Look around James I's 'great hall', completed in 1622 as a venue for extravagant entertainment.
The hall was built for the performance of ‘Masques’ and for grand ambassadorial receptions.
Masques were a sophisticated blend of poetry, propaganda, music, dance and outlandish costume, and the King and Queen sometimes took part. At the end of the performance it became a strange tradition for the audience to upset the table laid out with food and drink.
The room was where William of Orange and his wife Mary Stuart were read the Bill of Rights in February 1689, before jointly accepting the crown. In 1698 the rest of Whitehall palace burnt down but the Banqueting House survived.
The hall was fitted up after the fire as the principal Chapel Royal. The altar was at the north end, and a royal pew was placed opposite at the south end, where the replica throne is today.
Even when the Chapel Royal moved to St James's Palace the place was used for preaching and public ceremonies. In 1808 the room became a military chapel. Rich velvet swags hung between the pillars and pew boxes ran down the long sides of the hall. Up to 2000 soldiers took part in a service.
In 1895 Queen Victoria granted the building to the Royal United Services Institution to use as a museum. Showcases full of military curiosities were crammed into the hall while banners hung from the ceiling.
The building is now managed by Historic Royal Palaces as an events venue and a tourist attraction.
Get an expert’s guide of what there is to see and do at each palace with one of our State Apartment Warders at Hampton Court.
21 December 2017. 20 January, 08 February and 10 March 2018
Hampton Court Palace
Tours begin at 11:00 and 14:00
Discover masterpieces by Rembrandt, Holbein, van Dyck, and many more when you visit the Cumberland Art Gallery at Hampton Court Palace.
Hampton Court Palace
Join Siobhan Clarke to learn more about the war between King and Parliament and the execution of King Charles I
27 January 2018 (sold out)
Two tours taking place at 10:30 and 12 noon in the Undercroft (sold out)