Girl About London Town: Old Royal Naval College

A couple of weeks ago London city became centre stage for anyone who enjoys a bit of history and architecture. 700 private buildings opened their doors to the public for the Open House event, that annually takes place for one weekend. Unfortunately, I hadn’t planned ahead, so I was unable to see the peruse buildings.

However, London is full of surprises. There’s always something new to stumble upon. As I did last week. Doing my little bit of research of London’s grand interiors, I came across the painted hall in Greenwich; which only happens to be a couple of boroughs away. Despite the short distance, I’ve only visited Greenwich once this year.

Zipping up my camera. I made my way to Greenwich’s 18-acre riverside ground, to explore one of London’s finest buildings. I entered the Old Royal Naval College through its main entrance by the cafeteria and queued up behind a group of tourists to purchase my annual pass. Passing the gallery gift shop, I was soon on my way to perceive the 300-year-old painting that took Sir James Thornhill 19 years to complete.

With awe, I descended the stairs to a hall that was once used as a lavish dining room for Naval pensioners many decades ago. Reaching the bottom I stood for a few seconds in the centre of the entrance, taking in 4000 square/metres of grand artistry. 

The painted hall spent months hidden behind mountains of scaffoldings, for a prodigious clean and conserve project. Restoring parts of the paintings that had deteriorated with time; decades of decay obscuring fine detail. Now, rejuvenated colour, precision and richness can be seen and adored.

Staring up at the oil painted clouds, I met the gazes of many nymphs, goddesses and animals. As I advanced towards the middle of the hall, scanning the ceiling facet, new figures manifested themselves, while old scenes faded. I was lost under a surreal masterpiece of English baroque art. 

After a small wonder around all four corners of the room, I gradually made my way to the exit to spend a little time enjoying the open view.

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