Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Bucket List – part 7: Chapel in Queen Mary’s Court, Old Royal Naval College and the Observatory …



The Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich built on the instructions of Queen Mary II (1662 – 1694), had been inspired by the sight of wounded sailors returning in 1692. 



Sir Christopher Wren and his assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor were appointed architects of the new Royal Hospital.  Sir John Vanbrugh succeeded Wren as architect, completing the complex to Wren’s original plans.


Queen Mary portrait by
Sir Godfrey Kneller - 1690
Queen Mary (of William and Mary) had ‘with as much Indignation as her excellent good Temper would suffer her’ refused to have her view blocked … she wanted to retain its ‘visto’ of the Thames – which had only been gained once Charles II cleared the old Tudor palace of Greenwich … part of which has been found under the Painted Hall building and is now being excavated see my earlier post …



… so the quadrants (or Courts) were split providing the avenue we see today from the river through the hospital grounds up to Queen’s House and Greenwich Hill beyond, with its other historical features and buildings … eg The Royal Observatory – see link at end.  


The Chapel's interior


Queen Mary’s Court houses the hospital’s chapel … the original burnt down in a disastrous fire in 1779, being rebuilt and decorated with ‘Greek Revival’ architecture.




James ‘Athenian’ Stuart (1713 – 1788), as Surveyor of the Royal Hospital, was appointed to re-design the Chapel - was a stroke of good fortune for architecture and design that changed the look of buildings in the late 18th century onwards.


James "Athenian" Stuart - self-portrait

Stuart proved to be a talented artist, after the death of his father, supporting his mother and family, by becoming apprenticed to a fan maker.



After 20 years or so he walked to Italy (he still couldn’t afford to go any other way) to expand his artistic knowledge … where he was apprenticed, learning Latin, Italian and Greek, while studying Italian and Roman art and architecture.



He went on to Naples, round to Greece … cementing his interest in studying ancient ruins and designs.  Returning to London he co-authored with Revett a 'design sourcebook' – fuelling the Greek Revival Movement in European architecture … Grand Tours became popular as the love of antiquity spread.


An illustration in the 'design
sourcebook'

Nicholas Revett (1721 – 1804) considered himself a gentleman and was probably sufficiently well-off not to have to earn his living … but he and Stuart documented the ruins of ancient Athens … further enhancing European knowledge of Greek architecture …




On his appointment as Surveyor to the Royal Naval Hospital Stuart was able to share his passion for this style of architecture when the new Chapel was built.


An example of scagliola - seen in the
Allen County Courthouse, Fort Wayne
This gave the Greek Revival Movement a real boost … master craftsmen were brought in … creativity came to the fore – but as the cost of Stuart’s design would have been way over the top … funds were scarce - a number of money-saving decorative effects were used … meaning design trickery. 


Scagliola came into fashion in Tuscany in the 17th century … this was used for producing the imposing marble-like stucco columns at each end of the Chapel.


Trompe L'oeil wall by
Jacob de Wet (1730s)


The life-sized figures of evangelists and apostles in the niches are paintings – not sculptures … using the Grisaille technique - artwork entirely in shades of grey or neutral greyish colour … 




The limestone, horsehair and sand plaster decorations on show in the chapel were made in moulds – some of the moulds surviving to this day …


Shire Books have produced
this little booklet about
Coade stone
Coade stone was an artificial ceramic, manufactured in Eleanor Coade’s Lambeth factory – sadly the technique has been lost.


Eleanor Coade (1733 – 1821) was an entrepreneurial businesswoman known for her methodical procedures to produce consistently high quality products.  She had managerial skills, entrepreneurial flair and a talent for marketing and public relations.


She is worth reading up about … her success may be gauged by Josiah Wedgwood’s complaint that he “could not get architects to endorse his new chimney- piece plaques”. 


Twinings: the original shop in the
Strand - the frontispiece is of Coade
stone - rediscovered under a century
of soot


The Chapel contains many Coade stone products … the angel heads and column capitals in the nave, the crest of the Royal Hospital on the balconies, while in the vestibule there are four life-sized Coade stone statues representing the virtues:  Faith, Hope, Charity and Meekness.



