Flamsteed Astronomy Society

Did you know...

...portraits of the Rev. John Flamsteed and assistant Thomas Weston, are to be seen in the Painted Hall in Greenwich

Next time you pop into the Painted Hall in Greenwich, look up to your left as you enter the main hall to find John Flamsteed and his assistant Thomas Weston, captured by Sir James Thornhill  Flamsteed is at the east end of the main hall ceiling where you can also find images of Tycho Brahe and Nicolaus Copernicus.


“On the Left-hand is that noble Danish Knight Tycho Brahe, near him is Copernicus, with his System in his Hand; by him is an old Philosopher pointing to some remarkable Mathematical Figures of the incomparable Sir Isaac Newton.  On the Right in this Gallery is the celebrated English astronomer the Reverend Mr Flamsteed, who holds the Construction of the great Eclipse which happened April the 22d, 1715.  Close by him is his ingenious Disciple Mr. Thomas Weston, who was late Master of the Academy in Greenwich [where, amongst others, he taught the boys of the Naval Hospital]:  He is assisting Mr Flamsteed in making Observations with a large Quadrant...  of the Moon’s Descent upon the Severn, which at certain times, when she is in her Perigee, makes such a Roll of the Tides, called the Eagre, as is very dangerous to all in its Way.”


   An explanation of the painting in the Royal-Hospital at Greenwich by Sir James Thornhill 1727

John Flamsteed (R) and Thomas Weston

(SE corner)

General view S.E. corner.   Flamsteed & Weston with a chart of the eclipse of 1715 and the 7-ft quadrant (now lost)

Tycho Brahe

“the noble Danish Knight”

Copernicus “with his System in his Hand”

Thornhill worked on the two halls from 1707 to 1725.  He was paid up to £3 a yard for his work—talk about buying books by the foot!  In all he was paid £6685 for the two hall ceilings and walls.   It was almost as much work for him to get his money as it had been to do the painting in the first place.  He was paid £2810 in May 1724, 12 years after completing the main ceiling!


His pose in the self-portrait (R) is eloquent in its appeal for cash.