Monday, July 11, 2011

Old Royal Naval College

The area that is now known as the Old Royal Naval College has served as many different purposes. Originally the property was known as Bellacourt and built by Humphrey Duke of Gloucester in 1427. The property was chosen because the view would show any invasions. Any vessel approaching London on the Thames could be spotted and a watch tower on the hill would show any other intruders. The Royal Family maintains control over the property and a few future Kings and Queens being born here. Expansions and renovations occurred on this property to appease the Royal residence.

In 1705 the property becomes the Royal Hospital for which old sailors can reside and receive treatment. During its prime the Hospital housed around 3,000 pensioners. Due to the amount of people living on the property, it was suggested to give the residents some entertainment. The entertainment that was provided was a skittle or bowling alley. A lot of building occurred during this time. In 1708 work began on the Painted Hall which when completed would become the largest painted ceiling in Europe. The final building of Queen Mary Court was completed in 1751. After the Battle of Trafalgar in 1806 Admiral Lord Nelson lied in state in the Painted Hall. By 1869 the Royal Hospital closed but the property continued to have ties to the Navy.

The Royal Naval College moved onto the property in 1873. The charge of the College was to train young Naval Officers. In 1936 the National Maritime Museum was founded and the collections of the Royal Museum and Gallery were transferred to the new museum. Queen Elizabeth II knighted Sir Francis Chichester in 1967 which was one of the only public knighting. In 1997 the Greenwich Foundation was established to manage the property. The Royal Naval College is relocated in 1998 and the University of Greenwich begins teaching in the buildings on the property. Even though the property has been home for different purposes, the history of the property is remembered and preserved.

I really enjoyed our tour of Meantime Greenwich. The property has some amazing buildings and a very in depth history. I really enjoyed the Painted Hall and the detailed work that went into the paintings. Interestingly, in the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie the first five minutes shows the painted hall. The building even has one of the costumes Johnny Deep wore during the filming.

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