The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4

Allen, Thomas

1827

Whitehall

Was originally built by Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent, chief justice of England in the reign of Henry III. At his death, which happened in , he bequeathed it to the Black Friars of London, who disposed of it, in , to Walter de Grey, bishop of York; it was consequently the town residence of the succeeding archbishops of that see, from whom it derived the name of York House. The last archbishop who resided here, and who here laid down all his greatness, was the munificent and haughty cardinal Wolsey. His disgrace had no sooner put the fickle and rapacious monarch in possession of this mansion, than he inclosed the park for the accommodation of this palace and St. James's hospital, then just converted into a palace. He also built the beautiful gate, and added the magnificent gallery, for the accommodation of the royal family the nobility, and great officers of state, for the purpose of viewing the tournaments performed in the Tilt-yard. Soon afterwards he ordered a tennis-court, a cockpit, and bowling greens to be formed, with other conveniences, for various kinds of diversion.

then became the royal residence of the English

227

monarchs: and Hentzner says,

it was a structure truly royal.

Here,

says Pennant,

queen Elizabeth feasted her vanity in the Tilt-yard. She had,

continues this shrewd and sensible writer,

violence of temper; but, with the truest patriotism, and most distinguished abilities, were interwoven the greatest vanity and most romantic disposition. Here, in her

sixty-third

year, with wrinkled face, red periwig, little eyes, hooked nose, skinny lips, and black teeth, she could suck in the gross flatteries of her favourite courtiers. Essex (by his squire) told her of her beauty and worth. A Dutch ambassador assured her majesty, that he had undertaken the voyage to see her, who, for beauty and wisdom, excelled all other beauties in the world. She laboured at an audience to make Melvil, the Scotch ambassador, acknowledge that his charming mistress was inferior in beauty to herself. The artful Scot evaded her question. She put on a new suit of every foreign nation, each day of audience, to attract his admiration so fond was she of dress, that

three thousand

different dresses were found in her wardrobe, after her death. Mortifying reflection! in finding such alloy in the greatest character.

She was fond of dancing; and shewed great humour in this exercise; whenever a messenger from Scotland came to deliver any letters to her from his master, on lifting up the hangings, he was sure to find her dancing to a little fiddle, affectedly, that he might tell James by her youthful disposition, how unlikely he was to come to the throne he so much thirsted after.

Her library was well stored with books in various languages; particularly Greek, Latin, and French but her vanity and ambition got the better of her learning and taste, and spoiled of the greatest princesses that ever swayed the British sceptre.

In the year , was held a most sumptuous tournament, in honour of the commissioners sent from the duke of Anjou, to propose a marriage with the queen. A banqueting-house at the expense of was erected, and most superbly ornamented.

The galleries adjoining to her majesty's house at

Whitehall

,

says Holinshed,

whereat her person should be placed, was called, and not without cause, the castell, or fortresse of perfect beautie!

The queen, then in her year, received every flattery that the charms of could claim.

The fortresse of perfect beautie was assailed by Desire, and his

four

foster children.

The combatants on both sides were persons of the rank: the earl of Arundel, sir Philip Sidney, and sir Fulke Greville were among the challengers; a regular summons was sent to the possessor of the castle, with the

delectable

song, of which the following is the part:--

Yeeld, yeeld, O yeeld, you that this foot do hold,

Which seated is in spotless honor's feeld,

Desire's great force, no forces can with-hold;

Then to Desire's desire O yeeld, O yeed!

228

 

This song being concluded,

two

cannons were fired off,

one

with sweet powder, and the other with sweet water and after were store of prettie scaling ladders, and then the footmen threw floures, and such fancies against the walls, with all such devises as might seem fit shot for Desire.

In the end Desire is repulsed, and forced to make submission: and thus ended an amorous foolery, which occupies no fewer than of Holinshed's folio pages in describing.

These and other diversions occupied the mind of Elizabeth till she was years of age. On day she appointed a Frenchman to

do feats upon a rope in the Conduit-yard:

next day she commanded the bear, the bull, and the ape, to be bayted in the Tilt-yard. And on Wednesday she had

solemn dawncing.

In the reign of James I. , being then in a ruinous condition, was begun to be rebuilt in a princely manner. The Banquetting rooms were pulled down, and were afterwards rebuilt by James's successor.

The building which at present bears the name of the Banquetting-house was begun in , from a design of Inigo Jones, in his purest manner; it was executed by Nicholas Stone, the king's architect; was finished in years, and cost ; though it seems Jones received at that time, for his ingenuity at labour, as

surveyor of the works done about the king's houses, only

8s. 4d.

per diem, and

46l.

per annum, for house rent, a clerk, and other incidental expences.

The Banquetting-house, however, was but a small part of a vast plan, left unexecuted by reason of the unhappy times which succeeded. It was to consist of fronts, within a large central court, and lesser ones: between of the latter, a beautiful circus, with an arcade below: the intervening pillars ornamented with caryatides. The length of this palace was to have been feet, the depth feet.

