Step back to the classical elegance of days gone by at the Queen’s House in Greenwich, an architectural gem designed in 1616 by Inigo Jones.
- The famous Tulip Staircase with its floral ironwork railing is not to be missed. The cantilevered, spiral structure is astonishing: without any supporting columns, it gives the illusion that the staircase is floating in space.
- Explore the Great Hall, whose walls, floor and ceiling with identical dimensions create a perfect cube, the first room in the UK to be constructed in this style.
- Admire the Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth l, a fascinating and very symbolic work of art from an important moment of history. The portrait is permanently displayed in the Queen’s Presence Chamber.
What to See and Do
Enjoy the beauty and peace of the setting
Enter a world far away from the hustle and bustle as you step through the entrance to the Queen’s House, just off Romney Street. The tranquil charm of Greenwich Park is the perfect backdrop to the stunning architecture of the house. Take in the panoramic view of the Thames and Greenwich’s other historic buildings from the front of the Queen’s House.
Admire the lavish interior of the Queen’s House.
As well as the iconic Tulip Staircase, there’s much more to explore. While the rooms are now mostly unfurnished and used as a gallery that houses the art collection of the Maritime Museum, the opulent marble floors and colourful, ornately painted ceilings are very impressive works of art in their own right.
Immerse yourself in the art collection
Explore a fabulous art collection spanning 400 years, which is displayed in 22 rooms. The Queen’s House forms part of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and a naval theme is apparent throughout the collection. Highlights include works by Holbein, Stubbs, Canaletto, Gainsborough, Hogarth and Lowry.
Look out for spooky sightings!
The Queen’s House is reputed to be haunted! In 1966, Canadian visitors spotted something unexpected when they developed their photos of the Tulip Staircase. A ghostly figure appeared to be ascending the stairs, with one or perhaps two other phantoms in pursuit. More recently, a staff member saw a spectral figure in a long grey dress gliding across a gallery before seeming to disappear through a wall!
Did You Know: (5 Interesting Facts)
- The architect Inigo Jones was inspired to design the Queen’s House after travelling in Italy, where he had admired buildings in the revolutionary Classical style constructed by the Italian architect Palladio. It is renowned for being the first Palladian-style building in the UK.
- James l commissioned the Queen’s House as an apology to his wife, Queen Anne of Denmark, after he swore at her when she accidentally killed his favourite hound. However, she sadly died before it was completed. The Queen’s House was finally completed as a summer villa where Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of King Charles l, would come to escape from the noise and hurly-burly of the capital.
- The flowers that decorate the railings of the famous Tulip Staircase are thought to be Fleur-de-Lis, the symbol of the French monarchy. This was a tribute to Queen Henrietta Maria, who was French by birth.
- At Queen Mary’s request, Sir Christopher Wren designed the layout of the Royal Naval College so that the magnificent views from the Queen’s House should not be impaired.
- Many of the stunning original features of Inigo Jones’s design can still be seen, including the spiral staircase and the Great Hall.
- 1616 Construction began when James l commissioned the Queen’s House, although the project was abandoned when his wife, Queen Anne of Denmark, died.
- 1629 The building was recommissioned by Charles l and was completed by 1635.
- 1806 The Queen’s House was home to what eventually became the Royal Hospital School for the sons of the seamen of the Royal Navy. The school moved to Norfolk in the 1930s.
- 1937 The Queen’s House became part of the new National Maritime Museum.
- 2012 The grounds of the Queen’s House hosted equestrian events during the 2012 Olympics while the house itself was used as a VIP reception centre.
- 2015 The Queen’s House underwent a significant, historically appropriate restoration. A magnificent ceiling fresco, gleaming with gold leaf, was designed for the main hall by Turner Prize-winner Richard Wright.
Facilities and Accessibility
The easiest ways to travel to the Queen’s House are via the Docklands Light Railway (Cutty Sark Station) or by Thames Clipper.
Entry to the Queen’s House is free and children are welcome.
Six disability parking spaces are available for Blue Badge holders. Level access to the reception area. Motorised scooters and wheelchairs are permitted but there is no charging point.
Accessible lift and toilets.
No hearing assistance system.
While there is no cafe at the Queen’s House itself, visitors will discover a range of cafes, bars and restaurants in the nearby National Maritime Museum buildings.