Banqueting House

The Banqueting House is of great architectural importance.  James I commissioned Inigo Jones to create a new building in which to entertain foreign ambassadors, and the house, completed in 1622, was the first structure in central London to be built in the Classical Palladian style.  Its stone façade marked a change from the external decoration of Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture.  Today the Banqueting Hall blends perfectly with the other buildings of Whitehall, erected 200 years later.

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.   


Detail Banqueting House Great Hall Rubens
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