The map here is based on the area shown on this 1680 map, (north is to the right). Pages 480-1 of the Latham & Matthews Companion volume also show a rough map of the palace.
The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from:
Open location in Google Maps: 51.504896, -0.125248
The map here is based on the area shown on this 1680 map, (north is to the right). Pages 480-1 of the Latham & Matthews Companion volume also show a rough map of the palace.
This text was copied from Wikipedia on 23 January 2020 at 6:01AM.
|Palace of Whitehall|
|Location||City of Westminster, Middlesex, Kingdom of England|
|Built||c. 1240, 15–17th cent.|
|Demolished||1698 (due to fire)|
The Palace of Whitehall (or Palace of White Hall) at Westminster, Middlesex, was the main residence of the English monarchs from 1530 until 1698, when most of its structures, except for Inigo Jones's Banqueting House of 1622, were destroyed by fire. It had at one time been the largest palace in Europe, with more than 1,500 rooms, overtaking the Vatican, before itself being overtaken by the expanding Palace of Versailles, which was to reach 2,400 rooms. The palace gives its name, Whitehall, to the street on which many of the current administrative buildings of the present-day British government are situated, and hence metonymically to the central government itself. At its most expansive, the palace extended over much of the area bordered by Northumberland Avenue in the north; to Downing Street and nearly to Derby Gate in the south; and from roughly the elevations of the current buildings facing Horse Guards Road in the west, to the then banks of the River Thames in the east (the construction of Victoria Embankment has since reclaimed more land from the Thames)—a total of about 23 acres (9.3 ha). It was about 710 yards (650 m) from Westminster Abbey.
By the 13th century, the Palace of Westminster had become the centre of government in England, and had been the main London residence of the king since 1049. The surrounding area became a popular and expensive location. The Archbishop of York Walter de Grey bought a nearby property as his London residence soon after 1240, calling it York Place.
King Edward I stayed at York Place on several occasions while work was carried out at Westminster, and enlarged it to accommodate his entourage. York Place was rebuilt during the 15th century and expanded so much by Cardinal Wolsey that it was rivalled by only Lambeth Palace as the greatest house in London, the King's London palaces included. Consequently, when King Henry VIII removed the cardinal from power in 1530, he acquired York Place to replace Westminster (the royal residential, or 'privy' area of which had been gutted by fire in 1512) as his main London residence, inspecting its possessions in the company of Anne Boleyn. The name Whitehall or White Hall was first recorded in 1532; it had its origins in the white stone used for the buildings.
King Henry VIII hired the Flemish artist Anton van den Wyngaerde to redesign York Place, and he extended it during his lifetime. Inspired by Richmond Palace, he included sporting facilities, with a bowling green, indoor real tennis court, a pit for cock fighting (on the site of the Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall) and a tiltyard for jousting (now the site of Horse Guards Parade). It is estimated that more than £30,000 (several million at present-day valued, or several billion when compared to share of GDP) were spent during the 1540s, half as much again as the construction of the entire Bridewell Palace. Henry VIII married two of his wives at the palace—Anne Boleyn in 1533 and Jane Seymour in 1536, and died there in January 1547. In 1611, the palace hosted the first known performance of William Shakespeare's play The Tempest.
James VI and I made significant changes to the buildings, notably the construction in 1622 of a new Banqueting House built to a design by Inigo Jones to replace a series of previous banqueting houses dating from the time of Elizabeth I. Its decoration was finished in 1634 with the completion of a ceiling by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, commissioned by Charles I (who was to be executed in front of the building in 1649). By 1650 Whitehall Palace was the largest complex of secular buildings in England, with more than 1,500 rooms. Its layout was irregular, and its constituent parts were of many different sizes and in several different architectural styles, making it look more like a small town than a single building. The irregularity of the buildings was increased by the penchant of courtiers to build onto their assigned lodgings, either at their own expense or that of the King's. Sir Stephen Fox, Charles II's Clerk of the Green Cloth, obtained permission from the Office of Works in the 1660s to build additions to the three rooms he was assigned. By the time he was finished he had constructed a grand mansion with coach house, stables, and a view over the Thames, all within the palace network.
