Whitehall is a road in the City of Westminster, Central London, which
forms the first part of the
A3212 road from
Trafalgar Square to
Chelsea. It is the main thoroughfare running south from Trafalgar
Square towards Parliament Square. The street is recognised as the
centre of the
Government of the United Kingdom
Government of the United Kingdom and is lined with
numerous departments and ministries, including the Ministry of
Defence, Horse Guards and the Cabinet Office. Consequently, the name
"Whitehall" is used as a metonym for the British civil service and
government, and as the geographic name for the surrounding area.
The name was taken from the
Palace of Whitehall
Palace of Whitehall that was the residence
of Kings Henry VIII through to William III, before its destruction by
fire in 1698; only the
Banqueting House survived.
originally a wide road that led to the front of the palace; the route
to the south was widened in the 18th century following the destruction
of the palace.
As well as government buildings, the street is known for its memorial
statues and monuments, including Britain's primary war memorial, the
Whitehall Theatre, now the Trafalgar Studios, has been
popular for farce comedies since the mid-20th century.
1 Geography and name
3 Government buildings
6 See also
8 External links
Geography and name
Whitehall was used for several buildings in the Tudor
period. It either referred to a building made of light stone, or as
a general term for any festival building. This included the Royal
Palace of Whitehall, which in turn gave its name to the street.
The street is about 0.4 miles (0.64 km) long and runs through the
City of Westminster. It is part of the A3212, a main road in Central
London that leads towards Chelsea via the
Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament and
Vauxhall Bridge. It runs south from Trafalgar Square, past numerous
government buildings, including the old
War Office building, Horse
Guards, the Ministry of Defence, the
Cabinet Office and the Department
of Health. It ends at the Cenotaph, the road ahead being Parliament
Great Scotland Yard
Great Scotland Yard and
Horse Guards Avenue
Horse Guards Avenue branch off to the
Downing Street branches off to the west at the southern
section of the street.
The nearest tube stations are Charing Cross at the north end, and
Westminster at the south. Numerous
London bus routes run along
Whitehall, including 12, 24, 53, 88, 159 and 453.
Whitehall in 1680, showing the
Palace of Whitehall
Palace of Whitehall and Scotland
Yard. To the west of Holbein Gate, the road was known as The Street.
There has been a route connecting Charing Cross to
the Middle Ages; the 12th-century historian William Fitzstephen
described it as "a continued suburb, mingled with large and beautiful
gardens, and orchards belonging to the citizens". The name
Whitehall was originally only used for the section of road between
Charing Cross and Holbein Gate; beyond this it was known as The Street
as far as King Street Gate, then King Street thereafter. It had become
a residential street by the 16th century, and had become a popular
place to live by the 17th, with residents including Lord Howard of
Effingham and Edmund Spenser.
The Palace of Whitehall, to the east of the road, was originally named
York Palace, but was renamed during the reign of Henry VIII.[a] The
palace was redesigned in 1531–32 and became the King's main
residence later in the decade. He married
Anne Boleyn here in 1533,
Jane Seymour in 1536, and died at the palace in 1547.
Charles I owned an extensive art collection at the palace and
several of William Shakespeare's plays had their first performances
here. It ceased to be a royal residence after 1689, when William
III moved to Kensington Palace. The palace was damaged by fire in
1691, following which the front entrance was redesigned by Sir
Christopher Wren. In 1698, most of the palace burned to the ground
accidentally after a fire started by a careless washerwoman.
Wallingford House was constructed in 1572 by William Knollys, 1st Earl
of Banbury along the western edge of Whitehall. It was subsequently
used by Charles I. During the reign of William III, it was bought for
the Admiralty. The Old
Admiralty Buildings now sit on the house's
Whitehall, looking south in 1740: Inigo Jones'
Banqueting House (1622)
on the left, William Kent's Treasury buildings (1733–37) on the
Holbein Gate (1532, demolished 1759) at centre.
Banqueting House was built as an extension to the Palace of Whitehall
in 1622 by Inigo Jones. It is the only surviving portion of the palace
after it was burned down, and was the first
Renaissance building in
London. It later became a museum to the Royal United Services
Institute and has been opened to the public since 1963.
Oliver Cromwell moved to the street in 1647, taking up residence in
Wallingford House. Two years later, Charles I was carried through
Whitehall on the way to his trial at
Westminster Hall. Whitehall
itself was a wide street and had sufficient space for a scaffold to be
erected for the King's execution at Banqueting House. He made a
brief speech there before being beheaded.[b] Cromwell died at the
Palace of Whitehall
Palace of Whitehall in 1658.
