Friday, July 24, 2009

Pamela's graduation

Three years ago, my friend Pamela left her job to study for a BA in Marketing full time. She took her studies as seriously as she took her career - so much so that one of her professors during her first year at university advised her to do less work! It all paid off though, as last Wednesday she graduated with a 1st class degree and got to wear her graduation gown and square cap.

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!


Gattina said...

What a great moment ! and on top I get homesick, when I see Greenwich pictures and this traditional robes etc. My son lived for 10 years in London near Croydon and I was often there you can imagine. I know Greenwich very well.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

i remember my own granduation ceremony(s) looking similar to this one
i love greenwich - been there with my family, and we had a brilliant time exploring the whole area. the museums are the best in london (in my opinion)

Pamsie said...

Very nice post! Thank you.
It was a wonderful day which I shall remember for a long time.
I actually forgot about that comment from my 1st year. How embarrassing. But it was all worth it in the end. :-)

Tinsie said...

@ Gattina: Greenwich is a lovely place, not one that's easy to forget, and 10 years is a long time. I'm glad I've brought back some good memories :-)

@ Mediterranean Kiwi: Mine too, although without the grand setting.

I like Greenwich too, not sure about the museums though - I've not been to any of them although (or maybe because) I lived there for a couple of years...

@ Pamsie: You are very welcome and yes, it was worth it. Swat ;-)

Puss-in-Boots said...

What a fabulous old building and the paintings...just beautiful. I love old buildings, history, etc and Europe has so much of both. That's why I want to come over and see it all.

Anyway, congratulations to your friend, Pamela. What a wonderful day for her after all the study.

Tinsie said...

Thank you! It really was a wonderful day :-)

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Fantastic moment !! Great..Unseen Rajasthan

GMG said...

Great that you were there, so that we may see inside... ;)
Congrats to Pamela!!

Shionge said...

Hey, congratulation to Pamela and what a grand event there :) Thanks for such a wonderful post Tinsie

Tinsie said...

Thank you all for your wishes and glad you liked the photos :-)

Karen said...

Thank you for sharing that with us! best wishes to Pamela in her future endeavors!

Tinsie said...

Thank you - and I've thought of an answer to your earlier question: the architecture is pretty stunning ;-)