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Banqueting House (Whitehall). The Banqueting House is one of the finest rooms in the country. Built by Inigo Jones for James I, between 1619 and 1622, it was one of the few buildings to survive the fire at Whitehall palace in 1698. It was intended to be part of a great new complex which was never completed. The severe and classical features, based on Palladio's designs, were a new form of architecture. The ceiling was finished in 1634 by Rubens and is largely devoted to themes illustrating the wisdom and virtue of James I: its baroque exuberance is in strange contrast with the restraint of the hall. It was from this building that Charles I stepped through a window to the scaffold in 1649. Cromwell declined the crown there in 1657 and William and Mary accepted it there in 1689. In the 18th cent. it was used as a royal chapel. The Banqueting House is open to the public and still used on grand occasions.
J. A. Cannon