Raise the roof
THe public is being offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a close-up tour of the Painted Hall (above) of the old Royal naval College greenwich, ‘the Sistine Chapel of the uk’. in January, a £1 million donation from the gosling Foundation was announced, enabling an £8.5 million conservation project, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and others, to begin. From April 1 until September 2018, visitors will be able to take a lift up to a 60ft-high observation deck to examine the painted walls and ceiling at eye level while conservators are at work, bringing the 3,400sq m (36,600sq ft) of decorated surface to life after decades of decay. After the two-year project is complete, it is hoped that no further restoration will be needed for 100 years.
opened in 1694, the building was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Sir James thornhill is responsible for the Baroque and trompe l’oeil paintings, completed between 1708 and 1727. the Painted Hall secured thornhill’s fame; he was subsequently commissioned to paint the dome of St Paul’s, the chapel ceiling at Queen’s College oxford and the hall at Blenheim Palace.
‘the Painted Hall is one of Britain’s greatest architectural and artistic treasures, but it is too little known,’ says conservation director Will Palin. ‘this project aims to raise it to the national and international prominence it deserves.’
tickets for the Painted Hall Ceiling tours cost from £5 and go towards the conservation fund, which requires a further £2 million to be complete. Visit www.ornc.org/painted-hall-ceiling-tourstickets to book a visit or to donate.