London Sights


Old Royal Naval College

Old Royal Naval College Review

Begun by Christopher Wren in 1694 as a rest home for ancient mariners, the college became a school in 1873. It's still used for classes by the University of Greenwich and the Trinity College of Music, although you're more likely to recognise it as a film location—recent blockbusters to have made use of its elegant interiors include Skyfall, Les Misérables, and The King's Speech. Architecturally, you'll notice how the structures part to reveal the Queen's House across the central lawns. Behind the college are two more buildings you can visit. The Painted Hall, the college's dining hall, which derives its name from the baroque murals of William and Mary (reigned jointly 1689–95; William alone 1695–1702) and assorted allegorical figures. James Thornhill's frescoes, depicting scenes of naval grandeur with a suitably pro-British note of propaganda, were painstakingly completed between 1708–12 and 1718–26, and were good enough to earn him a knighthood. In the opposite building stands the College Chapel, which was rebuilt after a fire in 1779 in an altogether more restrained, neo-Grecian style. Check the website for a great program of special events, including talks, tours, and concerts—many of them free.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, Greenwich, London, SE10 9LW | Map It
  • Phone: 020/8269–4747
  • Cost: Free, guided tours £6
  • Hours: Painted Hall and chapel daily 10–5 (Sun. chapel from 12:30); grounds 8–6
  • Website:
  • Subway: DLR: Greenwich
  • Location: Greenwich
Updated: 02-27-2014

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