NEWS: Final Weeks for Ceiling Tours of The Painted Hall at The Old Royal Naval College

It has been confirmed that the last ceiling tour in the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College will be on the 30th September. 


The 30th September will be the final opportunity that the public will have to experience the ceiling tours of the Old Royal Naval College’s Painted Hall – an opportunity that will not arise again for another 100 years.

During these tours, the public ascend sixty feet to an observation deck to put them within touching distance of what is known as Britain’s Sistine Chapel’ and the largest painted ceiling in the UK.

The Painted Hall was decorated by Sir James Thornhill, the first British artist to be knighted. It is the lavish centrepiece of the Old Royal Naval College, founded in 1694 by Mary II and designed by Christopher Wren. The ceiling was painted between 1707 and 1726, and celebrates Britain’s maritime power.

Thornhill’s work in the painted hall led to him being commissioned for work in St Paul’s Cathedral and Blenheim Palace.

The National Lottery funded Painted Hall project has been in action for the last  two years. As well as the conservation work in the Hall itself, the spectacular Undercroft space below has been undergoing a major transformation with the creation of a new visitor centre, interpretation gallery and café.

During the work, the Painted Hall observation deck has allowed visitors the opportunity to see the masterpiece at close quarters and to observe the conservators at work. The conservators, led by Stephen Paine and Sophie Stewart have been systematically cleaning and conserving around 40,000 square feet of painted surface, on the ceilings and walls, bringing new life and vibrancy to paintings obscured by decades of decay. Environmental controls will help ensure no further intervention on the paintings will be necessary for many decades.

Talking about the tours, Angela McConville, Chief Executive of the Old Royal Naval College, said: “The experience of being within inches of this inspiring masterpiece is incredible and not to be missed. This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something that all lovers of art, architecture, history and culture should experience.”

Ceiling tours of the Painted Hall take place daily, 10am – 5pm (last admission 4pm) Tickets: Adults £10 / Children (aged 6 – 17) £5 . There is full disabled access. For more information visit:

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