Whitehall Palace

Another in the series on historic secular buildings of London …

Whitehall Palace was originally built for the  Archbishops of York in the thirteenth century, circa 1240, when it was known as York Place.

Whitehall Palace
James I, with the Banqueting House in the background

It was subsequently   acquired by Henry VIII from the then Archbishop of York, Cardinal Wolsey, in 1529, 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”; and extended both by Henry and by James I.  The palace was undamaged in the Great Fire of 1666, but substantially burnt down in another fire in 1698. 

The exterior of the Banqueting House today
The interior of the Banqueting House

Essentially only the Banqueting House, designed by the  Palladian architect Inigo Jones in 1622, and notable as the first Renaissance building in central 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).   

The execution of Charles I outside the Banqueting House

Charles I was executed outside the Banqueting House on January 30th, 1649.  It was a freezing cold day, so he put on an extra shirt, that no-one might see him shiver (“the season is so sharp as probably may make me shake, which some observers may imagine proceeds from fear[and] I would have no such imputation”).

The Holbein Gate

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 the fires of  1666 and 1698, but was demolished in 1759. 

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