Please check our forthcoming planned 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 information

Included in palace admission Buy Banqueting House tickets

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.

Illustration of a young girl and a blue and yellow dragon with Kew Pagoda in the background on a wall in an exhibition space
Events Families

Dragons have arrived at Kew Gardens! Discover our new family exhibition next to Kew Palace and go hunting for fiery beasts in the gardens.

30 March - 30 September 2018

Kew Palace

Open daily

Fountain Court, looking west. The courtyard fountain can just be seen through an archway on the left.
Member only Tours and talks

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.

2 August, 1 September, 27 September 2018

Hampton Court Palace

11:00 and 14:00

The Great Hall, looking east.
The hall was constructed by King Henry VIII to replace a smaller and older hall on the same site. It had two functions. First to provide a great communal dining room where 600 members of the court could eat in two sittings, twice a day. And secondly, to provide a magnificent entrance to the state apartments that lay beyond.
Highlights Things to see

Experience the splendour of the Tudor court in Henry VIII's Great Hall, complete with his magnificent tapestries.

Open daily

Hampton Court Palace