While there is said to have been a market in Greenwich since as far back as the 1300s, it was on 19th December, 1700, that Lord Romney granted the Commissioners of Greenwich Hospital a charter to hold a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Greenwich-MarketThe market was originally located on the site of the Old Royal Naval College’s west gate and the surrounding area but under an initiative to clean up the area in the early 1800s – when the market sold all manner of foodstuffs, including livestock, as well as general goods – saw the commissioners move it to its current location on an “island site” in the midst of a block bounded by Nelson Road, King William Walk, College Approach and Greenwich Church Street.

Under the direction of Greenwich surveyor Joseph Kay (he also built Greenwich’s Trafalgar Tavern), between 1827-1833 the market was rebuilt with three roofs constructed over three linked buildings to protect traders and customers from the weather.

In 1849 an Act of Parliament was passed giving Greenwich Hospital the right to regulate the marketplace including creating byelaws and collecting fees from traders.

In the early 1900s, the byelaws were changed so the market could trade six days a week (except Sundays) and in 1908, the original timber roofing of the market was replaced with the steel and glass roof that still stands today.

The market, which lost its roof when it was struck by flying bombs in 1944, was established as a wholesale market in the years after the war and renovations carried out in the late 1950s/early 1960s. The market remained a wholesale fruit and vegetable market until 1980s when, inspired by the success of Camden Lock Market in London’s north (we’ll look at this market in a later post), it was transformed into an arts and crafts market (officially opened on 14th May, 1985) with shops around the edge let to craft-related businesses.

These days the market has about 150 stalls, selling everything from antiques and fashion to art and photographic work, jewellery, books and gifts as well a host of places to eat and drink in the market and surrounding streets.

A regeneration plan – under which a 100 bed hotel, 17,000sq ft of retail space and 155 trading stalls would be located on the 1.64 acre site currently occupied by the market – is now under consideration by Greenwich Hospital. The market is expected to be relocated to the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College while the regeneration takes place in January with the market reopened in late 2014.

WHERE: The market has four entrances – off Greenwich Church Street, Nelson Road, King William Walk and College Approach, Greenwich (nearest DLR is Cutty Sark); WHEN: 10am to 5.30pm, Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays (different stalls operate on different days – check website for details); COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.shopgreenwich.co.uk/greenwich-market.

This is the last in our series on 10 Historic London Markets (we’ll be looking at more markets in upcoming posts). PICTURE: visitlondonimages/britainonview/Stephen McLaren.

For more on London’s markets, check out The London Market Guide.

Canaletto’s image of Greenwich Hospital from the north bank of the Thames (1750-52) is among almost 400 paintings, manuscripts and objects selected to be part of the National Maritime Museum’s new exhibition, Royal River: Power, Pageantry & The Thames.

Curated by historian David Starkey, the exhibition, part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, focuses on the use of the river across five centuries covering events including Anne Boleyn’s coronation procession and Admiral Lord Nelson’s stately funeral through to the evolving Lord Mayor’s pageant and the ‘Great Stink’ of the mid-1800s.

Highlights include the oldest known copy of Handel’s Water Music, the sixteenth century Pearl Sword (which the monarch must touch on entering the City of London), a stuffed swan, treasures from the City’s livery companies, and another Canaletto work – this time his famous view of the river filled with boats getting ready for the Lord Mayor’s Day, seen as an inspiration for this year’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant and on show in the UK for the first time since its completion.

As well as celebrating the Diamond Jubilee, the exhibition also marks the 75th anniversary of the opening of the National Maritime Museum by King George VI on 27th April, 1937. The king’s speech from that day and his Admiral of the Fleet uniform also feature in the exhibition.

WHERE: National Maritime Museum Greenwich (nearest DLR station is Cutty Sark); WHEN: Daily 10am to 5pm (opening times may vary during the Paralympic and Olympic Games) until 9th September; COST: £11 adult/£9 concession/family ticket £24.50; WEBSITE: www.rmg.co.uk.

PICTURE: © National Maritime Museum, London

It was roughly two hours into the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October, 1805, about 1.15pm, that Great Britain’s most famous seaman, Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, was fatally struck by a musket ball.

Fired by a marksmen in the rigging of the French ship Redoubtable, the musket ball struck him in the left shoulder as he stood on the deck of his flagship, HMS Victory.

Having fallen to his knees, he was spotted by the Victory‘s captain, Thomas Hardy, before he collapsed. Carried below the decks to the ship’s cockpit, it was there that he died (the Victory can still be visited at Portsmouth).

His damaged coat, meanwhile, was placed under the head of Midshipman George Augustus Westphal, who was being treated for his injuries nearby. Blood from the midshipman (late himself an admiral) stuck his hair to one of the epaulettes, part of which was was cut away and retained by his family as a memento.

The “undress jacket” was later returned to Nelson’s mistress, Emma Lady Hamilton, in accordance with his wishes. She later gave it to Joshua Jonathan Smith, Lord Mayor of London in 1810-1811, to as payment of a debt just prior to retiring to France in 1814. It was Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria, who later purchased the coat for £150 from Smith’s widow and presented it to Greenwich Hospital in 1845.

The jacket can now be found in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (housed in a section of the former Naval College). Along with the fatal musket ball hole on the left shoulder, the tails and left sleeve of the jacket are stained with the blood of John Scott, Nelson’s secretary, who had died in the early moments of the battle on the spot where Nelson was later shot. It’s also possible to see where the epaulette was damaged during the treatment of Midshipman Westphal.

The front of the coat also features embroidered versions of the four orders of chivalry awarded to Nelson – these are the star of the Order of the Bath, the Order of the Crescent awarded by the Sultan of Turkey, the Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit awarded by Ferdinand IV of Naples, and the German Order of St Joachim. According to the National Maritime Museum, “Nelson habitually wore them on all his uniform coats”.

The coat’s right sleeve is positioned as Nelson would have worn it – in 1797 he had lost his right arm at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

PICTURE: Vice-admiral’s undress coat worn by Nelson (1758-1805) at the Battle of Trafalgar. There is a bullet hole on the left shoulder, close to the epaulette. (c) National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection.

WHERE: National Maritime Museum, Romney Road, Greenwich, (nearest DLR station is Cutty Sark or Greenwich mainline station); WHEN: Open 10am to 5pm daily; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.nmm.ac.uk.