Museum: The Banqueting House
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Museum: The Banqueting House

Banqueting House is a museum in London. The Banqueting house is designed by Inigo Jones.

The Banqueting House, Whitehall, London is the last remaining component of the former Palace of Whitehall and is an important historical building in the English architecture.

The Banqueting House was built between 1619 and 1622 and was a design of Inigo Jones. The Palace of Whitehall was mainly the creation of King Henry VIII and was an expansion of the original York Palace. The first banqueting house was destroyed by a fire in January 1619 and was replaced immediately. The architecture plan of Inigo Jones dated 1639 for a new palace at Whitehall was one of the greatest architectural conceptions of the renaissance in England. The Banqueting House is incorporated in it and situated at the left of the courtyard. The Banqueting House is currently a Grade I listed building and open for the public. The care is in the hands of an independent charity called Historic Royal Palaces.

The History of the Banqueting House

In January 1698 a large fire destroyed most of the Whitehall Palace within seventeen hours and the only part that was rescued was the Banqueting House and Holbein Gates. The palace was never rebuilt. The banqueting house was used for banqueting, royal receptions and ceremonies. England was seen as a leading musical country and the performances given in the banqueting house were always among the finest in Europe.

The Interior of the Banqueting House

Inside the building is a single two-story double-cube room. The double cube room is another Palladianism, where all proportions are mathematical related. The length of the room is twice the length of the width and height. The second-floor level is surrounded by a gallery. The purpose of this gallery was to admit an audience. The general public would be permitted to watch the King dine from this gallery. The external staircase indicated the lower status of the gallery. At those days there was no internal staircase. The internal staircase was accommodated later when the building was extended.

In 1635 the ceiling of the banqueting house was painted by Peter Paul Rubens. The subject for this painted ceiling was the glorification of King Charles I’s father and called “The Apotheosis of James I”. Rubens received a knighthood for his work and he returned to Antwerp after he finished the ceiling.

The Legacy of the Banqueting House

The architecture of Inigo Jones took the Italian renaissance style to England which lasted through the Elizabethan and Jacobean period. Therefor the Banqueting House was the start of an entire new architectural era in England. James II was the last monarch to live at Whitehall. Due to the fact that William III and Mary II preferred to live elsewhere, the banqueting house lost its purpose. It was converted to a chapel as a replacement of Chapel Royal of Whitehall, which was destroyed in the fire. Eventually it was given to the Royal United Services Institutes by Queen Victoria in 1893. In the period between 1893 and 1962 the banqueting house was used as a museum to display personal items of famous commanders. This museum closed in 1962.

The Banqueting House Address and Opening Hours

The Banqueting House is on the corner of Horse Guards Avenue and Whitehall – immediately opposite Horse Guards Parade.

London Underground

Nearest stations:

Westminster - turn right out of the station, first right into Whitehall and walk along until you come to the Banqueting House which is approximately half way up on the right hand side.

Embankment – go out of the Embankment Entrance, turn right, cross Northumberland Avenue, turn right into Horse Guards Avenue, walk past the Ministry of Defense and the Banqueting House is approx. 100 yards down on the corner of Horse Guards Avenue and Whitehall.

Charing Cross – proceed as for the train (see below).

By train– turn left out of the station's main entrance, towards Trafalgar Square. From there walk down Whitehall for about 5 minutes and the Banqueting House is on the left.

Charing Cross

By bus– 3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 77A, 88 and 159.

Bus Routes

Opening times

Monday – Saturday: 10.00-17.00.

Please note: the last ticket is 30 minutes before closing time.

For more information on the banqueting house and other palaces in the care of the Historic Royal Palaces you can visit their website at;

Additional resources:

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