Culture, Listings, Visual Arts

Old Royal Naval College: a story told through the senses

Constructed at the beginning of the 18th Century, this College situated in Greenwich, London, is made up of various different baroque-style buildings of the same era. On the 29th and 30th of January this year it is going to offer the public a series of special events.

When it was created, the primary objective of the Old Royal Naval Collage was to lend relief and support to seamen and their families. The initial architectural designs were Sir Christopher Wren’s, and various distinguished architects finished the works; among whom were Hawksmoor, Vanbrugh and James ‘Athenien’ Stuart.

Well into the 19th Century, when peace had been established after a long period of wars, the number of retired seamen decreased and the Hospital, situated amongst this architectural collection, shut definitively in 1869. A little while later, the Old Royal Naval College was relocated, along with the announcement that the enclave was to be a training centre of the world’s naval officials.

In 1998 the Royal Navy moved to its new base in Shrivenham whilst the responsibilities the Old Royal Naval College held were passed on to the recently created Greenwich Foundation. Recently, the College has made up part of the set in various films that can currently be seen in cinemas, such as ‘The King’s Speech’ and ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, as well as the next film in the series of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘On Stranger Tides’.

On the 29th and 30th of January this year, the Old Royal Naval College has organised two events to allow its history and tradition to be better known. The first will take place in the Painted Hall of the College and will consist of an interactive exhibition of raised and embossed tapestries which represent its history and tradition, accompanied with informative discussions about the traditions of the aforementioned establishment.

This activity has been thought up in line with people with visual disabilities so they can feel the specially designed tapestries, made with a great range of materials and textures, through means of touch. The day after, also in the Painted Hall, the representation of the life and works of Sir James Thornhill will take place, the first artist to be given the title of Sir in the history of the United Kingdom. Thornhill decorated the interior of the Painted Hall with his fresco paintings, a piece of work that took 19 years to complete.

Old Royal Naval College. Greenwich, London. SE10 9LW. http://www.oldroyalnavalcollege.org/.

(Translated by Piers Jarvis – piersjarvis@hotmail.com)

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