Charles I’s execution site

Walk in the footsteps of the condemned King and stand at the spot where Charles I's execution took place.

Walk in the footsteps of the condemned King and stand at the spot where Charles I's execution took place.

When

  • Open daily

Ticketing information

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Outside the Banqueting House, on the pavement of Whitehall, is the site of Charles I's execution on 30 January 1649.

Though the wooden staging erected for the execution has long been dismantled, you can imagine the scene on that cold winter's day...

The day of Charles I's execution

Charles had lost the Civil War. His enemies had convicted him of high treason and decided that execution would be his fate.

On the day of the execution Charles said goodbye to his children at St James's Palace before being escorted to the Banqueting House.

It was bitterly cold. Charles wore a second shirt so as not to shiver from the cold, in case it was misunderstood as trembling from fear.

He was also persuaded to eat a little bread and drink a glass of claret so that he would not faint before reaching the execution block.

The mysterious executioners

After Charles's trial and condemnation the execution axe was brought from the Tower of London.

The usual waist-high execution block could not be found and a much lower one was brought to Whitehall. This block was normally used for dismembering the bodies of traitors.

The public executioner, a man called Brandon, refused to undertake his duty and his assistant could not be found. Their places were eventually taken by two men in disguise whose identities remain unknown to this day.

Famous last words

Charles was led out of an upper window onto a temporary scaffold stage especially erected on Whitehall. He was composed on the scaffold and died with dignity.

Charles I’s famous last words contributed to his later cult status as a royal martyr.

The execution of King Charles I is remembered each year on 30 January with a service in the Banqueting House.

I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible Crown, where no disturbance can be.

King Charles I at his execution

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 February-April

Tower of London

19:00

Separate ticket (advanced booking required)

Illustration of the Tudor west gate of Hampton Court Palace with a giant Lindt gold bunny in the foreground. Henry VIII stands on the left of the image.
Families

Join the Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt around the palace and gardens and enjoy some springtime family fun.

06-22 April 2019

Hampton Court Palace

Daily 10:00-18:00

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Things to see

Explore the beautiful private rooms at Kensington Palace that were once used by Queen Mary II for relaxation and sleep.

Open daily

Kensington Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

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