The Old Royal Naval College appealing for the public’s help to re-gild the proscenium arch of its magnificent Painted Hall, which is recognised as the greatest piece of decorative painting in England: our Sistine Chapel.
The crowning glory of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site in London, the classical buildings of the Old Royal Naval College were designed by England’s greatest architects Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor and are considered amongst the finest in Europe. The site has seen a variety of uses having been at times home to Greenwich Palace, the Royal Naval Hospital of Seamen and then the Royal Naval College.
The Painted Hall is one of the finest Baroque interiors in Europe. Its centrepiece – the proscenium arch – has endured 50 years of dirt and grime and the Old Royal Naval College wants to return it to its former glory – and reopen the doorway to Britain’s Golden Age.
Sir James Thornhill’s Painted Hall is a 300-year-old masterpiece was created as a dining hall within Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital for Seamen. The proscenium arch serves as the doorway between the upper and lower Painted Hall and perfectly frames the magnificent painting, The Golden Age Returned.
Not only is the arch a focal point of the hall’s scheme but it forms a unique piece of our naval heritage; it was here that in January 1806 thousands of mourners gathered to see the body of Vice-Admiral Nelson lying in state after his death at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Since then the arch’s beautifully carved embellishments – such as intricate zodiac symbols – have lost much of their original lustre.
The project is one part of a wider £7 million conservation plan to restore the Painted Hall at Old Royal Naval College. Donations also come with a range of unique rewards, from personalised postcards to a private tour of the conservation work. Visit the Old Royal Naval College‘s website for more details.