The Royal Borough of Greenwich
“Unofficially divided into East and West Greenwich due to its large size, the borough has a distinctly old-world, rural feel, especially in the centre of the town”
Moving to Greenwich
Located in Zones 2 and 3, on the south side of the River Thames and away from the busy crowds of central London, the south-eastern Royal Borough of Greenwich is one of only eight royal boroughs in the UK. Unofficially divided into East and West Greenwich due to its large size, the borough has a distinctly old-world, rural feel, especially in the centre of the town. Cobbled streets edged with small, independent shops wind their way through antique and bric-a-brac stalls in Greenwich Market and encourage a much slower pace of life compared to the power-walking lifestyle of central London.
House Prices in Greenwich
Major centres in the borough include Greenwich, Woolwich and Eltham, and the borough is among the most affordable in London – house prices on here are less than £500,000 on average, similar to Lewisham and Waltham Forest, and lower than Ealing, Hounslow and Kingston upon Thames among others. An additional bonus is the local council tax – starting at £850 per year for Band A properties, among the cheapest in London, and only furthers the borough’s reputation as one of the best places in London to live. Historic properties near the park are the most popular (and expensive), particularly the Georgian and Victorian terraces, while for young professionals Millennium Village is an appealing development.
“In the northern part of the borough, the DLR covers many destinations including Canary Wharf, which is especially good for commuters working in this area”
Whilst the majority of Greenwich is served by National Rail and A-roads, Crossrail is due to connect Woolwich and Abbey Wood (shared with the London Borough of Bexley) over the next few years, which will improve travel in this area. However, the underground Tube and Overground links that exist operate well. In the northern part of the borough, the DLR covers many destinations including Canary Wharf, which is especially good for commuters working in this area. The Jubilee Line, at Canary Wharf and North Greenwich, also allows locals to travel east and west of London with ease, whilst the Emirates Air Line provides travellers with a scenic route towards the easternmost part of town.
If you cannot face a cramped and claustrophobic morning commute, perhaps a trip on the Thames Clippers River Bus would suit? Weekday boats run from 6am until midnight and travel from Woolwich, North Greenwich and Greenwich to areas including Canary Wharf and Waterloo. Alternatively, the Woolwich ferry operates between Woolwich and North Woolwich and is a free service across the Thames, first introduced when Woolwich was a fishing village in the 1300s.
Although daytime activities are plentiful, Greenwich is an area that enjoys its beauty sleep; with hardly any establishments open late into the evening, the borough is popular with families, retired couples and working professionals who need to be bright and sprightly for their morning routine.
Unique shopping opportunities in the historic centre of Greenwich are mostly centred around the Clocktower Market and Greenwich Market, where you’ll find antiques, vintage clothing, freshly baked goods, crafts and modern fashion among the stalls and permanent shops. Meanwhile for a selection of high-street brands, the Greenwich Shopping Park in Charlton has major names ranging from New Look to H&M, and offers free parking.
The relatively affluent residents of Greenwich tend to enjoy dining out, and as a result the borough has a reasonable selection of restaurants, from cosy gastropubs and independent eateries to popular high street chains. Highlights in Greenwich Village include Goddard’s famous pie and mash restaurant, the upmarket Rivington Greenwich and Zaibatsu Japanese Fusion restaurant, while Woolwich’s Blue Nile, an unusual Eritrean-Italian cafe, is not to be missed. During the weekends, the many coffee shops of Greenwich are also popular with local residents and visitors enjoying the charms of the neighbourhood.
With a wide range of supermarkets, including an Asda Superstore at Greenwich Shopping Park and a large Waitrose at New Capital Quay, the borough is well equipped for those who prefer home cooking. Good independent butchers’, fishmongers and delicatessens can also be found in most urban centres throughout the borough, while Greenwich Market offers an exciting range of international street foods.
Health & Sport
Greenwich is an active borough, with a good selection of fitness facilities for all budgets, ranging from the cheap and cheerful Pure Gym to the premium Meridian Fitness Greenwich. For those who prefer to exercise in the great outdoors, there are a number of cricket and golf clubs in the borough, including Royal Blackheath Golf Club and the RACS Cricket Club, as well as Charlton Lido for sunny summer days.
As well as being home to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich is a top spot for anyone with an interest in maritime history – the Cutty Sark is located here, as well as the National Maritime Museum. Other attractions include Eltham Palace, the Greenwich Playhouse and the Greenwich Theatre, while for live performances the O2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Dome) sees some of the world’s best musicians regularly grace the stage.
“Greenwich Park is considered to be one of the most beautiful parks in London – covering 183 acres, it’s the oldest enclosed Royal Park and offers both locals and visitors excellent views”
Schools and Education
Whilst Greenwich students achieved fewer than 5 A*-C grades at GCSE compared to the rest of London in 2014, the borough is scattered with a number of notable independent and state-funded schools. The best schools in Greenwich include Halstow Primary School, James Wolfe Primary School, and St Peter’s CofE Primary School, while among secondaries St Ursula’s Convent School leads the way as one of the best secondary schools in Greenwich with an ‘outstanding’ Ofstead rating, and the independent Blackheath High School has the best GCSE results in this London borough.
In terms of further education, Greenwich is also home to Greenwich Community College, the private Anglian College London, and the main campus of the University of Greenwich, which is ranked among the top 100 universities in the UK.
Already a reasonably safe area in London, crime rates in Greenwich dropped by 17.4% in 2016 thanks to new police initiatives. Burglary rates fell the most, with over 35% fewer incidents than the year before.
Greenwich Park is considered to be one of the most beautiful parks in London – covering 183 acres, it’s the oldest enclosed Royal Park and offers both locals and visitors excellent views, as well as the opportunity to lounge under leafy trees surrounded by the architectural magnificence of the National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory. Additional green spaces in Greenwich include Avery Hill Park at the southern tip of the borough, and Charlton Park to the north.
Greenwich dates back to the Bronze Age, but it wasn’t until the royal family arrived in the 1400s that the area began to build a name for itself as an affluent riverside hotspot. The Palace of Placentia once stood on the site of the Royal Naval College, and the royal association continued throughout the years with the establishment of the Royal Dockyards, Royal Observatory and Royal Naval Hospital. These days, it’s most well known for being the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and as a result, the only place in the country where you can take a photograph of yourself with one foot on either side of the Meridian line; one in the East and the other in the West.