Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Old Royal Naval College

The Old Royal Naval College can be found on the banks of the Thames in an area called Greenwich.  The buildings here have a long history that dates back to Henry V.  Henry died young, so his young son took over the crown.  The new king’s regent decided that Greenwich would make a fine place to watch for invasions, since one could see both a land or see invasion from the spot.  The king grew up and married Queen Margaret who fell in love with Greenwich and decided to take it for her own.  Henry VII loved Greenwich too and decided to build the Palace of Placentia for his new wife.  This palace was a favorite to many royals including Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I. 
After Henry VIII died, Elizabeth was given the Greenwich Palace.  She often stayed there waiting for her ships to return.  When Frances Drake captured a Spanish treasure, he brought it straight to Greenwich and asked Elizabeth to come aboard so that she could inspect it.  Before his arrival to Greenwich though, Spain had sent word to Elizabeth of the piracy and asked for Drake’s head in return for the treasure.  Upon boarding the ship, Elizabeth is said to have pulled a sword and Drake.  She knighted him instead of killing him and so he became Sir Frances Drake. 
When William and Mary took the throne, they wanted to build a naval hospital for old seaman.  So, Wren was hired to redesign the Palace into a large naval home.  The domes Wren built still stand today.  The site served as a naval hospital from 1705 to 1865.  When it closed, the Royal Naval College leased the buildings to use for training their officers.  When the Royal Naval College moved out in 1998, the buildings were to be leased on to educational institutions.  It currently houses the Trinity College of Music and the headquarters of the University of Greenwich.
There were so many interesting stories about the history of the campus and so many amazing things to see here.  There is a statue of Sir Walter Raleigh that faces toward North America.  The largest painted ceiling in Europe is here.  This room, called the painted chapel is where Lord Horatio Nelson’s body lay in state after his death.  In the basement, there is a skittle (bowling) alley built in 1860 to entertain the navy men.  The site is home to so much history. 

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