The genius and talents of Jones are clearly marked by the part of the building now remaining: it is a regular edifice, of stories. The lowest has a rustic wall, with small square blank windows; and by its strength appropriately serves as a basement to the orders of the superstructure.

The next story is of the Ionic order, with columns and pilasters, between which are well proportioned windows, with alternate elliptical and angular pediments. These are surmounted with a proper entablature, on which is raised a series, of the Corinthian order, with columns, &c. like the other compartments;--the columns and pilasters being placed exactly over those of the lower story.

229

 

From the capitals are carved festoons, meeting with masks and other ornaments, in the middle.

Above is an entablature, on which rises a ballustrade, intersected with pedestals.

The whole is admirably proportioned and happily executed. The projecting columns have a fine effect in the entablatures, which being brought forward in the same proportion, gives that happy diversity of light and shade so essential to elegant architecture.

The dimensions of the Banquetting-house are as follow:

 Ft.In.
Length ii the clear110 
Breadth ditto55 
Height, exterior78 
of the lower order239
of the upper order236
of interior57 

George I. converted the interior into a chapel royal, and appointed select preachers from each university to officiate every Sunday throughout the year, at an annual salary, which is, however, but very small.

The chief ornament of this place is the ceiling, painted by sir Peter Paul Reubens, when he was ambassador at this court. The subject is the apotheosis of James I. He was assisted by his pupil Jordeans, and had for his labour.

The subject forms compartments. The centre represents the monarch on his earthly throne, turning with horror from the god of war and the other discordant deities, and giving up himself to commerce and the fine arts.

This fine performance, which is done on canvass, is in excellent preservation, and has been more than once repaired. Cipriani received for repairing it.

Ralph, in his , observes, that this picture is not so generally known as could wish, but needs only to be known to be esteemed according to its merit.

In short,

he adds,

it is but an ill decoration for a place of religious worship; for, in the

first

place, its contents are noways akin to devotion; and, in the next, the workmanship is so very extraordinary, that a man must have abundance of zeal, or no taste, that can attend to any thing beside.

Indeed, it does appear very unaccountable that such a subject should have been chosen for the ingenuity of the artist: the apotheosis of the king, and of such a king as James! Why, after this, Was not the monarch canonized? Yet he who has taken his seat among the gods may well enough be deemed to be beyond the honors of saintship, though the elevation is somewhat abrupt and extreme; but what will not the vanity of mortals drink in! what will not a weak king allow from a flattering subject!

230

 

In have been deposited the eagles, and other trophies, gained by the valour of our troops during the late war. The day appointed for this ceremony was the . At an early hour a vast body of persons assembled at , anxious to witness the triumphant display. The top of the , and all the windows contiguous to the parade, appeared entirely occupied by At o'clock, the guard was paraded in a state of discipline which could not be excelled.

Soon after the line was formed the dukes of York and Cambridge arrived, with sir David Dundas, commander-in-chief, and a numerous staff of officers, A grand salute was then made, and the bands paraded with martial music. The guards unfurled their state colors, displaying their well-earned laurels in Egypt and the officers and men wore in their caps sprigs of oak and laurel leaves. A circle was made by the recruits, forming the boundary of the parade. The ladies of fashion, nobility, and the friends of the officers, were admitted to the centre of the ground, near the staff. Before o'clock the captured trophies were conveyed from the guard-room to the parade. The standards were in number, and the distinctive marks of the regiments to which they belonged:

11st battalion82nd. regiment.
22d dittoDitto
33d ditto 
426th regiment of infantry. 
566th ditto 
687th ditto 

The last mentioned eagle was taken in the memorable battle of Barrosa, by the battalions of the gallant , and appears without a colour, but it is distinguished from the others by a wreath around its neck.

There were also colours:

. The invincible standard (falsely so called) taken in Egypt. It is so tattered that the mottos are not legible; a bugle in the centre being the only figure discernible.

22d battalion5th regiment.
31st dittoPrussian Regiment.
42d dittoDitto.
5A fort standard. 
6A French regimental colour. 

At the instant that the eagles, and so many also of the enemy's ordinary colours caught the eyes of the multitude, an universal shout of national triumph ensued. The fine company of grenadiers had the honourable charge of them. The bands of the duke of York and the Coldstream regiments then proceeded from the front of the edifice, followed by the eagle bearers. Martial music again cheered

231

the ears, and the military procession moved towards . On passing the British colours, the eagles were lowered, as a mark of respect due to the conquerors. The multitude with hats in the air, gave loud bursts of exultation; and the spectacle was at that moment peculiarly grand and interesting.

