-Fizz to work out where these tunnels are before allowing a load of horses to thunder around on top of them and maybe fall into one, don’t you think…