26 Sep Interview with Jen Lockham – Head of Banqueting House
What does your role involve?
As Head of Banqueting House for Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), my role is to lead and develop the events department to deliver world-class events and generate funds to support the charity. I also lead the Visitors Services department, ensuring our visitors are able to discover the rich history of the Banqueting House and experience what life was like in the Stuart Dynasty.
Working at HRP must be such a privilege. Do you have a favourite venue?
Well, Banqueting House is obviously my favourite Palace. The ceiling, the architecture and the history are all incredible. We house the only Rubens in the world still in its original place of intention, not to mention we were the site of the execution of King Charles I, the only king to be executed in British history. We are also lucky enough to host some of the most exciting, beautiful events and maintain its history as a space for entertaining. Having said all that, I have a very special place in my heart for the Tower of London. With over 1000 years of history it’s more than double the age of Banqueting House and has not only the most fascinating stories to tell but has the most unique events (including my pre-wedding reception on the wall walks and medieval palace back in 2015) in some of the most historical settings. From the Crown Jewels, to the Yeoman Warders, and the stunning views of London, it’s just a wow location.
Presumably your first love is events but does history now play a part?
Absolutely – after 9 years at HRP I still regularly learn new and interesting things not only about the other palaces, but my own as well. When the gunpowder plot was foiled, the men were brought to Banqueting House for interrogation before being taken to the Tower and yesterday I found out that Samuel Pepys has an entry in his diary detailing his attendance at an event at Banqueting House while seated on our balcony. I love sharing the history and stories with our guests; it gives the spaces even more life and makes people feel as privileged to be here as I am daily.
How do you achieve the perfect balance of doing justice to the historical aspect whilst remaining contemporary?
At Historic Royal Palaces, we believe in tradition with a twist and we relish the opportunity to work with clients and suppliers to deliver one-of-a-kind experiences for their guests. At Banqueting House, we were the first of the HRP venues to use large-scale internal projection mapping to create a fully immersive event produced by my team to celebrate the traditional British street party back in 2017.
Although Banqueting House is a 400 year old palace, all of the drama is on the ceiling, and the rest of the space is incredibly contemporary so can take any theme or styling really well. We are a huge fan of Twilight Trees and love to see our spaces brought to life with their sparkling creations. From weddings, to our inspirational Pearls of Wisdom workshop, we are lucky to be able to work with suppliers like TT to create exciting, unique and stylish events that bring the palace to life and show clients how diverse our spaces are.
What is the most amazing event you’ve been involved in?
This year we’ve been leading up to hosting the Engage! Summit over four days this October, across four of our palaces. It’s the first time the summit has come to London and will be a completely one-of-a-kind event for attendees – the demand for tickets was huge. Our events teams and suppliers are going above and beyond to deliver what promises to be an incredible showcase of not only our palaces’ wedding capabilities, but also how the palaces’ individual histories intertwine with that of London as a city – we can’t wait.