Charles II commissioned minor works. Like his father, he died at the palace—but from a stroke. James II ordered various changes by Sir Christopher Wren, including a chapel finished in 1687, rebuilding of the queen's apartments (c. 1688), and the queen's private lodgings (1689). The Catholic chapel of James II, constructed during a period of fierce anti-Catholicism in England, attracted much criticism and also awe when it was completed in December 1686. The ceiling was adorned with 8,132 pieces of gold leaf, and at the east end of the nave an enormous marble altarpiece (40 ft. high x 25 ft. wide) designed by Wren and carved by Grinling Gibbons dominated the room. The diarist John Evelyn noted that "I should not have believed I should ever have seen such things in the King of England's palace, after it pleased God to enlighten this nation."
By 1691 the palace had become the largest and most complex in Europe. On 10 April a fire broke out in the much-renovated apartment previously used by the Duchess of Portsmouth, damaging the older palace structures, though apparently not the state apartments. This actually gave a greater cohesiveness to the remaining complex. At the end of 1694 Mary II died in Kensington Palace of smallpox, and on the following 24 January lay in state at Whitehall; William and Mary had avoided Whitehall in favour of their palace at Kensington.
A second fire on 4 January 1698 destroyed most of the remaining residential and government buildings. It was started inadvertently by a servant in an upper room who had hung wet linen around a burning charcoal brazier to dry. The linen caught fire and the flames quickly spread throughout the palace complex, raging for 15 hours before firefighters could extinguish it. The following day, the wind picked up and re-ignited the fire farther north. Christopher Wren, then the King's Surveyor of Works, was ordered expressly by William III to focus manpower on saving the architectural jewel of the complex, the Banqueting House. Wren ordered bricklayers to block-up the main window on the building's south side to block the flames from entering. Around 20 buildings were destroyed to create a firebreak, but this did little to inhibit the westward spread of the flames.
John Evelyn noted succinctly on 5 January: "Whitehall burnt! nothing but walls and ruins left." Beside the Banqueting House, some buildings survived in Scotland Yard and some facing the park, along with the so-called Holbein Gate, eventually demolished in 1769.
During the fire many works of art were destroyed, probably including Michelangelo's Cupid, a famous sculpture bought as part of the Gonzaga collections in the seventeenth century. Also lost were Hans Holbein the Younger's iconic mural Portrait of Henry VIII and Gian Lorenzo Bernini's marble portrait bust of King Charles I.
The Banqueting House is the only integral building of the complex now standing, although it has been somewhat modified. Various other parts of the old palace still exist, often incorporated into new buildings in the Whitehall government complex. These include a tower and other parts of the former covered tennis courts from the time of Henry VIII, built into the Old Treasury and Cabinet Office at 70 Whitehall.
Beginning in 1938, the east side of the site was redeveloped with the building now housing the Ministry of Defence (MOD), now known as MOD Main Building. An undercroft from Wolsey's Great Chamber, now known as Henry VIII's Wine Cellar, a fine example of a Tudor brick-vaulted roof some 70 feet (21 m) long and 30 feet (9 m) wide, was found to interfere not just with the plan for the new building but also with the proposed route for Horse Guards Avenue. Following a request from Queen Mary in 1938 and a promise in Parliament, provision was made for the preservation of the cellar. Accordingly, it was encased in steel and concrete and relocated nine feet to the west and nearly 19 feet (5.8 m) deeper in 1949, when building was resumed at the site after the Second World War. This was carried out without any significant damage to the structure and it now rests within the basement of the building.
