The Painted Hall

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Application Type

AABC Conservation

Level of Award

Highly Commended


Greater London

Local Authority Area


Information about this scheme

Forming part of the Old Royal Naval College, 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. 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.

Hugh Broughton Architects were appointed in 2015 to develop the design, while simultaneously Martin Ashley, Surveyor of the Fabric for the Old Royal Naval College, produced a meticulous Conservation Plan. Following an enabling phase, Phase Two commenced in Autumn 2017. 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. 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 includes the exposed remains of Henry VIII’s palace that 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

Conservation Architect

Martin Ashley Architects

Main Contractor

Coniston Ltd

Project Manager

Glevum Consulting

Quantity Surveyor

Huntley Cartwright

Services Engineer


Structural Engineer

SFK Consulting

Universal Design Consultant

Centre for Accessible Environments

Acoustic Consultant

Ramboll Acoustic


Pre-Construct Archaeology

Lighting Design

Sutton Vane Associates

Heritage Interpretation

Simon Leach Design


PFB Construction Management Services Ltd

Environmental Consultant

Tobit Curteis Associates


Paine and Stewart

Primary Use Class

Class D1f - Public Library/Archive/Visitor Centre