28 August 2017

Unique London: The Old Royal Naval College Painted Ceiling Hall Tour, Greenwich

Do you ever have those moments where you realise that you are a square peg in a round hole, and you are absolutely ok with that?

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi
Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

Most modern ladies, they buy handbags and dresses off Instagram, but having spotted the Painted Hall ceiling tours on a good friend's instastories, I knew we had to make our way down to Greenwich to take in this unique tour.

Essentially, the beautifully painted Baroque murals of the Old Royal Naval College are being cleaned and the white mould removed in an effort to preserve them them for future generations. The unique experience they are offering is for the general public to get up close and personal on guided tours with the incredible murals painted in the 1700s.

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

The gorgeous ceilings are currently surrounded with 8 tonnes of scaffolding which we clambered (read: walked sedately up 67 steps) until we were almost face to face with the images painted between 1707 and 1726.

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi 

"The Painted Hall, dubbed ‘the Sistine Chapel of the UK’ for its beautiful interior featuring vast baroque murals by Sir James Thornhill, has amazed and delighted visitors to Greenwich for 300 years."

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

"During this long history the fragile painted surfaces have suffered - smoke and dirt has built up on the surfaces, and varnish layers have fractured under the effects of heat and humidity. A trial clean of the west wall in 2012 (Phase I of the Painted Hall Project) showed the transformational effects conservation work could achieve."

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

See the white mould/build-up? ^^

The skill of the painting is amazing, and the incredible perspective that allows us to view the ceiling from the floor - something even more appreciable when you realise that they didn't have our modern technology to map out the images before painting them and all of the paint was hand mixed on the the probably unstable ladders/scaffolding.

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

"The accessions to the throne of William III and Mary II in 1688 and George I in 1714 form the central narrative of a scheme which also triumphalises Britain’s maritime and trading successes. The artist drew on a cast of around 200 figures to tell a story of political change, scientific and cultural achievements, naval endeavours, and commercial enterprise against a series of magnificent backdrops. The characters he included are allegorical, mythological, historical and contemporary."

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi
Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

How about a pictorial representation of the Humber River, or a scattering of astrological signs?

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi
Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

They even discovered several examples of ancient graffiti - the signatures of the craftsmen working on the beautiful paintings (click the image to enlarge.)

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

On our tour we were given mirrors to stop us getting neck ache from craning, and to really zoom in on particular details.

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

Isn't it cool!? (Refer to my opening remark...)
Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

At the end of our 50-minute tour - full of interesting facts, stories about the painted characters and a touch of awe at the skill - we got a good, up close look at the gilded figures that crown the hall and need cleaning from the years of dust.

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi
Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

Tres cool.

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

We made our way back down the scaffolding to hand our high-vis back in and wander a little further around Greenwich.

Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

The Old Royal Navy College Ceiling Tours are running up to September 10th, then from October 21st 2017 until March 2018.

 {{ Pin for later }}
Things to do in London Old Royal Naval College Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

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