The death of Henry VIII – and Whitehall Palace

Close-up of the Banqueting House ceiling by Rubens

Close-up of the Banqueting House ceiling by Rubens

January 28th –  On this day in 1547, Henry VIII “dyed at hys most princely howse at Westminster, comenly called Yorkeplace or Whytehall”  (Stow).

The house, or rather palace, was originally  built for the  Archbishops of York in the thirteenth century, circa 1240, when it was known as York Place.  It was acquired by Henry VIII from the then Archbishop of York, Cardinal Wolsey, in 1529 (see also Whitehall Palace posting here).  This was  not long after a fire had rendered parts of the nearby Old Palace of Westminster unusable, in 1512  (see also Westminster Hall posting).

The Banqueting House

The Banqueting House

 General view of the Banqueting House interior - from the entrance

General view of the Banqueting House interior – from the entrance

Under Henry,  the palace was  renamed Whitehall, and the populace was reminded “You must no more call it York Place: that is past; For since the Cardinal fell that title’s lost.  ‘Tis now the King’s, and called Whitehall” (Shakespeare,  “King Henry the Eighth”).

The palace was extended both by Henry and by James I.  It  was undamaged in the Great Fire of 1666, but substantially burnt down in another fire in 1698.  Essentially only the Banqueting House, designed by the Neo-Classical or Palladian architect Inigo Jones in 1622, and notable as the first Renaissance building in London, with a ceiling by Rubens, still stands (together with: “Henry VIII’s wine cellar” in the nearby Ministry of Defence building in Horse Guards’ Avenue; the site of his tilt-yard in Horse Guards’ Parade; part of his real tennis court in the Cabinet Office building at No. 70 Whitehall; and “Queen Mary’s Stairs”, built in 1691, on the Embankment).

General view of the Banqueting House interior - looking back towards the entrance

General view of the Banqueting House interior – looking back towards the entrance

Charles I was executed outside the Banqueting House in 1649 (see also here).  The Holbein Gate, built in 1532 and notable as the probable place of the clandestine marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in 1533, survived both fires (i.e., 1666 and 1698), but was demolished in 1759.

The site is visited on our “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey” standard walk, and on our “Tudor and Stuart  London” and “Rebellious London” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section of the web-site. Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” page, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

(All photographs included in this blog taken by Bob Jones)

Close-up of the Banqueting House ceiling by Rubens

Close-up of the Banqueting House ceiling by Rubens

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