On the sign:
OLD ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE
UNIVERSITY of GREENWICH
TRINITY LABAN CONSERVATOIRE OF MUSIC & DANCE
You have arrived at the Old Royal Naval College, heart of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site and major desination for visitors to London since the 16th century.
With a history spanning more than 500 years, this was the site of the Tudor Greenwich Palace long before the spectacular complex of Baroque buildings you see today was created by Sir Christopher Wren to house the Royal Hospital for Seamen. Today, as well as being home to the Old Royal Naval College, the site is also home to the University of Greenwich and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
We invite you to explore our beautiful grounds and buildings and immerse yourself in the history that surrounds you. We hope you enjoy your visit.
POINTS OF INTEREST
1 Visitor Centre
Named the Pepys Building after the famous diarist and influential Naval administrator, this building dates from 1874 and served as squash and racket courts for trainees at the Royal Naval College. While inside, look for the high-level heavy lifting equipment, still in place since the building was turned into an engineering laboratory in 1905.
2 The Water Gate
Many famous arrivals and departures have taken place here. Anne Boleyn left Greenwich Palace to travel up the river to both her coronation, and to the Tower of London for imprisonment and execution. The body of Admiral Lord Nelson arrived here by river following his death at the Battle of Trafalgar. Stand here and look at the contrast between the modern skyline of Canary Wharf in front of you, and the layers of history behind you.
3 Grand Square
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the Grand Axis of Upper and Lower Grand Square provides a stunning viewpoint to enjoy the finest group of Baroque buildings in the UK. Stand on the spot commemorating the birth of Henry VIII and his daughters Mary I and Elizabeth I and look up at the twin domes of the Royal Hospital, the Queen’s House, and the Royal Observatory at the top of the hill in Greenwich Park - one of the most photographed views in London.
4 The Nelson Pediment
Installed in the King William Courtyard in 1812, this monumental architectural sculpture commemorates the death of Admiral Lord Nelson. Designed by Benjamin West, it shows Neptune commanding a Triton to deliver Nelson’s body up to Britannia.
5 The Chapel of St Peter and St Paul
Rebuilt in a Neo-classical style following a large fire in 1779, the Chapel features nautical motifs designed to make the Naval Pensioners who originally lived here feel at home. It is still a working place of worship with regular services. Visitors are welcome inside to admire the ornate decoration and enjoy the quiet and peaceful atmosphere.
6 The Colonnades
The colonnades of the Old Royal Naval College frame the view of the oldest building in the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site - the Queen’s House. Each colonnade is 347 feet long and has 300 paired Doric columns. It’s a very popular location for photography - pick your spot and use the columns to frame a brilliant shot.
7 The Painted Hall
The jewel in the crown of the Old Royal Naval College, the Painted Hall’s grand interior was painted over a period of 19 years by Sir James Thornhill and is considered to be the masterpiece of English Baroque art. The King William Undercoft underneath the Painted Hall features a shop, café and interpretation gallery.
8 The Skittle Alley
Created in the 1860s to give the Greenwich Pensioners some light relief from the boredom of life in the Royal Hospital, the Skittle Alley is one of the best-kept secrets of the Old Royal Naval College. It’s still in use and ticket holders can try their hand at bowling.
9 Greenwich Palace
Excvations in 2017 uncovered the remains of two rooms that formed part of the friary, a religious house within the grounds of Henry VIII’s Greenwich Palace.
10 The Nelson Room
Located next to the Painted Hall, this is where Admiral Lord Nelson’s body was kept before it lay in state in the Upper Hall for three days in January 1806.
[A map of the site, with numbers corresponding to the places that appear on the left side of the sign]
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
PLEASE HELP US KEEP THIS SITE SPECIAL
01. No ball games.
02. Cycle route along North Path only.
03. CCTV is onsite.
04. Dogs must stay on the lead.
World Heritage Site symbol
Maritime Greenwich inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1997