Though more careful with her finances nowhere near as lavish in her expenditure as Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I was fond of Greenwich Palace, today the site of the Old Royal Naval College, and it became her principal summer residence “for the delightfulness of its situation”.

Her father had enjoyed the lavishness of courtly life at Greenwich, and the palace also became an important ceremonial site for Elizabeth.

A muster of London’s men-at-arms in 1559, a flamboyant water pageant with a mock castle being attacked by ships in 1561, and the celebratory parade of captured Spanish treasure following the Spanish Armada were amongst the lavish displays of power that took place at Greenwich during Elizabeth’s reign.

Greenwich Palace from the river Greenwich Palace's windows overlooked the Thames, allowing Elizabeth to see the parade of ships up the river after the defeat of the Spanish Armada

William Shakespeare, another towering figure of the Elizabethan era, also visited Greenwich – as an actor to perform for the Queen.

Greenwich’s proximity to the docks at Deptford was also important for the Queen, in an age where England increasingly relied on its naval power. Sir Francis Drake departed from Deptford docks to circumnavigate the globe, and was knighted there upon his return; a mock naval battle was also put on for Elizabeth’s entertainment at Deptford in 1560.

Reconstructed Tudor Windows in the Visitor Centre Reconstructed stained-glass Tudor windows in the Visitor Centre

The Chapel Royal at Greenwich was used by Elizabeth much more than her father; she was an avid fan of choral music, which she heard regularly here. Archaeological digs have unearthed many artefacts from the old Chapel, which are now on display in our Visitor Centre.

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