During the Great Plague of
London in 1665, people boarded coaches at
Whitehall, then at the edge of urban London, in an attempt to escape.
The King and court temporarily moved to
Oxford to avoid the plague,
Samuel Pepys remarked in his diary on 29 June, "By water to
Whitehall, where the Court is full of waggons and people ready to go
out of town. This end of town every day grows very bad with
By the 18th century, traffic was struggling along the narrow streets
south of Holbein Gate, which led to King Street Gate being demolished
in 1723. Holbein Gate, in turn, was demolished in 1759. Meanwhile,
Parliament Street was a side road alongside the palace, leading to the
Palace of Westminster. After the
Palace of Whitehall
Palace of Whitehall was destroyed,
Parliament Street was widened to match Whitehall's width. The
present appearance of the street dates from 1899 after a group of
Downing Street and Great George Street were
Whitehall and surrounding streets, showing government buildings
By the time the palace was destroyed, separation of crown and state
had become important, with Parliament being necessary to control
military requirements and pass laws. The government wanted to be some
distance from the monarch, and the buildings around Whitehall,
physically separated from
St James's Palace
St James's Palace by St James's Park, seemed
to be a good place for ministers to work.
The Horse Guards building was designed by William Kent, and built
during the 1750s on a former tiltyard site, replacing an earlier
guard-house erected during the Civil War. The building includes an
archway for coach traffic and two pedestrian arches that provide
Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade. The central archway
is marked with "SMF" and "StMW", and denotes the boundary between St
Martin-in-the-Fields and St Margaret's church parish boundaries.
During the 19th century, as private leases ran out on residential
buildings, ownership reverted to the Crown, which began to use them as
public offices. The name "Whitehall" is now used as a metonym to
refer to that part of the civil service which is involved in the
government of the United Kingdom. The street's central portion is
dominated by military buildings, including the Ministry of Defence,
with the former headquarters of the
British Army and Royal Navy, the
Royal United Services Institute, the Horse Guards building and the
Admiralty, on the opposite side. Government buildings on
Whitehall, from north to south, include The
(Foreign and Commonwealth Office, others), the Department for
International Development at No. 22, the Department of Energy and
Climate Change at No. 55, the Old War Office, the Office
of the Parliamentary Counsel at No. 36, the Horse Guards,
the Ministry of Defence Main Building,
Dover House (containing the
Gwydyr House (containing the Wales Office),
Cabinet Office at No. 70, the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office and the
Government Offices Great George Street
Government Offices Great George Street (HM Treasury,
HM Revenue and Customs
HM Revenue and Customs and parts of the Cabinet Office).
View of the Horse Guards Building from Whitehall, showing the three
arches that link it to Horse Guards Parade
Scotland Yard, the headquarters of London's Metropolitan Police
Service, was originally located in
Great Scotland Yard
Great Scotland Yard off the
north-eastern end of Whitehall. The buildings had been lodgings for
the Kings of Scotland, on part of the old Palace of Whitehall's
grounds; by the 19th century, Little and Middle
Scotland Yard had been
Whitehall Place, leaving only Great Scotland Yard.
Whitehall Place had become vacant by the 1820s, which
Robert Peel to use it as the main headquarters when
forming the police in 1829. It was formally named the Metropolitan
Police Office, but became quickly known as Great Scotland Yard, and
eventually Scotland Yard. The buildings were damaged in a series of
bombings by Irish Nationalists in 1883, and an explosion from a Fenian
terrorist attack on 30 May 1884 blew a hole in Scotland Yard's outer
wall and destroyed the neighbouring Rising Sun pub. The headquarters
was moved away from
Whitehall in 1890.
Downing Street leads off the south-west end of Whitehall, just above
Parliament Street. It was named after Sir George Downing, who built a
row of houses along the street around 1680 leading west from
Whitehall. Following a number of terrorist attacks, the road was
closed to the public in 1990, when security gates were erected at both
ends. On 7 February 1991, the
Provisional IRA fired mortars from a van
Whitehall towards No. 10, one of which exploded in the
Additional security measures have been put in place along
protect government buildings, following a £25 million streetscape
project undertaken by
Westminster City Council. The project has
provided wider pavements and better lighting, along with installing
hundreds of concrete and steel security barriers.
Richmond House, at No. 79, has held the Department of Health
since 1987. The building is scheduled to be a temporary debating
chamber from 2020, while the
Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament undergo a £7
billion refurbishment and modernisation programme.
