Old Royal Naval College
The Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) in Greenwich was established as the Royal Hospital for Seamen by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1694.
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, it is one of the most important ensembles in European baroque architecture. From 1705, the Royal Hospital provided modest, wood-lined cabins as accommodation for retired sailors, housing as many as 2,700 residents at its peak in 1814. The last naval pensioners left in 1869, when the site became home to the Royal Naval College, an officers’ training academy, until 1997.
Today this historic landmark is open to the public and is the home of three unique and free to visit attractions; the Painted Hall, the Chapel, and the Discover Greenwich visitor centre.
The Painted Hall is the greatest piece of decorative painting in England and has been described as ‘the Sistine Chapel of the UK’. The walls and ceilings were painted by Sir James Thornhill between 1708 and 1722.
The Chapel of St Peter and St Paul is a neo-classical masterpiece by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart and William Newton. Featuring a Samuel Green organ and an altarpiece painted by Benjamin West, it is one of the finest eighteenth century interiors in existence.
The ORNC is free to all visitors and is open daily from 10.00-17.00.