I visited the Painted Hall in Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) this afternoon to see the restoration of its west wall. The ORNC has been restoring the Painted Hall since December last year and today was the last open scaffolding session where you could be close to the restoration work. It really was something being about 10 feet from some of the gold leaf decoration around the top of the hall.
The Painted Hall is the work of architects Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor about three hundred years ago and its wall and ceiling decorations are by James Thornhill. Our scaffolding session leader Maggie, though, showed us some painted flowers which were thought to have been painted by Thornhill’s assistant Dietrich André. Given the task of painting the hall took 19 years, it’s not surprising Thornhill had some help. The west wall shows George I surrounded by his family and Thornhill in the bottom right-hand corner with his paintbrushes and palette.
This is the eleventh time conservation work has been done on the Painted Hall, the last time being 70 years ago. This restoration has mostly been done with small sponges and water to lift off dirt and cigarette smoke.
Our group of nine and two guides started by putting on hard hats and high visibility vests.
We passed a man restoring a door edging, after vacuuming it.
We were very much surrounded by a scaffolding web as we climbed to the first level.
As we went up another level, we could see the ceiling details through scaffolding gaps.
Heritage Lottery Fund London Committee chairman Wesley Kerr joined the tour to see how the fund’s money was being spent.
And after what seemed like too short a time, we were back at ground level.
It was gorgeous weather after earlier rain, so I took some photographs of the Painted Hall’s exterior.
It’s a fabulous month when two fellow photographers have Greenwich photographic exhibitions on at the same time.
The first is Jo Tennant, exhibiting her work as part of The Body, Movement and Dance at Made in Greenwich gallery opposite Cutty Sark station on Creek Road. Greenwich is lucky in having Jo’s work as part of the exhibition. She created a stunning panel of 20 images of dancers to gain her Fellowship with the British Institute of Professional Photography, inspired by a childhood of dance training.
Jo has an established business as a wedding and portrait photographer and her dance fine art prints were taken and printed in her spare time as a challenge. She has framed and mounted prints for sale in the exhibition.
The second photographer is Mike Curry, who has his landscapes at The Greenwich Gallery on the corner of Royal Hill and Peyton Place until March 31. The exhibition Mike describes as “an eclectic mix of work from sweeping panoramas to more abstract studies.” Mike will be at the gallery every Saturday and Sunday to answer questions about his work.
I had the pleasure of photographing Lynsey and Craig’s wedding last year – and was excited to meet their baby Rory for his newborn portraits, aged 12 days. Guarding the new arrival was Angel Cakes the German Shepherd.
And given that she pre-dated Rory as the first member of Lynsey and Craig’s family – her own portrait.
There were lots of signs of a baby: Â cards, balloons, new toys … and a tired dad.
And here he is – on his own, with mum, dad and together. The second one was especially taken for Lynsey, as she described his hand movements while sleeping as ‘casting spells’.
And finally, Rory visits his local so landlady Judi can have a cuddle (note dad Craig and Judi’s husband propping up the bar behind) and his parents can have a meal without cooking.
When Louise was getting ready in Greenwich yesterday morning, there was a snowstorm that only seemed to be getting thicker. I walked through it for 10 minutes to get up Croom’s Hill to Our Lady Star of the Sea Church and the ushers got busy with shovels and brooms to clear the church path for guests. By the time Louise arrived, the storm had cleared and all that was left was a fairytale setting for her to arrive on an old Routemaster bus.