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St. James's Palace

St. James's Palace

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St. James's Palace is one of London's oldest palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

s. It is situated in Pall Mall
Pall Mall, London
Pall Mall is a street in the City of Westminster, London, and parallel to The Mall, from St. James's Street across Waterloo Place to the Haymarket; while Pall Mall East continues into Trafalgar Square. The street is a major thoroughfare in the St James's area of London, and a section of the...

, just north of St. James's Park
St. James's Park
St. James's Park is a 23 hectare park in the City of Westminster, central London - the oldest of the Royal Parks of London. The park lies at the southernmost tip of the St. James's area, which was named after a leper hospital dedicated to St. James the Less.- Geographical location :St. James's...

. Although no sovereign has resided there for almost two centuries, it has remained the official residence of the Sovereign and the most senior royal palace in the UK. For this reason it gives its name to the Royal Court (the "Court of St James's").

History


The palace was commissioned by Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, on the site of a former leper
Leprosy
Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

 hospital dedicated to Saint James the Less, from which the Palace and its nearby Park retain their names; the hospital was disbanded in 1532. The new palace, secondary in the king's interest to Henry's Whitehall Palace, was constructed between 1531 and 1536 in the red-brick Tudor style
Tudor architecture
The Tudor architectural style is the final development of medieval architecture during the Tudor period and even beyond, for conservative college patrons...

 around four courtyards: its gatehouse (illustration) survives on the north side, flanked by polygonal turrets with mock battlement
Battlement
A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of city walls or castles, comprises a parapet , in which portions have been cut out at intervals to allow the discharge of arrows or other missiles. These cut-out portions form crenels...

s, fitted with Georgian sash window
Sash window
A sash window or hung sash window is made of one or more movable panels or "sashes" that form a frame to hold panes of glass, which are often separated from other panes by narrow muntins...

s.

Two of Henry VIII's children died there: Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset
Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset
Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset was the son of King Henry VIII of England and his teenage mistress, Elizabeth Blount, the only illegitimate offspring whom Henry acknowledged.-Childhood:...

 and Mary I
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

 (Mary's heart and bowels were buried in the palace's Chapel Royal
Chapel Royal
A Chapel Royal is a body of priests and singers who serve the spiritual needs of their sovereign wherever they are called upon to do so.-Austria:...

). Elizabeth I was said to have spent the night there while waiting for the Spanish Armada to sail up the channel. Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 slept rather less soundly—as it was his final bed before his execution. Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

 then took it over, and turned it into barracks during the English Commonwealth period. It was then restored by Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 (Charles I's son), who also laid out St. James's Park. It became the principal residence of the monarch in London in 1698, during the reign of William III and Mary II
William and Mary
The phrase William and Mary usually refers to the coregency over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, of King William III & II and Queen Mary II...

 after Whitehall Palace was destroyed by fire, and became the administrative centre of the monarchy, a role it retains.


The first three Georges
House of Hanover
The House of Hanover is a deposed German royal dynasty which has ruled the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg , the Kingdom of Hanover, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 used St James's Palace as their principal London residence even though it was far from grand for the city palace of a major European monarchy; Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe , born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, and pamphleteer, who gained fame for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest proponents of the novel, as he helped to popularise the form in Britain and along with others such as Richardson,...

 called it "low and mean" in 1725. For most of the time of the personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 between Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 (later the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

) and the Electorate of Hanover
Electorate of Hanover
The Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg was the ninth Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation...

 (later Kingdom of Hanover
Kingdom of Hanover
The Kingdom of Hanover was established in October 1814 by the Congress of Vienna, with the restoration of George III to his Hanoverian territories after the Napoleonic era. It succeeded the former Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg , and joined with 38 other sovereign states in the German...

) from 1714 until 1837 the ministers of the German Chancery
German Chancery
The German Chancery was the official name given to the office of the Hanoverian ministry in London during the years of personal union between Great Britain and the Electorate of Hanover from 1714 until 1837...

 were working in two small rooms within St James's Palace. In 1757, George II
George II of Great Britain
George II was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Archtreasurer and Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 until his death.George was the last British monarch born outside Great Britain. He was born and brought up in Northern Germany...

 donated the Palace library to the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

; this gift was the first part of what later became the Royal Collection
Royal Collection
The Royal Collection is the art collection of the British Royal Family. It is property of the monarch as sovereign, but is held in trust for her successors and the nation. It contains over 7,000 paintings, 40,000 watercolours and drawings, and about 150,000 old master prints, as well as historical...

.

