Help paint Britain’s Sistine Chapel

    Painted Hall, Greenwich, Old
    Lower Hall ceiling of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College by Sir James Thornhill

    Set in the heart of Maritime Greenwich, the Old Royal Naval College is one of London’s most famous landmarks. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, this magnificent World Heritage Site attracts 1.8 million visitors each year.

    Its famous Painted Hall by Sir James Thornhill – painted between 1708 and 1727 – is the largest painted interior in Britain and has been described as the greatest piece of decorative painting in England: ‘the Sistine Chapel of the UK’.

    Now The Old Royal Naval College is set to create London’s largest ever painting-by-numbers to celebrate seminal British artist and support The Painted Hall’s restoration.

    The public is being invited to collaborate on a giant 2.5m canvas featuring more than 7,500 shapes depicting Thornhill’s masterpiece – which is about to undergo its biggest transformation since it was created more than 300 years ago – from 1pm on

    Will Palin, director of conservation at the Old Royal Naval College, said: “We are immensely proud to preside over one of Britain’s national treasures, The Painted Hall. We hope that inviting members of the public to join us in celebrating the work by helping us to complete Europe’s biggest paint-by-numbers will bring people closer to Thornhill’s masterpiece. It took Thornhill more than 19 years to paint this beautifully ornate painted interior and we’re attempting to complete our very own version in just three days.

    “This celebration comes at a crucial time for the Old Royal Naval College as we kick off the next phase in our conservation work which will enable millions of people to continue to enjoy The Painted Hall for years to come.”

    The Old Royal Naval College is aiming to raise £500,000 having been awarded a £1m Catalyst Endowment grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of a matched funding scheme.

    The Old Royal Naval College is free to all visitors and is open daily from 10am to 5pm.


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