Point of Interest

The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College

England / Europe

The Royal Palace at Greenwich was built in a horseshoe-bend on the Thames, with extensive views both up and down stream. It holds a commanding position, which had strategic advantages in time of war, and was impressive when greeting foreign royal visitors in time of peace. Greenwich’s history has been closely associated with the Kings and Queens of England since its earliest times. King Harold held manors there, and it was a royal residence as early as the reign of Edward I. In 1692 Queen Mary II declared that Greenwich should become a ‘retreat for seamen disabled in the service of their country’, and thus it became the Royal Naval Hospital, serving as such until 1869, after which it became Greenwich Naval College. Wren designed the monument to William III. The statue of George II is by John Michael Rysbrach and was erected in 1735. There is a statue of William IV, by Samuel Nixon, which originally towered over London Bridge, on the junction of King William Street and Gracechurch Street, but was removed in 1935 and the following year mounted on a new pedestal 1ft 6 inches high, at King William’s Walk in Greenwich Park. The Painted Hall has fine baroque architecture, with murals by Sir James Thornhill. Since 1873 the Hospital had been run by the Royal Naval College, which had taken over the original hospital for old sailors. Since the University of Greenwich took it over, there has been free admission to the Painted Hall by Sir James Thornhill, attracting 300,000 visitors a year. 

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