At first the house's Great Hall was used for pageants, theatre and masked balls. In 1635 Charles I engaged the Flemish artist and diplomat Sir Peter Paul Rubens to decorate the Great Hall with nine magnificent ceiling paintings. In 1649 Charles I walked beneath these paintings before stepping out of a first floor window on to a scaffold to meet his fate.
The Banqueting House formed part of the former Whitehall Palace and was the only survivor of the Great Fire that devastated most of the buildings in 1698. Today it is used for banquets, concerts and important functions.