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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [6/1] Block plan of Greenwich Hospital in the context of the royal park, east and west Greenwich and the entire royal park to the south, showing the three-block scheme of 1698-99, amended to an open courtyard plan, and with enlargements to the west, for an infirmary and office courtyard, and to the south with two long 'infirmary' ranges on the east and west sides in front of the Queen's House, and with a large domed church in the 'esplanade' of the park
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image Image 1 for SM volume 109/1
image Image 2 for SM volume 109/1
  • image Image 1 for SM volume 109/1
  • image Image 2 for SM volume 109/1

Reference number

SM volume 109/1


[6/1] Block plan of Greenwich Hospital in the context of the royal park, east and west Greenwich and the entire royal park to the south, showing the three-block scheme of 1698-99, amended to an open courtyard plan, and with enlargements to the west, for an infirmary and office courtyard, and to the south with two long 'infirmary' ranges on the east and west sides in front of the Queen's House, and with a large domed church in the 'esplanade' of the park


Block plan and survey plan


About 105 feet to 1 inch


In ink by Hawksmoor on lower left side of park wall, a from a to a, 420 f - - a; and to left of central chapel in park, 1312 foot from ye wall to ye midd Line; and beneath left side of park wall, B [hand sign] / 80 f. 6. North front of King Ch. Building / 12. 10 between K Ch. 2 Building & Base. wing / 44. 5 The North end of ye Bas wing / one bay of ye Colonnade 12 f. 6 ¾; and in graphite, in reverse sense, below east-west lane near bottom left, at the top of a plot marked 190 above the lane, hospitall; and within plot at bottom left marked 120, Garden; and in ink with numbering on scale bar on right; and with many dimensions in ink and graphite on the plan of the hospital and lower part of the park.

Signed and dated

  • Undated but datable 1698-1700

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing, with grey wash, and pricked through in several places (see Notes); on laid paper, with brown blotching and staining, laid down; single vertical fold and several horizontal folds; small tears and cracks around edges of sheet and along folds, indicating heavy use; reinforcing strip on back of central horizontal fold. 603 x 425, in three sheets pasted together (162, 350 and 84mm deep, top to bottom)




Countermark on top sheet: TJ


This important drawing is a palimpest of four phases of design, between 1698 and c.1711, which are discussed in detail below. In Phase 1 Hawksmoor drew an overall plan in ink outlines. A modified version of this was engraved, after delays, in September 1699 (a print is at All Souls College; Wren Society, VI, p. 83). The engraved plan corresponds closely to the initial outlines in this drawing, both in the layout of the hospital itself and in what is proposed for the west side: a broad esplanade arranged in parterres, and a central tree-lined avenue flanked by two courtyard ranges, which are marked on the engraving as 'Out Offices and Infirmary'. However, Hawksmoor modified his drawing while the engraved plan was being prepared (Phases 2 and 3) and subsequently (Phase 4).

In Phases 2 and 3 Hawksmoor applied wash to the drawing to highlight a series of revisions he had made in outline to his original pen drawing using a slightly darker brown ink. These revisions are connected to the design of the three-part model, for which he was paid in January 1699, in which the three parallel ranges of the upper courts are reconfigured as courtyard plans. The surviving central part of this model is on display at the Old Royal Naval College Visitor Centre at Greenwich (Bold 2000, fig. 142). In Phase 4 he returned to the drawing to revise the plan of the West Dormitory on the west side of King William Court in freehand ink lines. He added dimensions to both upper courts and another set of dimensions (marked B) on the north side of the King Charles II Court. He also made pencilled alterations to the proposed church in the park and to the Queen's House.

The drawing has been folded several times and the paper is dirty and worn, suggesting frequent re-use. It was probably Hawksmoor's only complete plan of the entire site, showing the whole layout of Greenwich Park.

Phase 1, late 1698: three-block scheme with infirmary and out-offices on the west, as engraved in 1699

In this phase, Hawksmoor draws the southern courts in three parallel ranges in ink outlines. They are joined for the first time by narrower blocks at their outer ends, which is an advance on the Lambeth Palace Library plan , on which the parallel ranges are not linked (MS 933/99; Bold 2000, fig. 140; see [5]). The design develops the Lambeth Palace plan, and anticipates that in the 1699 engraving, by incorporating a wide space on the west, set out with parterres and parallel lines of trees. In the engraved plan much more detail is added, including the plans of the infirmary and 'out Offices', an elaborate curved entrance screen on the west side, and link buildings between the colonnades and the King Charles II Court.

