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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

The Painted Hall and the Chapel are both truly stunning buildings. They are one of the most visited set of buildings in Greenwich and are a part of the Old Royal Naval College (ORNC). While most of the college is off-limits to tourists and visitors, these two attractions have been kept open to the public for free. The ORNC website states that the Painted Hall is recognised as the greatest piece of decorative painting in England. It has also been described as ‘the Sistine Chapel of the UK’ and rightly so. It is one of the most awe-inspiring and richly painted halls that I have seen in the UK. So, whenever we have family and friends visiting us from outside the UK, we make it a point to take them to the Painted Hall.

The Painted Hall was originally built and decorated as a dining hall for the old and injured sailors. It was decorated by Sir James Thornhill (he is the one who also decorated the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral) and took nearly 19 years to finish. You need to see the hall to believe the stunning beauty of the paintings. It is difficult to imagine the amount of time and effort needed to paint the ceiling. The paintings include a range of subjects - navigation, monarchy (there is a beautiful tribute to King William and Queen Mary in one section) and religion. There is even a self-portrait of Sir James Thornhill on one of the walls. The Painted Hall is truly magnificent and if you are visiting London, this is a must-see.

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel



Opposite the Painted Hall is the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul. While not as grand as the Painted Hall, it is still very beautiful. The craftsmanship on the ceiling of the Chapel is very intricate and wonderful. The construction of the Chapel was completed in 1752 but a huge fire broke out in 1779 burning down the entire Chapel. The Chapel then underwent renovation and was again completed in 1789 and has been a big visitor attraction since then. Naval motifs can be found throughout the Chapel. This is an indication of the fact that the Chapel was built as a place of worship for the sailors and other naval crew who were inhabitants of the Royal Hospital for Seamen in Greenwich. Today (after extensive renovation and excellent continued maintenance) the Chapel still looks lovely and pretty much the same as it did in late 1790s. The ceiling is simply stunning - a neo-classical masterpiece with intricate and beautifully carved ornaments. The chapel is still used for regular services and visitors are welcome to attend.

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

Magnificent Interiors at The Painted Hall and The Chapel

If you are in the vicinity of Greenwich, then do visit the Old Royal Naval College. The Painted Hall and Chapel are stunning and not to be missed.

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