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Richenda Fenwick

When did you first hear about the Old Royal Naval College and what drew you to work here? 

Duration: 0.44


Well, I first heard of the Old Royal Naval College after arriving in London forty years ago. The Borough of Greenwich became my home, and I took great pride in introducing friends and family to the magnificent Painted Hall and Chapel on several occasions.  

 Then, as I approached retirement, I fancied the idea of becoming a local guide. Then I heard that the Old Royal Naval College was recruiting more guides to assist in the ‘ceiling tours’ during its conservation project. The project allowed tour guides and visitors to climb up the scaffolding whilst wearing hard hats, getting up close to the paintings and seeing the conservators at work. So, it was a perfect opportunity.  

I started here six years ago, first doing the ‘ceiling tours’ and now doing tours on the ground, both the Painted Hall and site tours, and I love it. 

What is your favourite part of delivering tours to visitors? 

Duration: 0.39


I enjoy seeing our visitors reaction when they gaze up in amazement, seeing the ceiling for the first time. There’s a special sense of awe about that. Visitors always seem to engage well with the tours, and I love the fact that no tours are ever the same because of the visitors. It’s fun transporting people back in time to the 1700s and getting them to imagine, for instance, the artists at work, or the pensioners in their uniform, or the solemn atmosphere during Nelson’s lying-in-state in 1806, for instance. I enjoy telling the stories of the paintings and relating the facts with additional anecdotes to amuse them, like the tales of John Worley.

There is so much historical significance in this site. From Tudor residence to the famous Greenwich Hospital for Seamen. But what does the Old Royal Naval College signify to you in 2024?

Duration: 00.47


For me it signifies a place very much to be proud of. It’s a place that brings people from all walks of life together and different generations. There’s so much to see and so much to learn here from its political and social history to its magnificent architecture and the wonderful baroque art.

Today we also have students from Trinity Laban who give regular concerts in the Chapel and students from the University of Greenwich, as well as groups of visiting school children taking part in our educational programmes. So, there are a lot of people moving around the site and there’s often a buzz about the place and never more so than when filming is taking place or when a special event is happening.

It’s a privilege to work here and to be part of the team that makes everything run so smoothly.

Can you recall your fondest memory at the Old Royal Naval College?

Duration: 00.17


I think I’d choose when I took a group of visitors from the United States into the pensioner’s Skittle Alley. For them it was like an adventure into unknown parts and when they saw the old Skittle Alley all set up and ready to use, as it always is, they were raring to have a go. Their excitement was just electric!

What is one thing most people don’t know about this place that you wish they knew?

Duration: 00.24


I think I’d choose that the grounds are for everyone to benefit from. For instance, you can have a summer picnic on the grass, or come and enjoy one of the Chapel’s free lunchtime recitals, run by Trinity Laban. But if I’m allowed one more “wish they knew”, it would be to tell visitors to venture into the King William Courtyard and to spot the concealed Nelson Pediment made from Coade Stone. It’s really worth seeing.