« AnteriorContinuar »
in the corners are displayed the armorial bearings of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, with figures of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, and their emblems and productions.
On the left of the entrance is a fine representation of the Landing of the Prince of Orange in 1688; over the fire-place is the Arrival of George I. at Greenwich in 1714; at the further end of the room are many emblematical figures, &c. with portraits of George I. and II., several members of their family, Sir James Thornhill the painter, and many others; and returning again towards the entrance we find allegorical representations of Public Welfare and Security:
In addition to the splendid decorations of this Hall, it
possesses one precious relic, which will ever render it dear to the British heart-the Car in which the remains of the brave and lamented Nelson were borne to their honourable sepulchre. The mutilated body of the hero lay in state in this Hall on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of January, 1806, and on the 8th was conveyed in a solemn procession by water to the Admiralty ; from whence, on the 9th, it was carried for interment to St. Paul's Cathedral, attended by several members of the Royal Family, the principal officers of state, both Houses of Parliament, many of the most distinguished naval officers, &c.; forming altogether the most splendid funeral procession ever witnessed in this country. The Car was afterwards presented by the Earl of Dartmouth, Lord Chamberlain, to this Hospital, “there to remain,” to use his Lordship's words,
as a permanent memorial of the gratitude a generous nation is ever willing to shew to those heroes who have fallen gloriously in its naval service."
Queen Mary's building, opposite to this, is of similar external architecture, and, like King William's, is surmounted by a beautiful dome; each of these piles has also a fine colonnade, composed of 300 Doric columns and pilasters, 20 feet high, with an entablature and balustrade, which affords a sheltered walk, of considerable extent.
In this building is the Chapel, which having been destroyed by fire, on the 2d of January, 1779, was restored by Mr. Stuart, in a style of the utmost
splendour and beauty, and re-opened for divine service on the 20th of August, 1789. It is 111 feet long, 52 wide, and can conveniently accommodate 1000 pensioners, nurses, and boys, exclusive of the Governors, and other officers, and their families. In its construction and decoration the united arts of architecture, painting, and sculpture have been employed, we had almost said exhausted; and the result has been, the production of an edifice which, while it delights the unlearned spectator by its magnificence, affords the highest satisfaction to the man of science by its strict adherence to the purest models of antiquity. One of the most eminent connoisseurs of the present day (the Rev. Mr. Dallaway) observes, “For truly classical design, in which no ornament is applied but from antique example, the Chapel of Greenwich Hospital, as restored by the Athenian Stuart, has no rival in England, I had almost said in Italy."
The entrance to the Chapel is by an octangular Vestibule, in which are four niches, with statues of Faith, Hope, Charity, and Meekness, from designs by West. From this Vestibule a flight of fourteen steps leads to the Chapel, over the door of which is the following inscription in letters of gold :
“ Let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed,
And delivered from the hand of the enemy.”—Psalm cvii. The portal is 12 feet high, each side is formed of a single block of statuary marble, and the upper part is ornamented with a variety of foliage, &c. and the figures of two Angels supporting the Holy Scriptures, in the leaves of which are written :
“ The law was given by Moses :
But grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The great folding doors are of mahogany of the most finished workmanship, and the whole appearance of the portal is magnificent and beautiful.
Within this doorway is a portico of six Ionic fluted marble columns, supporting the Organ gal. lery; on a tablet in front of which is a bas-relief, representing angels playing on the harp, with many ornamental devices; and this inscription in lette of gold:
" Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet !
The Organ is a very fine one, by Green; and on each side of it are two grand Corinthian columns, 28 feet high, the shafts in imitation of Sienna, and the capitals and bases of statuary, marble; these, with four similar ones at the east end, support the arched roof of the building.
On each side of the Chapel, between the two ranges of windows, are galleries with pews for the reception of the officers and their families; those of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are handsomely ornamented with naval crowns, and other insignia; and the whole is decorated with a profusion of painting and carving. Immediately above the lower windows is a series of paintings, represent. ing the principal events in the life of our Saviour.
The central part of the ceiling is supported by a range of pilasters, of similar shape and appearance to the eight grand columns already mentioned; every part of it is enriched with angels, festoons of oak leaves, shells, dolphins, and other appropriate ornaments; and between the pilasters are paintings of the Apostles and Evangelists. Above the doors leading to the galleries are circular recesses, with representations of Moses, David, Isaiah, and Je. remiah.
The Communion Table is formed of a marble slab, nearly eight feet long, supported by six cherubim, standing on a white marble platform. The ascent to the altar is by three steps of black marble, and it is enclosed by an elegant railing, composed of ears of corn and vine foliage in alternate festoons.
Over the Table is placed, in a handsome frame, a noble painting, by West, of the Shipwreck and Preservation of St. Paul at Melita.
