201803 - Painters Hall

Monday 12 March 2018
Painted Hall, Old Naval College, Greenwich

Mavis kindly organised a trip to see the Painted Hall at Greenwich. The original site had the Palace of Placentia (pleasure). Henry VIII (1491-1547) and his daughters Mary I (1516-1558) and Elizabeth I (1533-1603) were born here.

The palace was demolished in 1694 and replaced by what was used as a Royal Naval Hospital, then as the Royal Naval College and now the University of Greenwich. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, it is now a UNESCO World heritage site.

The ceiling and walls of the Painted Hall were created between 1707 and 1726 by Sir James Thornhill. The hall is largely a tribute to the success of Protestants over the Catholics, featuring primarily Queen Anne, William and Mary, the only ever joint monarchs of England, and George I. As was usual at this time, the features in the paintings were used to propagate messages about wealth and power and defeat of the French (Louis XIV) to the people.

The ceiling is oil painted on plaster, which is now 300 years old. It has undergone 9 previous restorations. The current restoration completes late in 2018. It is a unique time as the scaffolding used allows public visits to within 6 feet of the ceiling. When the scaffolding is removed it will no longer be possible to view from such a close position.

Horatio Nelson laid in state at the hall before his funeral.

The Photography group decided to visit this unique opportunity and capture photos – following on from a full photographic survey undertaken by another U3A.

Film buffs may be interested to know that amongst scenes filmed here are:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides - Painted Hall
  • 4 Weddings and a Funeral (2nd wedding) - Chapel of St Peter and St Paul.
  • Les Miserables, main riot and march scenes around the Old Naval College.
  • And scenes from, Little Dorrit, The Kings Speech, The Madness of King George, The Mummy Returns, and an M&S advert, etc.

For more information click History of Greenwich and the Painted Hall Project.

Our thanks to photographers Geoff Deighton, Lee & Terry King and Lyn & Alan Aldridge.

Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.