The Banqueting House, Whitehall, London, is the grandest and best known survivor of its architectural genre, and the only remaining component of the Palace of Whitehall. The building is important in the history of English architecture as the first classical building to be completed in a style which was to transform English architecture.
The site dates back to the 14th Century and a church residence named York Place. It became part of the Palace of Whitehall during the reign of Henry VIII and was one of his favourite visiting places.
The current building was begun in 1619, and designed by Inigo Jones in a style influenced by Palladio; the Banqueting House was completed in 1622. The building was controversially re-faced in Portland stone in the 19th century, though the details of the original façade were faithfully preserved.
The Banqueting House was used to provide entertainment for Charles I, and was later the scene of his execution. After the fire that destroyed Whitehall Palace in 1698, it was used as a chapel until 1890. From 1896 until 1962 the Banqueting House was occupied by the Royal United Services Institute and used as a museum.
The ceiling canvasses were painted by the famous 17th-century Flemish artist, Sir Peter Paul Rubens and represent the only scheme painted by him to remain in its original position. The vaulted undercroft of the Banqueting House was designed as a drinking den for James I and his friends. This room is available for hire and makes an imaginative party space.
Contact details for the Banqueting House tel: 0844 482 7777 (09.00 to 17.00 GMT), email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday – Saturday: 10.00-17.00. Please note: the last ticket is 30 minutes before closing time. The Banqueting House often closes at short notice for functions and events, so please check the times before your visit. Closed Sundays, Bank Holidays and 24 December – 1 January (inclusive).
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