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.

Chapel
The Chapel of St Peter and St Paul is one of the finest eighteenth century interiors in existence.


A major visitor attraction ever since its completion in 1789, and displayed to visitors along with the Painted Hall, the Chapel also still serves its original purpose as a place of worship: a service, which members of the public are welcome to attend, is held here every Sunday. Its acoustics are superb and it is also used regularly for recitals and concerts.

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Chapel Organ
The chapel organ was completed in 1798 at a cost of £1000.


Top things to see

Chapel Floor
Naval imagery is found throughout the Chapel, reflecting the building’s original purpose as a place of worship for the Greenwich pensioners. Photograph © Roger M Stevens 


Franklin Memorial

Take a look to your right when you enter the Chapel vestibule. An imposing marble memorial commemorates Sir John Franklin and the crews of the ships Erebus and Terror who lost their lives in the ill-fated expedition of 1845 to search for the North West Passage. It was created by Richard Westmacott Junior.

The Chapel rope and anchor

Naval motifs are depicted throughout the Chapel, reflecting the building’s original purpose as a place of worship for the inhabitants of the Royal Hospital for Seamen. In the centre of the black and white marble floor there is a ship’s anchor. A rope design runs along the edge of the pews which is said to match exactly the diameter of an anchor cable of a first-rate ship of the line.

The Chapel ceiling

The ceiling of the Chapel is a wonderful piece of craftsmanship and is almost certainly responsible for the superb acoustics of the space. It was designed by the master plasterer John Papworth in a neo-classical design of squares and octagons. The intricate central ornaments were carved, rather than cast in moulds. It is plastered in light blue and cream following a Wedgewood-inspired colour scheme.

The Samuel Green organ

The organ at the west end of the Chapel is a fine example of the work of Samuel Green (1740-96), the leading organ builder of his day. It was completed at a cost of £1000 in 1798 and is probably the largest instrument built by Green still in its original position. It has three manuals and the pipework, which is noted for its purity of tone and rich mixture stops, is still in use. The handsome and delicately carved Spanish mahogany case, designed by William Newton, cost a further £500.

The Chapel today

Following extensive restoration in the 1950s, the Chapel today looks much as it did in 1798 when it re-opened after the fire. Today it is open to visitors free of charge.

There are regular services throughout the week and on Sunday mornings – all welcome. 

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