Catching the sunrise at ye Old Royal Naval College

If the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich Maritime look familiar, it’s probably because it has made appearances in more than 60 films since the 1950s, including Patriot Games, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shanghai Nights, The King’s Speech and Pirates of the Caribbean to name just a few titles that you’d probably recognize.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I didn’t do a lot of sightseeing during my trip to London. Most of the photos I took were during random walks around the city. My trip to Greenwich, which is an easy ride on the Docklands Light Rail, was the only exception.

The naval college, which was designed by famed English architect Christopher Wren, sits on the River Thames and is the centerpiece of Greenwich Maritime, a UNESCO World Heritage site noted for its historical and architectural significance. Built between 1696 and 1712, the site served as the Royal Hospital for Seaman at Greenwich until closing in 1869. A few years later, it reopened as the Royal Naval College, which it remained until 1998 when the college left and the property was turned over to a private foundation.

Besides the naval college, Greenwich Maritime includes the Old Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Royal Park and the famous ship, the Cutty Sark, which is on display in a dry dock exhibit. From the UNESCO description:

Maritime Greenwich is an unique ensemble of buildings and landscape of exceptional artistic value, the work of a number of outstanding architects and designers. At the same time, it is of considerable scientific significance by virtue of the contributions to astronomy and to navigation. The public and private buildings and the Royal Park at Greenwich form an exceptional ensemble bearing witness to human artistic and scientific endeavour of the highest quality, to European architecture at an important stage of British design evolution, and to the creation of a landscape that integrates nature and culture in a harmonious whole.

If you go: The biggest decision you’ll probably make if you want to take a sunrise shot is whether to set up your tripod in the courtyard of the Old Royal Naval College or hike up the hill and shoot from the park looking north at the college and the River Thames. Getting there on the DLR is a breeze. The college is about a quarter mile from the station — just follow the signs once you exit. The website says the site opens at 8 a.m. but I didn’t have any problems getting on to the grounds before 6:30 a.m. The maritime museum and visitors center open at 10 a.m. Learn more on the Old Royal Naval College’s website.

Photo of the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich Maritime is by Joe Newman. Want to order a print? Click here.

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Photo Details

Camera: Olympus O-MD E-M5

Lens: M. Zuiko 17mm

Focal length: 17 mm

Aperture: f/8

Shutter speed: Five bracketed shots ranging from 1/40 of a second to 1/1000 of a second

ISO: 200

Processing: The photo is a composite of five bracketed exposures that were combined in Photomatix. I used the default preset as the base and decreased saturation and luminosity a bit to come up with the final image.





Joe Newman

I'm Joe Newman, multi-media story teller, non-profit do-gooder, international street photographer, serious poker player, intrepid traveler. Bourbon drinker.

  • Shanna Schultz

    November 12, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Our visit to the observatory and Naval College was one of the highlights of our trip to London (and as a plus, I now have a bigger appreciation and mental grasp of what it means when they say “Such and such a time GMT” on the BBC!) Great photo!

    • Joe Newman

      November 16, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      Glad that you were able to make it to Greenwich. It really is a cool little enclave of London.

  • […] classroom. However, I did get up early one morning so I could get to Greenwich Maritime in time for sunrise at the Old Royal Naval College. Click here to order a […]