Banqueting House: Baroque Art & Beanbags

October 27, 2014

By Tab Byrum

Once upon a time in London there stood a mighty palace called Whitehall.  Whitehall Palace was the creation of King Henry VIII, and he proclaimed that Whitehall should be the largest palace in all of Europe.

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Whitehall Palace
( via )

 Curiously though there was no banquet room in the palace and there wouldn’t be one for many, many years until James The First came to the British Throne. The term Banqueting House is a little misleading in that banquets weren’t the main function of the building, it was also used for royal receptions of ambassadors, ceremonies of all types and masques which were a combination of music, acting, singing and dancing.  Banqueting House was even the scene of one royal execution.

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Banqueting House as it appears today along Whitehall street in London. 

Whitehall Palace was completely destroyed by fire in 1698, except for Banqueting House.  Today the building is still used for official and royal events and is most famous for it’s ceiling which was painted by the great Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens. Today you can tour Banqueting House, which is basically 2 large rooms.  The first room is on the ground floor and was formerly used for storage, today it is where you sit and watch a film on Banqueting House and the history of Whitehall Palace.  The first floor is where the main room is and  beautiful ceiling.  This room is also where you can lounge on beanbags, listen to the narrative on the building and room and gaze up on one of the most beautiful ceilings you will ever see.  Here’s some pics from our visit to Banqueting House, Enjoy!!!

 

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The vaulted Undercroft of Banqueting House.  This is where you watch an orientation film on the building. 

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As you ascend the stairs to the main room you see this official portrait of Charles I,
the king executed just outside Banqueting House following the British Civil War, 
the reflection is one of the beautiful chandeliers in the building. 

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The first view of the Peter Paul Rubens ceiling as you enter the room. 

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 A close-up of the center portion of the ceiling, which shows King James I ascending to heaven. 

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At the other end of the room is a throne, used by the Monarch when they attend an event in Banqueting House.

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A view of the ceiling from the throne end of the room.

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At first I was kinda shocked there are bean bags on the floor of this royal palace, 
but when you think about it, what better way to gaze up at the ceiling and be comfortable at the same time. 

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The bean bag view. 

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The entire center portion of the amazing Baroque ceiling by Peter Paul Rubens. 

If you find yourself in London be sure and visit Banqueting House, the admission charge was 6 pounds per person and well worth the price.  You can also visit here and get information on all the Royal Palaces that you can visit.

Unless otherwise noted all photos are my own.

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