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.