Walk in the footsteps of the condemned King Charles I and stand on the spot where he was executed
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Outside the Banqueting House, on the pavement of Whitehall, is the site of Charles I's execution on 30 January 1649.
A scaffold was erected in front of the Banqueting House at first-floor level, high above the thousands of spectators. It gave them a clear view of the grisly execution of their King.
Earlier that morning, Charles was escorted by guards from his former bedchamber through Whitehall Palace and across the Banqueting Hall. It must have been painful for him to see for the last time the magnificent paintings by Rubens above his head, celebrating the achievements of his father, James I.
An eye witness records that 'there was a passage broken through the wall, by which the King passed unto the scaffold'. It is thought that the passage, or hole, in the wall was in the old staircase turret, which was replaced by the current entrance building.
A lead bust of Charles I is in a niche above the Banqueting House's entrance, reminding visitors of the momentous execution. The bust, probably dating to the late 18th or early 19th century, was acquired in 1949 – 300 years after the King's execution. The following year it was installed in the niche, crowning the entrance to the Banqueting House.
A plaque with an inscription beneath reads: "His Majesty King Charles I passed through this hall and out of a window nearly over this tablet to the scaffold in Whitehall where he was beheaded on 30th January 1649."
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