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Maritime Greenwich: A World Heritage Site

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The Old Royal Naval College


Wren's design

Greenwich Hospital from the North Bank of the Thames.
View full size imageGreenwich Hospital from the north bank of the Thames. © NMM

 This was founded by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1694 as the Royal Hospital for Seaman.  Sir Christopher Wren designed the four main courts of the College and they were built between 1696 and 1751.

Universiy of Greenwich: King Charles block from the north east.
View full size image King Charles block from the north east. © NMM

The courts are on the site of the former Tudor Palace of Greenwich. The King Charles Court incorporates John Webb's single unfinished wing (1664-69) of Charles II's projected new palace of Greenwich.

King William block from the west.
View full size image King William block from the west. © NMM

Wren substantially completed the King Charles and King William Courts on the west side. The Queen Anne Court was largely the work of his Clerk of Works, Nicholas Hawksmoor. The Queen Mary Court was built by Thomas Ripley between 1735 and 1751.

The Painted Hall and Chapel

Sketch for the Ceiling of the Painted Hall.
View full size image One of Thornhill's early designs for the Painted Hall. © NMM 

Sir James Thornhill decorated the famous Painted Hall in King William Court, 1707-26. He was rewarded with £6685 - and a knighthood - for this, the major work of his career. He was paid £3 per square yard for the ceiling and £1 for the walls.

James 'Athenian' Stuart added the Infirmary (now the Dreadnought Library of Greenwich University) from 1764 and remodelled the Chapel (in the Queen Mary court) after a fire in 1779.

 

 

 

 

Uses old and new

Pensioners outside the chapel at Greenwich.
View full size imageGreenwich pensioners. © NMM

The buildings housed Royal Naval pensioners from 1705 to 1869, reaching a maximum of 2710 in 1814. The Hospital then closed and from 1873 to 1998 was the Royal Naval College - the 'Navy's university'.

Painted Chapel at the Greenwich Hospital
View full size imageThe chapel at the Old Royal Naval College. © NMM
It is now run by the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College and is the Maritime Greenwich Campus of the University of Greenwich. The King Charles Court is the home of Trinity College of Music.

The grounds, Painted Hall and Chapel are open to the public, as is the Greenwich Gateway WHS Visitor Centre in the 19th-century Pepys Building.


 

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