Buckingham Palace: Wikis

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Buckingham Palace. This is the principal façade, the East Front; originally constructed by Edward Blore and completed in 1850, it was redesigned in 1913 by Sir Aston Webb.
Queen Victoria, the first monarch to reside at Buckingham Palace, moved into the newly completed palace upon her accession in 1837.

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch.[1] Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a rallying point for the British people at times of national rejoicing and crisis.

Originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today's palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 on a site which had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was subsequently acquired by George III in 1761[2] as a private residence for Queen Charlotte, and known as "The Queen's House". During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, forming three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East front which contains the well-known balcony on which the Royal Family traditionally congregate to greet crowds outside. However, the palace chapel was destroyed by a German bomb in World War II; the Queen's Gallery was built on the site and opened to the public in 1962 to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection.

The original early 19th-century interior designs, many of which still survive, included widespread use of brightly coloured scagliola and blue and pink lapis, on the advice of Sir Charles Long. King Edward VII oversaw a partial redecoration in a Belle epoque cream and gold colour scheme. Many smaller reception rooms are furnished in the Chinese regency style with furniture and fittings brought from the Royal Pavilion at Brighton and from Carlton House. The Buckingham Palace Garden is the largest private garden in London.

The state rooms, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public each year for most of August and September, as part of the Palace's Summer Opening.

Contents

History

Buckingham House, c.1710, was designed by William Winde for the 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby. This façade evolved into today's Grand Entrance on the west (inner) side of the quadrangle, with the Green Drawing Room above.
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The site

In the Middle Ages, Buckingham Palace's site formed part of the Manor of Ebury (also called Eia). The marshy ground was watered by the river Tyburn, which still flows below the courtyard and south wing of the palace.[3] Where the river was fordable (at Cow Ford), the village of Eye Cross grew. Ownership of the site changed hands many times; owners included Edward the Confessor and his queen consort Edith of Wessex in late Saxon times, and, after the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror. William gave the site to Geoffrey de Mandeville, who bequeathed it to the monks of Westminster Abbey.[4]

In 1531, Henry VIII acquired the Hospital of St James (later St. James's Palace)[5] from Eton College, and in 1536 he took the Manor of Ebury from Westminster Abbey.[6] These transfers brought the site of Buckingham Palace back into royal hands for the first time since William the Conqueror had given it away almost 500 years earlier.[7]

Various owners leased it from royal landlords and the freehold was the subject of frenzied speculation during the 17th century. By then, the old village of Eye Cross had long since fallen into decay, and the area was mostly wasteland.[8] Needing money, James I sold off part of the Crown freehold but retained part of the site on which he established a 4-acre (16,000 m2) mulberry garden for the production of silk. (This is at the northwest corner of today's palace.)[9] Clement Walker in Anarchia Anglicana (1649) refers to "new-erected sodoms and spintries at the Mulberry Garden at S. James's"; this suggests it may have been a place of debauchery. Eventually, in the late 17th century, the freehold was inherited from the property tycoon Sir Hugh Audley by the great heiress Mary Davies.[10]

First houses on the site

Goring House

Possibly the first house erected within the site was that of a Sir William Blake, around 1624.[11] The next owner was Lord Goring, who from 1633 extended Blake's house and developed much of today's garden, then known as Goring Great Garden.[12][13] He did not, however, manage to obtain freehold interest in the mulberry garden. Unbeknown to Goring, in 1640 the document "failed to pass the Great Seal before King Charles I fled London, which it needed to do for legal execution".[14] (It was this critical omission that helped the British royal family regain the freehold under King George III.)[15]

Arlington House

The improvident Goring defaulted on his rents;[16] Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington obtained the mansion and was occupying it, now known as Goring House, when it burned down in 1674.[13] Arlington House rose on the site—the southern wing of today's palace—the next year,[13] and its freehold was bought in 1702.

Buckingham House

The house which forms the architectural core of the present palace was built for the first Duke of Buckingham and Normanby in 1703 to the design of William Winde. The style chosen was of a large, three-floored central block with two smaller flanking service wings.[17] Buckingham House was eventually sold by Buckingham's descendant, Sir Charles Sheffield, in 1761[2] to George III for £21,000[18] (£3,000,000 as of 2010).[19]

Like his grandfather, George II, George III refused to sell the mulberry garden interest, so that Sheffield had been unable to purchase the full freehold of the site. When Sheffield sold Buckingham House it came into the hands of the Royal Family.

From Queen's House to palace

The house was originally intended as a private retreat, and in particular for Queen Charlotte, and was known as The Queen's House[20]—14 of their 15 children were born there. St. James's Palace remained the official and ceremonial royal residence.[21]

Remodelling of the structure began in 1762.[22] After his accession to the throne in 1820, George IV continued the renovation with the idea in mind of a small, comfortable home. While the work was in progress, in 1826, the King decided to modify the house into a palace with the help of his architect John Nash.[23] Some furnishings were transferred from Carlton House, and others had been bought in France after the French Revolution.[24] The external facade was designed in the French neo-classical influence preferred by George IV. The cost of the renovations grew exponentially and by 1829, the extravagance of Nash's designs resulted in his removal as architect. On the death of George IV in 1830, his younger brother William IV hired Edward Blore to finish the work.[25][26] At one stage, William considered converting the palace into the new Houses of Parliament, after the destruction of the existing namesake by fire in 1834.[27]

Home of the monarch

The palace c. 1837, depicting the Marble Arch, which served as the ceremonial entrance to the Palace precincts. It was moved to make way for the east wing, built in 1847, which enclosed the quadrangle.

