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)

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

A Yeoman Warder stands outside the White Tower during a Twilight Tour or the Tower.
Tours and talks

Dare you visit the Tower at night and take one of our Twilight Tours? Discover secrets of the Tower's history with after-hours access.

Selected Sundays in January-April

Tower of London

19:00

Separate ticket (advanced booking required)

Still from the feature film The Favourite
Highlights Things to see

See costumes from The Favourite, the critically-acclaimed film starring Olivia Colman as Queen Anne on display at Kensington Palace.

Until 08 March 2019 (closed 08-14 February)

Kensington Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Still from The Favourite showing Emma Stone as Abigail Masham in white Tudor kitchens, wearing a denim maid's outfit. Staff cook on the historic cooking equipment in the background
Highlights Things to see

See costumes created for Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and other cast members of The Favourite on display in the Cartoon Gallery.

Daily until 10 March 2018

Hampton Court Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Browse more history and stories

Shop online for related items

Packed with fascinating history and colour photographs, ‘Discover the Banqueting House’ is the essential guide to your visit.

Official Banqueting House guidebook

Packed with fascinating history and colour photographs, ‘Discover the Banqueting House’ is the essential guide to your visit.

£4.99

An authoritative history of London's palaces by David Souden, Lucy Worsley and Brett Dolman. Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales.

The Royal Palaces of London

An authoritative history of London's palaces by David Souden, Lucy Worsley and Brett Dolman. Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales.

£17.95

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