Conservation at Banqueting House

Conservation at Banqueting House

Banqueting House

We have started an exciting new project at the Banqueting House, Whitehall. Over the next few years we will restore the building to its former glory and transform how visitors experience its incredible history.

How are you transforming the Banqueting House?

Originally built by Inigo Jones in 1619-22, the Banqueting House does need a bit of tender loving care from time to time. We have repaired the outside first, then we’ll address the interior.

The Inigo Jones Portland stone facades have been gently cleaned to remove accumulated dirt and pollution, allowing the condition of the stone and jointing to be clearly inspected and repaired as required.

The lead work on the roof needed attention too along with the rainwater disposal pipework. The wrought iron 17th century weather vane was also inspected and conserved too. The story is that just before his abdication, James II used to watch it to see if the wind was fair for William of Orange’s sea journey to British shores.

How will it all happen?

A carefully chosen team of architects and structural engineers have specified the work required to restore the building to its former glory using conservation contractors with masonry, leadwork, glazing, joinery, and painting and decorating skills, steadily working through this summer.

We’ll be working behind vast sheeting which shows the building façade with a wrap of Sir Peter Paul Rubens's magnificent ceiling glimpsed from the street. All work is carefully assessed and a method statement worked out before it starts. There will be no 'hot' work involved; nothing will be done to put the painting at risk, especially of fire.

Hang on why mention fire?

Back in 1698, a careless maidservant dried clothes on a charcoal brazier which led to a fire that lasted 15 hours resulting in the destruction of Whitehall Palace. Banqueting House is the only surviving part of that magnificent palace. Discover Banqueting House's fascinating history and come visit us soon. 

Progress so far

Read more about the progress of our conservation work (PDF 419KB)



There will be interesting discoveries to make throughout this process so the Museum of London Archaeology service are part of the team of specialists involved. Sometimes, tiny scraps of paint or render, hidden away in high inaccessible nooks and crannies can tell us lots about previous colour treatments. Even mortar analysis can help date areas of masonry. We've often found coins, shoes or other talismans for good luck that help date the work too. It will be interesting to see if we can find evidence of Inigo Jones's primary building; as much of what you can see now was re-facing stonework carried out by John Soane in the early 19th century.

Check back here to see what we find. 

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