This July 14th, the Old Royal Naval College will be exploring all things Français which make up the Baroque masterpiece of the Painted Hall, and to celebrate Bastille Day will be offering a Painted Hall Ceiling Tour in French for the first time!

Although painted as a striking display of British power and propaganda, there are numerous French elements on the ceiling itself, and in the historical narrative it depicts. First up is Louis XIV, the Sun King of France, who forms part of the very centrepiece of the painting, albeit in an unceremonious position, being ground under the heel of William III.


However, the French influences are not all negative. The Fleur de Lis, one of the royal symbols of France, also appears in the coat of arms of William and Mary, and William himself had close links with France, as sovereign Prince of the principality of Orange, in Southern France. The prevailing theme of the painting as a whole is a rejection of tyranny and authoritarianism, with strong links to the Enlightenment thought, which was eventually translated into the French Revolution, with Louis XVI of France paying for the misdeeds of the Sun King represented in the Painted Hall.

Finally, the donor board in the vestibule recognises one John Houblon, first Governor of the Bank of England as a contributor to the original project, who was a French Hugenot, and part of the wider French exile community in London.

The tour will last approximately 50 minutes, and will explore the narratives and themes of the Painted Ceiling, with a French twist!

To take advantage of this one-time opportunity, please book now!