Queen's House is a former Royal residence built between 1616 and 1635 in Greenwich and its heritage is a tale of Kings and Queens spanning 500 years. Its stunning setting in the heart of South London provides a perfect location for Heritage Live’s summer concerts.
Queen's House is one of the most important buildings in British architectural history, being the first consciously classical building to have been constructed in the country. The famous architect Inigo Jones was commissioned by King James I's wife, Anne of Denmark, to design the building in 1616 after returning from his grand tour of Roman, Renaissance, and Palladian architecture in Italy. The palace was supposedly a gift from the King to apologise for swearing in front of her, after she had accidentally killed one of his favourite dogs during a hunt.
However, Anne of Denmark never lived to see Inigo Jones’s progressive Classical design realised, dying in 1619 with only the first floor completed. It was not until 1629, when King James’ son, King Charles I, gave Greenwich to his wife Henrietta Maria, that work on it resumed.
The Queen’s House was completed in 1636 and is considered remarkable for its break with the traditional, red-brick Tudor style of building, its elegant proportions and the high quality of its interiors. It was the first fully Classical building in England.
The start of the Civil War in 1642 meant that Henrietta Maria had little time to enjoy it – she went into exile, her husband was executed and his property seized by the State, although she did eventually return after the Restoration, in 1660.
It was used consistently by members of the Royal Family up until 1805, after which King George III granted use of the Queen’s House to a charity for the orphans of seamen, called the Royal Naval Asylum. The charity relocated in 1934 and ever since it has been maintained and cared for by the National Maritime Museum.
The Queen’s House is famous today for its extraordinary art collection including works by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Turner and Hogarth and its connection with artists goes all the way back to 1673, when two Dutch maritime painters, the van de Veldes, were given studio space by King Charles II.
It is rumoured that the Queen’s House is haunted. In 1966, a photograph taken by Canadian tourist, Reverend Ralph Hardy, appeared to show a ghost on the Tulip stairs and there have been numerous other reports of paranormal activity. Some visitors have claimed to have heard soft footsteps on the staircase, followed by the strange sound of a group of children chanting. There has also been a handful of paranormal incidents involving a pale woman, dressed in old fashioned clothing. She has been spotted mopping up what appears to be blood on the first step of the staircase - thought to be linked to a maid who fell to her death many years ago.
Romney Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF