Thursday, 21 September 2017

Bucket List visit - part 5 of 9: Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College ...



We then had a gentle walk along the river bank past the Cutty Sark to ‘touch sides’ with the Painted Hall, which is in the process of a conservation project lasting until 2019.  I was with the friend from South Africa who could not have made the scaffold tour on offer, nor did we have time …
The Cutty Sark - restored ... it has been lifted
9 metres so can be accessed at ground level -
there will be a museum with various features ...
the restoration and conservation are continuing
ready for the 150th anniversary in 2019


… but it has whetted my appetite to make a plan to get back to take the tour … talking of appetite – the last time I wrote about the Painted Hall was for the Olympic 2012 Great British Menu …


In that post I gave a brief summary about the history of the Hall, but little about the art itself. 



The Painted Hall full of scaffolding as the art works
are restored and repairs are made


Our history here is extraordinary … always reminding us how the country developed, and what amazing talent was able to come to the fore with engineers, architects, designers, artists and many other creatives.





Another view of the Painted Hall with
the west wall in full view at the end



If you can believe it – this Painted Hall was created as a dining hall - an eating place - for the naval veterans, who had survived their sea voyages of exploration in the 1600s.


Unsurprisingly upon completion it was considered way too grand for everyday use … and became (surprisingly) one of London’s first tourist attractions – the Pensioners being hired to give guided tours.


This shows the four courts at Greenwich,
the Queen's House at the back centre - with
the National Maritime Museum to the right


In the 1800s until 1936 the Painted Hall was also known as the National Gallery of Naval Art - with 300 naval-themed paintings – which now form the foundation of the National Maritime Museum’s art collection just up the hill.






James Thornhill's work:
William and Mary

James Thornhill (1675 – 1734) had painted the interior of the dome in St Paul’s Cathedral and in 1708 was appointed to decorate the Hall.


His instructions were to include as many naval references as possible, boast the triumph of William and Mary in the Glorious Revolution in 1688 over James II with royal propaganda.


His vision is superb … he worked on dry plaster, and without 21st century scaffolding – not a job I’d have liked in any form.  It took him 19 years … but thereafter he was knighted!


Royal Symbolism


Signs and Symbols are depicted in the art, particularly astronomical features – so important to navigation – together with the famous astronomers of the day … 





The Painted Hall
... including – guess who … the man with the prosthetic nose whom I wrote about last year … Tycho Brahe (1546 - 1601) - the last of the ‘naked eye astronomers’.


I’ve set out some links below if you’d like a better understanding of the wonderfulness of this incredible building or perhaps part of the great courts of Greenwich and to see in close up some of the restoration work.


As tends to happen in this country … if we dig down we find new to us undiscovered buildings … it has happened at the Painted Hall.  They are working at bringing the Undercroft back into existence as a shop-restaurant and visitor centre for this part of the Old Royal Naval College.


c/o Old Royal Naval College - major archaeology
So what appears … but the remains of Greenwich Palace, birthplace of Henry VIII and of his daughters Mary and Elizabeth I.


The new archaeological finds of this Tudor Palace – originally called Palace of Placentia (Palace of Pleasant Abode – from the Latin ‘placere’ “to please”)  will be included within the conservation and construction project being undertaken under the auspices of the Painted Hall Restoration Project.


A sketch of the early Greenwich  Palace
(Palace of Placentia) as published in
The Gentleman's Magazine 1840


Our history just goes on and on … and how much we learn along the way … finding out about all these talented people who were able to translate the vision given to them by their patrons.




Then over nearly six hundred years the site reflects the country’s development from early Tudor and on into our own 21st century … what changes …


When I’m able to get up to London again and take part in a scaffold tour – I’ll let you know …


Conservation trials in the Painted Hall - Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) Painted Hall Project



A guest article in the Tudor Times about the Palace of Placentia - this is fascinating, just adding to the history

My earlier post on the Great British Menu dinner held in the Painted Hall just before the London Olympics 2012

The post on Tycho Brahe and his prosthetic nose 

The Cutty Sark 150th restoration project - to be completed by 2019 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

41 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

I would love to take a Scaffold Tour. I am not sure given my precarious balance it would be wise - but it wouldn't stop the wanting.
I love learning about the history of 'how people lived' and England seems to excell there.

D.G. Hudson said...