Whitehall, looking north in 1953, with the
Earl Haig Memorial
Earl Haig Memorial in the
middle of the carriageway.
A number of statues and memorials have been built on and around
Whitehall, commemorating military victories and leaders. The Cenotaph
was designed by Sir
Edwin Lutyens and erected at the southern end in
1919, commemorating victory in
World War I
World War I and later used as a
memorial for both World Wars. It is the main war memorial in Britain
and an annual service is held here on Remembrance Sunday, led by the
reigning monarch and leading politicians. In 2005 a national
Monument to the Women of World War II
Monument to the Women of World War II was erected a short distance
north of the Cenotaph in the middle of the
Royal Tank Regiment Memorial
Royal Tank Regiment Memorial is at the north east end of
Whitehall Court meets
Whitehall Place. Erected in
2000, it commemorates the use of tanks in both World Wars and depicts
five World War II tank crew members. The Gurkha Memorial is to the
south of this, on
Horse Guards Avenue
Horse Guards Avenue to the east of Whitehall.
Whitehall is also home to six other monuments. From north to south,
these are of
Prince George, Duke of Cambridge
Prince George, Duke of Cambridge (Commander-in-Chief of
the British Army), Liberal Party,
Liberal Unionist Party and Unionists
leader Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, Douglas Haig, 1st
Earl Haig (known as the Earl Haig Memorial),[c] Field Marshal
Montgomery (commander of the 8th Army, the
21st Army Group
21st Army Group and Chief
of the Imperial General Staff), William Slim, 1st Viscount Slim,
Commander of the 14th Army and Governor-General of Australia, and
Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, Chief of the Imperial General
Whitehall Theatre, now Trafalgar Studios, opened in 1930 and is a
Grade II listed building.
Whitehall Theatre opened in 1930 at the north west end of the
street, on a site that had previously been Ye Old Ship Tavern in the
17th century. The revue
Whitehall Follies opened in 1942, which drew
controversy over its explicit content featuring the stripper and
actress Phyllis Dixey. The theatre became known for its farces,
reviving a tradition on
Whitehall that had begun with court jesters at
the palace during the 16th century. These included several plays
Brian Rix throughout the 1950s and 60s, and
1981's satirical Anyone for Denis, written by John Wells and Private
Eye editor Richard Ingrams. The venue was Grade II listed in 1996,
and renamed the
Trafalgar Studios in 2004.
Because of its importance as a centre of British government, several
political comedies are based in and around Whitehall. These include
Yes Minister and The Thick of It.
Whitehall is one of three purple squares on the British Monopoly
board, along with Pall Mall and Northumberland Avenue. All three
streets converge at Trafalgar Square.
Curtis Green Building
^ Shakespeare's Henry VIII mentions the name change in Act IV, scene
1 : "You must no more call it York Place—that is past: For
since the Cardinal fell that title's lost; 'Tis now the King's, and
English Civil War Society commemorate the death of Charles I
annually on the nearest Sunday to 30 January, the anniversary of the
execution. The society retraces the route the King took from St
James's Palace to the Banqueting House, where a wreath is laid at the
site of the scaffold.
^ The memorial, designed by
Alfred Frank Hardiman
Alfred Frank Hardiman and unveiled on 10
November 1937, proved controversial as it took several attempts to
design a realistic head and horse. Haig's widow refused to attend the
^ a b "Derby Gate,
London to Trafalgar Square". Google Maps. Retrieved
12 June 2016.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Weinreb et al. 2008, p. 1019.
^ a b c d e Weinreb et al. 2008, p. 1020.
London Bus Map" (PDF). Transport for London. Archived from
the original (PDF) on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
^ Shepherd 2012, p. 37.
^ a b Brown 2009, p. 120.
^ Thornbury, Walter (1878). "Whitehall: Historical remarks". Old and
New London. London. 3: 337–361. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
^ a b Moore 2003, p. 45.
^ a b Richardson 2000, p. 100.
^ a b Thornbury, Walter (1878). "Whitehall : The Western Side".
Old and New London. London. 3: 383–394. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
^ Weinreb et al. 2008, p. 39,1020.
^ Weinreb et al. 2008, p. 40.
^ Weinreb et al. 2008, p. 39.
^ Shepherd 2012, p. 167.
^ Brown 2009, p. 107.
^ Weinreb et al. 2008, p. 626.
^ Shepherd 2012, p. 191.
^ a b Shepherd 2012, p. 208.
