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ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  ROYAL NAVAL HOSPITAL GREENWICH, ROYAL GREENWICH NAVAL HOSPITAL
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The buildings that make up The Royal Naval College were constructed in 1695 in Greenwich, London and were designed by the architect Christopher Wren. The buildings incorporated the former palace of Charles II that stood on the site. They were designed originally as a Hospital to care for aged and infirm seamen of the Royal Navy. Greenwich Hospital contained nearly 3000 Pensioners, as the inhabitants were called, and were dressed in long dark blue coats and cocked hats.

The buildings of the Hospital include The Painted Hall which was built between 1696 and 1704 and was painted by Sir James Thornhill between 1708 and 1727. The elaborately decorated rooms feature paintings of allegorical stories that depict Britain’s history based on maritime power.
The Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul was designed by Wren and Ripley in Baroque style however a fire in 1779 caused the chapel to be redecorated in Rococo style with Wedgwood pastel colours. The chapel features a curved ceiling and Corinthian columns. The buildings were added to by James Stuart in 1769 and by John Yenn in 1811-14.

The construction of the Hospital was not fully completed until 1752, although it has opened to patients earlier than this. The buildings of the Hospital comprise four separate blocks with their own separate courtyards. The King Charles Block and Queen Anne Block are located along the riverside; behind them to the south are the King William Block and the Queen Mary Block. These buildings feature domed roofs which contain the Painted Hall and the Chapel.
The first disabled and retired seamen came to live in the Hospital in 1705 and the numbers of the inhabitants rose to about 3000 by 1814. The Hospital population declined sharply after this, mainly due to the end of the Napoleonic Wars. By 1869 the numbers had fallen so low that it was decided to close the Hospital.

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