Wonderful history, Hilary. I love the sailing ships and am glad to hear a museum will help retain the sailing history. That painted hall would be a great place to visit. The UK is a small country with a huge history. Thanks for the education. . .

Rhodesia said...

Yet another great post with most of what I did not know. There is so much interesting history in Europe, how I wish we had of had an interesting history teacher and that my attention span had not drifted off every time she walked into the class!!
I would love to see James Thorhill's work but it is not likely that I ever will.
Take care and have a good remainder to the week, Diane

RO said...

I really enjoy the things you share on your posts, and including the pictures makes it seem as if we're there with you. Happy Thursday! Hugs...RO

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Great post, Hilary. I've not been around and have quite a bit of catching up to do. Greenwich is a great place - so much to see and do there, you could lose yourself for a day or more without trying. I must get round to writing a bit about it; so much of a back-log! Not sure I'd brave the scaffolding, though.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The first tourist attraction - how about that?
And that's an amazing amount of scaffolding in one place.

Elsie Amata said...

Nineteen years? That's dedication. It also makes me feel better about taking so long to get my own work written and published. :)

And I thought NY had a lot of scaffolding. haha

Enjoy the rest of your week!
Elsie

Joanne said...

I would like to join the scaffold tour. Sail on sailors, sail on. Indeed, quite the naval history and glorious salutes and tributes to your brave veterans and explorers on the high seas. You do get out and about - thanks for sharing.

Out on the prairie said...

Amazing to stay with an ideal so long. I would love to see all this first hand. I started reading Philippa Gregory's cousins series, so in my second book I am in the 15th century.

Andrea Ostapovitch said...

It does look to be an amazing place and well worth the time to keep in good condition. It is hard to wrap one's mind around the changes our cultures have gone through in 400 years.
Wonderful post, and have a great day,
Andrea

Chatty Crone said...

Girl, just how do you come to know so much. Another thing I have never, ever heard of and it is freaking amazing. That is so weird to have that there. And that dining hall they made was gorgeous - too bad the men couldn't use it to see their value. You are a smart cookie.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC – I’m hoping to visit again to go up on the scaffolding into the ambience of the Painted Hall ceiling once it opens to the public. It’ll be great to learn some more … and see how the art work was made …

@ DG – the National Maritime Museum is something I’ve never properly explored – I visited an exhibition on Pepys (he had an extraordinarily full life) … but haven’t written about it … one day I’ll spend some time there looking at the art work. We do have a lot of history … I’m always finding out new things … I teach myself as I go along writing these posts …

@ Diane – thanks so much – I try and post different items that perhaps others wouldn’t write about … but within the auspices of the subject being written about. I failed history the first time I took it, then got a B the second time … but honestly I’ve taught myself more history writing this blog – and which continues on … I intend to get up into that ceiling to look at Thornhill’s work close up …

@ RO – thanks so much – just delighted you enjoy the mix and match of my writings on the post … and I agree the photos do bring ‘things’ to life …

@ Mike – good to see you around again … Greenwich is extraordinary … I wish I had more time to spend there - one honestly needs a few days at a time to explore tiny areas of London … I dash up and dash down again from the south coast.

I’m definitely going to do the scaffolding tour if I can – having mastered the Canterbury Cathedral scaffolding tour I’m rather hooked! I just hope I have the time to get up to London again …

@ Alex – yes the fact it was a tourist attraction back in 1800s … seems extraordinary doesn’t it. When I saw the scaffolding in the Hall – it is moved around as they work on various areas of the ceiling – the area of scaffold build is huge … as you can see in my photo …

@ Elsie – I know nineteen years is an awful long time … but it is a huge space … and honestly we can take as long as it takes us …

I think looking at the building/scaffolding work going on around London – we seem to be in another building phase …

@ Joanne – well they’d love to have you visit and climb the scaffolding to check out the art work?! We certainly were a shipping and shipbuilding nation … with all the ramifications that go with the Services – maritime, army etc etc … This was a fleeting visit … but one can garner very useful information – which I use …

@ Steve – it was some project wasn’t it – perhaps you’ll get over sometime to see it at some stage. Philippa Gregory is a reputable author of historical fiction, which follows the basic premise of history as it occurred – a good read …

@ Andrea – obviously restoring the ceiling to its former glory and making the necessary repairs is essential – so it’s a good thing the ceiling is being sorted out.

