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Exhibitions

Old Royal Naval College presents: Greenwich artists and makers

Old Royal Naval College
Profile

14-22 September 2019

Mon-Sun 10am-5pm
Old Royal Naval College
Greenwich
London
SE10 9NN
Free Event

Old Royal Naval College

Old Royal Naval College is the centrepiece of Maritime Greenwich, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a long and celebrated 500-year history. Today it is a diverse cultural destination and one of London’s most popular venues and visitor attractions, a site that attracts over 1.2 million visitors every year.

 

The classical buildings that adorn the site today were built as the Royal Hospital for Seamen between 1696 and 1751. Designed by England’s greatest architects, including Sir Christopher Wren, the buildings are considered amongst the finest in Europe, featuring the sumptuous Painted Hall and the neo-classical Chapel. Prior to that the site was home to the celebrated Greenwich Palace, the favoured Royal residence of Henry VIII. A small part of the excavated palace, revealed during recent conservation works, can be viewed in The Sackler Gallery in the King William Undercroft.

 

The rich maritime history of the site continued after the departure of the Royal Hospital in the 1860s. From 1873 to 1997 the buildings housed the Royal Naval College, one of the world's foremost naval training establishments. After the departure of the Naval College an independent charity was established in 1997 to conserve the magnificent baroque buildings and grounds for present and future generations and to provide opportunities for wide and diverse audiences to enjoy and share their significance. Today this historic landmark is open to the public.

 

The Painted Hall, built as a ceremonial dining room, has the greatest grand-scale decorative painting in England and has been described as ‘Britain’s Sistine Chapel’. The abundant and complex painting scheme covers some 4,000 square metres and was designed and executed by Sir James Thornhill between 1707 and 1726. An extensive National Lottery Funded renovation project was completed in 2019. The Chapel of St Peter and St Paul is a neo-classical masterpiece by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart. Featuring a Samuel Green organ and an altarpiece painted by Benjamin West, it is one of the country’s finest 18th-century interiors.