September 2016

The Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) has begun its landmark conservation project on the Painted Hall and Undercroft. Over 2 years, a team of conservators will work on 3,400 square metres of painted surface, bringing new life and vibrancy to paintings obscured by decades of deterioration. The Painted Hall will be closed until next spring when visitors will have the opportunity to get up close to the vast lower hall ceiling via a special observation deck.

This landmark project will clean and conserve the remarkable decorative scheme of the Painted Hall, re-presenting this baroque masterpiece in optimum environmental conditions. A new visitor route and a range of sophisticated environmental controls should ensure no further intervention will be necessary for at least another 100 years. Beneath the Painted Hall, the King William Undercroft will be transformed into a new visitor facility, with reception, café, retail area and interpretation gallery. This handsome vaulted undercroft will be brought back to something close to its original form, as modern partitions and other later additions are removed – creating beautiful new space.

Alongside the conservation work will run an exciting programme of public engagement which aims to celebrate every element of the Painted Hall and its history, promoting skills, dialogue, and independent discovery in the exploration of the universal stories and timeless themes of Sir James Thornhill’s paintings.

William Palin, Conservation Director says “The Painted Hall is one of Britain’s greatest architectural and artistic treasures, but it is too little known. This project aims to raise it to the national and international prominence it deserves, providing a transformed and enriched visitor experience and helping us to engage with new audiences. For our partners and supporters, the project will offer a legacy of cutting-edge conservation and the highest curatorial standards, and a sustainable future for this 300-year old masterpiece.”

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.

Supporting the ORNC
Work began on 26th September 2016 and is due for completion in early 2019. However, the ORNC is still seeking £2m to enable it to reach its £8m target. The public can support their effort by ‘sponsoring a Square Foot’.

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

Find out more

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