I agree so much has happened in a 1,000 years … and particularly the last 500 years as you mention … lots went on …

@ Sandie – we are just lucky in London that we can get access to so many historical sites … and have had historians over the centuries to guide us … so pleased you enjoy the posts – thanks.

Cheers to you all – thanks so much for visiting … all the best - Hilary

A Cuban In London said...

As usual, you dig deep and unearth treasures. :-) Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Jz said...

I'll be watching for the scaffolding pictures!
:-D

Anabel Marsh said...

I remember reading about the discovery - fascinating!

Janie Junebug said...

The Painted Hall must be lovely, but a scaffold tour? I have poor balance, and I'm afraid of heights. What a great and mighty history England has.

Love,
Janie

Truedessa said...

I enjoy your posts they are very informative and give me a glimpse into another time. I would like to know more about the signs and symbolism of those navigators.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ ACIL - glad you appreciated the different snippets I include here ... thanks ...

@ Jz - the scaffolding tour may or may not happen ... I hope to be able to get up to London again ...

@ Anabel - I've only just realised about the discovery ... but it will definitely add to the history ...

@ Janie - the Painted Hall is glorious, but will be exceptional once it's been restored and repaired. I managed the Canterbury Cathedral tour - this looked similar. Certainly we have masses of history and with today's technology are able to unearth and disentangle more of it ... as we relook at things ...

@ Truedessa - the signs and symbolism abound in our history as each part of history is created by the writers, the painters, the sculptors, the builders of the day - intending to glorify whoever is in power ...

Thanks everyone - cheers Hilary

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. This was a lovely post. I really like being at Greenwich and I will be leading a walk there next year. It seems that on so many of my walks from as far out as Havering-atte-Bowwer, Chingford Plain and Wanstead Park, I find my self saying "...and this was a former hunting ground of Henry VIII". The links were interesting and provided a lot of further insight. Thanks for that!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s abstracted Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Annalisa Crawford said...

It's fascinating that archaeological discoveries are still being found. I love how much of our history is still around us, and in use!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Wow, the amount of historical sites you have that are sooooo worth seeing never fails to astound me. I'd love to see Cutty Sark in person. And take that scaffolding tour... and visit a thousand other places you've told us about. (Good thing you're there to "take" us to them! Thanks.)

Have a super weekend.

Fil said...

Fantastic to see history developing backwards like that Hilary ... such an interesting post.

Jacqui Murray said...

That was very interesting. About the hall that was deigned too nice for the sailors: When I toured my daughter's ship, the USS Bunker Hill, the nicest lounge (themed to Cheers) was for the sailors. The officer's was very basic.

It's hard not to agree with that!

Nick Wilford said...

More fascinating history and knowledge to absorb here. I didn't even know anything about the Painted Hall, let alone the discoveries going on underneath it. I think Thornhill has been a bit overshadowed by Michelangelo but deserves credit for his achievement too!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bazza - thanks so much ... well I'm glad my post can add into your knowledge re Greenwich - it is ripe with history. So many open areas were Royal Forests - not open to the general public ... "all mine!" as the HRH King would say! But in a lot of respects we're lucky today - they were hunting grounds ...

So glad the links are interesting with that extra insight ...

@ Annalisa - I know it's amazing that we can still find palaces etc and particularly how we are able to put the buildings to use ...

@ Susan - gosh I hardly touch the historical sites - but I do get out and about a bit and am always glad to showcase some of our ancient finds here on the blog - teaches me history ... I wonder how many places I have 'talked about' on the blog ... nearly 900 posts - so could be over 1,000 - but the main thing is you all enjoy them ... thank you for that ...

Cutty Sark deserves another visit by me now it's been renovated ... as too I hope I can get to take the scaffolding tour ...

@ Fil - it is fascinating that in the 21st C we can find new ancient buildings and be able to bring them to life again - in a different format, but still here to be seen ...

@ Jacqui - well it was some Hall- amazing they thought it was an idea in the first place ... but I'm glad they did build it. How interesting that your daughter's ship has a good lounge for the sailors, while the officer's one is basic - that's good judgement by the powers that be - so sensible: if only more could do that ...

@ Nick - well this country is covered with historical sites isn't it - but am glad you're now aware of the Painted Hall and other discoveries. I think anyone who paints on the scale of Thornhill or Michaeangelo deserves to be recognised ... I suppose Thornhill isn't so well known as he only painted here in the UK ... and many people visit the Vatican and other Michaelangelo works ...

