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Royal Observatory South Building

A Grade II Listed Building in Greenwich, Greenwich

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Latitude: 51.4768 / 51°28'36"N

Longitude: -0.0005 / 0°0'1"W

OS Eastings: 538952

OS Northings: 177214

OS Grid: TQ389772

Mapcode National: GBR L1.QK0

Mapcode Global: VHGR7.Y42P

Plus Code: 9C3XFXGX+PQ

Entry Name: Royal Observatory South Building

Listing Date: 4 October 1994

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1244325

English Heritage Legacy ID: 449368

Location: Greenwich, London, SE10

County: Greenwich

Electoral Ward/Division: Greenwich West

Built-Up Area: Greenwich

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Greenwich St Alfege

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

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Listing Text


786-/26/10034 Royal Observatory
South Building


Former New Physical Observatory to the Royal Greenwich Observatory, now offices and
planetarium. 1892-99 by William Crisp in close collaboration with W H M Christie, Astronomer
Royal. Banded brick and Doulton terracotta, slate roof rising to central flat area with decorative
iron railings. Cruciform plan of two storeys and attics on steeply sloping site with central copper
dome built to house the Lassell Dome telescope. Central core presents single-bay canted front to
each side, from which project two-bay wings terminating in paired stacks. Germano-Italianate
Renaissance style, the ground floor with Gibbsian surrounds and keystones to wooden casement
windows, the first floors over heavy sill bands with de Vriesian pilasters, mullions and transoms.
Aediculed dormers with pediments. North side of centrepiece has a double-height composition
of mullions and transoms with decorated panels between and below. Principal entrance on first
floor at end of eastern arm, reached up six steps, with double door under round headed opening
and flanked by pilasters. Balcony over with pedimented dormer behind. Many decorative plaques
and shields devised by Doultons for the building.
Over each first floor window is a plaque to an important British scientist or astromer, with Newton
reserved for the centre and Flamsteed, Bradley, Maskelyne and Airy on the ends of the wings -
these last deemed the positions of greatest honour. Bust of John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer
Royal, by J Raymond Smith, c.1898-9.
The South Building was constructed to house the Lassell Dome telescope and to house the Royal
Observatory's pioneering work in astronomical photography. It later housed the two 'Thompson
equatorial' telescopes. The vigorous display of terracotta work is demonstrative of that material at
its best.

Listing NGR: TQ3895177215

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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