The Royal Hospital for Seamen

The Royal Hospital for Seamen, Greenwich, and its place in the history of English Baroque (Ticketed)

Thursday 20 July 2017
Talk begins at 6.30. Refreshments from 6pm.

‘The noblest monument of wisdom and benevolence’

The talk

The Royal Hospital at Greenwich was founded in 1694 by Queen Mary II to offer a safe harbour for injured, disabled or infirm seamen who had served in the Royal Navy. This was to be England’s grandest charitable institution, built on a palatial scale.

Although master-planned by Sir Christopher Wren, the Hospital was shaped by the hands of successive architects over a period of 50 years. The most significant contribution was made by Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736). Hawksmoor was Clerk of Works at the Hospital from 1698 to 1735 and his powerful and idiosyncratic work at Greenwich represents perhaps the most powerful expression of the so-called English Baroque, a style established by Wren and given full voice by the likes of Hawksmoor, John Vanburgh (1664-1726) and Thomas Archer (1668-1743).

In this talk William Palin, Conservation Director for the Greenwich Foundation, will discuss the English Baroque, exploring the work of Hawksmoor and his contemporaries with a focus on the Royal Hospital at Greenwich, considered the finest ensemble of baroque architecture in Britain.

The speaker

William is Conservation Director at the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich. He is an architectural writer and historian, working previously as exhibitions curator at Sir John Soane’s Museum and as Director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage. He lives in Spitalfields, London and Sheerness, Kent. He is a trustee of the Ancient Monuments Society and chair of both the East End Preservation Society and the Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust.

Participant information

Upon arrival please come to the main museum entrance, where you will be directed to the talk location.

Talks start at 6.30pm, last for about 1-1½ hours. There will be tea, coffee & cake available between 6.00pm-6.30pm. If you have any dietary requirements please let us know in advance.


£14 per person, £10 for Museum Members, £5 for Weald & Downland Museum volunteers.

Please note Members and volunteer discounts are applicable using a code which you may enter at point of checkout. You may be asked for proof of status before being admitted so please bring your Museum badge or Membership number with you.



Please read our terms and conditions before booking. Cancellations must be made more than four weeks before the date of the talk to be eligible for a refund.