Back in the day when I first came to London, the Royal Naval College at Greenwich was out of bounds to those of us not in the Navy. Beautiful buildings stood tantalising just out of reach behind high railings, whispers of stunning interiors were heard. Now would-be sailors are trained elsewhere and some of the buildings are open for you and me to wander around at will. Earlier this week I visited the Maritime Museum and took the opportunity to stroll through the Naval College grounds en route to the DLR. A short cut that was all it was until I saw this open door and tempting vista. People were walking in and out, so I reasoned I could too!
It led me into this courtyard, the King William Court, mirror image to the Queen Mary Court visible through the colonnade. Stunning and I’d never seen it before. To my right was the exterior of the Painted Hall, which is shut for two years whilst it is being refurbished.
Opposite the Painted Hall is the Chapel with its stunning blue and cream ceiling. Apparently it not only beautiful but is also responsible for the excellent acoustics of the Chapel.
I knew that it was possible to visit the Chapel and the Painted Hall but hadn’t realised before that wandering round the wider grounds was possible. The buildings were designed by Sir Christopher Wren and form one of the most important collections of baroque architecture in Europe: they are one of the reasons why Greenwich is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even better, access if free.
OLD ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE
Grounds open daily 8am-11pm
Buildings open Monday-Sunday 10am-5pm
The Old Naval College is a popular film and wedding location, so sometimes buildings may not be accessible: a list of closure times can be found on the website.