Formerly the Royal Hospital for Seamen
The Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich represents the most extensive complex of English Baroque Buildings in Britain, primarily built by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmore, based on earlier designs by John Webb.
The scheme includes the Queens House by the architect Inigo Jones. The idea of the Greenwich Hospital came about through a long and circuitous route. The exiled Charles II was inspired during his exile in Paris by Les Invalides.
On his return home he commissioned Wren to build the Royal Hospital of Chelsea and it was completed in 1692. James II wanted to build an equivalent for our Royall Navy. Finally, it was Queen Mary who commissioned the work in 1694.
Initially Wren proposed the demolition of everything on the site including the Queens House, however, Queen Mary opposed his ideas insisting not only on its preservation but also the retaining of its view to the river.
To make matters even more ‘interesting’ she insisted that the imposing waterfront façade of the ‘’King’s Building’’, built in the reign of Charles II, also be retained.
The second plan as we know resulted in a brilliant solution. The Queens House becoming the distant focal point framed through the mirrored avenue of Hospital buildings.
Wren’s genius was to turn the architectural problem into an architectural solution. The earlier hospital building by John Webb was neatly included, when completed in 1702, the finest and majestic of outcomes had been realised.
Both a statement that spoke for the Nation as well as the Navy. In 1755 the hospital contained over 1 500 pensioners.
This explains the number of different architectural styles which appear on the same site.
The Royal Naval Hospital still retains a grandeur and scale similar to that of a stately home. Its personality is not only defined by the building but by the great Thames in the foreground and the parkland behind.
Royal Naval Hospital Greenwich
H: 16" Base: 9 1/2" x 9 "