Greenwich Painted Hall & Chapel (Greater London - England)

My visit to Greenwich in London, happened in 3 sections: As soon as I moved to London I went to the Royal Observatory and Park; then again I went to visit the Cutty Sark and Maritime Museum; towards the end of my stay, again I went there to check out the Chapel and Painted Hall! Till I moved out, I never got to see the Queen’s House which was throughout under renovation (it is open now!). Reason - All of it is under UNESCO!

The painted room is a part of the Old Royal Naval College. Originally it was built as a hospital for the seamen! It was designed by Christopher Wren, and built between in 1696-1712 CE. However by 1869 it ceased to be a hospital and by 1875, it became the college! 

The most important feature of the entire hospital is ofcourse the painted ceiling, made by Sir James Thornhill between 1708 and 1727. The entire painted area covers a whopping 40,000 sq ft. 

The entire painted area is in 2 sections - the long corridor or lower hall and the upper hall with its wall. The central painting of the long corridor depicts ‘Triumph of Peace and Liberty over Tyranny’. It shows King William and Queen Mary and tyranny is shown to be crushed at the foot of King Willaim! Also depicted all around them are the personification of 4 season, 12 zodiac signs, cardinal virtues and rivers. 


Also depicted are mythological characters including Zeus, Medusa, Hercules etc. 4 astonomers also made it to this list incl Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, Thomas Weston with John Flamstead (in the order of the above 3 pics).
The ceiling of the upper hall depicts Queen Anne and her consort Prince George of Denmark surrounded by personification of America, Asia, Europe and Africa in the 4 directions! Also depicted are Heroic virtue, liberality, piety etc. 

The wall shows George I at the centre of a large family group portrait. The painting shows his grandson Frederick and son George depicted beside him, surrounded by personification of peace, plenty, music etc. Ofcourse the portrait is missing his wife! King George I’s marriage with his wife Sophia Dorothea dissolved in a series of unfortunate events and she was imprisoned for 32 years till her death. But is she there in the pic? There’s a faint hand painted near the fringes of the carpet near the foot of the king!!! Find it!!! Btw, at the right bottom corner is Sir James Thornhill himself turning and looking at us!
After getting totally mesmerized by this, I set off to my next place – the Chapel. It’s a Neo Classical (Greek Revival) masterpiece. This was built in 1751. It was destroyed in a fire in 1779 and this current Chapel was built in 1760s. Originally this was the chapel attached to the hospital meant for the seamen!
The ceiling of the chapel is a visual treat. Completely gilded in gold, it looks apt for a palace!!! The woodwork is not just stunning, but is responsible for the acoustics. Its all plaster work and not wood. However the mezzanine flooring and rails are woodwork and much more detailed. When I went, there was a Medieval chant that was running on CD and it echoed all over the church!!! 
At the altar is a fresco and bang opposite to it is the organ. This is a work of Samuel Green of mid 18th C CE. From here I also headed to the Ranger’s House which is also within the UNESCO protected zone. However no photography was allowed there! 

To Get There:
Nearest railway station: Cutty Sark (DLR)
Entry prices: Free at both places.
Recently Painted Hall ceiling tours have been introduced to see the see the paintings up & close at 60ft height! This tour is priced at £10.00
Can be bought online on their website.

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

25 comments:

  1. I have always wanted to visit Greenwich so thanks for this marvellous review. What a fantastic place.

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  2. Lovely virtual tour with beautiful photographs!

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  3. I live in London and am embarrassed to admit, I've never been here! You're so right about the ceiling, it's unbelievable. This is why I love being from Europe, we have so much awesome history and culture here! Now I'll go!

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  4. I've never heard of these points of interest in London, you know my capital better than me! You've inspired me to visit them next time I'm home just by telling me they're Unesco sites!

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  5. I can't imagine a 40,000 square foot painting! It looks beautiful and the architecture is stunning, too. London is filled with so many incredible treasures!

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  6. I have been to Greenwich many times but never actually got inside the Chapel and Painted Hall. It looks absolutely fantastic, another beautiful art gallery besides the National Gallery in London (that's my favorite). The ceiling paintings are so beautiful!

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  7. Its students must be really inspired to study there. I know I would be! The painted ceiling is such a beautiful piece! I would love to visit this.

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  8. Wow that's exactly what I expected to see when I clicked on this post. Wish to see a few more wide angle views covering the entire hall. Glad to see Renaissance astronomers making it to the panels along with mythological figures. Shows that it was made during a more enlightened age.

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  9. I really enjoy going to Greenwich whenever I can, although when staying in central London, it can really be a full day trip. Huge fan of the observatory, and you have beautifully captured the Chapel and the Painted Hall in your photographs.

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  10. There is so much of detail that is there for one to see here. The entire ceiling tells you a story. Very well captured, despite the low light Bhushavali. Cheers

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  11. 40,000 squart feet?! That must have been absolutely mesmerizing! Did you want to lay on the floor and simply look up and admire the art?!

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  12. I like the way you captured the details I would miss when I visit. I've never heard of these sites before but since they're considered UNESCO heritage sites, they're something that I shouldn't miss when I visit London in the future.

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  13. Amazing place to get lost among the incredible painting on a rainy day! I have never been there but I have been to Italy with similar paintings and I just want to lay down on the floor staring up.

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  14. I enjoy reading different posts and learning something, you taught me allot reading this it is very interesting.

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  15. How is it that I had never heard about this place? I've got to say a big thank you for bringing this place to my attention, and I'll definitely kindly bookmark this for further use. The great array of pictures was a big help, thanks!

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  16. Great! I hate so much that i need visa for England. There is so many beautiful places. Once i was in Manchester and Livepool, but London is definitely something different.

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  17. The ceiling indeed is gorgeous. Didn’t know that this place existed. I have friends living in London and I am planning a trip next year. Those portraits evoke the life and times of a bygone era.

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  18. Oh thanks to your post we have done an amazing and real virtual tour. We are art lover and when we traveling, a visit to a church or chapel is a must! It's amazing all the works of art into them WOW

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  19. I can imagine how hard the artist painted those magnificent art in the ceiling. I'm amazed the place was well preserved.

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  20. What a lovely place, indeed a revelation. The ceiling and the paintings are exquisite. Looking at the pictures I was reminded of the Sistine Chapel and its ceiling painted by a man who was known as Michael Angelo.

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  21. I'm a huge art lover and really enjoyed this post! I can imagine being there and just staring at the amazing work and the architecture! It was creepy seeing that faint hand because I couldn't tell at first and it caught my eye suddenly!

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  22. Incredible artwork and frescoes! Although we are not much keen on museums and churches, we definitely love artworks. They show a lot of the country's culture and history.

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  23. Although London always gets a reputation for being expensive there are so many free points of interest to visit! Greenwich painted hall and chapel are another attraction you've visited in my country that I've not heard of!

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  24. I've been in London last year and this Greenwich Painted Hall and Chapel is so stunning and worth to visit. I must say that starting in the architecture, the painted hall are really breathtaking and fulfilling.

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  25. Somehow this reminds me of St.Peter's Basillica in Vatican City. You have captured some nice shots of the chapel and it looks lovely. Would definitely make a visit when in Greenwich

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