Located in front of Horse Guards Parade, Banqueting House - or banqueting house - is the only vestige of the Whitehall Palace destroyed in the fire of 1698. This neoclassical building with a simple and sober facade, hides a majestic interior with works by Rubens.
History of Banqueting House
Banqueting House is the only remaining building of Whitehall Palace, the sovereign's main residence from 1530 to 1698, the year of its fire and destruction.
Jacques I entrusted the construction of the building to Inigo, who was inspired by the architecture of ancient Rome and the Renaissance. On its completion in 1622, the building received masked balls, banquets, ceremonies and court and diplomatic receptions.
Moreover, banqueting house has been at the center of events linked to the overthrow and restoration of the English monarchy. It was in front of this building that King Charles I was beheaded in 1649. His death is commemorated each year on the last Sunday of January when a mourning procession goes from St Jame's Palace to Banqueting House.
Between 1890 and 1964, the building served as a chapel and museum for the army. Today, it occasionally hosts concerts and receptions.
The impressive ceiling of Banqueting House designed by Rubens
During your visit, you will undoubtedly be amazed by the magnificent coffered ceiling of the large village hall which measures (34 m long by 17 wide and 17 high)!
In 1629, King Charles I ordered from the Dutch painter Rubens 9 canvases to the glory of Jacques I, father of the king. The paintings glorify the exploits of James I by representing him as a divine figure.
Rubens completed his work in 1634 in Antwerp and shipped them to London in 1636. The artist suffering from gout could not move and admire his installed works.
Two years later, Rubens received the sum of £ 3000 (the equivalent of £ 218 today) and a gold chain as payment for his work.
How long does it take to visit Banqueting House?
Allow one hour maximum. Ask the reception for the audio guide for all the explanations in French. During your visit to the large village hall, take a seat in one of the Fatboy-style armchairs and contemplate the ceiling 😉
Where can you buy your ticket to visit Banqueting House?
You can book your visit on the Great Britain Tourist Board website or on the Ceetiz website.
Included with tourist cards London Pass et London City Pass.
Banqueting House is free for teens less than 16 years old.
What are the opening hours of Banqueting House?
Open every day from 10 a.m. to 00 p.m. (last admission at 17 p.m.).
Closed from December 24 to 26 and January 1.
Where is Banqueting House located?
Address : Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2ER