Widely known as the first Classical building in the UK, Queen’s House was inspired by architect Inigo Jones’ travels in Italy. It was commissioned by Anne of Denmark in 1616, after her husband James I gave her the manor of Greenwich as an apology. Apparently, he had sworn in front of her after she accidentally killed his favourite hunting dog. Unfortunately, she died 3 years later before the ground floor had been finished.
The house was completed in 1636, and today it houses an impressive art collection, comprising of over 450 works by such legendary artists as Gainsborough, Reynolds, Turner, Hogarth and Lowry. There is also a large collection of works by the Van de Veldes, father and son maritime painters who used part of the house as in studio in the 1600s.
Queen’s House boasts many of its original features. The house’s iconic Tulip Stairs was the first self-supporting spiral staircase in Britain. The Great Hall, which is a perfect cube shape, has a distinctive black and white marble floor in a geometric pattern.
One of the most iconic works in the art collection is the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I painted to commemorate the failed invasion of Britain by Spain in 1588. The painting was designed to be a spectacle of female majesty, invoking feelings of awe and wonder. Having undergone a six-month restoration treatment, the painting now hangs in Queen’s House for visitors to admire.
To get the most out of your visit, book a guided tour of the house.
And if you’re really lucky, you might get to meet the elusive Queen’s House ghost.
Queen’s House, Romney Road,
Open daily 10 am to 5 pm