Duty reforms made imports cheaper; mahogany could be used more freely … when it was mixed with home grown woods … the art of wood-turning was discovered.


The Chapel's Aisle with the
organ pipes set into mahogany
and oak

The pulpit and the organ … both were made from local and imported woods – oak, mahogany and limewood … the organ is still used almost every day by organ scholars … and remains known for its beauty of tone.   Sadly the organ builder, Samuel Green (1740 – 1796), died in near poverty – how often that happens … yet the names of great craftsmen can live on.


The Chapel was extensively restored in the 1950s … and now looks almost as it did when it was built … it is a stunning and beautiful place of worship … hosting a regular Sunday service.


Plan of Greenwich Courts, Queen's House and
at the back Greenwich Hill

This completes my Greenwich posts … I need to visit again … but in the meantime there are some links, one of which is to another blogger’s recent excellent post on the Royal Observatory …


I will write up one more post in this Bucket List series on the health of the River Thames … then I change tack and carry on with whatever springs to mind.



Thanks for joining me on my various jaunts with the friend who was over from South Africa … it’s been a good journey and knowledge gathering time …

Blogoratti’s post on A Day at the Royal Observatory



Grisaille technique - particularly used in place of a sculpture ... 

More interesting information here on the hospital:  'A Refuge for All' 

Old Royal Naval College - Architecture ... details on the College's architectural development

 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

55 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

So Queen Mary's selfishness had some positive impacts on the design.
Loved Blogorattis post - thank you.
I am looking forward to learning more as you discuss the health of the Thames.

Rhodesia said...

Wow Hilary I really enjoyed this post. Hard to believe that anyone could actually walk to Italy but James Stuart obviously was very keen to learn more.
Your next post also sounds interesting so I will keep watch for it. Take care, have a good week Diane

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

One person with a vision can make a difference.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

This is such an interesting post.

Out on the prairie said...

It has helped with my current readings to fully comprehend this area. What a lovely building, I am going to have to look up more with inspired interests.

Chatty Crone said...

Interesting - I guess to me they sound a bit selfish - but it did work for good.

Christine Rains said...

Such beautiful work! Amazing how the design had to fit with the Queen's desire not to lose her view.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - well she probably made a very wise decision ... the complex looks amazing today and now the Queen's House has been restored, which I have to visit at some stage ... it's an essential part of our history. Delighted Blogoratti's post was enjoyed ... next let's drink to the Thames!

@ Diane - oh delighted ... as I know you love architecture and that knowledge - it does seem incredible that they would walk to Italy ... but as you say he was a prodigious learner. Good to know you're looking forward to the one on the Thames ...

@ Alex - absolutely ... someone with clarity of mind and vision - Stuart was definitely that.

@ Arleen - thank you ...

@ Steve - oh that's great if it's brought some light into this part of London and England that you're reading about ...

@ Sandie - well she was the Queen! And it did work out really well for us later on ...

@ Christine - the workmanship must be amazing ... I've had a brief look ... but the Queen was absolutely right about her view - we'd never want to lose our river view!

Cheers to you and thanks for coming by and commenting - cheers Hilary

Jacqui Murray said...

What a bucket list you have, Hilary! I love the gentleman who "After 20 years or so he walked to Italy". I just walked all over the Washington DC area (only about 10 miles in 2 days, but a lot more than my usual) and am still exhausted, two days later. Plus my feet are dead. I guess Stuart was more used to walking than I!

Andrea Ostapovitch said...

It seems to me the view is amazing no matter where you are standing. Magnificent building.
Andrea

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. I think the view of and from the Royal Hospital at Greenwich is probably the finest in London. (Possibly equal with certain aspects of St Paul's).
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s unthinkable Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Anabel Marsh said...

Well, I guess when you are Queen you can have whatever you want! I think her taste was good in this instance.

Karen Lange said...

Such interesting stuff. So glad you shared this adventure with us. Walking to Italy - Stuart certainly took the scenic route! But it was the way it was done if you had no other means. Appreciate this, Hilary. Have a great week! :)

Liz A. said...

All sorts of things went into the design. Cool.

Sandra Cox said...

Such talented, driven to succeed people. Their work is amazing. A gift to us all.

sage said...

What a beautiful place!

Janie Junebug said...

