I have friends coming over to visit good old Greenwich from Canada come this May half-term. About time too. I have been urging them to visit the town since I moved to this area (quite a long time ago) and they have finally agreed. Home to the Meridian Line and the place where all time started. A World Heritage Site and previous home to two Queens. Come come I urged where you can enter a Painted Hall and walk the grounds of where Pirates of the Carribbean was filmed. It's our little piece of Hollywood I bragged. We can walk the Thames, stroll through Greenwich Park and pose by the Meridian Line. All FREE, FREE, FREE. And that's not all I encouraged: As we get up to the Royal Observatory, we can jump over the Meridian Line and look through telescopes and enter a magnificent planetarium. Bar the planetarium shows, we can do all that for free free free. That's how it's done here in Britain. Culture for the masses.
Spurred on by my enthusiasm, they have been on to all relevant Greenwich websites pinpointing what they want to see and do during their two weeks here. Fascinated are they by the fact that the Olympics (dude the Olympics! shouted their sixteen-year-old) will be held here they can't wait to get here fast enough. Plane tickets have been booked, West-End shows have been allocated and "Can we pay by card at the door to the Observatory or do they only take cash?"
"Must be some mistake," I cockily and knowingly chipped in, the Royal Observatory is free for all. "Not on their website it isn't. For someone with an online blog about Greenwich, you're not up-to-date are you? Check their website".
And I did. And I am sad to announce that come March, Flamsteed House and Meridian Line Courtyard will be charging £10 for each adult but children under 16 still get to go in for free. Entry tickets are annual passes (visitors are able to return as many times as they like within 12 months for no additional charge).
When did that happen? How come I never heard of it? And to be honest had my Canadian friends not been so (and I mean this in the kindest way) thorough and a pain-in-the-ass, need-to-book-everything-in-advance sort of people I would never have found out until the next time I attempted a jump over the Meridian Line maybe? Sorry mate, that jump will now cost you £10. I am sure there is more to this story but right now I am too distraught to find out and am already planning the number of jumps I can get in before March. Watch this space.
To check out the Royal Observatory's times and admissions section, click here.