( Above Photo: Whitehall )
The Palace of Whitehall at Westminster was once the primary residence of English monarchs, 1530 to 1698. King Henry VIII was the first monarch to reside in Whitehall after a fire destroyed the royal apartments at the Palace of Westminster.
In 1698, Whitehall was destroyed in a fire, leaving the 1622 Banqueting House of Inigo Jones. However, its original location retains the name Whitehall. It had over 1,500 rooms, making it Europe’s largest palace after the Vatican.
Currently, the site of the Palace of Whitehall has several government buildings. The place and surrounding streets are all called Whitehall.
The first buildings at the Palace of Whitehall housed the Archbishop of York. It was a large complex of buildings on the banks of the Thames. When Cardinal Wolsey became a resident of Whitehall, he had it modernized and enlarged.
In 1512, following the destruction by fire of the Palace of Westminster, Henry VIII was left without a principal official residence. In 1529, the king took over the archbishop’s residence when Wosley lost power.
It was during a routine visit to York Place in 1529 that Henry and Anne Boleyn (the king’s mistress) fell in love with the palace. They worked with King Henry VIII Master Carpenter James Needham to redesign the palace to their specifications.
(Above photo - How the Palace of Whitehall used to look )
They build a two-section palace on either side of a busy street. There was a royal recreation center, where the royals went to play bowls and tennis or watch cock fights.
To the opposite side, the palace’s residential part incorporated Wolsey’s house and had a long gallery sitting next to magnificent gardens to the south. The king had all his private rooms in the privy gallery.
A bridge over the road linked the two sections of the palace. The bridge was concealed in the Holbein gatehouse. Works on the new palace started in 1536 and continued through 1547 when the king died.
Henry and his family had to put up with heavy building work close to their residences for the rest of his reign over England. In the end, Queen Elizabeth I completed the building project in 1551, bringing into existence the Palace of Whitehall.
With the land for the construction of the new palace, Henry had bought huge tracks of land to the west to create several hunting parks. Even though they were initially royal hunting grounds, they are today called Regent’s Park, Hyde Park, Green Park, and St. James’s Park.
In 1623, Inigo Jones built the stone Banqueting House, a magnificent structure that remains in place today. Earlier, James I had created a banqueting house to replace another by Elizabeth I. Now Inigo Jones’s house was a replacement for the one by James I.
In 1660, Charles II decided to rebuild the palace of White Hall but couldn’t execute it due to financial difficulties. After ascending to the throne, James II built a new queen’s apartment in the complex. Queen Anne was the last monarch ever to use Whitehall as a palace.
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