The chapel is beautiful. How I would love to worship there.

Love,
Janie

Sue Bursztynski said...

Okay, now I know where I'm visiting on my next trip to England, whenever that is. For me, last time, London was some galleries, the Tower and lots of theatre. So much to see and do! Greek Revival - wasn't that used in those American plantation buildings?

Translation and info: Who'd Have Thought?

Botanist said...

Fascinating details in the history of this place. Sadly one part of London I never took the opportunity to visit while I lived that side of the world :(

Marja said...

wow what a wealth of information. Amazing that Stuart the architect had to walk from england all the way to Italy to improve his knowledge. That must taken him a while
So much history and art That's what I miss sometimes here in NZ

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jacqui – well the visits were all so worth it and with the blog I can check up on more information … and find things like the archaeologist- architect- artist - designer who walked to Italy to learn more. Oh gosh I know one day of walking around London and I’m exhausted … well done on enjoying the visit to Washington … I am not used to walking much either! Certainly not to Italy!

@ Andrea – yes Greenwich is a wonderful area to visit, while the buildings just stand out for all sorts of reasons …

@ Bazza – you may well be right … Greenwich Park offers stunning vistas at all times of the year … but I haven’t been to many of the other hills or view points … St Paul’s is extraordinary but now surrounded by so many other developments … still that is one amazing building.

@ Anabel – yes … Queen Mary quite rightly got them to change their plans – funny that Wren wasn’t right this time …

@ Karen – thanks it’s been so good for me to write up these posts … and I’ve no idea which route Stuart would have taken to get to Italy … but there were a number of artistic areas he might have gone to on his way …

@ Liz – certainly creativity was abounding at this time …

@ Sandra – you’re right we are lucky to have these works still available for us to visit and to look at – and they were definitely talented…

@ Sage – a lovely place to visit …

@ Janie – I imagine the services are just wonderful to be a part of … and the beauty could be admired while worshiping …

@ Sue – that’s great … and I hope you can get over again – but there’s so much to see and do when in ‘London town’ …

Antebellum architecture is the neoclassical architectural style characteristic of the 19th C Southern United States … more can be found in Wiki, together with a list of plantation houses that show this style … so thank you for highlighting this for us – great additional comment …

@ Ian – well I’m like you … I haven’t done or seen as much of London as I could – but since I’ve been blogging I’m encouraged to do a bit more … and then write up the posts … not often of sights, more of exhibitions … but so much around …

@ Marja – I felt like you did when I lived in South Africa – I miss the 2,000 + years of historical culture that seems to be endemic in European life. People did walk so much back in the day … it was an affordable way of getting to places – to us seems a little challenging!

Cheers to you all – and thank you so much for being here and commenting - Hilary

Kim Blades said...

Hi Hilary. Another fascinating post. James Stuart certainly was an excellent artist. And walking to Italy... great idea. I wonder if anyone else has done that since. Kim x

Patsy said...

This is a bucket list destination for me too – and you've made me even more determined to make the trip.

C.D. Gallant-King said...

Agh, so many places to visit and see. There's probably neat stuff to see in my own city, but I always want to go somewhere far away and more historical. :-)

Deborah Weber said...

I love these "behind the scene" details you provide so generously Hilary - you're the best tour guide!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Hilary, I enjoyed reading this post, and I loved the pictures.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Hilary
An interesting tale of architector. History is always interesting. Thanks for spending so much time putting this together.
Nancy

Elsie Amata said...

I love that the organ is still in use today. How awesome is that? Although it's sad the builder died in near poverty.

Enjoy the rest of your week!
Elsie

Joanne said...

all you needed was a little side jaunt to Italy to complete the picture. (ha)
Glad you had such grand adventures with your friend and shared them with us. I know I appreciate your bucket list and blog posts.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Boy do I have a lot to catch up on. Bucket item #7? Wow! The Royal Hospital for... is magnificent (looking). Thanks for the history in this. You do that well.

Teresa

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Kim – so glad you enjoyed it … Stuart was a bit of an artistic find – so I was glad I could write him up. Yes lots of people walked around in Europe – especially in those days .. but I wrote about Patrick Leigh Fermor – who in the 1930s walked through to Istanbul – he’s written three books – they are a very good read … check my posts!

