The Painted Hall and Old Royal Naval College Tour

Activity code: PHCT

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Duration Approx. 1 hour
Departure Point The Painted Hall, Greenwich, SE10
Walking Moderate


  • Learn of the Painted Hall’s fascinating design and history with an audio guide
  • Drop in on talks and tours about the Old Royal Naval College throughout the day
  • See the exquisite Baroque designs up close by British artists Sir James Thornhill
  • Discover where famous films and scenes were filmed


Experience ‘Britain’s Sistine Chapel’ with a visit to the extraordinary Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College. Featuring 40,000 sq. ft of mesmerising walls and ceilings, you’re guaranteed to be in complete awe of one of the most iconic representations of English baroque art.

Originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren as a dining hall for the Greenwich Pensioners living at the Royal Hospital for Seamen, it was painted by Sir James Thornhill over a period of 19 years!

With an audio guide throughout, learn about the epic ceiling painting which features 200 mythological, historical and contemporary figures. The painting comes together to tell a story of political change, scientific and cultural successes, naval ventures and commercial endeavours. The paintings also represent the accessions to the throne of William III, Mary II and George I as well as the United Kingdom’s historic achievements during the 18th century.

After you’ve explored the Painted Hall, venture into the Nelson Room to see Lord Nelson’s lying-in-state. During this new audio-visual experience, you’ll learn about Lord Nelson’s life, his connection to Greenwich, his role in the Battle of Trafalgar and more. The room itself is spectacular and has a unique architecture, stonework and marble flooring. 

Regarded as one of the finest neo-classical interiors in existence, the exquisite Chapel of St Peter & St Paul is another must-see on your visit. Rebuilt after a terrible fire, the chapel features naval themes, a spectacular altarpiece and pulpit, and an impressive ceiling design of squares and octagons in light blue and cream.

Painted Hall Talks
If you’re after a live guided tour of the Painted Hall, then join one of our regular 30-minute talks exploring the history and stories behind the 200 incredible characters assembled on the ceiling and walls. 

500 Years of History
Uncover the history and architecture of the Old Royal Naval College with a 45-minute guided tour of the magnificent grounds. As you stand before this spectacular building, you’ll learn that it was once a Tudor Palace and the birthplace of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, and that it was a Royal Hospital for Seamen. This tour will also take you to the Grand Square, the Water Gates, King Charles Court, the Colonnades, the Nelson Pediment and more. 

Film Tours
Discover 60 years of filming at the Old Royal Naval College and its riverside grounds with this fascinating guided tour. You’ll be amazed to discover the host of A-list actors that have starred here in what has been called “the most popular filming location in the world”.

Did you know that the Old Royal Naval College starred as Buckingham Palace in Netflix’s The Crown or 19th century revolutionary Paris in Les Misérables? This tour will uncover many behind-the-scenes secrets, tricks of the trade and memorable scenes from iconic films and TV shows. 

Discover which famous couple waltzed the night away in the Painted Hall in a classic 1958 film. See where Meryl Streep portrayed the former British Prime Minister Lady Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady and the exact place Rowan Atkinson said, “Repeat after me, I do take thee, Lydia Jane Hibbott, to be my awful wedded wife,” in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

The tours and talks are included with your entry ticket to the Painted Hall. The Film Tour is booked separately due to limited spaces.

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Additional Information

What's Included:

  • Entry to the Painted Hall
  • Audio guide for the Painted Hall available in 7 languages
  • Entry to the Victorian Skittle Alley

What's Excluded:

  • Food and drink
  • Gratuities
Please Note:
  • Tickets are non-refundable.
  • The tour takes place mainly outdoors, so please dress appropriately and for all weather conditions.
  • Tours are subject to availability. 
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult (18+) during their visit.