Henry VIII took over York Place, the London residence of the Archbishops of York, in 1529 and renovated and expanded it to create the impressive Palace of Whitehall, one of the largest palaces in Europe at the time.
Its unusual design straddled the public thoroughfare, now known as Whitehall, with the royal privy apartments on the east side of the street, beside the River Thames and extensive recreation facilities, including a large tiltyard, tennis courts, cockpit and bowling alleys on the west side of the street. The two sides of the palace were connected by the Holbein Gate to the north and King St Gate to the south, enabling royalty and nobility to move around the palace without crossing the public road.
Favoured by Henry and Anne Boleyn in the early days of their courtship, it is here that the couple were married in 1533 and that Henry VIII died in 1547. Whitehall was Elizabeth I’s principal London residence, where she entertained foreign dignitaries and her suitors, using the magnificent palace to display her splendour, power and wealth.
Charles I was executed at Whitehall, on a site in front of the current Banqueting House, created by Inigo Jones, with a magnificent ceiling painting by Rubens, in 1619 – 22. Standing on the site of the original Banqueting House built for Elizabeth I, it is all that remains above ground of the Palace of Whitehall, which was destroyed by fire in 1698.
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