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HE subject which we have to consider this
evening, by its nature, will prove that it will be almost, if not quite, impossible to mention but in a brief manner the various items of interest which attach to it.
We have to bear in mind that we are
dealing with the ages of the past, and with the buildings which in their time took rank as being part of the period to which they belonged, and which now belong to the realm of history; and, like all things which belong to the ages of long ago, there has become woven about them in the course of time, as might be supposed, details of interest which are part of them, and which by their very nature belong to them.
It is difficult to believe now that, as the poet Gay expresses it, on the river Thames
“There Essex's stately pile adorned the shore,
Of all the Palaces but two small fragments are left, viz., the Chapel of the Savoy and the Banqueting-House at Whitehall. We have to gather from various sources, in the names of the streets, out of books, manuscripts, maps and views, what we wish to learn about them; and it is by these means that we shall endeavour to pierce the surrounding veil, and learn something of the buildings which are now little more than traditions.
Whitehall in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.At this period Whitehall consisted solely of the Palace. In the eighteenth century were erected the Horse Guards and Dover House, on the site of the Tilt-yard, the Treasury on that of the Cockpit. In the nineteenth century the Privy Council and Education Offices were erected on the old Tennis Court, and various other streets and private houses were erected during that time.
Whitehall.—The history of Whitehall may be briefly described : Hubert de Burgh devised his house here to the Black Friars, 1242, who sold it to Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York. It continued as the London house of that See until, by a deed dated February 11th, 1530, Wolsey conveyed York House to Sir Thomas More and others, on the King's behalf. In the year 1536 an Act of Parliament was passed which said that the old Palace of Westminster was then, and had been a long time before, in utter ruin and decay, and that the King had lately obtained one great mansion-place and house, and that upon the soil and ground thereof he had “most sumptuously and curiously builded and edified many and distinct beautiful costly and pleasant lodgings, buildings and mansions and adjoining streets ;" had made a park,' and walled and environed it round with brick and stone, and there devised and ordained many and singular commodious things, pleasures, and other neceasaries, apt and convenient to appertain to so noble a Prince for his pastimes and solace.
In the year 1606, the "old, rotten, slight-builded Banqueting - House” built by Queen Elizabeth, was removed, and a new one built in the following year ; but of this we read as follows:-“ About ten o'clock in the morning, upon Tuesday, the 12th day of January, 1619, the fair Banqueting-House was upon the sudden all flaming, a fire from end to end and side to side . . . . at sight whereof the Court, being sore amazed, sent speedy news to the great Lords of the Council, who were then but newly sat in the Guildhall in London, but they all rose and returned to Whitehall, and gave directions to the multitude of people to suppress the flames, and by hook to pull down some other adjoining buildings.”
1 St. James's Park,
Upon the site of this destroyed edifice was erected the present one. The last of the old buildings disappeared on 10th of April, 1691, when the whole of the building, with the exception of the Banqueting-House, was burnt. In Evelyn's Diary it is thus described :—“ Whitehall burnt; nothing but walls and ruins left.”
Six years later, in 1697, a second fire broke out. After this nothing was done to rebuild it. William III died, and Queen Anne lived at St. James's, and with this came the end of Whitehall as a Royal Palace.
The Banqueting-House. — The Banqueting-House is the only portion that was erected of the building designed by Inigo Jones. As already stated, it took the place of a former building which was destroyed by fire. It was commenced on June 1st, 1619, and completed March 31st, 1622, the total cost being £14,940, an additional £713 being expended on a pierat Oatland.
The original account is to be seen at the Record Office, from which it would appear that the excess of cost over the original estimate was £5. The account was not settled in full until 1633. The architect received £400.
The Ceiling.-The great painted ceiling by Rubens consists of three central compartments, and the same number, but smaller, on either side. It represents King James I welcoming the beauties of Peace. The panels at the sides show the contrast between Peace and War. The inscription at the foot of the engraving is as follows;
“Graved by Sim Gribelin from the painting of Sir P. P. Rubens on the ceiling, in the Banqueting-House at Whitehall, in the year 1720, Cum Privil Defunc Annae Regin. This ceiling presents in proper and curious emblems the prosperous state of Great Britain in the reign of King James I: his concern for religion, his love of arts and sciences, the birth of a Prince, the union of the two Kingdoms, and His Majesty's most eminent virtues crowned with glory and immortality.” The painter received the sum of £4,000—about £10 a square yard.
Before being turned into the United Service Museum, it became “The Chapel Royal, Whitehall.” that the “ Maundy” alms were distributed, until the ceremony was removed to Westminster Abbey on the Chapel being abolished as a place of worship.
Views of Whitehall Palace.—The five large engravings consist of three of the fronts, viz., the Westminster and the Park, the River front, a bird's-eye view taken from the Charing Cross side, and a ground-plan showing the arrangement of the old Palace. The fronts show an elevation divided into four divisions ; in the central portion, two towers carried up above the roofs of the adjoining building with entrance gateway. The main central building is in three stories, on either side a wing in two stories, and on the outside of the whole square towers in three stories. In the bird's-eye view there will be seen three great courts, the line of the roofs separating them being in a line with the square towers of the centre portion of the fronts. The court on the eastern side is in three divisions, the central one being circular, with an open gallery on each story, the arches of which are carried on figures. The other two are oblong, the corresponding court on the other side being similar, except that the central one is
one is square and not circular. The third occupies the centre of the building.
The Plan of Whitehall Pulace.—The Palace, as it was in the reign of Charles II, extended from what is now
Richmond Terrace along the river to Great Scotland Yard, close to where the National Liberal Club now stands. It included on the north the Horse Guards, the Treasury, and Downing Street. A gateway was placed at the south end of the Banqueting-House, and another at the corner of Downing Street. The south side of the Palace began with the Bowling Green; next to this was the Privy Garden. The front consisted of the Banqueting-Hall, the Gate and Gate Terrace, and a long row of mean buildings. The Gate opened up on a series of three courts, or quadrangles. In the first, called The Court, was situated the Banqueting-House ; opposite to this on the east side was the Great Hall, or Presence Chamber, the Chapel, and the private rooms of the King and Queen. This part contained all that was left of old York House. Behind the Privy Garden was the Stone Gallery, which contained the Art Gallery and Library. Between the river and the Stone Gallery were the apartments of those connected with the Court. The numbers given amount to fifty-eight. In the second court we find the kitchen, pantry, cellars, and several others, each with its own superintendent with his own quarters ; in fact, everything that could be wanted to carry on so large an establishment as we find here that occupied the site of what is now the Old Scotland Yard and Whitehall Place. In Scotland Yard were placed store shops, with a wharf on the river. In front of the Palace, the Tilt Yard and the Horse Guards Yard, and in front of the Privy Garden the Cock Pit and Tennis Court, and various apartments, chiefly of great officers.
The River Front. The river front of Whitehall consisted of a red brick wall, with six small turrets. In the Crace Collection, at the British Museum, there is a watercolour sketch showing a portion of the river wall and the Palace. There is shown on Vertue's plan a landing-stair leading to the Bowling Green, which was close to the wall. The Privy Garden stairs consisted of a long bridge or gangway, about 70 ft. in length, with the stairs at the river, and a little further on were the Palace Stairs, about 150 ft. in length, and similar to the other at the