Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Question from Joyce - St. James' Palace

Iam curious about St James Place I know Henry VIII built it on the site of an old hospital I think, bit as it is so close to Whitehall what was it used for, also is the Chapel Royal there the original one and are there pictures of it anywhere? I have visited St James Place and think the Tudor gatewat is still amazing, are many of the stone window frames around that enterance original? we got to it by way of Duke St , St James I think many visitors miss it becuase it is sort of , away from a main road but worth the trip

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

Yes, St James's Palace was indeed built on the site of a former leper hospital that was closed in the early 1530s. At the time, the site was outside of the city of London and thus in a much less populated area than Whitehall, which was itself already quite urbanized in the 16th century. So you can think of St James's Palace as Henry's "suburban getaway house," a place that was outside the hub-bub of central London but not quite as remote as Greenwich Palace, Hampton Court, Nonsuch Palace, or any of the other royal palaces well beyond London.

The gatehouse is original, and the stone window frames of the gatehouse itself apparently are as well.

There are two chapels at St James's Palace. One is the Chapel Royal, which is a single room inside the main palace. It was rebuilt in the 1620s following a fire, though the ceiling is the Tudor-era original. It was remodeled again in 1837 upon Queen Victoria's accession. This chapel is never open to the public. I did find one online photo of it at http://flickr.com/photos/20631910@N03/2611786798.

The second chapel, which is occasionally open to the public, is known officially as The Queen's Chapel. It was originally built in the 1620s by the famous architect Inigo Jones, who also built the Banqueting House, the only surviving portion of the former Palace of Whitehall. The Queen's Chapel is now across Marlborough Road from St James's Palace (again due to a fire and some rebuilding), but is nonetheless part of St James's Palace.

The single room at St James's Palace known as the Chapel Royal and the Queen's Chapel across Marlborough Road are both part of a larger division of the Royal Household known collectively as The Chapel Royal. The division also includes the ancient Norman-era chapel inside the White Tower of the Tower of London, the Chapel of St Peter-ad-Vincula within the Tower complex, and the chapels within Hampton Court Palace. There are also chapels in Scotland and Canada that are part of the Household Royal Chapel division.