The Banqueting House, Whitehall
I think that I am a good tourist: A. I always plan in advance what I want to see and meticulously create timetables and maps; B. most of the time I manage to squeeze something else in.
I’ll be honest, the Banqueting House wasn’t included in my plan. I read about it in a free guide the first day I stayed in London. I didn’t find out much, but I liked the provided image of some pretty hall and 5 pounds for a ticket sounded alright.
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I must warn you that 5 pounds you are paying just for a bit of history and only one spectacular hall.
First of all you should be aware that the Banqueting House and the Whitehall and Holbein gates are the only architectural structures that survived the 1698 fire – “4 January 1698, some linen left to dry by a charcoal fire caught light and within five hours almost the whole palace was destroyed”. By the way, this happened after 1662, when “new regulations were introduced in requiring that for every chimney there should be a leather bucket filled with water”.
Contemporary account of the fire records: “it is a dismal sight to behold such a glorious, famous, and much renowned palace reduced to a heap of rubbish and ashes, which the day before might justly contend with any palace in the world for riches, nobility, honour and grandeur”.
While visiting this House you will be invited to view a short video that shows the history of the building. It starts with the Tudors and covers the ideas of the great architect Inigo Jones, the installation of ceiling canvasses painted by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, the execution of Charles I and many more significant events leading up to our present day. (If you would like to find out more please click here for the official Historic Royal Palaces website.)
After watching the video you’ll have to climb some stairs and enter the hall…
If you do get a chance, visit the Banqueting House. It’s a great building with even greater history and that ceiling, painted by Peter Paul Rubens, is really hard to forget!
P.S. The Banqueting House is located on the corner of Horse Guards Avenue and Whitehall – immediately opposite Horse Guards Parade, so if you time it right you could also see the changing of the guard. We were lucky as we reached Horse Guards Parade just before 12 o’clock…
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Information for this post was found on: hrp.org.uk