Before you travel, please check our upcoming planned closures.

Banqueting Hall

Look around James I's 'great hall', completed in 1622 as a venue for extravagant entertainment.

Look around James I's 'great hall', completed in 1622 as a venue for extravagant entertainment.

When

  • Open daily
1 hour

Ticketing information

Included in palace admission (members go free) Buy Banqueting House tickets

A great hall for a party

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.

Chapel Royal

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.

The Museum

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.

Explore what's on

The Bloody Tower, looking north towards lattice windows. The windows are set in a white-painted brick alcove.

The Bloody Tower was built by King Henry III (1207-72) and was originally named the Garden Tower.
Things to see

Explore the stories of the Princes in the Tower and Sir Walter Raleigh in the infamous Bloody Tower.

Open daily

Tower of London

Vertical shot looking straight up at Rubens' Ceiling at Banqueting House Whitehall, London
Highlights Things to see

Marvel at Sir Peter Paul Rubens' ceiling in its original setting of Inigo Jones' spectacular Banqueting House.

Open daily

Banqueting House

Exterior of Banqueting House with Whitehall in the foreground under a blue, partially cloudy sky
Highlights Things to see

Walk in the footsteps of the condemned King and stand on the spot of Charles I's execution, just outside Banqueting House.

Open daily

Banqueting House

Browse more history and stories

Shop online for related items

White Tower luxury embroidered hanging decoration features the iconic White Tower with a silhouetted Tower raven perching at the top of the Tower.

White Tower luxury embroidered hanging decoration

This sparkling silver luxury White Tower hanging decoration is hand embroidered using the same metal thread work techniques used to sew royal dresses and finery in centuries past.

£10.99

Kew Palace luxury embroidered hanging decoration, luxury Christmas ornament depicts the Dutch House of Kew Palace which dates back to 1631

Kew Palace luxury embroidered hanging decoration

This luxury handmade Christmas tree decoration features the design of the front of the Dutch House at Kew Palace on the River Thames in south west London.

£29.99

Royal Beasts Unicorn tree decoration is beautifully handmade using metal and silk threads on a satin background

Royal Beasts Unicorn tree decoration

The Unicorn is a legendary animal that resembles a white horse with a spiralling horn and is one of the most important imaginary animals of the Middle Ages in which it was a symbol of purity and grace.

£14.99