|Banqueting House, Whitehall|
|Owner||Historic Royal Palaces|
|Official name: Banqueting House|
|Designated||1 December 1987|
The Banqueting House, Whitehall, is the grandest and best known survivor of the architectural genre of banqueting house. It is the only remaining component of the Palace of Whitehall, the residence of English monarchs from 1530 to 1698. The building is important in the history of English architecture as the first structure to be completed in the neo-classical style, which was to transform English architecture.
Begun in 1619 and designed by Inigo Jones in a style influenced by Andrea Palladio,the Banqueting House was completed in 1622 at a cost of £15,618, 27 years before King Charles I of England was beheaded on a scaffold in front of it in January 1649. The building was controversially re-faced in Portland stone in the 19th century, though the details of the original façade were faithfully preserved. Today, the Banqueting House is a national monument, open to the public and preserved as a Grade I listed building. It is cared for by an independent charity, Historic Royal Palaces, which receives no funding from the British Government or the Crown.
The Palace of Whitehall was the creation of King Henry VIII, expanding an earlier mansion that had belonged to Cardinal Wolsey, known as York Place. The King was determined that his new palace should be the "biggest palace in Christendom", a place befitting his newly created status as the Supreme Head of the Church of England.All evidence of the disgraced Wolsey was eliminated and the building rechristened the Palace of Whitehall.
During Henry's reign, the palace had no designated banqueting house, the King preferring to banquet in a temporary structure purpose-built in the gardens. The Keeper of the Banqueting House was a position enhanced by Queen Mary I by designating it in relation to a building of the same name at Nonsuch Palace, near the south edge of Greater London, which has since been demolished and instead marks the site of a footpath junction of the London Loop. This house was used to entertain the French agent in London and ambassador Gilles de Noailles and his wife in 1556.
The first permanent banqueting house at Whitehall had a short life. It was built for King James I, but was destroyed by fire in January 1619, when workmen, clearing up after New Year's festivities, decided to incinerate the rubbish inside the building.An immediate replacement was commissioned from the fashionable architect Inigo Jones. Jones had spent time in Italy studying the architecture evolving from the Renaissance and that of Andrea Palladio, and returned to England with what were, at the time, revolutionary ideas: to replace the eclectic style of the Jacobean English Renaissance with a more pure, classical design, which made no attempt to harmonise with the Tudor palace of which it was to be part.
The design of the Banqueting House is classical in concept. It introduced a refined Italianate Renaissance style that was unparalleled in the free and picturesque Jacobean architecture of England, where Renaissance motifs were still filtered through the engravings of Flemish Mannerist designers. The roof is essentially flat and the roofline is defined by a balustrade. On the street façade, the engaged columns, of the Corinthian and Ionic orders, the former above the latter, stand atop a high, rusticated basement and divide the seven bays of windows.
The building is on three floors: The ground floor, a warren of cellars and store rooms, is low; its small windows indicating by their size the lowly status and usage of the floor, above which is the double-height banqueting hall, which falsely appears from the outside as a first-floor piano nobile with a secondary floor above. The lower windows of the hall are surmounted by alternating triangular and segmental pediments, while the upper windows are unadorned casements. Immediately beneath the entablature, which projects to emphasize the central three bays, the capitals of the pilasters are linked by swags in relief, above which the entablature is supported by dental corbel table. Under the upper frieze, festoons and masks suggest the feasting and revelry associated with the concept of a royal banqueting hall.
Much of the work on the Banqueting House was overseen by Nicholas Stone, a Devonshire mason who had trained in Holland. It has been said that, until this time, English sculpture resembled that described by the Duchess of Malfi: "the figure cut in alabaster kneels at my husband's tomb."Like Inigo Jones, Stone was well aware of Florentine art and introduced to England a more delicate classical form of sculpture inspired by Michelangelo's Medici tombs. This is evident in his swags on the street façade of the Banqueting House, similar to that which adorns the plinth of his Francis Holles memorial.
In 1638, Jones drew the designs for a new and massive palace at Whitehall in which his banqueting house was to be incorporated as one wing enclosing a series of seven courtyards, visible on the monumental main façade as only a small flanking wing. These revealed the ideas behind Jones' concept of Palladianism. However, King Charles I, who commissioned the plans, never amassed the resources to execute them;his lack of funds and the tensions that eventually led to the Civil War intervened and the plans were permanently shelved.
