Friday, December 3, 2021

The History of St. James

 From British Heritage:

The epicenter of modern Royal London has to be the area around St. James’s. It wasn’t always so, of course; William the Conqueror built his castle at the east of the City for protection against river-borne foes. As security became less of an issue, though, palaces were built for splendor, further west, where prevailing winds whisked away the city smells. Whitehall Palace is long-gone. The last and only survivor of a Royal residence once more like a town than a castle is Inigo Jones’s extraordinary Banqueting House, now reopen after a long refurbishment program, but two great palace complexes do survive.

St. James's Palace is still very much a working palace and isn’t open to the public, but I’m told you can get into at least part of it if you’re prepared to get up early. The Chapel Royal holds services on Sundays, except August and September, at 8.30 and 11.15 a.m.

It’s a short wander through to St. James’s Park, but if you time it properly, you’ll get rather more than a pleasant stroll. Friary Court in Marlborough Road is the place where those in the know gather to watch the troops parading just before the Changing of the Guard ceremony. It’s a crowd, yes, but small in comparison to the giant mob waiting at Buckingham Palace. Stand here just before the parade’s start time to witness a much more interesting version of the famous ceremony, including inspection, drill, and music. You can then follow the bandsmen down the Mall to Buck House, where everyone else has missed the free show. (Read more.)


Life, death and art at the Stuart Court. From The Tudor Travel Guide:

This is where Simon Thurley’s new book begins, at the Scottish court and with the proclamation of James as the new King James I of England. The palaces that James inherited south of the Scottish border had been fashioned by the previous dynasty and so, on this point, we find a happy connection to the sixteenth century. Yet it is also intriguing to see how those palaces flourished, declined or indeed were lost over the following century. Such is the case with the story of Whitehall Palace, for example, once Henry VIII’s seat of government and power in Westminster. This was, of course, consumed by fire and almost totally destroyed towards the end of the seventeenth century. (Read more.)


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