Back to lifestyle

Travel back in time on Mother’s Day: Old Royal Navy College

By Anjida Sripongworakul

Thursday 23 March 2017 Student journalists

Get ready for a fantastic day out in Greenwich’s historical and beautiful Old Royal Navy College.

Thinking of a unique way to spend time with your mother this coming Mother’s Day? Visit Greenwich’s Old Royal Navy College!

Approximately forty minutes away from central London by tube and DLR, this Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site is home to stunning architecture and gardens by the Thames. Sites you can visit include the Chapel, the Visitor Center, the Painting Hall, and the surrounding Gardens.

The St Peter and St Paul chapel is James ‘Athenian’ Stuart and William Newton’s 18th Century neo-classical legacy. The chapel hosts services, events and performances, including ones by the Chapel Choir. Pieces to spot within the Chapel include the Franklin memorial, designed by Richard Westmacott Jr., dedicated to the tragic 1845 Northwest Passage expedition, naval motifs in the Chapels’ rope and anchor as well as the ceiling, and the elaborate Samuel Green organ, an 18th Century organ retained in its original position.

The Visitor Center displays the College’s original building designs by Sir Christopher Wren and Sir Nicholas Hawksmoor, along with archeological discoveries from the Tudor Palace and interactive exhibitions of historical periods and places of interests, from Royal Hospital to Jousting. From here, you can also visit the Greenwich Palace, of which the College is a part of. The Palace is one of the largest UK royal palaces and the birthplace of major Tudor figures Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I.

Described as “The Sistine Chapel of the UK,” the Painted Hall, now closed till April 2017 for a conservation project, is the centerpiece of this world heritage site. The hall and its ceilings showcase 3,700 square metres of Sir James Thornhill’s paintings, an extravagant, baroque dining hall originally intended for naval veterans.

The Old Royal Navy College is also one of UK’s most filmed buildings, having been used by Hollywood and international productions alike as stand-ins for locations around the world. The Golden Globes-winning Netflix series The Crown recently filmed in the Chapel. Thor: The Dark World’s climactic scenes took place on the College’s grounds. The College even stood for Parliament and its exteriors during The King’s Speech and Sherlock Holmes, and was central to Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.

The College is open Mondays to Sundays from 10am to 5pm. The Grounds are open daily from 8am to 11pm. There are daily guided tours from the Visitor Center. You can even take picnics out at the gardens.

The College is located at Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10 9NN, T: 020 8269 4799.

To visit, take the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf and change to DLR, stopping at Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich. The College is five minutes’ walk from the station.


Anjida Sri

I'm a Management Science (Decision Science Stream) Master's candidate at London School of Economics and Political Science. Originally from Thailand, I'm as passionate about the science, psychology, and statistics behind decision making as I am about film and writing. I enjoy opportunities to combine my passions in reviewing, discussing, and analysing films. My major influences include the New Yorker's James Wood, classic Russian literature, and Richard Siken's poetry. I've written film reviews, celebrity profiles, and news and technology coverage for my undergraduate engineering newspaper, the University of Waterloo's Iron Warrior. I'm also a guest blogger and Student Blog Editor for LSE's Department of Management. I believe pop culture, current affairs, and critical, world-changing ideas are integral to student lifestyle, and I'm committed to representing students' reality outside the classroom to society and the world. I hope to continue investigating this theme through NUS' platform for student voices.