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Greenwich Hospital - the Chapel burning, 2 Jan 1779.

Greenwich Hospital - the Chapel burning, 2 Jan 1779.
Greenwich Hospital - the Chapel burning, 2 Jan 1779.
© National Maritime Museum, London
Repro ID: PZ1597
Description: This somewhat crude but dramatic coloured print records the near-catastrophic fire that destroyed the original interior of Thomas Ripley's Chapel in the Queen Mary Court (1735-51) of Greenwich Hospital and severely damaged the dome over its vestibule. The publisher, the Reverend Thomas Furbor, was at this time the headmaster of the Greenwich Hospital School, though whether he issued the print for commercial reasons or moral ones - as a dreadful warning - is unrecorded. The fire broke out in a nearby ward, presumably at the east end, on the night of 2 January 1779 and fanned by a strong easterly wind rapidly ran through the Chapel, to the dome as shown here. Five hundred Pensioners had to be rehoused and the Painted Hall used for Hospital services until repairs were complete. Stuart and Newton's new Greek-revival Chapel interior was finished in 1788. The Hospital Governors regarded the incident so seriously that they called in the famous blind magistrate, Sir John Fielding, to investigate whether the cause was accidental or malicious. Apart from the belief that it was probably started by illicit smoking in the Hospital wards, nothing further was discovered.
Creator: E. Edye (engraver), Thomas Furbor (publisher)
Date: c. 1780
Credit line: National Maritime Museum, London
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory Greenwich New Opportunities Fund  
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