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Royal Naval College in Greenwich UK

Karin is an award-winning writer, editor and publisher of Christian and secular works in Europe and the USA.

Royal Naval College, Greenwich UK

Royal Naval College, Greenwich UK

The Royal Navy

'A life on the ocean waves' will ring in your ears whenever you visit the amazing Old Naval College in Greenwich, London. Built between 1696 and 1712 the buildings were originally constructed to serve as the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich, now generally known as Greenwich Hospital. It was established as a residential home for injured sailors, on the model of Les Invalides and the Chelsea Hospital. These sailors wore blue uniforms, not unlike the red ones of the Chelsea pensioners.

It occupied its riverside site for over 170 years, closing to pensioners in 1869. From 1873 to 1998 it became the training establishment for the Royal Navy and you get a real sense of why 'Britannia rules the waves!'

For years I recall watching the Royal Tournament on television and was awestruck whenever the Royal Navy crew member managed to reach the top of the 'Crow's Nest' and I remember imagining what it must have been like on the Tall Ships.

Indeed, those same thoughts came back to my mind many years later on visiting the hub of Naval instruction; the Royal Naval College has you think immediately of those ships, Lord Nelson and Trafalgar, they all fit seamlessly in time within our minds as this amazing building never loses her ability to remind us of when Britannia ruled the waves.

Background and History

The outstanding design of Christopher Wren is unsurpassed when you view the Old Naval College for the first time. The sheer magnitude of the magnificent building is almost overwhelming. I had always a desire to go there, mainly because my Great Great Grandfather William Nelson had been a Merchant Naval Captain with the East India Company and therefore our family has always had a link to the sea.

Interesting Facts

  • Lord Nelson's body lay in state in the Painted Hall of the Greenwich Hospital before being taken up the river Thames to St Paul's Cathedral for a state funeral in 1806.
  • The remains of thousands of sailors and officers, including those who fought in the Battle of Trafalgar used to be buried at Greenwich prior to being relocated in 1875.
  • The site has proved over time to have a mighty 'screen presence' as well and is regularly used for filming television programmes, television advertisements, and feature films.

Where to Stay

Here are some suggestions:

  • Novotel Greenwich comfortable and affordable the Novotel Greenwich is within easy reach of all the museums.
  • Devonport House is in Greenwich and boasts 99 rooms.
  • The beautiful King William Undercroft at The Old Naval College in Greenwich.
Local accomodation

Local accomodation

Tips for Travel

You can travel to Greenwich a few ways: by rail, car or cruise. I would recommend travelling by cruise and then rail to return to central London:

  • Book in advance with Thames River Cruise, or if travelling from overseas or taking in other London sites, I highly recommend you book your trip online well in advance and online through The London Pass website. It is the way to go for everything especially if you do not want to queue!
  • With The London Pass you can add a London Travelcard and you see many of London's historical sights as well on the way.
  • You can use your Travelcard to catch the London Underground from Heathrow Airport into central London, but only if you opt to have your London Pass with travel shipped to your home prior to your trip.

Karin's Rating

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Karin McBride-Chenoweth