Greenwich Park in South East London is one of the oldest enclosed royal parks, & used to be a hunting ground. It has plenty of history, beautiful panoramic views of London, & is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
I’ve been visiting Greenwich Park for years, but only recently discovered the stunning rose garden & Ranger’s house. Can’t believe I didn’t notice it before! Probably because I was too busy sitting on the hill, watching the beautiful views.
If you love roses, history and art, then read on. You will love the Ranger’s house and the Rose garden.
THE ROSE GARDEN
The Rose Garden in Greenwich Park is beyond the steep climb up the hill leading to the Observatory. Go to the back of Greenwich Park, & you will find a beautiful row of trees leading to the Rangers’ House.
And voila, a beautiful sight awaits.
The Rose Garden was planted in 1960, in semi-circular plant beds. You will find hybrid tea & floribunda roses flowering at their peak in June & July.
A sea of yellow, pink, white, orange & red roses form neatly groomed semi-circles.
Enclosed by a yew hedge, the rose garden forms a lovely backdrop to Ranger’s house.
There are benches against the yew hedge, facing forwards into the rose garden, and the house. Take a book, & a little picnic. This is a fab little corner to unwind in, away from the crowds near the observatory.
Unwind with a book & a picnic in this beautiful rose garden tucked away from the crowds.
Ranger’s house, a lovely Georgian villa that used the be home to the Park Rangers’. It now belongs to English Heritage & houses the Werner Art Collection.
An overview of the Rose Garden, at Ranger’s house. Greenwich Park.
RANGER’S HOUSE & THE WERNHER COLLECTION
Ranger’s house is a 17th century Georgian mansion, that was originally the home of the Rangers’ of the park.
It later became a house for Wernher’s art collection, the finest collection of medieval & renaissance art in Europe.
There are about 700 pieces, famous items include the ‘Loves of Angels’ statue by Bergonzoli, and portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds & George Romney.
SIR JULIUS WERNER
‘One wins nothing without daring’
Sir Julius Wernher (1850-1912) was a diamond magnate, & an avid art collector with an appreciation for beautiful craftmanship.
Wernher had humble beginnings, & was known as an honest, & level-headed person with brilliant attention to detail. Through his efforts, he rocketed to success in the diamond industry, & became the second richest man in the world of his time.
His eye for detail was a result of his training as a diamond collector.
Wernher bought items that communicated something personal to him, pieces that had a certain craftsmanship.
Each item of art, porcelain, & jewellery were all seen in person before he bought them.
The Red room at his country home in Luton hoo (now a hotel) was where Wernher used to relax. Here was his private collection of pieces mostly from the medieval & renaissance periods.
The Red Room // Sadly some of my pics are blurry as it was dark inside 🙁
Wernher liked the art pieces to ‘speak to one another’, & arranged them in such a way. Artworks by the likes of Bocelli, & Lippi grace the walls of the Red room. Items within the display cabinets were arranged by Wernher to be like a painting.
The Jewel vault contains mostly Italian work, the oldest piece in the collection is a Greek gold earring from 2nd centrury BC.
The Silk Green room from Julius Wernher’s later years // Many of the art pieces in here were by Flemish & Dutch artists. The mood is more sombre in here, perhaps a reflection of the difficult times Werner was going through.
Sadly my pics are blurry due to the lack of light 🙁 But it’s very beautiful in person, & fascinating to see his personal art choices. They speak of a highly intelligent person, with an appreciation of sophisticated aesthetics.
The paintings in these room are full of fascinating architectural detail, some 3D.
Actually one of the paintings here is said to be the first 3D image painted. There is a lot of play with dramatic lighting, & angles as well. I think Wernher would have been a fan of photography if he were alive today.
There is also a large collection of beautiful pottery pieces which includes Ismaili art originating from Iznik, Turkey. The other pottery pieces are Italian, the most notable of which is the Gonzago Destai collection. As I recollect from the tour, there are very view pieces left of this collection in the world.
I have no time to even know that I am wealthy ~ Sir Julius Wernher
As you walk through the rooms of the mansion, you will notice how through the styles change through the years (more of that later).
The tastes of Wernher, & his wife Birdie were very different. Birdie was a society hostess & held lavish gatherings and balls.
An oil painting by John Sargent (1856-1925) of Birdie in the early years when she had started to adopt the role of society hostess.
Birdie looking more at ease in her later years, this portrait was painted during her second marriage.
The Pink Room: One of Birdie’s entertaining rooms // Sadly some of my pics are blurry as it was dark inside 🙁
The furnishings and art that adorned the rooms where Birdie entertained were very extravagant in style, & reflected the trends of that time.
There is so much to see in this charming mansion, there are guided tours which need to be booked in advance. I recommend!
And don’t forget to have a walk in the Rose Garden, it’s so beautiful!
What have you explored recently?
HOW TO GET TO GREENWICH PARK
Ranger’s House: Chesterfield Walk, Lewisham, London SE10 8QX (At the back of Greenwich Park).
Railway: The nearest train stations are Blackheath & Greenwich stations.
DLR: Cutty sark & Greenwich DLR station- follow the signs to the park.
Tip: Get the train to Blackheath, & walk through the village, & across the heath to the park. It’s quite a nice walk if you fancy that. You’ll avoid the crowds from the other end of the park, & the steep walk up the hill to the observatory.