In January 1698, the Tudor Palace was razed by fire that raged for 17 hours. All that remained was the Banqueting House, Whitehall Gate, and Holbein Gate.Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor were asked to design a new palace, but nothing came of the scheme. It has been said that the widowed King William III never cared for the area, but, had his wife, Mary II, been alive, with her appreciation of the historical significance of Whitehall, he would have insisted on the rebuilding.
The term Banqueting House was something of a misnomer. The hall within the house was, in fact, used not only for banqueting, but also royal receptions, ceremonies, and the performance of masques.The entertainments given there would have been among the finest in Europe, for, during this period, England was considered the area's leading musical country. On 5 January 1617, Pocahontas and Tomocomo were brought before the King at the Banqueting House, at a performance of Ben Jonson's masque The Vision of Delight. According to John Smith, James I was so unprepossessing, neither of the natives realized whom they had met until it was explained to them afterward. Such masques were later augmented with French musicians, whom Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I, brought to the court. The masques began a slow decline, however, after the death in 1625 of Orlando Gibbons, who ironically died on a trip to meet the newly married Henrietta Maria and her musicians.
Inside the building is a single two-storey, double-cube room. The double-cube, in which the length of the room is twice its equal width and height,is another Palladianism, where all proportions are mathematically related. At the upper level, the room is surrounded by what is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a minstrels' gallery. While musicians may have played from this vantage point, its true purpose was to admit an audience; at the time of the Banqueting House's construction, Kings still lived in "splendour and state", or publicly. The less exalted and the general public would be permitted to crowd the gallery in order to watch the King dine. The lower status of those in the gallery was emphasised by the lack of an internal staircase, the gallery only being accessible by an external staircase. The building was, however, later extended to accommodate an internal staircase.
James I, for whom the Banqueting House was created, died in 1625 and was succeeded by his son, Charles I. The accession of Charles I heralded a new era in the cultural history of England. The new King was a great patron of the arts—he added to the Royal Collection and encouraged the great painters of Europe to come to England. In 1623 he visited Spain where he was impressed by Titian, Rubens, and Velázquez.It became his ambition to find a comparable painter for his own court. Rubens while in England as a diplomat was asked to design and paint the Banqueting House ceiling which was sketched in London but completed at his studio in Antwerp due to the scale of the job. It was probably commissioned in 1629–30, and finally installed in 1636, the ceiling having been completely remodelled to frame the various sections. The subject, commissioned by the King, was the glorification of his father, titled The Apotheosis of James I, and was an allegory of his own birth. To the King's chagrin Rubens took his knighthood and decamped back to Antwerp, leaving Anthony van Dyck, lured not only with a knighthood but also a pension and a house, to remain in England as the court painter. The panels for the ceiling were all painted in Rubens' atelier in Antwerp and sent to London by ship. Inigo Jones later designed another double-cube room at Wilton House, to display Van Dyck's portraits of the aristocratic Pembroke family.
Given the attention and effort which were lavished by Charles I on the Banqueting House, his end was not without irony. On the afternoon of 30 January 1649 he stepped out of a first floor window of Banqueting House onto the scaffold which had been erected outside for the purpose of his own execution.The actual window no longer exists as it was not in the main hall but just outside it in an adjacent part of the building which has now gone and, pictured from the outside, would have been the next window along at the north end, roughly above the current visitors' entrance.
Unlike the architecture of the more southern European countries, English architecture went through no period of evolution to classicism. Through Jones it arrived suddenly and fully formed. Before this, English architecture had still been based on the styles of the Middle Ages, if for the previous century influenced by Netherlandish and French renaissance classicism, which had resulted in an English renaissance style during the late Elizabethan and Jacobean periods.However, as can be seen at prodigy houses like Hatfield House, one of England's first purpose-built "Renaissance" houses, even during this era, English domestic architecture never quite lost its "castle air."
Although English architecture had been influenced, mostly indirectly, by Italian classicism for a century or so, resulting in the use of classical forms and motifs in late Tudor, Elizabethan and Jacobean buildings, on his return from Italy Jones brought with him far more thorough and up to date understanding of the underlying principles of late Renaissance classicism. With his work at the Queen's House in Greenwich, and the Banqueting House, Jones transformed English architecture.
