So what links the films Pirates of the Caribbean, Sherlock Holmes and Four Weddings and a Funeral? Well nothing much on the face of it…except the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, where some of the scenes were filmed.
I took a trip to see this fascinating and beautiful location on the 340th Anniversary of Sir James Thornhill and was given an exclusive tour of the buildings, including a visit to the stunning painted hall – painted by Thornhill in two phases between 1708 and 1727.
The hall was originally designed for sailors to have their meals in but soon it was decided that it should be only the officers that get to dine in this awe-inspiring room. Film fanatics will also soon recognise the hall from when it was used in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides when Captain Jack is being dragged to see the king.
In the main oval on the ceiling of the lower hall, the painting features at its centre the monarchs Queen Mary II and King William III and the victory of peace and liberty over tyranny is the central story. It is an absolutely stunning room, that would make a beautiful place for a wedding (which it was yesterday).
We were then taken downstairs (which will incidentally become the new entrance for visitors when work is completed) and shown where the new visitors centre will be and how it will help to preserve the paintings, which are gradually fading and will also be undergoing renovation to help prevent further damage.
Next stop was the chapel, which again has many beautiful features, such as the wedgewood coloured inspired ceiling and the imposing and grand Samuel Green organ. Again, film fans will soon recognise this chapel from the second wedding in Four Weddings and a Funeral with the inexperienced priest (played by Rowan Atkinson) as you can see here:
But the outside and views are also spectacular to look at (particularly if you are fortunate enough to go when the sun is shining!)
The tour also took me and other bloggers to the only surviving part of the original Greenwich palace, which was built by Henry VII (on the site of Bella Court built originally by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester in the 1420’s) but destroyed by Charles II, with the intention of building a new one that never materialised. As someone who is fascinated by the Tudor period, I really felt as though I was somewhere special.
This is a feeling that you get a lot by wondering around – so much history from different periods of time that it shows how important the Old Royal Naval College is in keeping our history alive.
Having now visited, I’m genuinely disappointed in myself for not having been before as it is a gem of a place to visit with plenty of history to really interest and excite visitors but is also a great place for film fans to enjoy themselves as well!