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Greenwich palace

Greenwich palace began life as Bella Court, built by Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, brother of Henry V, whose library housed the great collection which finished up in the Bodleian, Oxford. After passing to Margaret of Anjou, the palace came to Henry VII, who built extensively. Its position on the Thames made it convenient for receptions and it became a major Tudor palace: Henry VIII and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth were born there. James I gave it to his wife Anne of Denmark, who employed Inigo Jones to begin building the Queen's House. It passed next to Henrietta Maria, but during the civil wars fell into decay and at one time was a biscuit factory. Charles II began a major reconstruction, but did not complete it, though the observatory on the hill dates from 1676/7. William III decided in 1694 to employ Wren to build a great new hospital for seamen, which took many years to finish. George I stayed there in September 1714 on his way from Hanover. It subsequently became a naval college and home to the National Maritime Museum. The existing palace is probably the grandest of royal buildings and the Queen's House, colonnaded in the early 19th cent., and recently restored, is a jewel of cool classicism.

J. A. Cannon

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