Thursday, 5 November 2015

Painted Hall: Greenwich

Greenwich Painted Hall

You spend 19 years painting the dining room but it turns out "to be far too grand for everyday use". Instead of saving it for best, for naval veterans to sit down to their fish supper, it is decided that the dining hall should be opened up to the public. Only to "respectable visitors", at a cost of 3d each. That's about £1.80 in new money.

At least James Thornhill then got to have his hard work seen by more people, the "respectable" public. And however awe inspiring this hall is, imagine eating every meal here, you might stop noticing things. Such as...

...the ceilings  

...the animals

...the cherubs

...St Paul's

...the stonework

...and the textiles

Ceilings can be tricky to look at, so mirrors are provided so you can look down rather than up.

Time has taken it's toll on these paintings in the Painted Hall and they are in the process of being restored. And this costs money. You can often be asked to donate to conservation work. But hats off to the Old Royal Naval College for making it easy, fun and for making it very clear where your money goes.

To put this into perspective, James Thornhill received £3 per square yard for painting the ceiling and £1 for the walls. Times have changed.

Visitors have painted the ceiling by numbers. Wish I'd done that.

I adopted a face. 'Providence'. Who doesn't love a museum badge?
She was in the paintings somewhere.

Fundraising is not a new to the Painted Hall. It was all very (questionably) transparent back then. Not only did those 'respectable' people get to see who had donated, but also how much they had given. Best not to out-do King William. No-one even came close.

Over 300 years later, the Painted Hall in the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich is still open to the public. Prices have changed, from 3d to free admission. Details on the Old Royal Naval College website here.

As for everyday use, meals are still not served to 'respectable vistors', not even birthday lunches. Happy Birthday Nicola.
Just so you know, we didn't starve, we had lunch in the University of Greenwich cafe very close by.


  1. I loved that post Katherine! I have been to Greenwich on numerous occasions but never visited the College. I think that must be rectified. I'm off back to London tomorrow and will see the Face of Britain at the NPG, so thanks for that recommendation too!

  2. Doh! we went to Greenwich but I didn't know about the painted hall. I love it! It must feel beautiful to be in there. I love the painting of the horse very much - so dramatic yet light and airy too. Fabulous!

  3. I am very impressed with the photos. I can never do justice to The Painted Hall as the light is never quite right etc. It is a beautiful place though.

  4. Our dining area needs a revamp so good to get some decorating ideas :-)

  5. I like the chart that makes it clear where donations are going. It was that approach that started us on our mission to donate a herd of goats for Oxfam (via donating books). Our books have raised over £200 so that's quite a few goats.
    Anyway the hall is magnificent and I like the mirrors. I have a dodgy neck so that would be good for me.
    It puts our 3 years to decorate the hall and stairs in perspective......!

  6. What a fantastic room, and I like the original and appealing methods of raising money.

  7. I love "adopt a face". What a wonderful fundraising idea! And I always like the idea of 'your £5 pays for X'. It's a well thought out campaign. I had no idea they existed though. Perhaps they need to think about telling more people they're there.
    Great visit, as always. Thanks for sharing something I'd be unlikely to see otherwise.

  8. Who would want an artex ceiling in their dining room if you could have a painted one!
    What brilliant ideas they have come up with for the fundraising, your badge was a good pick.
    Lisa x

  9. Great fundraising and restoration work. Hope more people continue to visit so they can see these amazing paintings.
    Marion x


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