Observatory Gardens

It’s entirely possible that you’ve lived in Greenwich for some time and never visited the ‘secret’ Observatory Gardens in the near-centre of Greenwich Park. Indeed there will probably be a fair few people rather miffed that I’m mentioning it at all – but hey – we’re all True Greenwichians – everyone here should know our town’s secrets…

It’s rather more landscaped now than in the past – terraces and laid paths have made it a lot more formal, but it’s still a quiet area surrounded by trees, up a path you would easily miss if you didn’t know it was there.

There’s a baby haha on one edge – not deep enough to be particularly dangerous, but keeping the wild bit from the large lawn. At the other end there’s some natty terraces.

I wonder whether they’ve been added to facilitate the Open Air Shakespeare they occasionally have there. I, to my shame, have never been, though I once saw a production by Rainbow Theatre (which usually puts on said Shakespeare) in Worthing where they’d miscalculated the tides, and, unable to present Twelfth Night on the beach as advertised, held it a few streets back in the producer’s (far too small for the audience numbers) back garden. Sitting on a variety of kitchen chairs, pouffes, piano stools etc. and clasping a glass of wine from the producer’s cellar, we enjoyed a fantastic show in a wonderfully-improvised fashion.

I don’t know whether there will be any Shakespeare in the Observatory Gardens this year, but since the tides don’t generally reach Greenwich Hill, I think we can safely assume that if there is any, we won’t end up in anyone’s back garden. I can see how, with its secluded situation and tall trees to cut down on noise, the venue would be ideal.

There are some very inviting-looking steps in one corner, for children to explore. Of course I did my own Phantom expedition around them and though they are now 21st-century Kiddie-SafeTM laid paths and cut back greenery, and hardly the rough and tumble experience that I would have preferred, given the Health & Safety hoops they’ve probably had to jump through just to get – heavens – uneven surfaces, it will keep younger children entertained for at least ten minutes.

The garden entrance can be reached from the top front of the Observatory, going down the little side path, or, for a step-free (and frankly more comfortable) experience, it’s just set back from the road, a little way downhill from the public loos.


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