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Whitehall palace

Whitehall palace as a royal residence lasted some 150 years. It began life as the London residence of the archbishops of York and was called York Place. Wolsey spent lavishly on it and, on his fall in 1529, it was seized by Henry VIII, who had lost the greater part of Westminster palace by fire in 1512. He added a tiltyard for tournaments, a tennis court, cockpit, and bowling alley, and bought up fields to the west which eventually became St James's Park. The palace remained ramshackle, a collection of miscellaneous buildings linked by galleries, with the main road from Charing Cross to Westminster running right through it. Elizabeth I entertained her suitor the duc d'Alençon there in 1581 in a number of makeshift canvas pavilions. Her successor James I resolved to build a fitting reception hall. His first attempt was burned down in 1619, but the second, the Banqueting hall, designed by Inigo Jones, was finished by 1622. Charles II used the palace a great deal after the Restoration with various suites fitted out for his assortment of mistresses, but William III disliked it and began developing Hampton Court and Kensington palace, in the country, as alternatives. A disastrous fire in 1698, which left only the Banqueting hall standing, provided the opportunity to abandon a palace that was too sprawling, public, and inconvenient. By the 18th cent. it was being taken over for government offices.

J. A. Cannon

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