Designed as a dining hall for retired sailors, this is one of Europe’s greatest banquet halls, containing the largest painting in Europe, the Baroque painted ceiling by artist Sir James Thornhill. An illusory architectural composition frames King William III and Queen Mary II, original patrons of the Painted Hall and the Old Royal Naval College, enthroned amid symbols of their triumph and Britain’s naval power. Beneath William’s feet grovels the defeated French king, Louis XIV, furled flag in hand. The hall is undergoing an ambitious conservation effort until 2019, so can be viewed only through joining a Painted Hall Ceiling Tour.
On the tour, visitors climb to an observation deck to take a closer look at the paintings. Tours are £10 and last 45 minutes; tickets can be booked online on the Old Royal Naval College website.