Our World

The Ultimate Dinner Party


The Painted Hall, Greenwich England

An evening at The Painted Hall in Greenwich, England, is without question the most glamorous and magical dinner I’ve attended. The Old Royal Naval College was originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1696 on the request of Queen Mary II. The location on the south shore of the Thames is steeped in history. On this site, King Henry VIII was born in 1491, married two of his six wives, and where Queen Elizabeth I and her sister Mary were born. In 1707, James Thornhill, a relatively unknown artist at the time, was commissioned to decorate the walls and ceiling of The Painted Hall. Twenty years later, James finally completed the project and was paid £7,000 for his service to the Crown. He was the first English artist to be knighted in 1720 by King George I.

Photo by Liz Metcalfe

Photo by Liz Metcalfe

Photo by Liz Metcalfe

The newly refurbished Painted Hall opened in March 2019, following a two-year conservation project by the National Lottery Fund to bring the magnificently decorated walls and ceiling back to life. It had been almost 60 years since the paintings had last been cleaned. The result brought back to life the intense colour and a few unexpected discoveries. The ‘Sistine Chapel of the UK’ is overwhelmingly monumental in scale and spectacular in its beauty. You are engulfed in a sea of colour, kings, queens, mythological, and allegorical creatures. You might recognize the building from one of over a hundred movies that have used it for location shots, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, The King’s Speech, Skyfall and recently the series The Queen and Bridgerton.

The dinner, hosted by The Design Leadership Network, in the fall of 2019, was an evening that was truly unforgettable. An orchestra filled the gallery with poetic music while my table companions provided great conversation. It was lovely to meet some of my favourite designers, including Denise McGaha from Texas, Melanie Turner from Atlanta, Martyn Lawrence Bullard from California, and Cary Kravet from New York. Life is an amazing gift and when you receive the opportunity to be invited to a staggeringly beautiful venue with incredible colleagues, it really is truly the Ultimate Dinner Party.