Old Royal Naval College awarded Heritage Lottery Fund grant for Painted Hall conservation programme

The Old Royal Naval College has been awarded £335,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the costs of conservation work in the Painted Hall, one of the UK’s most important architectural interiors it was announced today (29 October 2012). The grant will also support the delivery of conservation skills training and a programme of associated public, community and learning events.

The west wall of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College, one of the UK’s most important baroque masterpieces. Photo: James Brittain.

Created in the early 18th century by Sir James Thornhill for Sir Christopher Wren’s Greenwich Hospital, the spectacular Painted Hall is one of the jewels in the crown of the ORNC. Open to the public daily, free of charge, it has contributed to the ORNC’s popularity as a heritage visitor attraction (the ORNC was the country’s 11th most popular attraction in 2011 with over 1.7 million visitors) and is a highlight of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.

It is almost sixty years since the last conservation was undertaken on this baroque masterpiece. The HLF grant will enable the ORNC to carry out work on the west wall, which includesconsolidation of plaster and paint layers, and repair of old water damage, paint flaking and varnish blanching.

The programme of events includes behind-the-scenes tours on scaffolding for the public to experience the conservation work up close; conservation and building skills taster workshops for secondary school and further education college students; a one-day conference on painting conservation for academics, conservation professionals, students and people with a special interest in the conservation of wall paintings; taster activities with local residents associations and adult students on Greenwich Community College courses; west wall highlights handling table facilitated by volunteers for drop-in visitors and development of a new character (Nicholas Hawksmoor) to add to the popular characters including Grace O’Malley, Samuel Pepys, John Deman and Sir James Thornhill who bring the history of the ORNC to life.

The cost of the West Wall conservation programe will be £475,000 with the ORNC raising the balance from a variety of other sources. It is envisaged that the long-term conservation plan for the whole of the Painted will be delivered over a number of years with an estimated total cost of in excess of £2 million. Subsequent work will focus on the large ceiling painting and window reveals in the lower hall, the smaller ceiling painting and remaining walls in the upper hall, and the main entrance vestibule and cupola.

For further details about the Painted Hall conservation work and how to support the appeal visit: www.ornc.org