Melita. This picture is 25 feet high, 14 feet wide, and consists of three principal groups; the first of which represents the mariners and prisoners coming on shore, and bearing various articles which they have preserved from the wreck; in the centre is St. Paul, shaking into the fire the viper which had fastened on his hand, and surrounded by the brethren who accompanied him on his voyage, the centurion, a band of Roman soldiers, and the islanders, astonished at his remaining unhurt by the venomous reptile ; above this group, on the summit of the rocks, are seen the
hospitable natives, employed in bringing fuel and other necessaries for the relief of the sufferers. In the back-ground the sea and the wrecked ship are seen; and the whole is peculiarly calculated to produce a good effect on the minds of men who have been preserved from similar dangers, and placed in a situation of comfort and security.
On each side of the arch above this painting is an angel, one bearing the cross, the other the emblems of the Holy Sacrament; and between the top of the arch and the ceiling is a fine picture of the Ascension, designed by West, forming one of the series of seventeen, illustrative of the life of our Lord, which surround the Chapel.
The Pulpit is circular, supported by six fluted columns, and richly ornamented. Between the pillars are carvings, representing the following subjects, designed by West: The Conversion of St. Paul; the Vision of Cornelius; Peter released from Prison by an Angel; Elymas struck blind; Paul preaching at Athens; and before Felix.
The Reading Desk is square, with four columns, and on the sides are figures of Daniel, Micah, Malachi, and Zechariah, also from West's designs.
The pavement of the Chapel is of black and white marble, arranged in various forms; and the appearance of the whole is singularly beautiful and appropriate.
Both the Hall and the Chapel may be seen by strangers for a trifling gratuity; and if ever the practice of receiving money for the exhibition of a public building be allowable, it is so here; for of all that is thus given, only threepence in the pound is allowed to the attendant, the remainder being appropriated to the funds of the Naval Asylum.
Near the Hospital is the Infirmary, a commodious brick building; and contiguous to this is an edifice of one story only in height, but of extensive dimensions, for the reception of those patients whose wounds or infirmities render them helpless.
Many abuses having been discovered in the management of the fund called the Chest at Chatham, all business relating to it was removed to Greenwich, and placed under the controul of the officers of this establishment; and a handsome building
was erected, about 20 years ago, near the east entrance of the Hospital, for the transaction of its affairs.
Beside the sovereigns already mentioned as residing at Greenwich, it may be added, that here the amiable young monarch Edward VI. closed his short but well-spent life, and his death was concealed during four days by the Duke of Northumberland and his party, in order to give them time for arranging their plans of placing the unhappy Lady Jane Grey on the throne; an iniquitous scheme, the accomplishment of which involved its guilty projectors and innocent instruments in one common destruction. During the reign of Mary, in 1557, this town sent two Burgesses to Parliament, an honour which it has not since enjoyed; and in the early years of Elizabeth, the assizes for the county were several times held here. While this princess resided in the palace in 1598, Hentzner, an intelligent German, visited her court, and has left so curious and minute an account of her person and appearance, and the stately magnificence which she always affected, that it is hoped its singularity and scarcity will sufficiently apologize for its insertion as a note*. In
* “ We were admitted, by an order Mr. Rogers had procured from the Lord Chamberlain, into the presence chamber, hung with rich tapestry, and the floor, after the English fashion, strowed with hay, through which the Queen passes in her way to chapel : at the door stood a gentleman dressed in velvet, with a gold chain, whose office was to introduce to the Queen any person of distinction, that came to wait on her: it was Sunday, when there is usually the greatest attendance of nobility.
“ In the same hall were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, a great number of councillors of state, officers of the crown, and gentlemen, who waited the Queen's coming out; which she did from her own apartment, when it was time to go to prayers, attended in the following manner: first went Gentlemen, Barons, Earls, Knights of the garter, all richly dressed, and bare-headed; next came the Chancellor, bearing the seals in a red silk purse, between two; one of which carried the royal sceptre, the other the sword of state, in a red scabbard studded with golden fleurs de lis, the point upwards: next came the Queen, in the sixty-fifth year of her age, as we are told, very majestic; her face oblong, fair, but wrinkled; her eyes small, yet black and pleasant; her nose a little hooked; her lips narrow, and her teeth black (a defect the English seem subject to, from their too great use of sugar); she had in her ears two pearls, with very rich drops ; she wore false hair, and that red; upon her head she had a small crown, reported to be made of some of the gold of the celebrated Luneburg table: her bosom was uncovered, as all the English have it till they marry; and she had on a necklace of exceeding fine jewels; her hands were small, her fingers long, and her stature neither tall nor low; her air was stately, her manner of speaking mild and obliging. That day she was dressed in white silk, bordered with pearls of the size of