• The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded a £3,181,200 grant towards the conservation of the Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College (ORNC).
  • This grant plus other major gifts from some of the UKs leading philanthropic trusts and individuals will enable work to start.
  • The project includes the transformation of the King William Undercroft, the impressive vaulted space that lies beneath the Painted Hall.
  • The work is the largest painting conservation project on the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site to date.
  • Fundraising continues and the public can support this unique project by sponsoring a square foot of the painting – directly enabling them to see how they have helped save ‘the UK’s Sistine Chapel’.
  • For further information or images please contact ornc@kallaway.com or call +44 (0)20 7221 7883. 

Major donations, grants and gifts from funding bodies including the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Sackler Trust, The Garfield Weston Foundation, the Fidelity UK Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, Sir Siegmund Warburg's Voluntary Settlement, the Pilgrim Trust, the Headley Trust and the 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust, will enable the ORNC to begin landmark conservation work on the Painted Hall and Undercroft.

The £8m project will be the largest ever conservation of the Painted Hall, the jewel of the ORNC, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Maritime Greenwich, that was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and opened in 1694. The Painted Hall was decorated by English artist Sir James Thornhill between 1708 and 1727.

Over 3,700sqm of the painting will be cleaned and conserved over a two year programme.  As part of the project visitors to the ORNC will be given a once in a life time opportunity to get up close to the painting and see the conservation work in detail. A temporary lift will be installed to enable access to the scaffolding for public tours.   

The project also involves the installation of a state of the art lighting and a sophisticated environmental system to protect the painting for future generations and ensure no further conservation work is required for at least 100 years.

The vaulted King William Undercroft, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir Christopher Wren, will be brought back to its original form and include a new gallery, reception and café. Here visitors will learn more about the history of the Painted Hall as well as the life and work of Sir James Thornhill, the greatest English exponent of Baroque decorative painting. Thornhill was also responsible for the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, the first British artist to be knighted and became father-in-law to William Hogarth. 

Together, the conservation work and the new permanent exhibition on the Painted Hall and its artist will transform the public’s understanding of this underappreciated masterpiece. Visitors will enjoy new interpretation that will help them unlock the allegory of Thornhill’s extraordinary painting and the wider historical and architectural importance of the Painted Hall and the ORNC. 

William Palin, Conservation Director says: “The Painted Hall is one of Britain’s greatest architectural and artistic treasures, but it is too little known. Central to this project is cutting-edge conservation and the highest curatorial standards.  These will give the Painted Hall the national and international prominence it deserves, providing a transformed and enriched visitor experience and a sustainable future for this 300-year old masterpiece.”

Supporting the ORNC

Work is scheduled to begin in September 2016 and is due for completion in early 2019. However, the ORNC is still seeking £4m to enable it to reach its £8m target. The public can support their effort by ‘sponsoring a Square Foot’: LINK HERE

The ORNC is open to visitors Monday – Sunday 10:00 – 17:00. To learn more about the conservation project visit http://www.ornc.org.

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Notes to editors

For more information or images contact:

Tom Ryley mailto:TRyley@ornc.org

+44 (0)208269 4762

About the Old Royal Naval College:

The Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) in Greenwich was established as the Royal Hospital for Seamen by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1694.

Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, it is one of the most important ensembles in European baroque architecture. From 1705, the Royal Hospital provided modest, wood-lined cabins as accommodation for retired sailors, housing as many as 2,700 residents at its peak in 1814. The last naval pensioners left in 1869, when the site became home to the Royal Naval College, an officers’ training academy, until 1997. When the Navy left, an independent charity was established to conserve the site for present and future generations, and create enjoyment, learning and unique cultural experiences for everyone.

Today this historic landmark is open to the public and is the home of three unique and free to visit attractions; the Painted Hall, the Chapel, and the Discover Greenwich visitor centre.

The Painted Hall is the greatest piece of decorative painting in England and has been described as ‘the Sistine Chapel of the UK’. The walls and ceilings were painted by Sir James Thornhill between 1708 and 1727.

The Chapel of St Peter and St Paul is a neo-classical masterpiece by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart and William Newton. Featuring a Samuel Green organ and an altarpiece painted by Benjamin West, it is one of the finest eighteenth century interiors in existence.

The ORNC is free to all visitors and is open daily from 10.00-17.00.

http://www.ornc.org/

About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery

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