Imagine, if you will, that Prince Philip took it into his head not only to build somewhere to rest and entertain friends whilst hunting but also to commission a young architect to build the structure in a radical new style. Imagine the fuss. Well, that is exactly what Anne of Denmark, consort of James I, did for the building now known as the Queen’s House in Greenwich. The Queen’s House was the first Palladian building in England, the work of the young Inigo Jones. Now is the time to visit, as the Queen’s House has just reopened after a fourteen month, three-million-pound restoration.

Queen's House

What do you do with a beautiful, historic building when you have none of the original furniture and the pictures that were painted for the most stunning room of all were removed over three hundred years ago and installed in another royal house? You turn the place into an art gallery, but what an art gallery. The glowing blues and reds that you see on the walls of the King’s and Queen’s rooms are as Inigo Jones intended. The ceiling of the Great Hall, bereft of its original paintings, has been reworked by the Turner Prize winner Richard Wright. He has come up with a fine series of swirls and organic shapes in gold leaf. The effect is stunning, it looks shimmery but white and most of all elegant. Like really, really upmarket wallpaper.

Queen's House

In order to get from the Great Hall to the opulent King’s and Queen’s Presence rooms you need to climb the Tulip Staircase. This is not just any old staircase or even any old spiral staircase. In another first for the Queen’s House it is the first self-supported staircase in Britain. It’s balustrade depicts stylized tulips, hence the name, that were so popular at the time. They have repainted in the deep blue called blue smalt.


Three hundred pictures hang on the walls here ranging from Lowry to Rubens by way of Turner. Most of them come from the collection of the Royal Maritime Museum but others have been loaned from other major British collections. The Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth I was purchased for the nation after a public fundraising, she now has a new home in the Queen’s House. Elizabeth, who was born in Greenwich, now lives in the same room as portraits of the other Queens associated with the Queen’s House.

Greenwich is a beautiful place, a fact acknowledged by its UNESCO World Heritage Status. Take a look inside the Painted Hall, referred to as the Sistine Chapel of the UK. Coffee and cake are best taken either in the form of a picnic taking in the view or in the most spectacular tea rooms that I have seen so far in any museum, under the hull of the Cutty Sark.

Romney Road, Greenwich, London, SE10 9NF

Open: Daily 10am-5pm
Admission: Free

The Queen’s House features in my list of Free things to do in London with Teens and of Cultural Wedding Venues, why not pop along for more inspiration.

Wander Mum
Oregon Girl Around the World


  1. October 20, 2016 / 9:59 am

    That staircase! I’d go just to see that. Beautiful photos.

  2. October 25, 2016 / 1:23 pm

    beautiful staircase #citytripping

  3. October 25, 2016 / 1:59 pm

    I love that staircase and I’m definitely pinning this for something to do in London! #citytripping

  4. October 25, 2016 / 7:24 pm

    Oh gosh, that’s beautiful! Sometimes it’s strange to be in a building and think about all of the historic figures who’ve stood there before you.

    • Catherine
      October 25, 2016 / 7:28 pm

      It is! I love walking along ancient trackways for that reason!

  5. October 25, 2016 / 8:20 pm

    A fascinating read. I really enjoyed this – thanks! #CityTripping

  6. October 26, 2016 / 4:54 am

    I love the tulip staircase! #CityTripping

  7. October 27, 2016 / 2:15 pm

    Your photo of the tulip staircase is beautiful!

    • Catherine
      October 27, 2016 / 2:40 pm

      Thank you!

  8. October 27, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    I absolutely love Greenwich but have still yet to make it your the Queen’s House- a good excuse to return. Frankly, I’d go for that staircase alone. Beautiful. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • Catherine
      October 27, 2016 / 9:49 pm

      The rest of the house is amazing too!

  9. October 28, 2016 / 5:28 pm

    That spiral staircase is beautiful! I love the tulip details! #citytripping

  10. September 29, 2017 / 9:00 pm

    Oooh! This looks just fabulous! I’m definitely going here, and that tea sounds perfect! #farawayfiles

  11. Clare Thomson
    September 30, 2017 / 12:01 pm

    You always seem to find the most fascinating places to rediscover in London, Catherine! That staircase is stunning and I’m always looking for reasons to go back to Greenwich. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  12. September 30, 2017 / 4:11 pm

    I must get there before we go. That portrait of Elizabeth I is a particular favourite. Might go tomorrow actually. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  13. October 5, 2017 / 9:57 am

    That staircase is stunning! What a perfect place to see art. I’m sold. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, cheers from Copenhagen.

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