Seen by millions from the outside, but hardly ever from the inside, tickets to climb up inside one of the tall domes at the Old Royal Naval College are now on sale.
Only six people at a time – plus guides – will be able to see and hear about the creation of this remarkable building and its historic turret clock. The tours will include ascending the narrow winding stone staircase to see the skeleton of Wren’s work and then look out across the roof tops at a 360° view of Greenwich and across to central London.
The tours start in the chapel and do take time to notice the axonometric drawing of the dome by the entrance showing what you’re above to see. After a bit of a briefing, a normally locked door is unlocked, and the long climb begins.
Initially, it’s not too bad, up a nice stone staircase and with views across the courtyard and into a large, almost empty circular room, with some old bits of organ pipe piled up for some reason.
It’s now that things will get intimate, as the rest of the way up is using a very narrow spiral staircase up to the clock room, with its old graffiti and even older clock mechanism.
Up more spirals, a floor filled with furniture which seems far too large to have fitted up the stairs, and then finally up the top to stand inside the dome itself with massive wood beams supporting the roof. What’s really impressive, apart from the room, are the views out of the windows – across the Greenwich buildings and across to the Isle of Dogs.
Oh, and now you need to get back down again.
As a visit, it’s not that dissimilar to climbing up a church tower, with its narrow stairs and excellent views across the local area, and there’s undeniably a strong sense of achievement for having managed the narrow stairs and heights.
The Dome Tour costs £48, last approximately 45 minutes, and the ticket also includes entry to the Painted Hall (normally £15).
This tour is not suitable for children under 17.
Tickets for tours in November weekends, and some date in December are on sale now from here.