31 March 2016
Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for Banqueting House and five other royal palaces, carried out the first phase of these works as part of a long term programme to carefully conserve both the interior and exterior of this magnificent building.
Over the last 15 months the Inigo Jones building (1619-22) has been fully scaffolded and under wraps as repair and conservation work took place outside. Specialist stone conservators tended to the ornate exterior conserving and repairing stonework across the façade. Lead workers sand-cast lead roof coverings in the traditional craft ways. The sash windows were repaired and painted. The flag-poles were repaired, pigeon sand lightning protection repaired. A state-of-the-art misting fire suppression system has been installed in the roof to protect the priceless Rubens ceiling from fire. New secondary glazing has been installed offering vastly improved protection and better views of Banqueting House from the street. At the same time, conservators used detailed UV photography to understand previous restoration treatments and what conservation may be required in the future. New exterior lighting has been installed offering more stunning views of the Portland stone facades after dark.
The Inigo Jones designed building is the last remaining building of the Palace of Whitehall. Banqueting House was the jewel in the crown of what was once the largest palace in Europe. The Palace of Whitehall was a royal residence until it was destroyed by fire in 1698. Banqueting House is famously the site of Charles I’s execution in 1649. Its lavish artwork was painted by Peter Paul Rubens and is the only Rubens ceiling still in its original location in the world.
Banqueting House will now remain open to the public and for functions and events throughout the year while we prepare for the phase 2 work on the interior. In summer 2016 there will be a brand new visitor experience ‘The Lost Palace’ which will retell the stories of the lost Palace of Whitehall and Banqueting House.