Early history

The history of the site is as rich as it is complex. Buried beneath the site today is a vast palace complex inhabited by medieval and Tudor monarchs, and the birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.Read more

The Royal Hospital for Seamen

The classical buildings that make up the Old Royal Naval College today - including the iconic twin domes - were built for purpose as the Royal Hospital for Seamen, and date back to the 17th century.Read more

History of the Painted Hall

James Thornhill was a relatively unknown artist when he received the commission to paint the Painted Hall in 1707. The work was carried out in two stages between 1708 and 1727 taking 19 years to complete; the lower hall was finished by 1712 and opened to the public in 1714.Read more

Sir James Thornhill, mastermind of the Painted Hall

History often overlooks Sir James Thornhill, mentioned occasionally as William Hogarth’s haughty father-in-law. Yet, in his day, the artist was a superstar, whose decoration of the Painted Hall earnt him a fortune, a knighthood, and widespread renown as the “greatest History painter this Kingdom ever produced.”Read more

Nelson's Lying-in-State in the Painted Hall

The Painted Hall is a great symbol of Britain's proud maritime past - so it was only fitting that it should become the resting place of Britain's greatest maritime hero, Lord Horatio Nelson. Nelson's lying-in-state was an occasion of great importance in the history of the Painted Hall - and indeed of London.Read more

History of the chapel

There has long been a chapel on the Old Royal Naval College, but a devastating fire would lead to the building of today’s chapel built in the refined and sophisticated style of the Neo-classicist James “Athenian” Stuart.Read more

WRNS at the Royal Naval College

In 1939 the first female students from the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS), commonly known as ‘Wrens’, were admitted to the Royal Naval College.Read more