It was created in about 1730. The impressive wall and ceiling paintings of Ancient Rome, now listed, were thought to be by Sir Hames Thornhill, Hogarth’s father-in-law, and one of the best known mural artists of his day. He painted the Dome in St Paul’s Cathedral, and the ‘Painted Hal’ at the Royal Naval College , Greenwich. But the late Edward Croft-Murray, Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, decided that they were more probably by Thornhill’s pupil John Devoto, an artist of Italian-French origin.
The mural has undergone two major restorations. The first was in 1955 after a grant of £250 was given to the College by The Pilgrim Trust. Michael Gibbon was chosen to undertake this after his work on restoring the Thornhill staircase for the National Trust at Hanbury Hall. The second restoration was in 1981-82 when Alan Cobbe undertook the work after restoring paintings at Wimpole Hall. The mural was restored in memory of Doreen, Lady Bradbourne, who for many years gave devoted support to the RCN and who died in the Mountbatten tragedy. The staircase also acts as a memorial to Lady Barrington who was accidentally killed by a fall. A silver cross was placed into the stairway to mark the spot of her death.