Whitehall’s Glorious Past

Did you know that a palace larger than that at Versailles use to exist in Europe? Well there was one. The legacy of the Palace of Whitehall in London is amost entirely erased. Contained within the Cabinet building and the name given to a major motor vehicle artery which bisects the Admiralty House and the Banqueting House (the only part of the palace to survive the fire, even this building has gone under renovations to the point that it barely resembles its original design). Yet, Whitehall was grand, important and a very large presence. That is, up until 1698 when fire broke out and burned the residential apartments of the building down.

With over 1,500 rooms, the palace of Whitehall rivaled all palaces in Europe, even Versailles and the Vatican. The principle house of the British monarch from 1530 until 1690, it is surprising to note Whitehall’s short life span – less than 200 years! And as one could imagine, the 23 acres of land the castle one stood on was largely a construction site for the better half of its existence. Built out of the need to give the royals a regal place of residence in the city of London after Westminster Palace had been turned over to the British Government, Whitehall encompassed a great many aspects of contemporary and British architectural past. Drawing largely from Richmond Palace, King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, and King James made significant additions to the structure, the latter employing Inigo Jones to design the Banqueting House.

Amongst the formalities and governance of court life at the Palace, the first production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest is said to have been performed at Whitehall for Queen Elizabeth and her council. Remnants like this historical detail, and the fragmented remains of Whitehall itself that survived the devastating fire are the best guests to the Heathrow hotels can find when visiting London. Still, if guests of the Heathrow Airport hotels are interested in researching Whitehall’s glorious past a bit further, consider consulting the ancient blue prints, sketches and treatises housed within the British Library.

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March 29, 2011 | Author: | Posted in Airline Travel


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