I've recently become a member of Historic Royal Palaces, which means for a whole year I get unlimited access to the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Banqueting House, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. So expect a lot of blog posts, twitter photos and instagram stories over the next coming months!
This weekend I decided to pay a visit to Banqueting House, Whitehall which is one of the few survivors from the fire which destroyed most of the Palace of Westminster in 1698.
Designed by Inigo Jones, construction started in 1619 and today is recognised as the first building in the neo-classical style, and was a pinnacle is English architecture.
The ceiling is the reason to visit, and bean bags are dotted around the room for you to lie back, relax and admire the beautiful work by Sir Peter Paul Rubens. In fact, this is the only surviving ceiling painting by the talented Flemish artist which is still where it was intended to be and is referred to as one of the most famous works to come out of the golden age of painting.
The canvases were installed in the hall in 1636 and depict The Union of the Crowns, The Apotheosis of James I and The Peaceful Reign of James I. It is believed that the paintings were commissioned by Charles I in 1629, and were one of the last things he saw before he was executed outside here in 1649.
Make sure to get the audio guide, choose the comfiest looking bean bag, and try not to fall asleep...