World-famous artworks, captivating architecture and fascinating royal history
The Queen's House is Greenwich's hidden gem.
Designed in the 17th century as a royal 'House of Delights', today it is an elegant art gallery and architectural masterpiece.
But the Queen's House creative spirit still burns bright. With a surprising programme of exhibitions, concerts, talks and performances, there is always something new to find within its refined white walls.
See a taste of what you could discover, and book your free tickets to the Queen's House today.
In 2023, the Queen's House is hosting a major exhibition dedicated to the work of Willem Van de Velde the Elder and Younger.
This Dutch father and son duo arrived in England in 1673, having been invited to live and work in the country by Charles II. Willem van de Velde the Elder was renowned for his highly accurate drawings of ships and maritime life. His son, Willem van de Velde the Younger, was a celebrated painter.
Together they established a studio at the Queen's House. They would go on to create magnificent paintings and tapestries, ambitious royal commissions and thousands of detailed sketches, drawings and designs, influencing generations of British artists – including none other than J.M.W. Turner.
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There's a reason this part of London is known as Royal Greenwich.
Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Mary were all born in Greenwich; Henry VIII even had two of his weddings here.
Stuart Queens Anne of Denmark and Henrietta Maria meanwhile were key to the building of the Queen’s House, and helped to develop its reputation as a royal 'House of Delights'.
The Queen's House days as an official residence may be over, but it still has a gift for regal charm. Did you know for instance that it was one of the key filming locations for Netflix's The Crown?
The iconic Tulip Stairs are not only insta-ready: they’re the first of their kind.
When the staircase was installed in the Queen's House, it was the first unsupported spiral staircase in Britain. Even today the stairs seem to defy gravity, with its captivating spiral linking the upper floors with the dramatic Great Hall.
And if you were wondering why the stairs are known as the 'Tulip Stairs', take a look at the delicate flower pattern in the bannisters when you visit...
Feeling Blue is a new contemporary art commission for the Queen's House, now hanging in the Queen's Presence Chamber opposite the Armada Portrait. It was created by multidisciplinary artist Alberta Whittle and Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh.
Weaving together themes including migration, melancholy and mythology, Feeling Blue responds directly to Royal Museums Greenwich’s sites and collections. The tapestry features more than 150 different colour combinations, incorporating materials such as rope and pearls as well as cottons and linens.
“I wanted to think about how collections speak to us as audience members, and how artworks talk to each other,” Whittle says.
From Old Masters to cutting edge artists and designers, the Queen’s House is a treasure trove for art lovers. Works from artists such as Canaletto, Lowry and Kehinde Wiley sit alongside each other in a careful dialogue between old and new.
The iconic Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I commemorates the most famous conflict of the Tudor monarch's reign – the failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in the summer of 1588.
Although the Queen’s House was not built until after she died, Elizabeth I was born in Greenwich and spent a lot of time here during her reign.
The Armada Portrait is one of the most recognisable images of the Queen, or of any English monarch. The work is on permanent display in the Queen's Presence Chamber, and is one of the jewels in the crown of the Queen's House art collection.
Anne of Denmark, the wife of King James I, commissioned the Queen’s House in 1616. Her vision was for it to be a garden retreat set between the River Thames and Greenwich Park.
Inigo Jones, England's first great architect, was tasked with the project. His final creation was a piece of ground-breaking architectural design, the first fully classical building in the country. Set alongside the red brick Tudor palace nearby it was revolutionary, so much so that it was known simply as 'The White House'.
Inigo Jones's design was a game-changer, setting the blueprint for maritime Greenwich and establishing the Queen's House as one of the most important buildings in Britain's architectural history.
A perfect cube, the Great Hall is situated at the heart of the Queen’s House. Originally the ceiling above the Great Hall was decorated with paintings by Orazio Gentileschi. However, they were gifted by Queen Anne to her favourite Sarah Churchill, and now reside at Marlborough House.
Now the space holds another delight: a delicate gold leaf ceiling fresco designed by Turner Prize-winning artist Richard Wright. A fitting 21st century addition to a historic building.
Listen to expert commentary on the history of the Queen’s House as you walk around – and find out more about the artworks on display using your phone.
We've partnered with Smartify, the world's most downloaded museum app, to make it easier than ever to explore the Queen's House.
The highlights audio tour is free to access and you can do it all using your own phone. To get started, click here to listen to the tour, or download Smartify for free from the Apple or Android app store.
As well as the main tour, you can also now discover the fabulous 'Fierce Royals' audio tour, led by queer historian and performer Christian Adore. The guide shines a light on often hidden LGBTQ+ histories and influences, and opens up the unique stories of the Queen's House past and present.
When the Old Royal Naval College was being built, Queen Mary stipulated that the new buildings should not block the view of the Thames from the Queen’s House - a request that Sir Christopher Wren fulfilled.
Despite not spending time at the Queen’s House herself, Mary’s decision has defined this stretch of Greenwich, creating one of the most beautiful views of London. While this side of the river has altered little since the 18th century, the view across the Thames has changed radically, not least with the building and development of Canary Wharf.
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