This handsome Italianate mansion, which was designed by Inigo Jones and constructed in 1620, was the first true Renaissance building in London. The sole surviving part of the Tudor and Stuart kings' Whitehall Palace, the Banqueting House features a lavish painted ceiling by Rubens, glorifying James I, 'the wisest fool in Christendom'. Regrettably, James's successor, Charles I, did not rule so wisely. After losing the English Civil War to Cromwell's Roundheads, he was executed in front of Banqueting House in 1649; the event is marked each January.
'Charles I's Execution' is a permanent display telling the story of the demise of Charles I who, on January 30 1649, spent his final few hours inside Whitehall Palace before walking across the Banqueting Hall and out of a window on to the scaffold. The display outlines the story of the events leading up to his execution through a series of banners which visitors read as they climb the stairs to the main Banqueting Hall. There's also a short film that illustrates Charles's final few hours, when he burned his private papers, bid farewell to his youngest children and said his prayers, displayed beneath the full length portrait of Charles by Daniel Mytens.