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King William Court Tours

We are sorry, but this tour is now sold out. We have plenty of other tours available over Open House weekend, please check out our other events.

We do not have a waiting list for these tours, however spaces may become available on the day if people do not show up. In this case, places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, and we will only be able to allocate spaces up to the limit of 15 per tour.

 

Open House Saturday 21st September & Sunday 22nd September 2019:

11.00-12.00, 12.00-1.00pm, 1.00-2.00pm, 2.00-3.00pm, 3.00-4.00pm

(Wheelchair accessible, some parts of tour include stairs but lifts are available)

Old Royal Naval College - King William Court; Sir Christopher Wren, 1698

The Painted Hall
The Painted Hall is often described as the ‘finest dining hall in Europe’. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor, it was originally intended as an eating space for the naval veterans who lived here at the Royal Hospital for Seamen. Its exuberant wall and ceiling decorations are by James Thornhill and pay tribute to British maritime power.

The Painted Hall sits within the King William Court. Wren submitted designs in 1698 and the roof and dome were in place five years later. When in 1708 James Thornhill began decorating the interior, he was instructed to include as many references as possible to the importance of the navy in Britain’s fortunes.

His ‘great and laborious undertaking’ was finally completed after 19 years, by which time the Painted Hall was felt to be far too grand for its original purpose. Respectable visitors were allowed admittance, after paying a small fee, and the residents of the Royal Hospital – Greenwich Pensioners – acted as tour guides. Thornhill was paid only £3 per square yard (about one square metre) for the ceiling, and just £1 per square yard for the walls. However, he did receive a knighthood in 1720 and his legacy is the finest painted architectural interior by an English artist. 

In 1806, three months after the Battle of Trafalgar the previous October, the body of Horatio Nelson was brought to lie in state in the Painted Hall. A plaque marks the spot where his coffin was placed before it was taken for burial in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Between 1824 and 1936, the Painted Hall was known as the National Gallery of Naval Art, with over 300 naval-themed paintings on display. These paintings, together with portrait busts, drawings, ship models and relics of Nelson, formed the basis of the National Maritime Museum’s art collection.

In 1939, following extensive restoration, the Painted Hall was used for dining (including breakfast) by the officers of the Royal Naval College. It was also the venue for many grand dinners including in 1946 a banquet to celebrate the formation of the United Nations.
 

Check in point is University of Greenwich tent in Lower Grand Square click here for site map. Please aim to arrive 10-15 minutes before your tour start time to allow plenty of time to find the meeting point and check in. Tour guides will leave promptly.

(Tickets are free & are bookable online until late Thursday 19th September, any remaining tickets will be available only in person on the day of the tours from the Visitor Centre)

 

Please note Open House tickets are not valid to enter the Painted Hall.

If you do not have a valid 12month Adult ticket to the Painted Hall, shortly after booking your Open House tour tickets you will be emailed our exclusive offer discount code to Buy one Adult ticket* and get the second adult ticket half price

*We cannot refund tickets that have already been purchased.

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Ticket options

  • Adult ticket: King William Court Tours Free Max 2 per booking. 0 2 max
  • Child ticket: King William Court Tours Free Children aged 5 to 16 yrs must be accompanied by an adult. Max 2 per booking. 0 2 max
  • Wheelchair User access ticket: King William Court Tours Free (Wheelchair accessible, some parts of tour include stairs but lifts are available). Max 2 per booking. 0 2 max
Clear selection Please select the amount of tickets before proceeding

We are sorry, but this tour is now sold out. We have plenty of other tours available over Open House weekend, please check out our other events.

We do not have a waiting list for these tours, however spaces may become available on the day if people do not show up. In this case, places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, and we will only be able to allocate spaces up to the limit of 15 per tour.

 

Open House Saturday 21st September & Sunday 22nd September 2019:

11.00-12.00, 12.00-1.00pm, 1.00-2.00pm, 2.00-3.00pm, 3.00-4.00pm

(Wheelchair accessible, some parts of tour include stairs but lifts are available)

Old Royal Naval College - King William Court; Sir Christopher Wren, 1698

The Painted Hall
The Painted Hall is often described as the ‘finest dining hall in Europe’. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor, it was originally intended as an eating space for the naval veterans who lived here at the Royal Hospital for Seamen. Its exuberant wall and ceiling decorations are by James Thornhill and pay tribute to British maritime power.

The Painted Hall sits within the King William Court. Wren submitted designs in 1698 and the roof and dome were in place five years later. When in 1708 James Thornhill began decorating the interior, he was instructed to include as many references as possible to the importance of the navy in Britain’s fortunes.

His ‘great and laborious undertaking’ was finally completed after 19 years, by which time the Painted Hall was felt to be far too grand for its original purpose. Respectable visitors were allowed admittance, after paying a small fee, and the residents of the Royal Hospital – Greenwich Pensioners – acted as tour guides. Thornhill was paid only £3 per square yard (about one square metre) for the ceiling, and just £1 per square yard for the walls. However, he did receive a knighthood in 1720 and his legacy is the finest painted architectural interior by an English artist. 

In 1806, three months after the Battle of Trafalgar the previous October, the body of Horatio Nelson was brought to lie in state in the Painted Hall. A plaque marks the spot where his coffin was placed before it was taken for burial in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Between 1824 and 1936, the Painted Hall was known as the National Gallery of Naval Art, with over 300 naval-themed paintings on display. These paintings, together with portrait busts, drawings, ship models and relics of Nelson, formed the basis of the National Maritime Museum’s art collection.

In 1939, following extensive restoration, the Painted Hall was used for dining (including breakfast) by the officers of the Royal Naval College. It was also the venue for many grand dinners including in 1946 a banquet to celebrate the formation of the United Nations.
 

Check in point is University of Greenwich tent in Lower Grand Square click here for site map. Please aim to arrive 10-15 minutes before your tour start time to allow plenty of time to find the meeting point and check in. Tour guides will leave promptly.

(Tickets are free & are bookable online until late Thursday 19th September, any remaining tickets will be available only in person on the day of the tours from the Visitor Centre)

 

Please note Open House tickets are not valid to enter the Painted Hall.

If you do not have a valid 12month Adult ticket to the Painted Hall, shortly after booking your Open House tour tickets you will be emailed our exclusive offer discount code to Buy one Adult ticket* and get the second adult ticket half price

*We cannot refund tickets that have already been purchased.