Queen’s House


Designed by architect Inigo Jones, Queen's House was the UK's first classical building, and it's as enticing for its form as for its art collection. Many pieces on display are portraits and have an unsurprising maritime bent; don't miss the iconic Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, which depicts the queen in a vibrantly coloured lace and jewelled gown and commemorates the failed invasion of England by the Spanish in 1588. It's in the immaculately restored Queen's Presence Chamber on the 1st floor.

Side galleries radiate off from the cube-shaped Great Hall, which has an elaborately tiled floor laid in 1635, best viewed from the upstairs balcony. In 2016, Turner Prize–winning artist Richard Wright was commissioned to add an intricate gold-leaf design on the ceiling, the first art there since 1708 when the original painted panels were removed. The stunning helix-shaped (and reportedly haunted) Tulip Stairs in the northwest corner of the hall form England's first self-supported staircase.

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.