My friend Lucy and I were privileged to be invited to attend Pamela's graduation ceremony, which took place at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel, in Greenwich. Greenwich is the home of the Prime Meridian and Greenwich mean time (this is why London is always at GMT 0) and also has a rich maritime history. The University of Greenwich is based in the stunning Old Royal Naval College grounds. The three buildings that stand on the grounds were originally constructed to serve as the Greenwich Hospital, a refuge for retired seamen designed by Christopher Wren (who also designed St Paul's Cathedral), and built between 1696 and 1712. The hospital closed in 1869 and the buildings later housed the Royal Navy's university and more recently, the University of Greenwich.
Wednesday was a beautiful sunny day - OK it looks cloudy on the photo, but that's because of the wind. It was actually quite pleasant, and we got to enjoy the grounds before heading indoors for the ceremony.
The Chapel where the graduation ceremony took place was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Thomas Ripley, and completed in 1752, 29 years after Wren's death. It was the place of worship for the seamen of the Greenwich Hospital. I know all this because they gave us a glossy brochure with information about the grounds and the university. Before the ceremony, we were seated so that we were facing the Chapel's altar and this magnificent painting by Benjamin West, known as The Preservation of St Paul after the Shipwreck at Malta.
Above the entrance door is the Chapel's 18th-century organ, built by Samuel Green, the most celebrated organ builder of his day, in a case of Spanish mahogany. The chapel includes many clever deceptions. For example, the matching Corinthian columns at each end of the Chapel look like marble, but are actually "scagliola", a mixture of plaster and glue encasing the original stone columns.
The pastel-painted arched ceiling replaced the original flat-panelled ceiling after a fire gutted the Chapel in 1779. I loved the elaborate design and took lots of photos of the ceiling and the decoration over the windows.
The ceremony started with a welcome address by the University's Vice-Chancellor, Baroness Tessa Blackstone.
Then the Chancellor Lord Hart of Chilton and Baroness Tessa Blackstone presented the awards to the students. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of Pamela being congratulated by the Vice-Chancellor, as I was taking video at the time (and I don't know how to capture stills from my videos)!
An Honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration was presented to Mr William Allan (seen here with the university's Chancellor). Look at those colourful gowns and hats!
After the ceremony, there was a drinks reception at the Painted Hall, decorated in Baroque style by Sir James Thornhill in honour of King William and Queen Mary, between 1707 and 1726. The hall was originally built as the hospital's dining hall, but was never used by the retired seamen - they wouldn't eat there while the painter was working and once he'd finished it was considered too grand and too much of a tourist attraction to serve as a mere dining hall (I mean, look at that ceiling). It was much appreciated by all of us though, as it complimented beautifully the grandeur of the Chapel.
Congratulations, Pamela! Very well done indeed!