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.

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

Charles I's famous last words

Join Siobhan Clarke for an exclusive tour of this revolutionary building.

Selected dates

Banqueting House
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.

A room with a noble tradition of royal and political entertainment, the Great Hall at Hampton Court Palace is a vast and splendid historic structure.

Open daily

Hampton Court Palace

Daily

James I's great hall, a venue for extravagant entertainment.

Open daily

Banqueting House

1 hour