Old Naval College Greenwich

Old Naval College Greenwich

Top Tourist Attractions

The Old Royal Naval College is the architectural centrepiece of Maritime Greenwich,[1] a World Heritage Site in Greenwich, London, described by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as being of "outstanding universal value" and reckoned to be the "finest and most dramatically sited architectural and landscape ensemble in the British Isles".

The Old Royal Naval College

The Old Royal Naval College is the architectural centerpiece of Maritime Greenwich, a World Heritage Site in Greenwich, London, described by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as being of "outstanding universal value" and reckoned to be the "finest and most dramatically sited architectural and landscape ensemble in the British Isles". Built on Greenwich Palace, this extraordinary building, designed by esteemed architect Sir Christopher Wren, has seen life as both a Royal Hospital and a Royal Naval College. From Henry VIII’s birthplace to Lord Nelson’s resting place, these walls contain a wealth of key historical moments.

The iconic riverside estate boasts 500 years of rich history linking an incredible cast of monarchs and famous British figures including King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, William and Mary, Lord Nelson, and William Shakespeare.

Painted Hall (UK’s Sistine Chapel)

The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich is a historic wedding venue located in London, England. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been featured in famous productions such as The Crown, Les Misérables, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

The Painted Hall boasts one of the most spectacular Baroque interiors in Europe. The incredible ceiling and wall decorations were conceived and executed by British artist Sir James Thornhill. The hall features 40,000 square feet of walls and ceilings. These surfaces are covered in striking paintings depicting 200 figures including kings, queens, and mythological creatures.

The epic painting scheme, known as ‘Britain’s Sistine Chapel’, took nineteen years from the start of the commission to its completion in 1726. By turns extravagant, playful, thoughtful, naïve, and politically shrewd, Thornhill used a variety of techniques such as trompe l’oeil (‘trick the eye’) and chiaroscuro (contrast of light and dark) to enliven his paintings. His use of illusionistic architecture and steep perspective was inspired by Italian baroque painting.

The centerpiece of the main ceiling depicts William and Mary surrounded by a plethora of gods and goddesses, cherubs, and classical motifs.

Ceremonial Dining Room

The grandeur of the composition, which covers 40,000 square feet, reflects the importance of the new Royal Hospital’s main Hall. Originally intended as a grand dining room for the naval pensioners, it soon became a ceremonial space open to paying visitors and reserved for special functions.

Nelson’s Lying-In-State

Perhaps the most significant function was the lying-in-state of Lord Nelson in January 1806 drawing large crowds to view the hero’s body. The exact spot where the coffin lay is marked by a plaque on the floor.

National Gallery Of Naval Art

For a hundred years from 1824, the Hall was given over to the first National Gallery of Naval Art. Thornhill’s painted interior assumed secondary importance to more than 300 easel paintings by artists such as J.M.W. Turner and Sir Joshua Reynolds.

College Dining Hall

The last Greenwich Pensioners left the site in 1869 when it became home to the Royal Naval College, an officers’ training academy. From 1937 to 1997 the Painted Hall functioned as a dining space for trainee officers of the Royal Navy.

The Tudors at Greenwich Palace

Removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, Greenwich Palace was ideal for Henry VIII. The Palace was the site of some of the more notorious incidents in Henry VIII’s reign.

Excavations in 2017 uncovered the remains of two service rooms from the Palace’s Friary buildings and can be viewed beneath the Painted Hall. The lower room features unusual niches thought to be where beehives were kept during winter.

Ceremonial Dining Room And Visitor Attraction

The grandeur of the composition, which covers 40,000 square feet, reflects the importance of the new Royal Hospital’s main Hall. Originally intended as a grand dining room for the naval pensioners, it soon became a ceremonial space open to paying visitors and reserved for special functions.

The Chapel of St Peter and St Paul 

The Old Royal Naval College, the Chapel of St Peter, and St Paul are beautiful and peaceful places to visit. In Tudor times, the resident monarchs of the Palace of Placentia would have worshipped at the original Chapel Royal. Archaeological digs have unearthed many artifacts from the site of the old Chapel, now the Queen Anne Car Park. These remains are now on display in the Visitor Centre. As an avid fan of choral music, the Chapel Royal was regularly frequented by Queen Elizabeth I. The same composers, such as Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, are still sung in the present Chapel today.

Film and TV Tours
 

The Old Royal Naval College has provided the setting for some of the most memorable scenes in major film and TV productions. This tour will be a guide for over 60 years of filming both on our iconic riverside grounds and inside the magnificent Painted Hall and Chapel.

Shopping

The Old Royal Naval College is home to two shops,

  • Visitor Centre Shop is our largest shop selling everything from guidebooks and souvenirs to toys for the kids. The Visitor Centre shop is full of books, gifts, jewelry, and toys.
  • Painted Hall Shop, take home a souvenir of your visit to the Painted Hall or extend your knowledge with our range of books themed around Tudor, naval, and Greenwich history. Product ranges include telescopes, silk scarves, stationery, and ceramics.

The stunning painting, the astounding architecture of the entire complex, and the long colonnades linking the tower blocks create a wonderful vista of light and dark. It is surely a place to linger and simply enjoy the pleasure of magnificent surroundings.

 

https://ornc.org/