Thanks so much ... some new ideas here - cheers to you all and happy weekends - Hilary

Suzanne Furness said...

I may have to pass on a scaffold tour - I'm not so good with heights! But it looks fascinating. Let us know about the tour when you go, I will look forward to reading about it.

Liz A. said...

Very cool.

Rhonda Albom said...

The painted hall does look lovely and its history is noteworthy. Who would have thought of a tourist attraction so many centuries ago!.

Damyanti said...

So much beautiful history: I love how you make it so voice-y and story-like.

Damyanti

Pamela Wright said...

I'm really enjoying your visit to Greenwich as we loved visiting there. The Painted Hall is such a fascinating place and everytime we visited we noticed new things. so much history in the buildings around this area and so much that is still to discover. Thanks for sharing.

Emily Bloomquist said...

How beautiful and so rich with history, Hilary. Pardon my ignorance but would you actually be walking on the scaffold during the tour? If so, what an opportunity to see it all up close.

I can hardly stand to paint a room for more than a few days. It amazes me that Sir Thornhill worked on the Hall for 19 years, without the benefit of today's luxuries in scaffolding no less. Of course, I am no artist - hopefully he enjoyed every day of it.

Thanks for sharing Painted Hall with us.

M Pax said...

That looks so fantastic. I'm jealous I couldn't go with you.

Susan Scott said...

I'm going to go backwards in your travels Hilary .. have missed out on hte previous 4. It all looks pretty wonderful and adventurous ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Suzanne - I'm not much good with heights ... but simply can't resist the opportunity to get up close and personal with Thornhill's ceiling. I hope to get up to do the tour ...

@ Liz - thanks ...

@ Rhonda - Greenwich is an extraordinary place and as you mention its history is distinctly noteworthy. I was so surprised re the 'tourist attraction' of 200 years ago ... so it had to get posted up!

@ Damyanti - thanks so much ... appreciate your thoughts here - I endeavour to entertain with my posts ... albeit with some history in it ...

@ Pamela - that's great as you and Ken know the areas I'm talking about. I'm sure if one spent time in the Painted Hall - with binoculars, as the ceiling is so high - there's so much to spot. It's fascinating they're still finding old buildings from the Middle Ages buried under newer buildings ... so glad you're enjoying the posts ...

@ Emily - thanks for asking ... I'm noting my scaffolding tour of Canterbury Cathedral I did two years ago ... that was amazing:

http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/canterbury-cathedral-scaffold-tour.html

and yes there is a ladder one climbs up into the 'gods' before no doubt being led along boarding to see some of the conservation work. I found it incredible that Thornhill spent 19 years working on this project - he delegated some of the work, but still had to oversee it ... and how they did it without our modern ways is extraordinary. The hall is huge ...

It's an amazing building that we have access to today ... and I'll be really lucky to take the tour ...

@ Mary - it is an incredible place - actually the whole of Greenwich ...we are lucky with the history we can see ...

@ Susan - thanks for reading backwards! It was a fun time ... and so interesting - let alone catching up with a great friend.

Cheers to you ... thanks for visiting and commenting - Hilary

Romance Reader said...

Thanks for sharing about this interesting tour, Hilary.

Kim Blades said...

Hi Hilary. Great and very beautiful history depicted here. Kim

Deborah Weber said...

What a grand look at a grand building. I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be on a scaffold tour, but oh what a delight to see the ceiling up close and personal!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I love learning about this rich history in your country. It seems there are endless places to explore and learn about.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nas - thanks so much as I'm delighted to share ...

@ Kim - there is always so much to write up - our history is so varied ...

@ Deborah - Greenwich is amazing - a range of enormous buildings and 'courts' - courtyards. I agree - that's why I'd love to take the tour ... and hope to get up close and personal to the painting.

@ Susan - you're right our history is rich ... and there is such a lot to see and to explore in this little land ...

Cheers to you all - thanks for visiting ... Hilary

Keith's Ramblings said...

Ever considered a second career as a tour guide? I'd follow you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Keith - thanks for the thought ... half thought about it - but it'd be tricky ... still I'm honoured you'd follow me along that journey - I think I'll stick to writing ... but still tour, vicariously! Cheers HIlary