Please check our forthcoming afternoon closures before you visit. For more info

The Undercroft

This is a great place for a party, and James I thought so too.

This is a great place for a party, and James I thought so too.

When

  • Open daily

Ticketing info

Included in palace admission

Designed as a drinking den

The vaulted undercroft of the Banqueting House was designed as a drinking den for James I and his friends. At one end there was a ‘grotto’ decorated with shells which has now disappeared.

After James I’s death, the undercroft began to be used for holding lotteries. John Evelyn describes one gambling session in 1664, at which ‘the King, Queen-Consort and Queen Mother’ won only ‘a trifle’ – as he did himself.

On view in the undercroft is a short introductory film about the history of the Banqueting House. There is also a display on Masques, which includes models of Inigo Jones's set designs.

Ben Jonson's ode to the Undercroft cellar

Poet Ben Jonson wrote this dedication for the Banqueting House’s undercroft as a drinking den in 1623:

Since Bacchus, thou art father

Of wines, to thee the rather

We dedicate this Cellar

Where now, thou art made Dweller


If you are interested in having an event at Banqueting House James I’s ‘drinking den’ makes an imaginative party space. Please contact our Banqueting House events team to discuss booking a venue.

Explore what's on

Join Siobhan Clarke at the Banqueting Hall for an exclusive tour of this revolutionary building.

09 February - 10 February 2018

Banqueting House

Starting promptly in the Undercroft at 10:30 and 12:00

Fountain Court, looking west. The courtyard fountain can just be seen through an archway on the left.

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.

25 November and 21 December 2017. 20 January, 08 February and 10 March 2018

Hampton Court Palace

Tours begin at 11:00 and 14:00

View of the White Tower exterior

Marvel at the imposing White Tower, a magnificent example of Norman architecture situated right at the heart of the Tower.

Open daily

Tower of London

Browse more history and stories