A long time ago someone told me that under the buildings by the river Thames near to Westminster Palace was Henry VIII’s wine cellar. I always thought it was strange to have a wine cellar a distance away from Westminster. I also knew that the street called Birdcage Walk, where I used to facilitate training events a few years ago, was named Birdcage Walk because it used to be the site of James I’s bird cages. But I could never work out how that related to anything else either.
But when I visited Banqueting House in London, I discovered why. Alongside the river, just over the road from the palace of Westminster, there used to be the largest palace in the Europe, Whitehall Palace.
The property and land belonged to the church initially and the kings of England stayed in Westminster Palace when in the London. But in the hands of Cardinal Wolsey’s the old palace became the grandest house in London. So when Henry VIII removed the Cardinal from power, he decided to make it his home when he stayed in London. It was renovated and extended to become fit for a King and his court. The image below is an impression of the palace. You can see how easily the King could have travelled on the river from the palace.
The current banqueting house was completed in 1622, commissioned by James I. He loved the fashionable masque’s that the royal family put on to impress their courtiers and had the engineer who created the moving scenery for the plays design the hall itself. It became a hall in which our royalty loved to show off; whether that was through plays that professed them to be gods and saviours of humanity, or through huge banquets to greet and impress dignitaries from foreign countries.
But there is a morbid tale to tell about the banqueting house too. King Charles I was lead out of Whitehall Palace through the banqueting house to a platform that had been built on scaffolding outside so that the crowds could see him. His footsteps would have rung on the broad wooden floor and echoed about the huge room. Above him, as he walked, were the paintings he’d had commissioned that portrayed both himself and his father as honoured and disciplined gods. He stepped out onto the platform through one of the hall’s windows and then his head was severed before the backdrop of the beautiful hall.
When the Royals were reinstated in England, King Charles II spent much of his time with his court at Whitehall. Samual Pepy’s diaries tell us about life in the palace when it was at its height. A story of life at Whitehall Palace
We don’t know about Whitehall Palace now because it was destroyed in a fire in 1698. The only part of it that survived was the banqueting house… Oh and a wine cellar obviously.
🙂 I thought this was a good little story to share while the Gunpowder period drama is on, as the programme has many scenes around Westminster and Whitehall.
The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama
The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last episode in the Marlow Intrigues series
The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all
The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4
The Persuasive Love of a Libertine #5.75 now included in Jealous Love, (or free if you can persuade Amazon to price match with Kobo ebooks) 😉
Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback
Go to the index
- the story of the real courtesan who inspired The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
- another free short story, about characters from book #2, A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
- the prequel excerpts for book #3 The Scandalous Love of a Duke
Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark