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Greenwich Hospital

THE national hospitals about the metropolis constitute some of its most memorable buildings; and the objects to which they are devoted greatly add to the celebrity of the country. Greenwich Hospital is a retreat for seamen, who, by age, wounds, or other infirmities are disabled from service; and for the widows and children of such as are slain in the battles of their native land.

King William and queen Mary had the good of such an hospital much at heart. They made a grant of the royal and magnificent palace at Greenwich; a part of which, on the west side, was begun to be built for a royal palace by king Charles II.

King William, after his queen's death, on the 25th of October, 1695, appointed a number of commissioners, for directing the building and endowing the intended hospital; and he granted a large sum out of his civil list for that purpose. His royal successors were also considerable benefactors to it. At length, annual sums were granted by parliament for finishing this truly magnificent ornament and glory of Great Britain; and it was fully completed in the reign of George II. By an act of king William, the privilege of admission to this hospital was granted to registered seamen, when maimed or superannuated, and to the widows and children of those who were killed in the service. This act for registering seamen was repealed by Anne.

Every seaman is required to allow, out of his wages, sixpence a month, for the support of this hospital; and by an act of George II., a seaman absenting himself from his ship, without leave, shall forfeit, for every day's absence, two days' pay to Greenwich hospital, to he deducted out of his wages, &c.

By an act of George II., the rents and profits of the vast estates, which were forfeited by the attainder of James, late earl of Derwentwater, and of Charles Ratcliff, were applied to the completing of the building of Greenwich Hospital; and the same act also provided, that all seamen in the merchants' service, who shall happen to be maimed in fighting, not only against pirates, but against an enemy of his majesty, &c., shall be admitted into and provided for in this hospital, as well as seamen maimed and disabled in the king's actual service.

The governors are empowered to grant out-pensions to decrepit seamen. The pensioners to this hospital are clothed in blue, and allowed stockings, shoes, linen,

and a shilling a week for other necessaries. The victualling is according to the allowance of Chelsea Hospital, viz., four men to a mess, each mess containing four pounds of fresh meat, a gallon of beer, &c.

The governors of this hospital are the great officers of state and persons in high employments under the king. It is under the more particular inspection and government of twenty-four commissioners, a governor, a lieutenant-governor, and other subordinate officers, with appropriate salaries.

The building is of an uncommonly noble character. There are four large buildings, of excellent stone work, which, although they appear to be separated actually form one entire plan. It is on the banks of the Thames; and the towers of the building, together with the grand divisions of the Hospital, and the spacious square in the centre, produce an imposing effect. The terrace is near one thousand feet in length and in the square there is a statue of George II. The architects employed in the building were, first, Inigo Jones, and next Sir C. Wren. There are a fine chapel, a grand council-room, in which are some fine paintings, and an excellent infirmary.

The Naval Asylum recently built to educate at least 3,000 children of seamen, is an excellent structure, and well adapted to the purposes for which it is designed: and the memorials raised to commemorate the name and actions of the great NELSON are most appropriate.

Source: Leigh's New Picture of London. Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand;
by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819