A description of Whitehall Palace (Baron Waldstein, 1598)

The Banqueting House.JPG

On this day in 1598, the Moravian aristocrat and gentleman-traveller Baron Waldstein wrote in his diary, on a visit to London:

“We … went into the royal residence known as … White Hall.  It is truly majestic, bounded on the one side by a park which adjoins another palace called St James’s, and on the other side by the Thames, and it is a place which fills one with wonder, not so much because of its great size as because of the magnificence of its … rooms which are furnished with the most gorgeous splendour.

First you come to a vast hall which leads through into a very large walled garden where they keep deer and all kinds of other animals.  We then went to see the rooms, every one of them furnished and arranged with perfect taste and elegance, with all sorts of statues and pictures to add to their beauty …

There is … a portrait of Edward VI in 1546 at the age of nine – note the artist’s ingenuity in perspective …

Another room has … some very rich hangings.

A portrait here shows Queen Elizabeth when she was still young, in the dress which she wore when going to attend Parliament …

In another place we saw … the Queen’s couch which is woven with gold and silver thread … .  The Queen’s bed-chamber has rich tapestries all around: The adjoining room is reserved for the Queen’s bath: the water pours from oyster shells … .  In the next room there is an organ on which two persons can play duets … .

The next room to this was the one where the Queen keeps her books, some of which she wrote herself …

From here we were taken into a large and lofty banqueting hall …

In another room Henry VII and Henry VIII and their wives are painted … ”.

Whitehall Palace was substantially destroyed in a fire in 1698.

Inigo Jones's plan for the Banqueting Jouse

The  surviving  incarnation of the Banqueting House was designed by Inigo Jones for James I in 1622, and notable as the first Renaissance building in London.

 

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