A number of marble carvings from the former chapel at Whitehall (which was built for James II) can now be seen in St. Andrew's Church, Burnham-on-Sea, in Somerset, to where they were moved in 1820 after having originally been removed to Westminster Abbey in 1706.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Palace of Whitehall.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Whitehall.|
There is an excellent chapter in the book "London: As it might have been", Barker, F. and Hyde, R., 1982 (ISBN 0-7195-3857-2, John Murray Publishers) dealing with the designs that Inigo Jones created for the redevelopment of Whitehall Palace. These would have been reconsidered during the time that Pepys knew the site, as Charles II was as interested in his father in building a palace more in keeping with his position.
Christopher Hibbert in his 1969 book, ‘London: Portrait of a City’, gives a vivid account of Whitehall Palace, "the halls and chambers of the royal palace … which … covered acres of ground on the river front between Charing Cross and Westminster Hall. Here had once stood York Place, the London residence of the Archbishops of York, where Cardinal Wolsey had lived in the 1520s in a style as grandiose as that of the royal Court itself…. When Wolsey fell from power, after failing to arrange a speedy divorce for Henry VIII from Catharine of Aragon, York Place, although it belonged to the See of York and not personally to the Cardinal, was taken over, like Hampton Court, by the King. Magnificent as it already was, Henry immediately set about making it finer. He bought additional land from the Abbot of Westminster and other neighbours and extended the grounds behind the Palace to take in acres upon acre of land for his new gardens. He built a new flight of steps to the river, and since the various buildings of the Palace were split in two by the road from London to Westminster he built two splendid bridges across the roadway.
“The beauties of Whitehall Palace, as it now came to be called, were further enhanced by three lofty galleries – the Privy gallery, which had been removed from Wolsey’s mansion at Esher, the Stone Gallery, where the guests at royal banquets could look down upon the river, and the Long Gallery with a ceiling painted by Holbein. In the grounds below were four tennis courts, a bowling green, a cockpit and a tilt yard.” In the tiltyard, to quote from the Encyclopedia of London (1983), “tournaments and bear baiting were arranged as royal entertainments.”
To continue from the same source, “the new property was connected to the old by the Holbein Gate and the King Street Gate which spanned the street. Whitehall became the chief London residence of the court…. During James I’s reign, Inigo Jones and John Webb drew up plans for a huge new palace, but only the Banqueting House was ever completed. Even so, by this time the palace comprised some 2,000 rooms…. In 1698, apparently through the carelessness of a Dutch laundry woman, the old palace was burned to the ground, with only the Banqueting House surviving.”
To this I would just add that there is a superb model of Whitehall Palace at the Museum of London, showing it in its heyday.
This book looks like the thing to read if one is interested in further detail:
Here's an online history:
The Blue Guide to London says, of Henry VIII's taking over York Place, "He renamed the palace 'Whitehall', a name then generally applied to any centre of festivities," so it had nothing to do with the color of the walls.
And let's not forget Shakespeare:
You must no more call it York Place, that's past:
For, since the cardinal fell, that title's lost;
'Tis now the King's, and call'd Whitehall.
--King Henry VIII, IV, i.
It was on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House, Whitehall, that King Charles I. was beheaded on Jan. 30, 1649.
Whitehall Palace - According to the works accounts of 1623-4, Isaac de Caus, a fashionable garden designer, grotto builder and engineer, was paid to create a shell grotto in the cellars of Inigo Jones's Banqueting Hall around this time. This was a Privy cellar or private drinking den for James I and his cronies. It is not clear when it was removed. Maybe Pepys visited it. It certainly sounds like his sort of thing.
