Banqueting House

Attractions, Historic buildings and sites Whitehall
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Banqueting House exterior (© Historic Royal Palaces)
© Historic Royal Palaces
Banqueting House exterior (© Historic Royal Palaces)
© Historic Royal Palaces

A close up of the Whitehall side facade.

Banqueting House entrance (© Historic Royal Palaces)
© Historic Royal Palaces
Bust of Charles I (© Historic Royal Palaces)
© Historic Royal Palaces

The inscription reads: 'His majesty King Charles I passed through this hall and out of a window nearly over this tablet to the scaffold in Whitehall where he was beheaded on 30th January 1649'

Banqueting House interior (© Historic Royal Palaces)
© Historic Royal Palaces

The banqueting hall in Banqueting House

Rubens ceiling (© Historic Royal Palaces)
© Historic Royal Palaces
Rubens ceiling (© Historic Royal Palaces)
© Historic Royal Palaces

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.


Venue name: Banqueting House
Address: Palace of Whitehall
Opening hours: Daily 10am-5pm, last admission 4.15pm (on occasion closes at 1pm for private functions; check opening times before your visit: 0844 482 7777)
Transport: Tube: Westminster/Charing Cross
Price: £5, £4 concs; under-16s free
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1 person listening

The visit consists of only a few rooms so don’t expect to spend much time there. But if you have a little time to spare and understand you shouldn’t expect too much, it’s definitely worth a look.

Historically, this building is so important, it’s simply fascinating just to stand there, imagining all that’s has happened inside of these walls. (Take the audio guide, it’s worth it!)

As for the view, it’s magical. The décor is stunning and the painted ceiling is breath-taking – it’s Rubens after all.

Lizzie W

I visited last week after hours as part of a pilot group for their new interactive experience which they should be launching next summer so I don't think all the info/ headsets were available like during the day however it was good to see the banqueting hall which has the most spectacular ceilings. Unfortunately didn't get to learn anything about white hall palace so need to spend some time now googling and I wasn't so excited by the experiences I piloted but some people were very impressed!

It is only two rooms so a small place. I wouldn't pay to visit again and I do agree they need to do something to make it more interactive so hopefully come next summer they will have launched something exciting for visitors! Watch this space...