Painted Hall – Greenwich Old Royal Navel College

Visited on a weekday during term time

A very beautiful building, but this was a disappointing visit with too many obstacles and some well-meaning but ineffectual staff. 

The Painted Hall recently reopened following a multi-million-pound project to conserve the paintwork, provide more interpretation and improve the visitor experience. We visited with high expectations, enhanced further by the new £12 entrance fee.    

The Old Royal Naval College in general and the Painted Hall in particular are a really beautiful collection of buildings, world class in terms of artwork and architecture. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call the Painted Hall the British answer to the Sistine Chapel and it had the same architect and artist pairing as St Paul’s Cathedral. 

Entrance to the Painted Hall is now via the under croft. I am pleased to say that there is a new lift, but frustratingly the staff didn’t know how to use it. The lift is positioned away from the new interpretation gallery, so we missed this until we were about to leave. 

Level access is not universal across this site – there are three or four stairs up to the platform inside the hall. This means you can’t easily access the focal point of the room, complete with portraits of George I and his family. We also had problems with stairs at a number of points outside the building – more on this later. 

There are baby changing facilities inside a unisex disabled access toilet, this can be found near the Victorian “bowling alley”. A novelty installation built by retired and convalescing sailors in the nineteenth century, although this unusual attraction is looking a bit shabby and smelling a little damp now. I was encouraged to have a go at bowling a “faux canon ball” down the lanes, a unique opportunity.    

The painted hall is twinned with the Chapel of the ORNC. From memory the chapel is also very beautiful, and this part of the site is free to visit, however a large number of staircases make it really challenging to access comfortably with a pram and we didn’t manage it, I am sad to say. 

We visited the Painted Hall for 30 minutes to an hour, we travelled there by car and parked in the carpark on Trafalgar Road which was pretty quiet on a weekday during term time. The nearest step free tube station is Cutty Sark on the DLR.   

If you or someone you know works for the ORNC please do get in touch, I would really like to help make this national treasure accessible for more people, including parents and small children.  

Changing facilities ***

Access **

Baby feeding facilities (including seating) *** 

Travel ****

Enjoyable Perambulation ** 

Overall **