^ "Department of Energy and Climate Change". UK Government properties
database. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
^ "Cabinet Office". HM Government. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
^ Weinreb et al. 2008, p. 582.
^ Weinreb et al. 2008, pp. 246–7.
^ John Michael Lee, George William Jones, June Burnham (1998). At the
Centre of Whitehall: Advising the Prime Minister and Cabinet. St.
Martin's Press. p. 42. ISBN 0-312-17730-5. CS1 maint:
Multiple names: authors list (link)
^ "Whitehall". Stone Restoration Services. Retrieved 5 July
Department of Health to leave
Whitehall HQ to make way for Commons
debating chamber". The Independent. 23 January 2016. Retrieved 4 July
^ Weinreb et al. 2008, pp. 141,1020.
^ "Memorial to war women unveiled". BBC News. 9 July 2005. Retrieved 3
^ Matthews 2012, p. 18.
^ Matthews 2012, pp. 20–21.
^ Matthews 2012, p. 21.
^ Matthews 2012, p. 22.
^ Brown 2009, p. 78.
^ "Trafalgar Studios". Retrieved 5 July 2016.
^ Johnston, Philip (14 December 2009). "Yes, minister, we can get out
of the thick of it". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 July
Brown, Colin (2009). Whitehall: The Street that Shaped a Nation. Simon
and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-847-37738-8.
Matthews, Peter (2012). London's Statues and Monuments. Bloomsbury.
Moore, Tim (2003). Do Not Pass Go. Vintage.
Richardson, John (2000). The Annals of London: A Year-by-year Record
of a Thousand Years of History. University of California Press.
Shepherd, Robert (2012). Westminster: A Biography: From Earliest Times
to the Present. A&C Black. ISBN 978-0-826-42380-1.
Weinreb, Ben; Hibbert, Christopher; Keay, Julia; Keay, John (2008).
London Encyclopedia. Pan McMillan.
Whitehall Through the Centuries by George S Dugdale (Assistant at the
London Museum) with black and white reproductions and plans. A
foreword by Sir Edward Bridges. First published by Phoenix House
(London) in 1950 with no ISBN.
Stone to Build London: Portland's Legacy, Gill Hackman,Folly Books,
Monkton Farleigh, 2014, ISBN 978-0-9564405-9-4. Book includes
details of many of the Portland stone buildings in Whitehall,
including the Cenotaph, Banqueting House, Horse Guards, Foreign and
Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Whitehall.
Whitehall in 1669, showing the
Banqueting House and Holbein Gateway
History of the
Whitehall Theatre built on
Whitehall in 1930
Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges
Empire, Leicester Square
Odeon, Leicester Square
Wembley Stadium (national stadium)
Craven Cottage (Fulham)
The Den (Millwall)
Emirates Stadium (Arsenal)
Loftus Road (Queens Park Rangers)
London Stadium (West Ham United)
Selhurst Park (Crystal Palace)
Stamford Bridge (Chelsea)
The Valley (Charlton Athletic)
White Hart Lane
White Hart Lane (Tottenham Hotspur)
All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
The Championship Course
The Championship Course (rowing)
Crystal Palace National Sports Centre
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
The Oval (cricket)
Twickenham Stadium (rugby)
Royal National Theatre
Royal Opera House
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Theatre Royal Haymarket
Royal Albert Hall
Royal Festival Hall
10 Downing Street
Bank of England
Palace of Westminster
Royal Courts of Justice
Imperial War Museum
Museum of London
National Maritime Museum
Natural History Museum
Royal Academy of Arts
Tower of London
Victoria and Albert Museum
Places of worship
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Bevis Marks Synagogue
Methodist Central Hall
Regent's Park Mosque
St Paul's Cathedral
Fortnum & Mason
The Mall Wood Green
One New Change
Petticoat Lane Market
Westfield Stratford City
Partly occupied by
the Royal Family
St James's Palace
Hampton Court Palace
The Queen's Gallery
Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace
1 Canada Square
8 Canada Square
25 Canada Square
1 Churchill Place
20 Fenchurch Street
St George Wharf Tower
30 St Mary Axe
Crystal Palace transmitting station
Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain
Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain ("Eros")
Charing Cross station
Clapham Junction station
King's Cross station
Liverpool Street station
London Bridge station
St Pancras station
Victoria Coach Station
Emirates Air Line cable car
Battersea Power Station
St Bartholomew's Hospital
Hampton Court Park
St. James's Park
Horse Guards Parade
Charing Cross Road
Kensington High Street
Tottenham Court Road