@ Patsy – it’s a brilliant place to look around … so much to see in that area – and I wrote about a pub “The Plume of Feathers” to be found there … so I’m sure you’ll get that chance …

@ CD – I know but it’s good to travel and see other parts of the world – and there’s history here – that is certain! Actually there’s probably a lot of linking history between your city and over here … which could be checked out …

@ Deborah – that’s great … I try and make the posts interesting and unique … just so glad you enjoy all the extras …

@ Rachna – good to see you … and thanks for enjoying the post with the pictures …

@ Nancy – pleasure I enjoy getting the posts up – as I learn so much (often too much …) – which keeps my brain ticking …

@ Elsie – yes – Trinity College of Music moved out to the Greenwich site and they, at times, use the organ and chapel.
Sadly talented people were never really recognised in their day – perhaps more so now in the late 20th and 21st centuries …

@ Joanne – well I’d have happily gone to Italy by plane! – no ways could I walk there. We did have a lovely few days together which has given me a slew of subjects to write up …

@ Teresa – oh yes … always lots going on here! Enjoy your catch up reading … some time – I’m so glad you enjoy the historical side of things …

Cheers to you all – thanks so much for visiting and commenting – lovely to see you - Hilary

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

One of the earlier comments gave me a thought... maybe you SHOULD be a tour guide! You'd be perfect. :)

Whether or not Queen Mary's motives for wanting an unobstructed view was selfish, her demands sure paid off in the long run. That looks like an amazing place! And I never would have guessed those columns weren't made of pink marble.

Chrys Fey said...

I love learning about queens, castles, and chapels. Thanks for for tidbits!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

There were some fascinating women in British history. Love hearing about them. While I was there I saw the tombstone of a female physician from the 1700s. She died young, the daughter of an Admiral. Thanks for sharing this post, Hilary. Happy Fall. Hope you're well.

Sandra Cox said...

I'm impressed with Queen Mary for having the hospital built for the sailors.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

A bloody awesome post

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I have a sister named Eleanor. I'm going to check out the bio of such a woman who was way before her time, competing with the men and winning.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan – thanks so much … I’m really happy writing up my tours – having to learn as I go …

The range of buildings at Greenwich is very impressive – and now it is much easier to get down there … and so much has been restored and been given a new lease of life ... for us tourists to view ...

Those columns of pink scagliola do look so real, don’t they …

@ Chrys – lots of info here – glad you enjoyed the post …

@ Joylene – people are writing more about the women in our history – I’d love to know the name of that physician … she sounds an interesting pioneer of medicine. All well here thank you …

@ Sandra – obviously something seriously worried her about the loss of lives and then the seriously wounded coming back after the wars – that inspired her to put her ideas into action. In fact her husband, William, finished the project – as she died soon after getting the plans drawn up …

@ Jo-Anne – thanks so much …

@ Susan – Eleanor is rather a nice name isn’t it … there are one or two other famous Eleanors in our history … but Eleanor Coade is certainly an impressive entrepreneur …

Cheers to you all and thanks so much for commenting and being here – all the best, Hilary

L. Diane Wolfe said...

So that's why there is a little bit of Greek mixed into the more modern buildings there.

Dan said...

It's all so beautiful. thanks for the tour, the photos, the history and the details (I love construction details). I can't get my mind off of one bit - "...walked to Italy." Yikes! And here I am giving myself credit for taking the stairs.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

This is truly fascinating, Hilary! As I've said before, I learn so much reading your blog. And the photos are stunning. I had no idea artists could "pretend-make" marble look alikes. It's all still beautiful. I enjoyed the history. And Twinings tea is my favorite, especially Lady Grey Tea.


Thanks for all you do to educate your followers on a wide variety of subjects. All best to you!

Sherry Ellis said...

Ms. Coade was certainly an unusual woman for her times. It's nice to read about a successful business woman from that era.

Vallypee said...

I loved this post, Hilary! I spent a lot of time at Greenwich as a child. We were taken there regularly, but I never knew as much about it as you've taught me here. Thank you!

Guilie Castillo said...

