Tuesday 21st November – 40th meeting of 2017
Today all nine of us ladies met and went to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich to go on a tour of the Painted Hall Ceiling which is undergoing a cleaning and conservation project.
We took the DLR to Cutty Sark station, had coffee in the Wetherspoons pub, The Gate Clock, Creek Road and then walked to Royal Naval College. I love this part of London. Greenwich with its market and lovely individual shops is very pleasant to walkaround then at the river with the Cutty Sark looking magnificent and the park itself – it has so much to offer for a visit.
We were a little early for our 1 o’clock guided tour so went into the chapel for a while. This is a wonderful building and so peaceful to sit in and admire.
Once in the painted hall we were met by our tour guide and given a brief run through of the plan for the visit. It started by us all being given hard hats, brightly coloured coats and a headset to make it easy to listen to the guide. This was a major operation to get kitted up but after a little help we were all ready for the 60 foot assent to view the ceiling. Two of us took the small lift to the observation platform while the rest climbed the 67 steps.
Sir James Thornhill’s ceiling was painted between 1707 and 1726 and 40,000 square feet is being cleaned and conserved and open for public viewing during 2017 and 2018. The cost of the tour was £10.00.
When we were all together on the observation deck our guide gave us a mirror so that we could view the ceiling in greater detail. She explained the area to us in great detail pointing out the designs and stories to be seen. It was an amazing thing to see and even more amazing how it was painted originally. There were some conservators working and cleaning some of the sculptures on the walls while we were touring. They showed so much patience. The title of the painting is ‘The Triumph of Peace and Liberty over Tyranny’ and has many different stories and characters in it. Of course lots of Naval influence. Sir John Thornhill himself is featured, Diane Goddess of the Moon, Apollo, Peace, Mary 11, William 111, Louise XIV, Hercules are just a few. Also the four elements,Water, Earth, Fire and Air are shown.
Our guide showed us samples of the items that the six conservators use. Very simple cloths and cleaning items. We also so a jar with dirt that has been taken from the ceiling. This project when completed should keep the ceiling in good condition for many years.
I found this a fascinating tour. The guide was very good. She had a good sense of humour and made the stories interesting, bright and fun! The tour lasted 50 minutes and was very enjoyable.
Once back on the ground we took off the safety gear and collected our coats. We had a little walk around the grounds and enjoyed the beautiful views of the building, park and river. We made our way home via the DLR to Lewisham and trains home.
A very good day was had be all!