The Old Royal Naval College, designed by Christopher Wren, was originally used as a hospital for sick or dependent seamen and their families. It opened during, and is a monument to, the war against France waged by William III from 1689. This was at that time the biggest war England had ever been involved in.
The hospital closed in 1869, and reopened in 1873 as the Royal Naval College, dedicated to naval officer training. The college continued in this role until 1998, when the navy's educational centre moved to Shrivenham. Today the University of Greenwich and the Trinity College of Music use many of the buildings.
The college grounds, the Painted Hall and the Chapel are open to the public. The Painted Hall was the college dining room. This huge room is decorated with paintings by James Thornhill, completed over nineteen years at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Thornhill's paintings dramatise the political and cultural situation of the time. In one painting William And Mary are shown enthroned in heaven. Louis XIV of France, William's life long enemy, is shown holding a broken sword below William. Meanwhile figures personifying Peace and Liberty are busy defeating Tyranny. The vast ceiling painting celebrates Queen Anne who succeeded William and Mary. Figures representing Europe, Africa, Asia and America are shown offering their respects to Anne. This painting sums up the confidence of the British Empire at this time.
The beautiful grounds and buildings of the Old Royal Naval College have been used in numerous films including The Wolfman, Sherlock Holmes, The Madness of King George, The Golden Compass, The Young Victoria, Quills, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Mummy, The Queen, National Treasure, and Amazing Grace. The chapel here was used during the filming of Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Opening Times: Please use contact details below.
Address: Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich SE10 9LW
Directions: The Old Royal Naval College is just off Romney Road in Greenwich. Click here for an interactive map centred on the Old Royal Naval College.
Access: Within the college grounds there are good paths, and the site is almost entirely on one level. Wheelchair access to the Painted Hall and the Chapel should not present problems. Use the contact information below to confirm.
telephone for information: 020 8269 4747
group visits and bookings: 020 8269 4799