I love these posts of yours, Hilary! I always learn something new. I'm not a fan of baroque (or post-baroque), but these works seem well worth a visit. Thank you so much for sharing with us!
Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

Lynda R Young said...

wow, the interior of that chapel is gorgeous.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane – yes the influences of the men who walked for their artistic instruction … interesting how it crossed the Atlantic influencing American architecture too …

@ Dan – so glad you’ve enjoyed the posts … and where I can understand some of the technicalities I’ll put them in … where I can’t they get quietly forgotten about!

That was the way of the world they did walk everywhere … and yes, you’re right … I give myself credit for walking up and down to town …

@ Victoria – thank you for your compliment. I try and add in photos that match – brings the post to life; blogging always brings up new aspects … that if I can bring them into the post I will – educates me too.

I had to put the Twinings tea building front in – especially as it was made of Coade stone … and I’m thrilled you enjoy the reads – educational or not …

@ Sherry – I was fascinated with Eleanor Coade – so interesting she bought herself a factory … I had to write up a bit about her …

@ Val – I’m so glad you’re remembering your early childhood days at Greenwich … and that this is bringing the area to light with some of its historical events …

@ Guilie – I wasn’t a fan of a lot of things – but when one starts writing up about them … I’ve learnt so much and then of course I start wanting to know more … and appreciate things I didn’t understand or know much about … just glad you’re happy reading them …

@ Lynda – the Chapel is extraordinary … I must spend a little more time in there soon … and I’d love to attend a service – but that will have to wait …

Thanks so much – so glad you’ve enjoyed these posts and I’ve learnt lots about Greenwich that I didn’t know … cheers Hilary

RO said...

My goodness! Walking to Italy, and learning so much. These facts are astounding and so interesting. I appreciate that you take the time to post these. Really love it! Hugs...

Deniz Bevan said...

Thank you for taking us on this trip with you, Hilary!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Amazing that the organ is still in such wonderful condition and that scholars can play it/enjoy its music every day! Thanks, as always, for the thoughtful information and research that you share, Hilary!

Suzanne Furness said...

How wonderful that the organ is still in regular use. Craftsmanship and dedicated in harmony. Very interesting to read and learn more about Greenwich.

mail4rosey said...

Quality has always mattered in products, though we now see that it is mostly quality products that are still being touted many, many years later. As for walking to Italy, pretty sure that's an awesome position to be in, even if it seemed to be a pain at the time. ;) Here to wish you a happy day!

bookworm said...

I loved the history in this. There are a lot of historicl houses in the United States where various methods were used to create the look of marble, etc. but it wasn't that at all. It's been a long time, too, since I've had some Twinnings tea. Was introduced to it years ago when visiting Canada. The Unknown Journey Ahead agingonthespectrum.blogspot.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ RO - they used to walk everywhere, if they couldn't ride, or travel by boat ... but it's fascinating how many did actually walk to places far away - thank you so much for the comment ...

@ Deniz - just glad you enjoyed the journey with me ...

@ Elizabeth - being in Greenwich it's been well looked after ... and now with the school of Music in residence there are musicians who can truly love it ... and maintain it. I'm delighted to write these posts up ... I learn so much too ...

@ Suzanne - the organ must be very special and one day I'll try and find out more about Samuel Green - though there may not be much. We probably appreciate him and his work more now ... but it was so interesting learning how much craftmanship came to the fore here ...

@ Rosey - Quality is important in products ... we are so much a throw-away society ... such a pity - but thankfully we appreciate fine works. Walking to Italy was the expedient way for him to get the further learning he wanted to find out about. You too have a very happy weekend ...

@ Bookworm - thank you. I'm sure there was a lot of transfer of crafts over the Atlantic ... people could see a way of making a living in another country ... or the rich decided they wanted that sort of design ... and so brought craftsmen over. I hope some time you can get some more Twinings tea ... it is definitely the best ...

Cheers to you all and thanks for visiting - happy weekends - Hilary

DMS said...

Your journey has been quite a journey for met (from afar). So many interesting tidbits. I am always inspired by how much I have to learn. Thanks for sharing! :)
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jess - so glad you've enjoyed these posts ... it's been good for me to write them up and learn about some of the parts of Greenwich ... I learn loads too - our history here is pretty full on - always adding to the jigsaw puzzle that is the make up of Britain - cheers Hilary