Here's Macaulay's description of Whitehall in 1685. The passage gives a vivid impression of the place as Pepys knew it, and can be found at
"Whitehall naturally became the chief staple of news. Whenever there was a rumour that anything important had happened or was about to happen, people hastened thither to obtain intelligence from the fountain head. The galleries presented the appearance of a modern club room at an anxious time. They were full of people enquiring whether the Dutch mail was in, what tidings the express from France had brought, whether John Sobiesky had beaten the Turks, whether the Doge of Genoa was really at Paris These were matters about which it was safe to talk aloud. But there were subjects concerning which information was asked and given in whispers. Had Halifax got the better of Rochester? Was there to be a Parliament? Was the Duke of York really going to Scotland? Had Monmouth really been summoned from the Hague? Men tried to read the countenance of every minister as he went through the throng to and from the royal closet. All sorts of auguries were drawn from the tone in which His Majesty spoke to the Lord President, or from the laugh with which His Majesty honoured a jest of the Lord Privy Seal; and in a few hours the hopes and fears inspired by such slight indications had spread to all the coffee houses from Saint James's to the Tower."
There are pictures of Whitehall Palace in the fantastic collection of London pictures on the historic Guildhall Library's Collage website at http://collage.nhil.com/
You can search in various ways including putting dates into the "Advanced Search", or drilling down through the "Places" category.
Just give yourself plenty of time, as there are lots of interesting leads to follow.
Whitehall (TEL1212) 1669 by Count Magalotti and from Travels of Cosm...
[Link updated from http://www.building-history.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/… , 29 March 2015. P.G.]
The Rocque reference is:
Whitehall is in the lower right corner of the section.
from L&M Companion entry for Whitehall
On the first floor, roughly parallel to the river, immediately above the Stone Gallery, running from the e. end of the Privy Galley to the staircase leading down to the Bowling Green. For those with business at the palace, it was a convenient semi-private walk. The Duke of York’s closet and chief apartments were reached from it in the ’60s, with subsidiary rooms belonging to him on the floor below.
Plan of the White hall palace showing it to be a large complex, it even shows where Carlos Rey would sneak over to the apartment No. 32 [of Palmer] down the hallway from No. 7 L. Albermarle [Moncke]. Carlos Rey would enjoy the trip thru the privey across two streets, lots of work.
A painting of Whitehall, London in 1669 from Count L. Magalotti, Travels of Cosmo the Third
a view of the shopping mall peeps edition:
Hollar, Wencaslas (Czech/British, 1607-1677)
Whitehall Palace; view W, from an inlet of the Thames, with part of Lambeth Marsh on the left, Whitehall Palace, the Banqueting House and Whitehall stairs on the opposite bank, the tower of old St Martin-in-the-Fields, and the SW turret of Suffolk (Northumberland) House on the right, with numerous wherries on the river
Pen and grey ink, tinted with watercolour
Inscriptions: Inscribed by the artist in grey and brown ink: "White Hall Palatium Regis" and in grey ink: "Thamesis fluvius"
Dimensions: Height: 98 millimetres, Width: 293 millimetres
From Hollar's first period in London 1637-43. Possibly connected with Hollar's etching 'Palatium Regis prope Londinum vulgo Whitehall' (Pennington 1039).
Image and additional descriptive text:
Here, courtesy of Westminster City Council, is Knyff's (1695) view of the Palace.
Whitehall is in the upper right corner of the section of the Rocque map.
In 1663 Samuel Sorbière, a visiting French philosopher and historian, was less than impressed with the Palace of Whitehall.
He judged the Banqueting House alone "very stately, because the rest of the Palace is ill Built, and nothing but a heap of Houses, erected at divers times, and of different Models, which they made Contiguous in the best manner they could."
"When the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza — who had led a sheltered and pious existence — arrived in England to marry Charles II in 1661, she and her ladies were horrified to find noblemen blithely urinating throughout the palace. The ladies complained “that they cannot stir abroad without seeing in every corner great beastly English pricks battering against every wall.”
"Festering palace filth was one reason royal courts moved around so much. Henry VIII traveled from Hampton Court to Windsor Castle to Greenwich Palace and beyond, often completing 30 moves a year.
"Once the court vacated, servants descended, buckets and scrub brushes in hand, to remove all the human waste off the floors."
From a fun article about hygiene and poison in those days in general at: https://daily.jstor.org/hidden-poisons-of-the-roy…
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.