An outline history of the Area, in Chronological Order
959 • First mentioned. The Saxon King Edgar defined the boundary of the land as mid-stream in the Thames to the S; following the course of the River Westbourne on the W; the Fleet Rivers to the E; with a northern boundary along the line of the present day Holborn and Oxford Street (the Road to Silchester).
Old Scotland Yard
970 • In use from Saxon times when King Edgar built a palace 970 AD in Scotland Yard for use of the kings of Scotland who visited London every year. They came to do homage to the kings of England for Cumberland and other fiefs held by them as vassals of the English crown.
1603 • It was in use until the Act of Union between England and Scotland of 1603 when James VI of Scotland became James I of England.
The palace was then partly dismantled and converted into offices. It stood on land now occupied by Whitehall Court.
1222 • The land on which Whitehall Palace later stood was sold by the Abbot of Westminster Abbey to Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent and Lord Chief Justice of England.
1243 • Hubert de Burgh died and left the property to the Blackfriars who sold it to Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York. The Blackfriars at that time were at Holborn.
1255 • Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York, died and left the property to the See of York.
1360 • By 1360 it was know as York House.
1514 • Cardinal Thomas Wolsey came into the possession of the property and largely rebuilt it, providing a chapel and a fine hall built in Tudor style. The wine cellar was built 1514-29.
The land covered about 23 acres (9.3 hectares) extending N to the line of Northumberland Avenue and S to the line of today's Downing Street.
1530 • On the death of Thomas Wolsey, in 1530, the property passed to Henry VIII who used it as a residence, calling it Whitehall Palace.
1530 • The first known use of the new name was 1530 but it was not until 1542 that 'York Place' was completely superseded.
Originally called 'York Place' after the See of York, the name was changed to 'Whitehall' when the property passed to Henry VIII who determined to eradicated all memory of his fallen favourite, Thomas Wolsey. York Place has been so conneted with the name and fame of Wolsey that a fresh designation was needed to make people realise that it had a new master.
Henry probably named it 'White Hall' following the custom of calling any festive hall by that name.
It may have been named after a building by that name at the Palace of Westminster, where the Lords met, which was lime washed white.
1530 • On the death of Thomas Wolsey, in 1530, York Place passed to Henry VIII who used it as a residence.
The building had become known as 'York House' after the See of York but the name was changed to 'Whitehall' after a building by that name at the Palace of Westminster, where the Lords met, which was lime washed white.
1619 • See: Banqueting House.
1658 • Oliver Cromwell used the palace as his London residence and died there on 3 September 1658.
1685 • Charles II died at Whitehall.
1691 • All the buidings over the stone gallery to the water-side burnt. Fire consumed 150 houses, chiefly of the nobility, and 20 were blown up.
Mary gave permission for the Renatus Harris organ to be moved from the Chapel Royal, at Whitehall, to St Peter ad Vincula, at the Tower of London.
1698 • The palace was destroyed by fire on 5 January and not rebuilt. The only building to survive the fire was the Banqueting House.
John Evelyn's diary tersely says: "Whitehall burnt; nothing but walls and ruins left."
After the fire St James's Palace became the royal residence.
1717 • The land was cleared and let out to various noblemen.
Now • Of the Tudor palace, very little can be seen: (1) Some Tudor brick walls to the N of Downing Street. (2) Banqueting House. (3) QUeen Mary's Steps.
** Henry VIII's wine cellar remains from the Tudor palace. They lie below the Ministry of Defence building.
** Queen Mary's Steps remain from the Tudor palace. They stand beside the Ministry of Defence building.
Banqueting House, Whitehall Palace
1619 • According to Timbs, the old Banqueting House burnt on 12 January 1619.
Designed by Inigo Jones, a new Banqueting Hall was built 1619-22 on the instructions of James I. It was used for splendid court ceremonies, spectacular masques and banquets.
It is 110 feet (33.5 m) long, 55 feet (17 m) wide and 55 feet (17 m) high.
1634 • The ceiling consists of panels painted 1630-35 by Peter Rubens.
The work was done in Antwerp for which he received 3000 Pounds and a knighthood. The panels were installed 1634-35.
About the same time a royal art collection was established 1634 in the Banqueting House.
1649 • Charles I was led from St James's Palace to the Banqueting House on 30 January 1649 to be executed on a scaffold erected outside one of the windows of the house.
He was buried at Windsor. A plaque above the street entrance records the event.
1695 • Although the Banqueting House was never consecrated, William III distributed Maundy Money in the House about 1695.
1698 • In the fire at Whitehall Palace, it was the only building to survive.
1724 • It was used as a Chapel from 1724 until 1890.
1890 • The Banqueting House ceased to be used as a chapel. The organ was installed in St Peter ad Vincula, at the Tower of London.
Queen Victoria then gave permission for the House to be used by the Royal United Services Institution as a museum of military relics.
1962 • It remained a museum for the United Services until 1962 when the building was emptied and restored to its former splendour.
Now • The Banqueting House, on the corner of Whitehall and Horseguards Avenue, is empty and open to the the public.
