The first Palladian building by architect Inigo Jones after he returned from Italy is as enticing for its form as for its art collection. The house was begun in 1616 for Anne of Denmark, wife of James I, but wasn't completed until around 1636, when it became the home of Charles I and his queen, Henrietta Maria. The stunning helix-shaped (and reportedly haunted) Tulip Stairs form England's first set of centrally unsupported stairs. An ambitious restoration of the house was unveiled in 2017.
The Great Hall is a lovely cube shape with an elaborately tiled floor, laid in 1635 and best viewed from the gallery. Turner Prize–winning artist Richard Wright recently worked on a fine and intricate design for the ceiling in gold leaf. Don't miss the immaculately restored painted ceiling in the Queen's Presence Chamber on the 1st floor. Here, you can view the iconic Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I. The exquisite painting depicts the queen in a vibrantly coloured lace and jewelled gown and commemorates the failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in 1588. The portrait was acquired and restored in 2016 and went on display in 2017 alongside a haunting robotic reconstruction of what the queen's face might actually have looked liked based on the painting.