The Royal Palaces of London
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
I absolutely love this mighty volume, it has come in handy so many times before visiting a palace …or two… (for me it is even more special because I purchased it at the Banqueting House in Whitehall). It has a foreword by HRH Prince Charles himself, and Lucy Worsley (HRP's chief curator) has also contributed towards it, as it was produced in collaboration with Historic Royal Palaces. Buy here.
The book covers the Royal Palaces, past and present - The Tower of London (which is technically a castle, but used to have luxurious palatial rooms built-in), Whitehall, Greenwich, Eltham, St. James’s, Westminster, Hampton Court, Richmond, Buckingham, Kew and Kensington.
Few cities can compare with the amount of royal history that is connected to it. London definitely wins the cluster***k contest for the number of palaces in the same county. The book includes the map of the river and the palaces situated on its banks. It's amazing to note the significance of the Thames in all this.
It's also important to remember their chronological order. Some didn't exist until others were long gone. For example, Buckingham and Kensington were built or at least became royal long after Whitehall was gone. Kew appeared on the royal map ages after Greenwich Palace was transformed into the Naval College.
It's also good to bear in mind that some palaces have gone through an almost complete metamorphosis since they were used as actual royal palaces. As royal residences, Westminster & The Tower have long since been revamped for other purposes: parliament and prison, for instance. Also, most of Westminster Palace has perished in the many house fires that building has known, most notably during the reigns of Henry VIII and Queen Victoria. Only Westminster Hall and the Jewel Tower are there to give us a feel of Westminster Palace's long history.
Eltham Palace only has the Great Hall left, and Whitehall Palace has Banqueting House, as well as a few underground reminders, most notably a cellar under the Ministry of Defence.
Kew Palace has a particular place on this list, as originally the building we know now as Kew Palace would have been known as The Dutch House, and the former name was given to the building opposite. However, after the area was redeveloped and many buildings demolished, whatever left was then called Kew Palace, with the royal kitchens nearby.
The Palaces of Richmond, Whitehall, Westminster and Greenwich - all remain more as concepts than any kind of palatial residences at this point. It is still important for our history to remember them and acknowledge why they were built, by whom and what happened to them.
Throughly recommend for all Royal History fans! 🏰🎠👑