In 1809 a fire destroyed part of the palace, including the monarch's private apartments at the south east corner. These apartments were not replaced, leaving the Queen's Chapel
Queen's Chapel
The Queen's Chapel is a Christian chapel in central London, England that was designed by Inigo Jones and built between 1623 and 1625 as an adjunct to St. James's Palace...

 in isolation, and Marlborough Road now runs between the two buildings. George III had purchased Buckingham House the predecessor to Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

for his queen
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the Queen consort of the United Kingdom as the wife of King George III...

 back in 1762, and St James's continued to decline in importance in the first half of the 19th century. It increasingly came to be used only for formal occasions such as official receptions, royal marriages, and christenings. Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

 formalised the move in 1837, ending St James's status as the primary residence of the monarch. Some structures and interiors survive by Sir Christopher Wren
Christopher Wren
Sir Christopher Wren FRS is one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history.He used to be accorded responsibility for rebuilding 51 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, including his masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, completed in 1710...

 and William Kent
William Kent
William Kent , born in Bridlington, Yorkshire, was an eminent English architect, landscape architect and furniture designer of the early 18th century.He was baptised as William Cant.-Education:...

, but most was remodelled in the nineteenth century. William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

 and his firm were commissioned to redecorate the Armoury and the Tapestry Room, 1866-67.

The late Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana, Princess of Wales was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 29 July 1981, and an international charity and fundraising figure, as well as a preeminent celebrity of the late 20th century...

's coffin was kept for a few days at the Chapel Royal
Chapel Royal
A Chapel Royal is a body of priests and singers who serve the spiritual needs of their sovereign wherever they are called upon to do so.-Austria:...

 at the Palace before being taken to Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace is a royal residence set in Kensington Gardens in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century and is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and...

 on the eve of her funeral at the Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

 in September 1997.

Notable people born at St James's Palace

  • Anne of Great Britain
    Anne of Great Britain
    Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

  • William Neville Hart
    William Neville Hart
    William Neville Hart was a British banker, politician and diplomat. He was born to Denise Gougeon, the wife of Lewis Augustus Blondeau. His mother was the Under Housekeeper or Mistress of the King’s Household, a position she was to hold for more than fifty years...

  • Charles II of England
    Charles II of England
    Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...


Today



St James's Palace is still a working palace, and the Royal Court is still formally based there foreign ambassadors are still accredited to the Court of St James's, even though they are received by the monarch at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

. It is also the London residence of the Princess Royal
Anne, Princess Royal
Princess Anne, Princess Royal , is the only daughter of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh...

, Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Beatrice of York is the elder daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah, Duchess of York...

 and Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy
Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy
Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy is the youngest granddaughter of King George V of the United Kingdom and Mary of Teck. She is the widow of Sir Angus Ogilvy...

. The Palace forms part of a sprawling complex of buildings housing Court offices and officials' apartments. The immediate palace complex includes York House
York House, St. James's Palace
York House is a historic wing of St James's Palace, London, built for Frederick, Prince of Wales on his marriage in 1736. It is in the north-western part of the palace on the site of a former suttling-house for the Guards; it overlooks Ambassadors' Court and Cleveland Row to the west of the old...

, the former home of the Prince of Wales
Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay...

 and his sons, Princes William and Harry. Lancaster House
Lancaster House
Lancaster House is a mansion in the St. James's district in the West End of London. It is close to St. James's Palace and much of the site was once part of the palace complex...

 located next-door, is used by HM Government for official receptions, and the nearby Clarence House
Clarence House
Clarence House is a royal home in London, situated on The Mall, in the City of Westminster. It is attached to St. James's Palace and shares the palace's garden. For nearly 50 years, from 1953 to 2002, it was home to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, but is since then the official residence of The...

, the home of the late Queen Mother
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon was the queen consort of King George VI from 1936 until her husband's death in 1952, after which she was known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, to avoid confusion with her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II...

 is now the residence of the Prince of Wales.

The Queen's Chapel
Queen's Chapel
The Queen's Chapel is a Christian chapel in central London, England that was designed by Inigo Jones and built between 1623 and 1625 as an adjunct to St. James's Palace...

, built by Inigo Jones
Inigo Jones
Inigo Jones is the first significant British architect of the modern period, and the first to bring Italianate Renaissance architecture to England...

, adjoins St James's Palace. While the Chapel is open to the public at selected times, the palace is not accessible to the public. St James's Palace is one of the four buildings in London where guards from the Household Division
Household Division
Household Division is a term used principally in the Commonwealth of Nations to describe a country’s most elite or historically senior military units, or those military units that provide ceremonial or protective functions associated directly with the head of state.-Historical Development:In...

 can be seen (the other three are Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Horse Guards
Horse Guards (building)
Horse Guards is a large grade I listed building in the Palladian style between Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade in London, England. It was built between 1751 and 1753 by John Vardy to a design by William Kent. The building was constructed on the site of the Guard House of the old Whitehall Palace,...

).

Since the beginning of the 2000s, the Royal Philatelic Collection
Royal Philatelic Collection
The Royal Philatelic Collection is the postage stamp collection of the British Royal Family. It is the most comprehensive collection of items related to the philately of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth, with many unique pieces.- Early history :...

 has been housed at St James's Palace, after spending the entire 20th century at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

.

From October 2008 onwards, and officially from 6 January 2009, the staff of Princes William and Harry moved into their own rooms in St James's Palace and began reporting directly to the royal princes for the first time. In addition, the staff also began serving Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge upon her marriage to Prince William in 2011. Prior to 2008, the brothers' duties were looked after by the Prince of Wales' office at Clarence House.

External links