The plan in Phase 1 is drawn in thin brown-ink outlines, without wash. Hawksmoor amended it on the west side, where a curved entrance screen has been pricked through in two versions, one projecting outwards and the other inwards. The parterres in the broad esplanade on the west side of the hospital are smaller than in the engraving (12 rather than 8), and there is no courtyard south of the 'out Offices'. The King Charles Court and future Queen Anne Court match each other exactly, and each has a central corridor link between the principal range and the base wing. The garden of the Queen's House is enclosed by a wall drawn in parallel lines.

Phase 2, 1698-99: the twin-courtyard scheme, with an enlarged site boundary, with infirmary ranges in a new southern court, beyond the grant of land, and with a domed chapel in the park, further south along the principal axis.

Hawksmoor revised the layout of the three block-plan in a slightly darker brown ink and marked the new ranges with grey wash. He formed new west and east ranges in the three-block courts and omitted wash from the remainders of the middle wards to signify their deletion from the plan. In the future Queen Anne Court, in the north-east quarter of the site, he moved the base wing outwards by half its width on plan (about 20 feet) and made its north pavilion, facing the river, the same width as the north pavilion of the main range. This change anticipates the enlargement of these end-pavilions as duplicates of the main north pavilions from 1712 onwards.

Hawksmoor relocated the infirmary from the west extension to a new court on the south side. This is apparent from the absence of shading on all but the west and east sides of the southern of the two courtyard ranges west extension. A new boundary wall, drawn in parallel ink lines, marks the enlarged site. This wall forms the southern boundary of the Queen's Garden. It returns northwards on both sides, beyond flights of steps and arched bridges that straddle the road to the west and east of the Queen's House. Near the southern boundary the walls are interrupted by entrances to a new infirmary precinct in the former Queen's Garden. The wall then meets two outer ranges on the west and east sides of the proposed new infirmary ranges which were subsequently deleted. It then continues towards the river. On the west side the wall steps outwards to skirt the boundaries of the former courtyard blocks. It returns eastwards again on the central axis of the base wing of King Charles II Court, before returning parallel to the river to meet another new outer range that was subsequently deleted. The corresponding boundary wall on the east side runs in a straight line to join the east end of the corresponding new outer ranges on this side, also deleted. The new enclosure has a broad entrance in the centre of the west side, on axis with the middle of the future Queen Mary and King William Courts.

The deleted outer ranges on the south side may have been intended to complement the infirmaries (e.g. as doctors' pavilions) or to be officers' pavilions. Their deletion from this plan may be connected with the addition of officers's pavilions to the backs of the colonnades in the wooden model.

In this phase of enlargement, the infirmary function is in two long ranges set the same distance south of the two central courts as the King Charles and pendant courts are to the north. The infirmaries are the same length as the King Charles II Building, thus producing a plan that is symmetrical about the middle of the King William Court. The west infirmary range has a small central projecting pavilion on its western side, denoting this as the entrance side. By the same token, the west side of the King Charles base wing has a central projecting entrance bay but there is no equivalent (at this stage) on the base wing of the future Queen Anne Court. The infirmary ranges themselves anticipate those designed for this position in the'Revised first enlargement scheme', datable to 1711 (see [7/2]).

The domed church in the park is in the same darker brown ink and grey wash as the other alterations datable to 1698-99 in Phase 2 of this design. The building is 160 feet square, with an apse-like protrusion at the north end and a rectangular annexe with a narrower link block at the south end. The 'apse' is probably a curved entrance porch, like those on the transept-ends at St Paul's. The altar of the church could have been intended either for the south side, in front of the link to the annexe, or on the east side. The annexe feature can be interpreted as an initial proposal for a tower rising behind the domed church that Hawksmoor then deleted by marking it with a cross in ink. Probably in Phase 4, he extended the plan of the church southwards in pencil towards the rear of the esplanade.