The overthrow of the monarch and establishment of the puritanical Commonwealth caused the style to be seen as Royalist, which delayed its spread; but within a few years of the Restoration almost every English county was to have some buildings in the classical style. The Banqueting House and its features became much copied. A much-favoured motif was the placing of pediments above not only the focal point of a façade but also its windows. The use of alternating segmental and triangular pediments, an arrangement employed by Vasari as early as 1550 at the Medicis' Palazzo Uffizi in Florence,was a particular favourite. Provincial architects began to recreate the motifs of the Banqueting House throughout England, with varying degrees of competence. Examples of the style's popularity can be found throughout England; the then-remote county of Somerset alone contains three 17th-century versions of the Banqueting House: Brympton d'Evercy, Hinton House, and Ashton Court. Following the fall of the monarchy, Jones' career was effectively ended, his style seen as royalist. He died in 1652, never having seen the popularity of the architectural concepts he introduced.
James II was the last monarch to live at Whitehall; William III and Mary II preferred to live elsewhere and eventually reconstructed Hampton Court Palace. Following the fire which destroyed Whitehall Palace, the Banqueting Hall became redundant for the purpose for which it was designed, and it was converted to a chapel to replace the Chapel Royal of Whitehall, which had been destroyed in the fire and was used to host concerts. It remained a chapel before being given to the Royal United Services Institute by Queen Victoria in 1893.Highly controversial plans to partition the large mansion house space in the service of offices for the Institution were quickly dropped in favour of the creation of a museum which displayed personal items of famous commanders and included the skeleton of Napoleon's horse. The museum closed in 1962, and the great south window, closed up by the RUSI, was restored.
Today, the banqueting hall is open for tours and use as a venue space.
beinge in Lengthe 110 foote, and in breadth 55 foote, the under story being arched 16 foote in haight, the upper story 55 foote highe
Inigo Jones was the first significant English architect in the early modern period, and the first to employ Vitruvian rules of proportion and symmetry in his buildings. As the most notable architect in England, Jones was the first person to introduce the classical architecture of Rome and the Italian Renaissance to Britain. He left his mark on London by his design of single buildings, such as the Queen's House which is the first building in England designed in a pure classical style, and the Banqueting House, Whitehall, as well as the layout for Covent Garden square which became a model for future developments in the West End. He made major contributions to stage design by his work as theatrical designer for several dozen masques, most by royal command and many in collaboration with Ben Jonson.
The Palace of Whitehall at Westminster, Middlesex, was the main residence of the English monarchs from 1530 until 1698, when most of its structures, except for Inigo Jones's Banqueting House of 1622, were destroyed by fire. It had at one time been the largest palace in Europe, with more than 1,500 rooms, overtaking the Vatican, before itself being overtaken by the expanding Palace of Versailles, which was to reach 2,400 rooms. The palace gives its name, Whitehall, to the street on which many of the current administrative buildings of the present-day British government are situated, and hence metonymically to the central government itself. At its most expansive, the palace extended over much of the area bordered by Northumberland Avenue in the north; to Downing Street and nearly to Derby Gate in the south; and from roughly the elevations of the current buildings facing Horse Guards Road in the west, to the then banks of the River Thames in the east —a total of about 23 acres (9.3 ha). It was about 710 yards (650 m) from Westminster Abbey.
Palladian architecture is a European style of architecture derived from and inspired by the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580). What is recognised as Palladian architecture today is an evolution of his original concepts. Palladio's work was strongly based on the symmetry, perspective, and values of the formal classical temple architecture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. From the 17th century Palladio's interpretation of this classical architecture was adapted as the style known as "Palladianism". It continued to develop until the end of the 18th century.
The Jacobean era refers to the period in English and Scottish history that coincides with the reign of James VI of Scotland (1567–1625), who also inherited the crown of England in 1603 as James I. The Jacobean era succeeds the Elizabethan era and precedes the Caroline era. The term "Jacobean" is often used for the distinctive styles of Jacobean architecture, visual arts, decorative arts, and literature which characterized that period.
The Jacobean style is the second phase of Renaissance architecture in England, following the Elizabethan style. It is named after King James I of England, with whose reign it is associated. At the start of James' reign there was little stylistic break in architecture, as Elizabethan trends continued their development. However his death in 1625 came as a decisive change towards more classical architecture, with Italian influence, was in progress, led by Inigo Jones; the style this began is sometimes called Stuart architecture, or English Baroque.
