Inigo Jones's masterpiece of classical architecture is one of the first examples of the principles of Palladianism being applied to an English building and marks the beginning of a revolution in British architecture.
Having travelled to Italy and seen the buildings of the ancient world, Inigo Jones decided to recreate something of their effect in rainy London.
This was supposed to look like a piece of ancient Rome transposed to Whitehall and the effect was extraordinary.
The building was intended for masques, receptions and entertainments but when the painted ceiling by Peter Paul Rubens was installed in the main hall inside, it fell out of use. The smoke from candles during evening occasions began to damage the paintings, so the parties began to be held elsewhere instead.