There's no place like home, and there's no place like St James's Palace for the British royal family. With a history that dates back to the 15th century, this palace has been a central hub for the royals for centuries. From turbulent times to momentous occasions, St James's Palace has seen it all. Keep reading for more about its fascinating history!
History of The St James's Palace of London
St James's Palace is a royal palace in the City of Westminster, central London. It was often used by the British monarch and members of the Royal Family as their official London residence. Today, the royal apartments are used for official functions and as a venue for entertaining guests from overseas.
Hospital of St James
The original Hospital of St James was dedicated to Saint James the Less, one of the Twelve Apostles, and served as a refuge and leper hospital. In 1531, King Henry VIII acquired the Hospital of St James from Eton College, and it became a royal palace. The site was redeveloped to add a range of grand staterooms overlooking St James's Park.
Which Royals Lived In St James's Palace
During the Tudor period, St James's Palace was home to many royals. Some of the most famous royals who have lived in St James's Palace include:
- King Henry VIII - The Tudor king is perhaps the most well-known royal to have resided in St James's Palace. He took ownership of the palace in 1531 and lived there with several of his wives, including Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, and Catherine Parr.
- Queen Elizabeth I - Henry VIII's daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, also lived in the palace during the Spanish Armada invasion of 1588.
- King Charles I - St James's Palace was the birthplace of King Charles I in 1600. He also spent his childhood there before moving to other royal residences.
- King James II - King James II was born at St James's Palace in 1633 and he spent much of his childhood there. He later became the last Catholic monarch of England and was deposed in 1688.
- Queen Anne - Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch, was born at St James's Palace in 1665. She spent her childhood there before moving to other royal residences.
- King George III - King George III was born at St James's Palace in 1738 and he spent much of his childhood there. He is best known for his reign during the American Revolution and for his mental health problems in later life.
- King George IV - King George IV was born at St James's Palace in 1762. He spent his childhood there before moving to other royal residences. He is best known for his extravagance and for his marriage to Caroline of Brunswick.
The Queen Victoria Era
In 1837, Queen Victoria succeeded her uncle King William IV, and became the first monarch to reside at Buckingham Palace. During Victoria's reign, St James's Palace continued to be used for state occasions, such as the presentation of honors and court balls. It was also the London residence of several members of the Royal Family, including the Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra.
St James's Palace staterooms include the Queen's Chapel, built by King Henry VIII; the 18th-century Guard Room; and the Presence Chamber, where courtiers would gather to meet the monarch. The State Rooms are furnished with works of art from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Canaletto and Van Dyck.
The royal apartments at St James's Palace are used for official functions and as a venue for entertaining guests from abroad. They include the King's Drawing Room, where courtiers would gather to meet the monarch; and the King's Dining Room, which is used for state banquets and other official events. The audience chambers, throne room, and banquet hall are particularly impressive.
The gardens at St James's Palace are among the most beautiful in London. The palace is also home to a colony of wild swans.
St James's Palace is a working royal palace and the administrative headquarters of the Household Division. It is not open to the public except on special occasions.
St James's Palace is located in the City of Westminster, central London. It is situated close to The Mall, a tree-lined avenue leading from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. The nearest London Underground station is St James's Park.
So, what’s the verdict? Is St James's Palace really as special as everyone says? In a word, yes. This palace has been at the center of British royal life for centuries, and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. If you get the chance to visit, be sure to take in all of the history this place has to offer. And if you have any tips or tricks about touring palaces, let us know in the comments below!