- Stevens, Errol
- History - general, Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1999 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Most of our readers will have been aware that the Queen unveiled the huge re-gilded statue of both her and her husband’s great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert, in London in October 1998. The original gilding was removed in 1915 to avoid reflected moonlight possibly assisting German Zeppelins.
Prince Philip was absent from the unveiling as he was attending the last Trafalgar Night Mess Dinner to be held in the Painted Hall at the Royal Naval College (RNC). Greenwich. The RNC buildings have a long and significant association with the Navy.
The Tudors originally established a Royal palace on the RNC Thames river bank site where Henry VIII was born, married at least two of his wives, and where both his daughters, Elizabeth and Mary were born. In 1694 Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to complete the buildings as a naval hospital and as a home for disabled and pensioned seamen. After his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Admiral Lord Nelson’s body lay in state in the Painted Hall before his official funeral.
Between 1869 and 1873 the buildings were converted for the advanced education of naval officers and the RNC was founded. Since then courses such as Senior Officers War, Naval Staff, Long Tactical, Sub-Lieutenant’s, Officers Direct Entry and Promoted from the Ranks, have been held there. The Navy has now been moved out of Greenwich and courses have been relocated to other Single or Joint Service Establishments. It is believed the site of the RNC has been taken over by a University. As nearly all senior RAN officers attended RNC at some stage of their careers, the closure of the College will no doubt be noted by them with sadness and regret.
It is interesting to note that on August 1775, Captain James Cook took up residence as a “Hospital Captain “. “It is a fine retreat”, he wrote, “and a pretty income, but whether I can bring myself to like ease and retirement, time will show. “
Eight months later he made his final departure for the South Seas.
(“A Refuge for All”. Greenwich Hospital 1694-1994).