----- PART TWO (of TWO) -----
1681 George Downing rose to be Secretary of the Treasury, he bought
a plot of land close to Whitehall Palace and built a number of
houses in a short street which he named after himself.
Sir George Downing was Chaplain to the Parlimantary Forces.
After the execution of Charles I he urged Cromwell to assume
the Crown but his roundhead sympathies did not prevent him
from assuming office in the Exchequer when Charles II was
restored to the Throne. Pepys called him a "perfidious rogue".
1723 The houses in the street were rebuilt about 1723.
1731 No 10 Downing Street originally belonged to the Earl Lichfield,
who went into exile with James II rather than swear alligiance
to William III. When George I came to the throne, he gave it
to his crony Baron Rothmar, who lived in the house and died
1735 In 1735 Robert Walpole, the first 'Prime Minister', declined to
accept No 10 Downing Street as a personal gift, but agreed to
live there on condition that it should be the future official
residence of the First Lord of the Treasury.
1766 The houses in Downing Street were re-fronted.
Now It runs W from Whitehall, lined now only with three houses on
the N side, notably:
No 10, the official residence of the Prime Minister
No 11, the official residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer
No 12, the Office of the Chief Government Whip.
In spite of extensive rebuilding the houses still retain the C18
fronts which are a good example of Georgian architecture.
1722 It dates from its last rebuilding 1722-26 to designs by Thomas
It stands on the site of Wallingford House, the former residence
of the Dukes of Buckingham.
1760 The stone screen, in front of the Admiralty, was erected,
designed by Robert Adam.
1796 The Admiralty Shutter Telegraph was established on top of the
1816 The Admiralty Semaphore Telegraph was established on top of the
Now The building stands behind the stone screen on the W side of
Whitehall near Trafalgar Square.
It has been the headquarters of the Navy for over 200 years. In
the Grand Hall is a plaster cast of Nelson Column. It was in
the Captain's Room that Nelson lay in State before burial in
St Paul's Cathedral.
The Board Room has C18 furniture and on the wall is a weather
vane in memory of the days of sail which was part of the
Admiralty Semaphore Telegraph which used to operate from the
roof of the building.
The Board of the Admiralty has a civilian Chairman, his title
being First Lord of the Admiralty, who is generally a cabinet
minister having his official residence in the building. The
Executive is composed of five high ranking officers called Sea
Lords. The First Sea Lord is Commander-in-Chief of the Royal
Navy and is often an Admiral of the Fleet.
1733 It was first built 1733-36 to designs of William Kent.
1824 A new building by John Soane was erected 1824-27.
1844 The Treasury, which was proving to be too small, was dismantled
1844 and a new one was erected, designed by Charles Barry
Now It stands on the W side of Whitehall to the S of Horse Guards.
1750 It was built 1753-60, designed by William Kent, as an army head-
quarters. There was a guard house on the site in Tudor times
and before that a tilt yard which was part of Whitehall
Now The buldings stand on the W side of Whitehall and extend to St
** There is a black spot above the number two on the clock face
on the tower of Horse Guards. It is said to indicate the time
at which Charles I was executed in the roadway opposite.
1755 Built 1755-58 as a private house to designs by James Paine. It
then stood on land leased to Viscount Falmouth in 1717. The
name is derived from George Agar-Ellis, the first Lord Dover.
It stands on part of the land of Whitehall Palace which was
destroyed by fire and the land leased to noblemen.
Now The house stands on the site of the old tilt-yard of Whitehall
Palace and is now used as the Scottish Office.
1770 Erected 1770-72 as a private house, it derives its name from
The house stands on land that was cleared after the fire at
Whitehall Palace and let out to various noblemen.
Now It stands on the E side of Whitehall.
Great Scotland Yard
1829 Additional police offices were established by Robert Peel which
became the headquarters of the new Metropolitan Police force
of 3000 men. Its address was quoted as No 4, Whitehall Place.
The Metropolitan Police were established 1829 by Robert Peel
which is why the police are referred to as 'Bobbies'. Another
nick-name at first was 'Peeler'.
1856 It was built 1856-58 to designs of Sir George Gilbert Scott.
1914 It was from the Foreign Office that Sir Edward Grey made his
prophetic remark - "the lamps are going out all over
Europe" - when Britain went to war with Germany on 4 August
1914. A plaque to this great Liberal statesman is on the wall
by the side of the steps leading to Downing Street.
Now The front is in Whitehall, but the building extends to line part
of St James's Park. The Foreign Secretary's room is on an
1862 Following 1858, the 'Year of the Great Stink', action was at
last taken to do something about sewerage in London.
The Thames Embankment Bill was passed 1862 and work began on the
one and a quarter mile project under the direction of Sir
Joseph Bazalgette, engineer to the Metropolitan Board of
** Four problems were solved in the project: (1) land was
reclaimed from the river; (2) a sewage system was constructed,
giving a low level outfall; (3) an underground railway was
built, now part of the Circle Line; and (4) a new roadway was
The total cost was 1.5 million Pounds, met by a levy of 13 pence
per ton on coal sold in the Metropolitan London area.
