One of the biggest frustrations of the year for me is not being able to get into the Banqueting House. Thrice I tried and thrice I was thwarted.
The early-17C Inigo Jones building on Whitehall was built by James I, the only surviving building from the old Whitehall Palace complex. The ceiling of the main hall was painted by Rubens at the behest of Charles I, who was executed outside this very building.
On two occasions this year I went to Banqueting House during their stated opening hours to find it closed to the public. It would appear that BH are in the habit of renting out the gaff for corporate swankfests, worth far more than they can take on the door. My third failure was during Open House London weekend, when I mis-read the brochure – the all-important “Saturday Only” bit. But it’s a shame that some instututions don’t fully embrace OHL and open on Sundays too. I’m looking at you, Marlborough House and Benjemin Franklin’s House.
Having bitched about the Banqueting House situation to every man and his hound, I was tipped off about a charity event there on 7 December. It’s a Christmas Fair for Save the Children, with 40+ vendors in attendance. Entry is £8 and includes a free glass of wine and canapés. It runs from 1pm to 9pm.
This event appears not to be advertised online yet, so I’ve parked the information on London Historians web site, here. (pdf document).