1. Take a Painted Hall Ceiling Tour
Ascend 60 feet and see the largest painted ceiling in Britain from just feet away. As part of a landmark conservation project, a huge observation deck has been built in the Painted Hall, allowing conservators to get up close to the paintings of Sir James Thornhill. Now, the public can get up there too, with a 60 minute Painted Hall Ceiling Tour of this breathtaking space exploring its characters, stories and the techniques used to paint it.
Ceiling tours are great for families too – a different experience with plenty of amazing characters to discover on the ceiling. The observation deck is open to children over the age of 6.
2. The Old Brewery
The walled garden of the Old Brewery, reopened for the Easter holidays
After a period of refurbishment, the Old Brewery is open for business – now better than ever! Enjoy the warm weather on the new outside seating under the collonades, with great views of the Old Royal Naval College lawns and the Thames, as well as a wide variety of drinks and food.
3. Hear evensong in the beautiful Chapel
Dazzling Neoclassical architecture in the Old Royal Naval College Chapel
Free to visit, the stunning Chapel is one of the finest eighteenth century interiors in the UK. Benjamin West’s huge altarpiece depicting St Paul’s miracle at Malta and a grand Samuel Green organ are among the highlights.
Every Monday at 17:30 the Chapel choir perform choral evensong in the Chapel. If you haven’t been able to get to Greenwich in time in the past, this bank holiday’s your chance to hear this distinguished choir.
4. Free attractions
The Grand Square at the Old Royal Naval College. See it this Easter!
Feeling out of pocket? Never fear – there’s plenty to do at the Old Royal Naval College this week without even touching your wallet! The Visitor Centre and the Chapel (not to mention the beautiful grounds and lawns) are free to visit – with a whole day’s worth of things to see. Visitors can discover the history of the site on a free guided walk, running from the Visitor Centre throughout the week.
5. See the rest Greenwich has to offer
Still not satisfied? Greenwich is one of London’s hotspots for things to do – see our favourite picks on our top 10 things to do in Greenwich post.
Ascend 60 feet and uncover the secrets of London’s largest painted ceiling.
Top 10 things to do in Greenwich
Majestic architecture by Sir Christopher Wren, leafy parks, and a rich royal history: Greenwich is overflowing with things to do for tourists and locals alike. One of London’s best-kept “urban villages”, Greenwich also boasts riverside pubs, street markets, a wide variety of eating places and the finest view in London.
Here’s our top ten list of things to do in Greenwich.
1. Marvel at the Painted Hall like never before
A must-see in Greenwich, Painted Hall Ceiling Tours run from April 2017 to September 2018.
Ascend 60 feet and uncover the secrets of London’s largest painted ceiling, painted by Sir James Thornhill between 1708 and 1727. Take a ceiling tour via a special observation deck and discover the painting’s mysteries as they are revealed for the first time in half a century. Book online today >
2. Visitor Centre
The story of Greenwich and the Old Royal Naval College is narrated here in an interactive way. Try on Henry VIII’s jousting armour, dress up as a pensioner and try your hand at building your own design for the ORNC.
If you’re finding your feet in Greenwich it’s a great start to your trip, with free tours, maps and tourist information available. It also houses the Old Brewery, which inherits a tradition of brewing on the Old Royal Naval College since the first pensioners lived here.
3. Hear an exquisite evensong in the Chapel
The Old Royal Naval College’s Chapel is a dazzling example of Neoclassical architecture, with intricate and well-preserved pastel-coloured mouldings, imposing ionic columns and a grandiose altarpiece by Benjamin West.
It is also a great place to hear music, its curved ceiling making for great acoustics. Evensong services are performed here on Mondays at 17:30 by the Old Royal Naval College Trinity Laban Chapel Choir.
4. Browse the famed Greenwich Market
London is well known for its street markets, and Greenwich Market is one of the city’s best. Walk among stalls selling delicious treats, handmade and vintage clothes, artworks, and souvenirs. The market is also surrounded by a number of independent clothes shops, pubs and restaurants.
Image © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
5. See Turner’s famous rendition of the Battle of Trafalgar
JMW Turner, one of Britain’s best-loved artists, painted this vast naval battle scene at the height of his career between 1822 and 1824. Commissioned by George IV, it was his only royal commission and the largest painting of his career – as well as his most controversial, for diverging from the strict chronology of the battle in favour of a stunning composition.
See it for free at the National Maritime Museum, alongside relics of the Battle of Trafalgar, including cannonballs, costume, and Nelson’s posessions. Learn more on the Royal Museums Greenwich website >
6. Lose yourself in Greenwich Park
Turner also loved painting from the hill in Greenwich Park, arguably the best view in London. See the domes of the Old Royal Naval College against the monolithic skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, and the Thames as it sweeps into central London.
Besides the view, Greenwich Park also offers a flower garden, secluded, leafy paths and even its own deer park. Two species of deer live in the deer park: Britain’s largest land mammal, the majestic red deer, and the smaller but beautiful fallow deer. You can see both from viewing points along the deer trail.
7. Stand on the Meridian Line
Also in Greenwich Park stands the Royal Observatory, another of Sir Christopher Wren’s famed designs in Greenwich alongside the Old Royal Naval College. There is plenty to do at the Royal Observatory but the must-do experience is to stand over the meridian line. Unsurprisingly, this is also a great place to check the accuracy of your watch.
If you’re in Greenwich at night, you’ll notice a laser cutting through the sky – this originates at the Royal Observatory and marks the meridian line.
8. Stand on the deck of the Cutty Sark
The Cutty Sark is one of Greenwich’s most unique attractions and one of the few surviving tall ships in the country. A state-of-the-art ship in its day, now the Cutty Sark is both a preserved historical artefact and a museum of trade at the height of the British Empire.
The Cutty Sark underwent a landmark conservation before being re-opened as a state of the art museum, suspended in a permanent dry dock allowing visitors to view it from below and head up on deck. Learn more about the Cutty Sark >
9. Hop on a boat from Greenwich Pier
One of the best ways to see the entire of London, let alone Greenwich. Boats run from Greenwich pier to central London and the O2 arena, and are a fantastic way to see the city at any time of the day.
Image © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
10. Journey beneath the Thames and see Canaletto’s view of Greenwich
Instead of taking the DLR or the boat, why not cross to the Isle of Dogs via foot? Greenwich foot tunnel allows pedestrians to cross beneath the Thames in a tube-like tunnel. When you emerge, you will be rewarded with another iconic view of the Old Royal Naval College, almost unchanged since it was captured by Canaletto in the early 1750s. Canaletto’s painting is on view for free at the Queen’s House in Greenwich.