The Cockpit-in-Court was an early theatre in London, located at the rear of the Palace of Whitehall, next to St. James's Park, now the site of 70 Whitehall, in Westminster.
Oberon, the Faery Prince was a masque written by Ben Jonson, with costumes, sets and stage effects designed by Inigo Jones, and music by Alfonso Ferrabosco and Robert Johnson. Oberon saw the introduction to English Renaissance theatre of scenic techniques that became standard for dramatic productions through the coming centuries.
Love Freed from Ignorance and Folly was a Jacobean era masque, written by Ben Jonson and designed by Inigo Jones, with music by Alfonso Ferrabosco. It was performed on 3 February 1611 at Whitehall Palace, and published in 1616.
The Hue and Cry After Cupid, or A Hue and Cry After Cupid, also Lord Haddington's Masque or The Masque at Lord Haddington's Marriage, or even The Masque With the Nuptial Songs at the Lord Viscount Haddington's Marriage at Court, was a masque performed on Shrove Tuesday night, 9 February 1608, in the Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace. The work was written by Ben Jonson, with costumes, sets, and stage effects designed by Inigo Jones, and with music by Alfonso Ferrabosco — the team of creators responsible for previous and subsequent masques for the Stuart Court.
The Golden Age Restored was a Jacobean era masque, written by Ben Jonson and designed by Inigo Jones; it was performed on 1 January and 6 January 1616, almost certainly at Whitehall Palace.
Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue is a Jacobean era masque, written by Ben Jonson and designed by Inigo Jones. It was first performed on Twelfth Night, 6 January 1618, in the Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace. The work's failure on its initial performance, and its subsequent revision, marked a significant development in Jonson's evolving masque technique.
The Memorable Masque of the Middle Temple and Lincoln's Inn was a Jacobean era masque, written by George Chapman, and with costumes, sets, and stage effects designed by Inigo Jones. It was performed in the Great Hall of Whitehall Palace on 15 February 1613, as one item in the elaborate festivities surrounding the marriage of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King James I, to Frederick V, Elector Palatine in the Rhineland.
The Masque of the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn is an English masque created in the Jacobean period. It was written by Francis Beaumont and is known to have been performed on 20 February 1613 in the Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace, as part of the elaborate wedding festivities surrounding the marriage of Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of King James I, to Frederick V, Elector Palatine.
The Masque of Augurs was a Jacobean era masque, written by Ben Jonson and designed by Inigo Jones. It was performed, most likely, on Twelfth Night, 6 January 1622.
Time Vindicated to Himself and to his Honours was a late Jacobean era masque, written by Ben Jonson and with costumes, sets, and stage effects designed by Inigo Jones. James's son and heir Prince Charles led the dances of the principal masquers, as he had in several previous masques at the Stuart Court.
Luminalia or The Festival of Light was a late Caroline era masque or "operatic show", with an English libretto by Sir William Davenant, designs by Inigo Jones, and music by composer Nicholas Lanier. Performed by Queen Henrietta Maria and her ladies in waiting on Shrove Tuesday, 6 February 1638, it was one of the last and most spectacular of the masques staged at the Stuart Court.
The Vision of Delight was a Jacobean era masque written by Ben Jonson. It was most likely performed on Twelfth Night, 6 January 1617 in the Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace, and repeated on 19 January that year.
Pan's Anniversary, or The Shepherd's Holiday was a Jacobean era masque, written by Ben Jonson and designed by Inigo Jones. The date of the masque's performance at the English Court has long been in dispute: while the earliest text assigns it to 1625, mid-twentieth-century scholars placed it on 19 June 1620, the king's birthday, at the royal palace at Greenwich. More recently, Martin Butler has argued for a date of 6 January 1621.
Nicholas Stone was an English sculptor and architect. In 1619 he was appointed master-mason to James I, and in 1626 to Charles I.
The Holbein Gate was a monumental gateway across Whitehall in Westminster, constructed in 1531-2 in the English Gothic style. The Holbein Gate and a second less ornate gate, Westminster Gate, were constructed by Henry VIII to connect parts of the Tudor Palace of Whitehall to the east and west of the road. It was one of two substantial parts of the Palace of Whitehall to survive a catastrophic fire in January 1698, the other being Inigo Jones's classical Banqueting House. The Holbein Gate was described by Thomas Pennant as "the most beautiful gate at Whitehall". It was demolished in 1759.
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