Day 4, Wednesday, June 27, 2018
We continued our tour of Greenwich with a brief walk through of the historic Greenwich Royal Naval College. The buildings here were built between 1696 and 1712, and were originally the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich, or more generally known as Greenwich Hospital. The hospital was built on the instructions of Mary II, who was troubled by the lack of care for seamen returning from the Battle of La Hogue. The chapel and the Painted Hall were both built at this time.
Eventually the hospital was closed and the site was converted to a naval training center; it served this purpose between 1873 and 1998. It is now managed by the Greenwich Foundation, which opened the site to the public in 2002, and does a variety of events, movie filming, and other activities there.
The Painted Hall is an artistic masterpiece; the work of Sir James Thornhill, between 1707 and 1726. During this period, the United Kingdom was created, and the murals on the walls and ceilings depict the political change occurring at the time. Other themes include cultural and scientific achievements, naval accomplishments and commercial enterprises. The murals and ceilings are currently being restored.
Our visit was a little confusing; the guidebook and the Painted Hall’s website indicated that the site is free to visit. However, when we went in, there was obviously an admission charge of 11 pounds. We decided not to pay, as we had a lot of other tourist activities we were doing, so we checked out the entryway artwork and exited. I think that the site is technically closed because of the restoration, but you can choose to have a guided tour of the ceiling, and that is what the admission was for. It would have been nice if the Greenwich Foundation made this more clear. If you can shed some light on this, please let me know.
One day I would love to see the Painted Hall, in all its restored glory; the art in the entryway was pretty amazing… In the meantime, you can see photos at the Painted Hall website.
We did walk across the way to the original chapel, which is also an architectural and artistic masterpiece and dates from the time of the hospital. I love seeing old churches, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. Both the art and the woodwork here are beautiful.
Costs: Old Royal Naval College – Painted Hall – 11 pounds? (not included with London pass), Chapel – free