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Beautiful Rooms - The Undercroft, Banqueting House

Tuesday, December 7, 2021 - 10:15

The shadowy vaulted Undercroft of the Banqueting House was created as a drinking den for James I and his friends. At one end there was originally a 'grotto' decorated with shells, designed by Isaac de Caus.

The Undercroft would have given the King and his royal favourites a degree of privacy which was in complete contrast with the magnificent display of the Banqueting Hall upstairs.

The shell grotto and hidden, dark spaces beneath the vaults no doubt lent the King's revels in the Undercroft an air of mystery and decadence.

Poet Ben Jonson wrote this dedication for the Banqueting House's Undercroft as a drinking den in 1623:

Since Bacchus, thou art father

Of wines, to thee the rather

We dedicate this Cellar

Where now, thou art made Dweller

Following James I's death, the decadence continued, when the Undercroft began hosting lotteries. John Evelyn describes one gambling session in 1664, at which 'the King, Queen-Consort and Queen Mother' won only 'a trifle' – as he did himself.

This atmospheric venue is now perfect for all sorts of occasions, from intimate dinners to distinctive receptions.

For further information on holding an event at Banqueting House: