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Improving access to the historic Chapel of St Peter and St Paul at the Old Royal Naval College


Mon 25 Jan 21

The Old Royal Naval College is committed to improving accessibility for all using and visiting its historic buildings and grounds.


Hugh Broughton Architects were commissioned by the Greenwich Foundation in August 2016 to develop proposals to improve the access for disabled people to the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul at the Old Royal Naval College.

Following discussions with Historic England and the Greenwich Foundation, the current proposal for a passenger lift is a thoughtful and sensitive solution to improving access for disabled people; combining conservation excellence with modern design.

The new disabled access lift will be located in the Queen Mary Undercroft, opening up within the lobby in the South East corner of the Chapel. The proposed drawings show the lift within the lobby in the South East corner of the Chapel. This will provide direct access from the east end of the Queen Mary Undercroft to Chapel level in a discreet location.

Visitors who cannot manage the Vestibule stairs at the main entrance of the Chapel will be directed to the existing external ramp on College Way into the Queen Mary Undercroft. The proposed lift will be located within the existing café store, with access through an automatic door within the existing door opening.

A new structural opening will be created in the centre of the existing cross vaulted floor structure. This is the thinnest part of the vault and the Structural Engineer has provided a proposal for this new opening. At Chapel level a full height enclosure is required to meet safety regulations. This enclosure will be glazed with a carefully designed bronze finish frame to maximise transparency.

A clear width access route will be maintained to provide the fire escape for up to 100 people in the Chapel gallery. The lift size is constrained by the store and the fire escape, and is unlikely to fully comply with minimum requirements for disabled access. However this reduced platform size (width 1000mm shown on drawings) could be considered acceptable and will cater for all but the largest wheelchairs.


From a Tudor Palace to the centrepiece of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, the Old Royal Naval College is home to 500 years of history.

Every year, more than 1 million visitors explore our expansive riverside grounds and spectacular buildings, learning the rich and varied stories of a incredible cast of British figures, including King Henry VIII, Lord Nelson, King William and Queen Mary, and Sir Christopher Wren. Today, the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College exists to care for and conserve the buildings you see around you and inspire and engage our visitors with heritage and culture.

Described by UNESCO as being of ‘outstanding universal value’, the Old Royal Naval College is a gem we must preserve for future generations to experience and enjoy. As a registered charity we rely on funding from charitable trusts, donors, Patrons and Members and those who generously choose to leave a legacy to support our work. Please contact our Development Team to find out how you can support us.