The ceremony m the chapel was as follows :--

After the lesson, Dr. Nares's was sung; but a pause taking place immediately after

We praise thee, O God,

the military trophies were at that time silently introduced at the right and left doors, under escorts of grenadiers, with fixed bayonets, and borne by grenadiers of the guards, selected for their fine manly figures, who grounded them in front of the altar. The impression of the spectacle at this moment may more readily be conceived than described. But it was peculiarly interesting to contemplate its inspiring effect on the gazing soldiery, as principals in this national triumph. was then sung through by the whole choir, to which the breast of every spectator seemed to heave in pious unison. This ended, the eagle standards were elevated against the semicircular divisions of the altar-piece, on each side, the butts about feet from the floor, and the upper parts sustained by double gilt chains of sufficient length to give them an uniform declension for their display.

The ordinary French colours were then ranged horizontally over the upper gallery.

A circumstance relating to of these standards ought not to be omitted here. The eagles in general are attached to the staves on which they are borne, by a screw; so that in case of imminent danger they may be taken off and concealed, to prevent their falling into the hands of an enemy. Napoleon, however, on presenting to his regiment the eagle taken on the heights of Barrosa, observed, that it was impossible this standard should ever be taken by any foe from so fine a body of men, who had, on so many occasions, exhibited proofs of the most determined valour; for which reason he desired that the eagle might be rivetted to the staff. His desire was complied with; and, but for that order, this well-earned trophy would probably have escaped our still more valiant , to whom this boasted corps was opposed.

When was erected, it was little thought that James was constructing a passage from it for his son and successor to the scaffold.

The devout regicides, mad with political fury, and madder still with religious fanaticism, having brought their unfortunate king from to this place, his last abode, he was conducted across the park; and, having arrived, he was made to ascend the great stair-case, whence he passed through the long gallery to his bed-chamber.

On the day of his death he was conducted along the galleries

232

and the Banquetting-house, through a passage broken on purpose in the wall, to the scaffold.

This passage still remains, at the north end of the room, and is at present a door to a small additional building in Scotland-yard.

Before we finally quit this place, some notice should be taken of the fine brazen statue of James II. erected by Grinlin Gibbons, in Scotland-yard. The attitude of this figure has been described as singularly fine, the manner free, and easy, the execution finished and perfect, and the expression in the face inimitable.

On the base is the following:

Jacobvs secvndvs, Dei gratia, Angliae, Scotiae, Franciae, et Hiberniae, Rex, Fidei Defensor, Anno M.D.CLXXXVI.

Adjoining the Banquetting-house was formerly the Privy garden, the name of which is still retained, though built upon. Sir Christopher Wren was ordered by queen Anne, in , to erect a wall, to enclose that part of the garden which contained a fountain, as a pleasure ground to the house inhabited by the Scotch commissioners appointed to settle the terms of the union of the kingdoms.

On the site of part of the was a large mansion belonging to the dukes of Richmond; this has been pulled down, and a handsome row of houses, called Richmond-terrace, erected.

At the north end of , and corner of , was a very handsome stone gate, erected by Henry VIII. in , for a communication between the palace of and , by a passage over the same. This was taken down in to facilitate the passage to and from chapel and hall. There was another gate nearer Charing-cross, said to have been erected from the designs of Hans Holbein; it was long used as the state-paper office, and was taken down in . Both these gates were very handsome, with turrets and battlements of the Tudor style of architecture. Mr. Pennant says,

one

was built of bricks of

two

colours, glazed and disposed in a tesselated form

There were also busts of Henry VII. and VIII. and Fisher, bishop of Rochester; which are still preserved on the front of of the keepers' lodges in Windsor park.

 
 
Footnotes:

[] Itineraria.

[] Stow's Annals, p. 1180.

[] Sidney Papers, i. p. 104.

[] The design of this palace is exhibited in four large prints, by Fourdrinier.

[] Nightingale. Beauties of England, x. pt. iv. p. 376.

[] Nightingale. Beauties of England, vol. x. pt. iv. p. 379.

[] Smith's Westminster, 23.

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 Title Page
 Dedication
CHAPTER I: Site, local divisions, and government of the City of Westminster; history of the Abbey; Coronation Ceremonies; and lists of the Abbots and Deans
CHAPTER II: Westminster Abbey, and Description of the Tombs and Monuments
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of St. Margaret's Parish
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of St. John's Parish, Westminster
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Westminster
CHAPTER VI: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. James, Westminster
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Anne, Westminster
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Mary-le-strand
CHAPTER X: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. Clement Danes
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of the parish of st. George, Hanover Square
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of the Precinct of the Savoy
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of the Inns of Court
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of the Precincts of the Charter-house and Ely Place, and the Liberty of the Rolls
 CHAPTER XV: Historical Notices of the Borough of Southwark
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Olave, Southwark
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of the parish of St. John, Southwark
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. George's, Southwark
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of St. Saviour's Parish
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of the parist of Christ-church in the County of Surrey
 CHAPTER XXII: A List of the Principal Books, &c that have been published in Illustration of the Antiquities, History, Topography, and other subjects treated of in this Work
 Addenda et Corrigienda
 Postscript