Banqueting House (London - England)

As I said long back, the various heritage buildings in England come either under English Heritage or Historic Royal Palaces or National Trust! Historic Royal Palaces are the ones that are under the Royal family including Tower of London, Kensington Palace & Kew Palace
One more in this list is the Banqueting Hall. It’s the only surviving structure of the Palace of WhiteHall, which was once with largest Palace in whole of Europe with 1500 rooms! Originally on this site was the York Palace in the 14th C. By 16th C, during the reign of Henry VIII, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey became the archbishop of York and this palace became a favourite spot for Henry VIII! Henry VIII expanded the building so much to include his own tennis court etc. This was the very palace in which King Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn & Jane Seymour and he breathed his last there as well!
By 1581, Queen Elizabeth I, built a temporary entertainment building at this site which stood for 25 years. By 1606, King James I of England built the present structure, which unfortunately burnt down in 1619. It was immediately rebuilt only to be burnt again. It was the main residence of the royalities from 1530-1698 when, as time & again in European history, fire broke out destroying almost everything!
The most important feature of the Banqueting Hall is the ceiling, painted by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, commissioned by Charles I. The entire ceiling is a combo of 9 panels with the centre panel along measuring 58 sq m. Each cherub is about 3m tall! He had once visited this place in the envoy of a Spanish King. Later the measurements were sent to him and he painted them in his studio in Antwerp, Belgium. 

The central panel depicts the Apotheosis of James I, guided & surrounded by angels and cherubs. The idea of this concept is that the kings are answerable only to Gods! So they rise up to the heaven!!! This idea was shared by both King James I and his son Charles I. On either sides are cherubs with abundance of fruits, celebrating the Golden Age, the mythological concept of an age bringing peace & plenty. 
As soon as you enter is the panel called the Union of Crowns. Ideally, as soon as you enter, you’re looking at it upside down, coz it’s meant for the kind to see it straight from his throne! It depicts the union of the crowns of England & Scotland. On the throne is ofcourse King James I, depicted ordering his infant son Charles I to be brought to him, by (the personification of) England & Scotland and Goddess Minerva who are holding the crown atop him! The cherubs atop hold the combined emblem! On either sides are 2 panels of Minerva destroying ignorance and Hercules destroying envy!
Right atop the throne is the depiction the peaceful reign of King James I, shown seated on his throne & is being crowned by celestial figures. The 2 women shown embracing are Peace & Plenty while at the bottom is Minerva killing serpents which depicts rebellion! The panels on either sides are Reason defeating Discord and Abundance defeating Greed!
The way it is set up today is very interesting. The entire place is filled with quite a few bean bags! As soon as I entered I was actually confused! My first thought was, may be this was used by local students as a place to study peacefully, sitting comfortably on the bean bags!!! But yeah, I was wrong. Bean bags are to make the visitors comfortable to lay down and look at the ceiling and enjoy it!  

To Get There:
Nearest Metro Station: Charring Cross, Embankment, Westminster
Entry Fee: £5.50 online; £6.50 at the gate.
Tickets can be purchased online at the website.

P.S: I was invited by Historic Royal Palaces
 to experience Banqueting Hall for review purposehowever the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.


  1. I've actually never been to Banqueting Hall, even though I live in London! The paintings on the ceiling are exquisite and reminds me of Vienna and Schonbrunn Palace. Cool addition about the bean bags, they're a fun touch.

  2. Such a nice history. You are an interesting storyteller. The banqueting hall must have been the envy of all in its time. It seems like that described in Shakespeare's Macbeth. The golden age must have been the best age of England as history if a banqueting can be be as this.

  3. Thanks for such an interesting review of an interesting place! The details on cost are very useful. But I love most of all your descriptions of the amazing painting's subjects!

  4. I never knew of Banqueting Hall in London. Wow there are so many vintage paintings which depicts golden history. As they have provided bean bags, so that we can sit and watch on ceilings is a great idea. Nicely maintained.

  5. What a thought idea! Having the bean bags would make the tour a lot more comfortable. I hope I don't doze off if I have the chance to visit! Must be comfy!

  6. What a lovely history, and the whole banqueting house screams opulence. How lucky of you to experience this awesomeness. Ahh I would be like a kid in a candy store.

  7. The bean bags! What a fabulous idea. I would totally have thought it was for students or something, too, and definitely would have been confused :) But to lay there and stare up at the gorgeous artwork is something else!

  8. The historical sites and palaces are fun to explore especially when there is so much of history associated. In awe of the ceiling painting of the Banqueting Hall and love that they have placed bean bags to sit and take in the history.

  9. I am from London and have never been to a banqueting hall, but have read what you have written and the information that you have shared I think that it maybe on my list of London places to visit. I do love the idea of the bean bags very modern and great way to just realax and take in the history.

  10. Banqueting Hall is one stunning architectural treasure. The intricately designed cieling is such a great piece of art. I would love to visit this place in London for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Wow this is gorgeous. I've been to London so many times but never do any indoorsy stuff while there. I guess I need to after reading this! I can't believe how detailed the ceiling is... Why don't they make things like that anymore?! It's so gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!


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