Old Royal Naval College

Discover Britain’s Sistine Chapel: the Painted Hall at Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College, an epic 18th-century baroque masterpiece.

The London Pass Access the Old Royal Naval College, Normally £12.00 - Included with London Pass

In 2020, The Old Royal Naval College was presented with a prestigious Gold in the Visit England "Large Visitor Attraction" category of their annual tourism awards.

Discover Britain’s Sistine Chapel: the Painted Hall at Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College, an epic 18th-century baroque masterpiece.

Steeped in over 500 years of history, the Old Royal Naval College is the centrepiece of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Discover the 18 acres of beautiful buildings and grounds in the original birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. 

Enjoy access to Old Royal Naval College with The London Pass® 

- Pay nothing at the door – simply show your pass.

- Discover the magnificent Painted Hall

- Visit the Chapel housed in the eastern dome - still an active place of worship

- Enjoy a myriad of events at the venue

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- Old Royal Naval College history

- Old Royal Naval College highlights

- Old Royal Naval College facts

- Don’t miss

- Know before you go

- Make the most of your London Pass®

- How to get there

Old Royal Naval College history

In 1694, when the English architectural giants Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor were approached to redesign Greenwich Palace, Greenwich was an eyesore. The grand medieval Palace, once home to Britain’s iconic monarchs, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, was a building project that Charles II had taken on when restored to the throne in 1660. However, his enthusiasm for the redesign, as well as the finances of this notorious spendthrift monarch, waned. The result - only one new wing was actually built on what is now the eastern range of the King Charles Court. In 1694, this wing, along with the grounds in royal ownership, were granted by William III by Royal Warrant as the site for invalid and elderly sailors, which was when Wren and Hawksmoor were asked to step in. 

To preserve the view of the river from the Queen’s House, as requested by Queen Mary, Wren’s final design saw the buildings laid out into two halves. He adapted twin domes onto the structure (the dome design was inspired by his recent creation, St.Paul’s Cathedral) rather than a large central one. However, Wren’s extensive work commitments meant that it was Hawksmoor who carried out the work and drew up many of the working designs for the project. 

Work commenced in 1696 on what would become the four courts. Their creation would house over 2,000 veterans of the Royal Navy. 

The Painted Hall

Known as Britain’s answer to the Sistine Chapel, at the time of its unveiling, the Painted Hall must have been an opulent feast of colour. Originally designed as a mess room for Sir James Thornhill, who was famously enamoured by murals, the Painted Hall’s ceiling is an inspired homage to his passion. Be sure to check out the difference between the original paintwork and the newly refurbished west wall. 

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Old Royal Naval College highlights

  • Explore the Painted Hall and visit the Sackler Gallery for more fascinating detail on Sir James Thornhill’s breath-taking paintings.
  • Get an interactive guide or join a live talk to find out more about the 200 figures on the ceiling.
  • Experience one of the many fascinating exhibits and get hands-on with the treasure chests filled with sensational historic objects.
  • Walk in the footsteps of British Royalty on a tour of the grounds


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Old Royal Naval College facts

  • Covering 4,000 sq meters, the Painted Hall took Sir James Thornhill 19 years to paint. 
  • Much of China’s navy throughout the twentieth century was built by graduates of the Royal Naval College – first by figures such as Yan Fu at the end of the Imperial dynasty, and then in Communist China by students who had fought alongside the Allies in World War II. 
  • After years of planning and fundraising, the Hall underwent its most comprehensive makeover in its history, costing £7 million.


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Don't miss

Events at the Old Royal Naval College

For more events at the Old Royal Naval College, check the official site

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Know before you go

The London Pass gives you access to Old Royal Naval College, Grounds of the College, Painted Hall, Visitor Centre and Chapel. For accessibility options and facilities, please visit the official site.

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Getting in

Present your London Pass at the main entrance.

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Make the most of your London Pass®

Don't forget to visit the Royal Observatory Greenwich, very close to Old Royal Naval College. Entry is included with The London Pass®

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How to get there

By Docklands Light Railway (DLR) 

Cutty Sark DLR is a three-minute walk away from the Old Royal Naval College. The DLR provides transport links from London Bank (Central, Northern and Waterloo and City lines), Monument (District and Circle line), Canary Wharf (Jubilee line), Tower Gateway, Lewisham, Stratford and Limehouse. 

By London Underground

Take the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf and change to the Docklands Light Railway. You can also take the Jubilee Line to North Greenwich (the O2) and then take either bus 188 or 129 which stops outside the Old Royal Naval College on Romney Road.

By train

Greenwich Station only takes 8 minutes to get to from London Bridge. From Greenwich Station, the Old Royal Naval is a short 10-minute stroll away through Greenwich town centre. 

Mainline rail services run from Cannon Street, London Bridge and Dartford to Greenwich (South Eastern) as well as twice an hour (once an hour at weekends) from Luton, West Hampstead, Kings Cross St Pancras, Farringdon, Blackfriars and stations from Rainham, Kent (Thameslink).

You can also take the DLR from Greenwich Station for one stop to Cutty Sark DLR. 

By bus

Buses 129, 177, 180, 188, 199, 286 and 386 all stop nearby to the Old Royal Naval College 

For more travel options, check the official site.

And for more things to do in London, visit the London Pass blog.

See the full list of attractions included.

"My wife and I have been to London twice before but our adult children were with us this time and we decided to get the London Pass with the transportation option. It was fantastic. We visited many wonderful sites with which we were already familiar, but we also went to many places just because we had the London Pass - the Royal Mews, Wimbledon, Handel's Home, and more. These unexpected visits were so enjoyable!"
Timothy from USA

Learn more

Visiting Old Royal Naval College

Visiting Old Royal Naval College

  • Old Royal Naval College Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk Greenwich SE10 9NN
  • Closest Underground Station Cutty Sark DLR
  • Closest Bus Stop 129, 177, 180, 188, 199, 286 and 386

Opening Times

Grounds of the College
Monday 08.00 - 23.00
Tuesday 08.00 - 23.00
Wednesday 08.00 - 23.00
Thursday 08.00 - 23.00
Friday 08.00 - 23.00
Saturday 08.00 - 23.00
Sunday 08.00 - 23.00
Painted Hall, Visitor Centre & Chapel
Monday 10.00 - 17.00
Tuesday 10.00 - 17.00
Wednesday 10.00 - 17.00
Thursday 10.00 - 17.00
Friday 10.00 - 17.00
Saturday 10.00 - 17.00
Sunday 10.00 - 17.00

Attractions Nearby

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