The Painted Hall
Civic Trust Awards
Level of Award
Local Authority Area
Information about this scheme
The Painted Hall forms part of the Old Royal Naval College, which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1696. The Grade 1 Listed Hall, decorated by Sir James Thornhill, comprises one of the most important Baroque painted interiors in Europe.
Although the paintings were conserved in the 1950s, bright light and fluctuations in temperature and humidity had caused damage. The conservation project sought to address the underlying causes of the damage and was meticulously planned over a number of years. The first phase of conservation work was carried out in 2013 to the Upper Hall using ground breaking cleaning and conservation techniques. An ambitious masterplan was then developed for Phase Two to secure a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with further funds raised from trusts, foundations and individuals.
A meticulous Conservation Plan was produced to ensure that the historical significance of the building was fully understood and would be protected, nurtured and enhanced. Following an enabling phase, which improved means of escape and created inclusive access to the hall, the remaining 3700 sq m of painted surfaces were conserved and the internal environment was stabilised using draught proofing, solar shading and a new heating system. These were designed using cutting edge modelling processes to ensure visitor comfort and the optimum environment for painting stability. The project allowed the removal of clutter, concealment of visible services, and installation of discreet lighting and new seating.
A key part of the project was the creation of a new entrance off College Way, leading into the vaulted undercroft below, fully revealed to the public for the first time in 100 years. This enabled the external doors of the Painted Hall to remain closed, further protecting the paintings. The Undercroft provides a welcome area, shop and café supported by refurbished kitchens.
The revitalised space is characterised by high quality craftsmanship. It includes a stone floor, leather banquettes, bespoke joinery and a refined bronze framed glazed screen, which provides an environmental buffer to reduce environmental impact in the Painted Hall. The lobby beyond provides an interpretation space and includes the exposed remains of Henry VIII’s palace, which were uncovered during the project and are displayed behind an elegant oval glass and bronze balustrade.
A fully accessible scaffold constructed during the project allowed over 80,000 visitors to witness the conservation work at close quarters.
Hugh Broughton Architects
Martin Ashley Architects
Universal Design Consultant
Centre for Accessible Environments
Sutton Vane Associates
Simon Leach Design
PFB Construction Management Services Ltd
Tobit Curteis Associates
Paine and Stewart
Primary Use Class
Class D1f - Public Library/Archive/Visitor Centre