Replete with monarchical history and Britain’s most esteemed architectural interiors, the twin-domed Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich recently underwent a restoration of its Painted Hall.
(Courtesy Mark Ramsay/Flickr)
Formerly the Royal Hospital for Seamen and the birthplace of King Henry VIII, Painted Hall boasts a spectacular ceiling bedecked with a painstakingly-detailed decorative painting hailed as Britain’s greatest. The masterpiece took Sir James Thornhill, father-in-law of the more celebrated artist William Hogarth, 19 years to complete.
Bearing glorified icons of Britain’s naval forces and monarchy—such as cupids, roses, coats of arms, and naval weapons—the masterpiece also bears the faces of King William III and Queen Mary II (who financed most of the project), lording over these victorious scenes.Exterior view of the Old Royal Navy College complex (Courtesy Kenneth Yarham)
The last restoration dates back to the 1950s, when 15 coats of varnish were carefully removed from the painting. Considering that the building was completed in 1694, the touch-ups are sorely called for.
Phase I of the restoration saw the West Hall and upper ceiling restored, while in Phase II the lower hall with its grand ceiling, entrance vestibule and cupola received some buffing up.(Courtesy Heather Cowper/Flickr)
Nearly 40,000 square feet of painted wall was cleaned. Oft described as “the finest banqueting hall of Europe” and the “Sistine Chapel of the UK,” Painted Hall will be unveiled on May 14 at an event by the British Consulate in New York, with architects, architectural historians and preservationists backing the cause.
Aside from Painted Hall, The Old Royal Naval College complex consists of the Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul, all of which are part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. By June 2016, Old Royal Naval College needs to raise £1 million (nearly $1.5 million) for future maintenance costs.The St. Peter and St. Paul Chapel in the Old Royal Navy College complex (Courtesy John Salmon) (Courtesy David Nicholls/Flickr) (Courtesy Alex/ Flickr)