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16 Interesting Facts about St. James’s Palace

St. James's Palace in the City of Westminster is known as the most senior of all the royal palaces in the United Kingdom. Steep in history, it is the ceremonial meeting place of the Accession Council and the London residence of several members of the British Royal Family. Let's get to know more about this historic royal residence!

St. James's Palace, London. Image by James Cadman via Wikimedia Commons

1. The Tudor style palace was constructed by Henry VII between 1531 and 1536 in order to serve as his “escape” residence from state duties.

2. Previously standing on the site was a hospital for women lepers, dedicated to Saint James The Less.

3. The Palace was mainly built out of red bricks, and though they do not cost a fortune these days, only the wealthy could afford to use bricks for their homes during that time.

4. It is the oldest royal palace in the whole of United Kingdom.

5. Aside from being the most senior palace, St. James’s Palace is still the official residence of the Sovereign, although since 1837, Buckingham Palace became the principal royal home. Thus, to this day, it is still an official working palace and the Royal Court is still formally based there. 

Image by Corel Professional Photos via Wikimedia Commons

6. Its infamous north gatehouse as well as state apartment fireplaces still bears the engraved initials “H.A.”, which stands for Henry VII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn.

7. It was the very palace where Queen Elizabeth II was proclaimed and gave her first speech as Queen.

8. Elizabeth I would often stay in the palace, and is even believed to have spent the night here while waiting for the Spanish Armada to sail up the English Channel and before delivering her historic Tilbury speech.

9. This is where Charles I of England spent his last hours prior to his execution in 1649.

Changing Guard in Friary Court, St. James's Palace in 1935. Image by Leonard Bentley via Wikimedia Commons

10. Queen Anne, Charles II, Mary of York, James II, and the Old Pretender, James Francis Edward Stuart were all born and baptized in the palace.

11. Some parts of the palace, including the monarch’s private apartments which were never replaced, were annihilated after a fire broke out in 1809. This is what caused the isolation of the Queen’s Chapel from the palace.

12. Two of Henry VII’s children took their last breath in the palace—Henry Fitzroy, his illegitimate son; and, Mary, The Queen of England.

13. It is where George I and George II “kept” their mistresses, Duchess of Kendal and Countess of Suffolk, respectively.

14. William IV was the last monarch to inhabit the palace.

15. The state apartments are embellished with utterly precious implements including marble tables, gold chandeliers, silver tapestries, and Malachite vases.

16.  St. James' Palace complex is composed of : York House, once the London home of the Prince of Wales and his sons, Princes William and Harry; Lancaster House, which functions as government reception during official functions; and Clarence House, which is the current primary residence of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

St. James's Palace east side. Image by camerawalker via Wikimedia Commons

Surely, St. James's Palace, is one of London's top attractions, although it is not open to the public!  Access can only be obtained for official business or by invitation to special events. The Chapel Royal, though, is an active place of worship.You can find more details about St. James's Palace here


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