Inigo Jones' architecture

Banqueting House is closed until further notice but is open for private events and weddings. We apologise for any disappointment this may cause.



Ticketing information

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Buy Banqueting House tickets

The Banqueting House, Inigo Jones's masterpiece of classical architecture, is one of the first examples of the principles of Palladianism being applied to an English building. It marks the beginning of a revolution in British architecture.

Having travelled to Italy and seen the buildings of the ancient world and the Italian Renaissance, Inigo Jones decided to recreate something of their effect in rainy London, for King James I. Jones was fascinated by the order and logic of classical buildings, and by the style, shape and colour of classical architectural ornament.

He made detailed drawings and notes, recording his observations on the ruins, palaces and churches he visited on his travels. Later, many of these shaped his own designs for buildings and masque scenery.

Jones intended the Banqueting House to look like a piece of ancient Rome transposed to Whitehall, and the effect was extraordinary.

Recreating ancient Rome in London

Inigo Jones originally built the Banqueting House's façade with three different types of stone, each in different tones. In the 1830s, the outside of the building was re-faced in white Portland Stone by John Soane, though the architect was careful to preserve the original design in his new stonework. 

The great height of the Banqueting House meant that it towered above the rest of Whitehall Palace – it was a real statement. Today, the Banqueting House is hard to distinguish from the later neo-classical buildings which surround it, but four centuries ago it was the pioneer for this architectural style.

The street (West) façade is exactly the same as the on the other (East) side. This is because the view of the Banqueting House from the River Thames was once as significant as the view of it from Whitehall.

The Banqueting House was originally entered through the corridors of Whitehall Palace, which burnt down in 1698. Today, the entrance is through an annex built by architect James Wyatt over a century later.

Banqueting House West Side of exterior captured in daylight

Architectural highlights

Inigo Jones was careful to use the classical ‘orders’ correctly on his building, just as he had seen in ancient Roman constructions, and in the palaces designed by the great Venetian Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio.

At Banqueting House, the status of the interior of the building is reflected on the outside. At basement level, the exterior is faced in ‘rusticated’ stonework, with no ornamental carving. By contrast, the double-height main hall above it is faced with dressed stone, columns, capitals, balustrades, a pronounced string course separating the lower from the upper level, and a carved frieze of masks and garlands.

At the centre of the façade, the central three bays are pushed further out into the street, to create a central focus for the building. The capitals are simple ‘ionic’ ones at low level, whereas at upper level they are the opulent Corinthian type.

Exterior of Banqueting House against a blue sky
Photograph of the Banqueting House's stone front architecture

The beautifully carved frieze of classical drama masks and garlands of fruit and flowers around the top of the building reflects the original purpose of the Banqueting House – as a venue for masque performances.

Perched on the roof is a huge wrought iron weathervane, installed in 1688 for James II, which is still in working order. The weathervane was installed to fore-warn the king of weather conditions which might prove favourable for an invasion. 

Vertical shot looking straight up at Rubens' Ceiling at Banqueting House Whitehall, London
Things to see

Marvel at Sir Peter Paul Rubens' ceiling in its original setting of Inigo Jones' spectacular Banqueting House.


Banqueting House

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Exterior of Banqueting House
Things to see

Walk in the footsteps of the condemned King and stand on the spot of Charles I's execution, just outside Banqueting House.


Banqueting House

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Still from the Gigapixel app at Banqueting House, which displays the Rubens ceiling in super close-up detail using new Gigapixel super-zoom technology. Showing close-up of The Apotheosis of James I
Things to see

Get an artists' eye view of Rubens' ceiling, down to the level of individual brush strokes added during its creation in the 17th century.


Banqueting House

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Historic Royal Palaces retail product - drinking glasses, books and deer cushion

Shop homewares

In our home section you will find stylish lifestyle home accessories and furnishings, including cushions, tapestries, ornaments and much more which will add those finishing touches to make your room complete.

From £9.99

Royal Palace Crest fine bone china tankard (30167796), Royal Palace Crest fine bone china bonbon dish (30167799), Royal Palace Crest fine bone china 17cm plate (30167801), Royal Palace Crest fine bone china 21cm plate (30170352), Royal Palace Crest fine bone china tea cup and saucer (30167797)

Shop Banqueting House Gifts

Our wonderful collection of gifts and souvenirs are all inspired by the Banqueting House.

From £5.99

Palace China Collection, serviettes and cake stand.  Design inspired by the palaces in our care; delicate details taken from the rose gardens at Hampton Court Palace, the famous gates at Kensington Palace and the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.   'Tea Fit for a Queen' book - reciipes and drinks for afternoon tea.  Lifestyle

Shop HRP Books & Publications

Discover books inspired by the palaces in our care, learn about fascinating periods of British history, including our official palace guide books, children's books and more.

From £10.99