November 2nd – On this day in 1529, the Tudor King, Henry VIII appropriated the thirteenth-century York Place, which had originally been built for the Archbishops of York, from the then Archbishop, Cardinal Wolsey, and he renamed it Whitehall Palace (whence, from Shakespeare’s “King Henry the Eighth”, “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”).
Whitehall Palace essentially came to take the place of the Old Palace of Westminster, large parts of which had been rendered unusable by a fire in 1512 (see also here). It was considerably extended by Henry VIII and later by his daughter Queen Elizabeth I, and by the Stuart Kings James I, Charles I and Charles II.
It was undamaged in the Great Fire of 1666, but substantially burnt down in another fire in 1698. Essentially only the Banqueting House, built for James I by 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 tennis court in the Cabinet Office at No. 70 Whitehall, and “Queen Mary’s Steps”, built in 1691, on the Embankment).
The Holbein Gate, built in 1532, and notable as the probable place of the clandestine marriage of Henry and Anne Boleyn in 1533, survived both fires, but was demolished in 1759. Charles I was executed outside the Banqueting House in 1649.
The site of Whitehall Palace is visited on our “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey” standard walk, and on our “Tudor and Stuart London” themed special. The Banqueting House, where Charles I was executed, is also visited on our “Rebellious London” themed special.
Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section of this web-site.