Feast your eyes upon the beautiful Banqueting House hidden in Whitehall! The perfect pitstop for any sightseeing trip, kids will be wide-eyed with wonder admiring this ornate royal masterpiece. This magical building was only open to royalty and courtiers back in the 1600s when it was built, but now it’s open for all to explore and completely free for children! There’s a short video and a free audio tour to help kids explore the building’s history and so much more - continue reading to find out our top five things to see and do at Banqueting House!
1. Marvel at the magnificent ceiling
Kids will be mesmerised by Flemish artist Sir Peter Paul Rubens’ incredible ceiling paintings and royally good architecture, which make great inspiration for a craft activity when you get home! The ceiling was probably commissioned by Charles I in 1629-30 and it was one of the King's last sights before his execution - that definitely means it’s worth seeing! You won’t believe how great the ceiling has been preserved - don’t forget to bring a camera to snap some pictures!
2. X marks the execution spot!
This isn’t your typical photo opportunity but at Banqueting House walk in the footsteps of the condemned King Charles I and stand on the spot where he was executed! If your little ones are studying the Tudors at school, a trip to Banqueting House is the perfect way to bring what they are learning to life. Plus, there’s plenty of expert staff around who are more than happy to have their brains picked about anything and everything royal related!
3. Delve into The Undercroft - if you dare
Hidden beneath Banqueting House, lies The Undercroft - originally created as a drinking den for James I and his friends. Included in the price of admission, venture downstairs into The Undercroft; on view in the Undercroft is a short introductory film about the history of the Banqueting House and some engravings of the Banqueting House as it was in earlier centuries, including a depiction of Charles I’s execution - gory!
4. Get up close and personal with the impressive art and sculpture
Aside from the magnificent ceiling, Banqueting House is also home to some pretty impressive artwork and sculpture. A painting of King Charles I (1600-1649) by Daniel Mytens (1590-1647) hangs above the grand staircase leading into the Banqueting House - see if you can spot Charles I blue stockings! As well as this, a bronze bust of James I is positioned above the door into the Banqueting House - don’t forget to snap a selfie with him!
5. Explore the revolutionary architecture
Inigo Jones - the designer of Banqueting House - intended for it to look like a piece of ancient Rome transposed to Whitehall and you can clearly see this when you tour it for yourself! Having travelled to Italy and seen the buildings of the ancient world and the Italian Renaissance, Jones wanted to recreate the architecture in our very own, rainy London and the results are truly extraordinary - book tickets from just £7.15 and see for yourself!
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