Sunday, 10 February 2013

Whitehall Palace

Whitehall Palace was a favourite residence for Tudor monarchs. But unfortunately the castle was destroyed by fire in 1698 - destroying the former home of the Tudors. Nevertheless it is worth taking a look at the lost home of the Tudors.

Whitehall Palace was the largest palace in the world with its 1.500 rooms - making it even bigger than both the Vatican and Versailles! Cardinal Wolsey expanded York Palace (as it was called earlier) to the extent that it was second only in size to Lambeth Palace in the London area - even when you include the King's palaces. When Henry VIII removed the Cardinal from power the King took over the palace and replaced Westminster Palace with the his newly acquired York Palace as his London residence.
When Henry VIII inspected the treasures of the palace he did it in company with none other than Anne Boleyn. The castle's name Whitehall is not mentioned until 1532 and it got it's new name from the white stones that made up the altar.

Henry VIII loved building and extended his palaces and Whitehall was no exception - the King spent 30.000 pounds (11 million pounds in 2007) in the 1540's on his new palace! But that is not the only connection to the Tudors that the palace had.
Both Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour married King Henry VIII in the chapel of Whitehall. And King Henry VIII died on January 28th 1547 in one of the many rooms of Whitehall. Sadly Hans Holbein's famous portrait of Henry VIII was lost in the fire. Shakespeare performed "the Tempest" here in 1611.

Today only a little of the once so grand palace remains. But a tower and parts from the tennis court from the time of Henry VIII still exists and is now built into the Old Cabinet and the Old Treasury. Cardinal Wolsey's Great Chamber - now Henry VIII's Wine Cellar - was preserved by order from Queen Mary in 1938.

Plan of Whitehall Palace from the 17th century

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