The work lasted from 1862-70.
1870 Victoria Embankment Gardens opened.
Now WEST-WHIT-STRA-FLEE: It extends E from Westminster Bridge to
New Scotland Yard,Whitehall
1888 The 'North Building', designed by Richard Norman Shaw, was
built 1888-90 from Dartmoor granite, hewn by convict labour,
as the new Headquarters of the Metropolitan Police.
1891 The North Building was opened 1891 and the police moved into
the premises from their old headquarters at Old Scotland Yard.
1906 The 'South Building', also designed by Nowman Shaw, was
1967 The police moved 1967 from the buildings beside the Thames to
new premises near Victoria Street.
The old buildings were renamed the 'Norman Shaw Building' and
refurbished for use as additional offices for Members of
Now The twin red-brick buildings with white stone blocks face the
river beside the Victoria Embankment. On the more northerly
building is a large round bronze plaque to Shaw inscribed
"Richard Norman Shaw, architect, 1831-1912".
1898 Built 1898-1912, designed by J M Brydon.
Now Stand on the corner of Parliament Street and Parliament Square.
1898 It was built 1898, designed by William Young, as the Ministry
of Defence. It was constructed of Portland Stone, with groups
of Ionic pillars and four circular flanking towers 156 feet
(47.5 m) high.
Now It stands on the E side of Whitehall, almost opposite Horse
Westminster,Metropolitan Borough of
1899 Westminster became one of the Metropolitan London Boroughs
combining the parishes of: St Margaret and St John; St George,
Hanover Square; St James, Piccadilly; St Martin in the Fields;
and the district of the Strand Board of Works.
It extending N to Oxford Street and S to the Thames.
1965 It was combined with the Metropolitan Boroughs of Paddington and
St Marylebone to form the London Borough of Westminster.
1900 In 1900 King Street was named Parliament Street.
Now It runs N from Parliament Square into Whitahall.
1902 The statue, to Queen Boadicea, was erected 1902 and designed by
J L Thorneycroft.
Now The figure of Boadicea on her horse-drawn chariot, without any
reins, is beside Westminster Bridge on the other side of the
road from Big Ben.
1911 Designed by Sir Aston Webb, it was completed 1911.
Now It stands to the SW of Trafalgar Square, across The Mall, and is
part of the Admiralty buildings.
1918 A monument, made in wood, designed by Edwin Lutyens, was
unveiled 18 July 1918.
1920 Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the stome edifice was erected
1920 as a memorial to the dead of the First Worl War, but has
become the place of homage to the dead of all subsequent
wars. The design was deliberately simple, with no distinctive
religious symbols, to act as an inter-denominational monument.
Now It stands in Whitehall, in the centre of the road.
Air Force Memorial
1923 Crowned by a golden eagle and designed by Sir Reginald
Blomfield and Sir William Reid Dick, it was unveiled 1923.
Now The memorial, with the motto 'Per Ardua ad Astra' meaning
'through hardship to the stars', stands on the Victoria
Embankment beside the river, opposite the Ministry of Defence.
1930 It was built 1930 to designs of E A Stone.
Now Seating 673 persons, it is on the W side of Whitehall, near
Cabinet War Rooms
1938 In 1938, on the instigation of Winston Churchill and others,
the basement of the Civil Service buildings was converted and
reinforced for use as Cabinet Offices in the event of war.
1980 They were opened to the public about 1980.
Now They are in Whitehall.
1959 Although it was designed 1913 by Vincent Harris, the building
was not begun until after the last war and completed 1959.
It covers much of the land on which Whitehall Palace once stood.
Now The white stone building, with a green roof, stands facing the
Westminster,London Borough of
1965 PADD-STMM-PICC-STJJ-STRA-WEST-WHIT:Formed from the Metropolitan
Boroughs of Paddington, St Marylebone and Westminster.
Tattershall Castle (Ship)
1975 Named 'Tattershall Castle, Grimsby' across the stern, it was
brought to the Thames and permanently moored there in 1975 for
use as a floating exhibition hall.
Dating from 1934, it had been in use as a ferry on the River
1982 In 1982 the ship opened as a pub and cafeteria with inside and
outside bars open through the day.
Now The paddle steamer is moored beside the Victoria Embankment a
little up-river of Charing Cross Railway Bridge.
Now The area of study relates to the buildings between Parliament
Square and Trafalgar Square.
Horse Guards, Mounting the Guard at
Charles I Memorial Parade: Takes place on the Sunday nearest 30
January, the day of his execution. There is a procession from
St James's Palace, via Trafalgar Square, to the Banqueting
Beating the Retreat,Horse Guards Parade: Takes place during the
middle of two weeks late in May on Horse Guards Parade.
Trooping the Colour,Horse Guards Parade: Takes place in early
Remembrance Day Service: Takes place on the Sunday nearest 11
November at the Cenotaph.
• ENDS •