These church and tower can be identified with Hawksmoor's elevational design in the Bodleian Library for a domed church joined via a three-storey bridge structure to a 400-feet high tower articulated with giant pilasters and crowned by a cylindrical turret and spire (MS Top.Oxon a.37*, f. 11; Downes 1979, cat. 347; Wren Society, VI, pl. 39). This drawing has previously been linked to the second scheme for enlargement at Greenwich in 1711 (see [8]), but it does not fit the plan of the church in that proposal. It best fits the site of the domed church in this drawing and can reasonably be interpreted as an east elevation of the church and tower, developed from this initial plan.

The Bodleian design is for a church 160 feet long, with a dome half this width, as on this plan. The church is joined to a three-storey, three-bay bridge structure about 100 feet wide, which links the principal floor level of the church to the north, on the right (25 feet above ground level), to the raised ground-floor level of the tower on the left (approached from the side by a long flight of steps). A 25-feet-wide arch allows passage through at ground level below the bridge. The bridge structure has a central arch twice the width of the side bays. The tower is about 90 feet wide and has a large arch at raised ground level. Hawksmoor's pencil dimensions at the base of the drawing total 359 feet (80 + 80 feet for the church; 57 feet from the end of the church to the middle line of the bridge; 92 feet from this middle line to the middle line of the tower; 50 feet for the remainder of the tower). These notes indicate a concern with the middle lines of the bridge and the tower in relation to the 160-feet width of the domed church.

The distance from the front of the domed church on the drawing (excluding the apse) to what Hawksmoor marks as the Middle Line of what was known as the 'Cross Walk' (see Bold 2000, fig. 16) is about 240 feet. This is close to the 237 feet in Hawksmoor's marked dimensions on the Bodleian drawing. The distance from this middle line to the next-but-one alley, joining with the main diagonal alleys across the park, is about 90 feet. This is close to the 92 feet marked on the drawing. Revisions to the plan of the church in pencil demonstrate Hawksmoor's interest in extending his domed church and annexe on the north south axis. This revision may be an initial idea for a villa in the park, replacing the church. In its stylistic details the Bodleian design has affinities with Hawksmoor's drawings of c.1698. Drawing [6/2], for the Great Hall, is exactly comparable in many of its architectural features, e.g. the urn-like turrets around the dome.There is also preparatory pencil drawing for the domed church in Hawksmoor's hand for the south elevation in the Prints and Drawings Collection at the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery (D.1961.XX.2.7; catalogued as 'Design for Greenwich - end elevation of a proposed long chapel').

Phase 3, 1698-99: amendments to phase 2, in pencil

In this phase of revisions, Hawksmoor extended the western esplanade north and south with semi-circular walls and created a new entrance pavilion in the centre of a long range on the western boundary. This range connects with the two square courtyard blocks in the north-west and south-west angles of the enlarged walled enclosure.

Phase 4, c.1711: later pencil amendments to the plan

In a final phase, datable to about 1711, Hawksmoor made several amendments in pencil that anticipate feature of the second enlargement scheme of c.1711, which is illustrated in a master-plan drawing at the RIBA Library Drawings Collection (SA 28/6; former E5/6; see Hart 2002, fig. 8). See also, [8]. The pencilled amendments are:

(1) the imposition of a square pencilled plan over the Queen's House, possibly the plan of a chapel;
(2) the pencilled addition of long rectangular enclosure along the northern boundary of the park either side of the Queen's House, suggestive of ditches serving as approaches to a tunnel beneath the chapel; and
(3) the drawing of a rectangular-plan building over the crossed-out southern annexe of the domed church, in the same position as the square-plan building on the RIBA plan, which was probably intended as a substitute for the demolished Queen's House in that scheme.

The handwriting of these inscriptions suggests a date in the 1710s, one 'late' feature being the '4' with a long diagonal stroke. The notes along the north front of the plan, and the explanatory notes connected with these written to the left of the Queen's Garden, are concerned with the dimensions of the end pavilions and are probably initial calculations related to the doubling of the north pavilions from 1712 onwards. Hawksmoor tells us in his Remarks on the Founding ... of Greenwich Hospital in 1728 that the Fabric Committee members first considered doubling these pavilions in 1702 (see Wren Society, VI, p. 25). Hawksmoor may therefore have started making amendments to his drawing around that time.


Wren Society, VI, pp. 95-96; Downes, Hawksmoor, 1979, p. 280, cat. no. 332 Wren Society, VI, pl. 12



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