Colin Brown Writer and Journalist
Whitehall Maps

Welcome to the maps page for use with my book, Whitehall - the Street that Shaped a Nation published by Simon and Schuster.
If you enjoyed Hilary Mantel's fictionalised version of life inside Wolsey's Whitehall house in Wolf Hall, you should enjoy this. This is the real thing. It's the site of York Place, an ecclesiastical palace used by Wolsey when he was Archbishop  of York overlooking the Thames. York Place was later taken over by King Henry Vlll for Anne Boleyn as a new Palace of Whitehall, incorporating Wolsey's hall, that spread across Whitehall to St James's  Park. The amazing thing is the skeleton of Henry's great palace can still be seen if you know what to look for: for example, Horse Guards Parade stands on the site of Henry's tilt yard. If you stand by Dover House, the little domed building with a portico at the side of Horse Guards, and look across the road, you are looking almost directly into the front gates of Wolsey's  former house. Across the road to the right, by the west corner of the Banqueting House, Henry built an ornate gateway, the Holbein Gate, to allow the king to reach the west side of his new palace without stepping into the street. It carried a footbridge that Henry used to walk with Anne and their retinue across Whitehall to his pleasure palace on the St James' Park side of Whitehall where he had tennis courts, a cockpit for cock fights, and the tiltyard. The indoor tennis court was in a church-like building running parallel to Whitehall, now the Cabinet Office. A corner tower and a window from Henry's tennis court still survive inside the Cabinet Office.

 I've also created a walk around Whitehall (see the Whitehall Walk page) so that you can work out where the action took place over the five centuries covered by the book. It's amazing how much history, scandal and intrigue you can pack into half a mile! These maps can be printed by right clicking on the map to select the print option. You can also click save to store it on your computer and then selecting the print option. The map I've called Whitehall Present has been overlaid over Henry Vlll's palace, shaded grey. The river in 1529 was wider and came up to  the walls of Whitehall Palace on the right. The Holbein Gate is the grey shaded shape lying across the middle of Whitehall. Most of Henry's palace was knocked down after a fire and eventually buried under the hideous MOD building, but Wolsey's wine cellar was lowered into the basement of the Ministry of Defence building and is still used for parties for VIPs.
There's a great video featuring the most astonishing Tudor survival of all - Wolsey's wine cellar under the MOD building in Whitehall from the C4 Time Team that you can access on this link

 

 WHITEHALL PRESENT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHITEHALL PAST


This is from William Morgan's amazing A-Z map of London, circa 1682 but it still shows the Tudor lay-out with a few additions, such as the Banqueting House.
The Holbein Gate is the first of the two gates in Whitehall. The large building on the right is the Banqueting House so if you stand opposite, by the current Cabinet Office, you can figure out where the Holbein Gate spanned the road. The formal gardens are the Privy Gardens on the palace. On the left, you can see the indoor tennis courts that are today incorporated in the Cabinet Office. The King Street gate carried a footway across the road into Cockpit Passage which is still there today inside the doors of 70 Whitehall. It runs directly into Downing Street. This is how it looked on the ground:

 

 

THE HOLBEIN GATE - this is a view in Whitehall from the Westminster side looking towards Trafalgar Square. You can work out where it stood in Whitehall by looking at the later Banqueting House (on the right in this drawing).

 

 

 HOLBEIN GATE looking south from Trafalgar Square to Westminster. The king's privy gallery (carried in the row of buildings resembling town houses in the centre) stretched from near the River Thames to the Gateway. This drawing shows the Banqueting House as a landmark on the left which was added in 1622 by James l, almost a century after Henry's death, but the rest hadn't changed from the reign of the Tudors. The building like a church on the right is Henry's great indoor tennis court (now covered by the Cabinet Office). The wall on the right is the edge of the titlyard, where Henry jousted on horseback. It's now covered by Horse Guards and the parade ground (the setting for another great sporting occasion in the 2012 Olympics - Beach Volleyball. Henry with his lecherous eye for women would have approved.)

There's more info on the Whitehall Walk page and of course in my book!





 

Colin Brown journalist and author
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