The architecture of Rome had re-emerged in the 11th and 12th century in the form of the Romanesque style, this was displayed through the construction of new churches. But it was during the Renaissance in the 15 and 16C that artists and architects drew inspiration from classical Greece and Rome. It was during this period that Andrea Palladio built grand classical villas in Italy. Palladio had read Vitruvius and thus became influenced by Roman and Greek architecture.
His style of architecture quickly caught on in Europe, where it spread throughout France and Spain, before reaching England in the 17C.
The Banqueting House
Was the first building to be constructed in the neo-classical architectural style in England. Built by Inigo Jones between 1619 and 1622. It is the only building remaining of the Palace of Whitehall. It is of national significance and is thus a Grade I listed building, placing it among the country’s finest structures. It is also famous for being the location from where King Charles I was beheaded.
The Banqueting House was built in the classical style, with Ionic and Doric columns, a total of 7 bays with three centre bays and ashlar dressings. Above the main doorway is a roundel niche containing a bust of King Charles 1 (who was beheaded nearby) Balustrades line the roof. The interior is impressive, consisting of vaults. The lower half of the main hall consists of Doric columns and the top half Ionic pilasters. The ceiling was painted by Rubens for James I. It was later refaced in Portland Stone by Soane.
Inigo Jones (who was also influenced by Vitruvius and Palladio) is responsible for the design of Covent Garden, the first square built in London.
Today the site is managed by Historic Royal Palaces; beanbags are placed within the hall so people can admire Rubens painting, which depicts James 1.
By Jeremy Hallatt