Gates to Greenwich Park (1)
If you recall, the whole point of the weird shape of the Queen’s House was so Her Majesty to have her cake and eat it – she wanted to be able to get easy access to the river for travel, but she wanted to have a good tramp about in the park too. The pesky plebs trudging past her palace along the main road to Woolwich was a big issue, so Inigo Jones built his ‘ingenious device’ as a giant bridge so she never had to get her feet muddy.
Early pictures have the house opening out directly onto the park (which, of course, hadn’t been landscaped by leNotre at the time) but it wasn’t long before the bit just outside was turned into fabulous gardens, none of which survive (the Dwarf Orchard is about as close as we get; looking forward to seeing what they’ve got in there. Anyone know when that’s opening?)
To be honest, I don’t really know how old the wall with its formal border and cute little door actually is. I’m guessing it’s the same age as the Hospital, but A.D. Webster is silent on the subject and I can’t find anything in John Bold either. So I have no idea whether any Royals have ever actually walked through the gate. The odd thing is that although it’s got a pair of cyprus sentinels marking it, you could go past and never know it was there. It also entertains me that both sides have steps down to the door in the wall, instead of just walking straight across.
Of course, it’s a ha-ha, which means there would have been a wall so the Royal deer couldn’t get into the house and eat everything, but they could also do away with pesky fences. There’s another one on (unsurprisingly) Ha Ha Road in Charlton.
I just love the way this has been made into a beautifully symmetrical feature in its own right. From a distance it almost looks as though it’s going to step down into a little pool, and even though you can see what’s behind it, that door is still magically mysterious.
And, just to complete the picture, Stephen has furnished me with pics of the steps the other side. Thank you Stephen.
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