Painted Hall Ceiling @ Old Royal Navy College – Greenwich

Museum

Painted Hall Ceiling @ Old Royal Navy College – Greenwich

Old Royal Navy College, photo by JMorton

Old Royal Navy College, photo by JMorton

Peter and I went to see a once in a lifetime conservation project at the Old Royal Navy College in Greenwich.

The last conservation was done in the 1950s and they reckon the next one will be in 100 years time.

There were scaffoldings everywhere, which are securely fastened and safe and convenient enough for the public to trod on to go near the ceiling and admire England’s most comprehensive and greatest decorative painting.

Close up dome ceiling, photo by PH Morton

 

Thus, it earned the sobriquet of UK’s Sistine Chapel.

They are currently cleaning and conserving 40,000 square feet of the most amazing allegorical work that used to deliver a strong political message about the monarchy, religion, navigation,  maritime power, and commerce, amongst other things.

The project was instigated by Queen Mary II, who died before its fruition.  Nevertheless, she will always be remembered for it as her image together with King William III, her husband, is depicted in the middle of the ceiling murals along several gods and goddesses.

A relatively unknown artist was commissioned to design the ceiling decoration.  He was Sir James Thornhill, who was knighted for his efforts.

He was paid a princely some £1 per square metre of work on the halls and £3 for the ceiling per square meter.

Thornhill did not work alone.   He had an assistant and hired specialist painters to finish the work as towards the middle of it Thornhill started to receive accolade and private works.

Our tour guide said that monies confiscated from an infamous Scottish pirate William Kidd, more known as Captain Kidd was used for the building and decoration for this project that was the Old Royal Navy College.

The old Royal Navy College was built as a mess hall for sailors, naval pensioner and those who used the Royal Naval hospital nearby.

The sailors and the wrens used the site as a dining area.  Inches of gravy and dried old food were cleaned up in the 1950s when it was first restored.

It is still used as a dining venue once in a while for a really grand special occasion.

Today, the building is a major attraction in Greenwich, Tourists from all over the world come to visit.

By the way, it cost about £10 for an adult and £5 for a child over the age of 6 to join the tour which will be wrapped up towards the end of September 2018.  The numerous number of scaffoldings will be taken down.

It is hoped that by March 2019, the Painted Hall Ceiling will reopen to the public in a different perspective: from the ground looking up above the high ceiling and walls.

Get down to Greenwich for this once in a lifetime privilege before it is too late.

 

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