Buckingham Palace finally became the principal royal residence in 1837, on the accession of Queen Victoria,[28] who was the first monarch to reside there as her predecessor William IV had died before its completion.[29] While the state rooms were a riot of gilt and colour, the necessities of the new palace were somewhat less luxurious. For one thing, it was reported the chimneys smoked so much that the fires had to be allowed to die down, and consequently the court shivered in icy magnificence.[30] Ventilation was so bad that the interior smelled, and when a decision was taken to install gas lamps, there was a serious worry about the build-up of gas on the lower floors. It was also said that the staff were lax and lazy and the palace was dirty.[30] Following the Queen's marriage in 1840, her husband, Prince Albert, concerned himself with a reorganisation of the household offices and staff, and with the design faults of the palace. The problems were all rectified by the close of 1840. However, the builders were to return within the decade.

By 1847, the couple had found the palace too small for court life and their growing family,[31] and consequently the new wing, designed by Edward Blore, was built by Thomas Cubitt,[32] enclosing the central quadrangle. The large East Front facing The Mall is today the "public face" of Buckingham Palace and contains the balcony from which the Royal Family acknowledge the crowds on momentous occasions and annually after Trooping the Colour. The ballroom wing and a further suite of state rooms were also built in this period, designed by Nash's student Sir James Pennethorne.

Before Prince Albert's death, the palace was frequently the scene of musical entertainments,[33] and the greatest contemporary musicians entertained at Buckingham Palace. The composer Felix Mendelssohn is known to have played there on three occasions.[34] Johann Strauss II and his orchestra played there when in England.[35] Strauss's "Alice Polka" was first performed at the palace in 1849 in honour of the Queen's daughter, Princess Alice.[36] Under Victoria, Buckingham Palace was frequently the scene of lavish costume balls, in addition to the routine royal ceremonies, investitures and presentations.

Widowed in 1861, the grief-stricken Queen withdrew from public life and left Buckingham Palace to live at Windsor Castle, Balmoral Castle, and Osborne House. For many years the palace was seldom used, and even neglected. Eventually, public opinion forced her to return to London, though even then she preferred to live elsewhere whenever possible. Court functions were still held at Windsor Castle rather than at the palace, presided over by the sombre Queen habitually dressed in mourning black while Buckingham Palace remained shuttered for most of the year.[37]

Interior

Piano nobile of Buckingham Palace. A: State Dining Room; B: Blue Drawing Room; C: Music Room; D: White Drawing Room; E: Royal Closet; F: Throne Room; G: Green Drawing Room; H: Cross Gallery; J: Ball Room; K: East Gallery; L: Yellow Drawing Room; M: Centre/Balcony Room; N: Chinese Luncheon Room; O: Principal Corridor; P: Private Apartments; Q: Service Areas; W: The Grand staircase. On the ground floor: R: Ambassador's Entrance; T: Grand Entrance. The areas defined by shaded walls represent lower minor wings. Note: This is an unscaled sketch plan for reference only. Proportions of some rooms may slightly differ in reality.

The Palace measures 108 metres by 120 metres, is 24 metres high and contains 77,000 square metres of floorspace (828,818 sq ft).[38] The principal rooms of the palace are contained on the piano nobile behind the west-facing garden facade at the rear of the palace. The centre of this ornate suite of state rooms is the Music Room, its large bow the dominant feature of the facade. Flanking the Music Room are the Blue and the White Drawing rooms. At the centre of the suite, serving as a corridor to link the state rooms, is the Picture Gallery, which is top-lit and 55 yards (50 m) long.[39] The Gallery is hung with numerous works including some by Rembrandt, van Dyck, Rubens and Vermeer;[40][41] other rooms leading from the Picture Gallery are the Throne Room and the Green Drawing Room. The Green Drawing room serves as a huge anteroom to the Throne Room, and is part of the ceremonial route to the throne from the Guard Room at the top of the Grand staircase.[39] The Guard Room contains white marble statues of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in Roman costume, set in a tribune lined with tapestries. These very formal rooms are used only for ceremonial and official entertaining, but are open to the public every summer.

Directly underneath the State Apartments is a suite of slightly less grand rooms known as the semi-state apartments. Opening from the Marble Hall, these rooms are used for less formal entertaining, such as luncheon parties and private audiences. Some of the rooms are named and decorated for particular visitors, such as the 1844 Room, which was decorated in that year for the State visit of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, and, on the other side of the Bow Room, the 1855 Room, in honour of the visit of Emperor Napoleon III of France.[42] At the centre of this suite is the Bow Room, through which thousands of guests pass annually to the Queen's Garden Parties in the Gardens beyond.[43] The Queen uses privately a smaller suite of rooms in the North wing.

Prince Albert's music room, one of the smaller less formal rooms at the palace, in 1887

Between 1847 and 1850, when Blore was building the new east wing, the Brighton Pavilion was once again plundered of its fittings. As a result, many of the rooms in the new wing have a distinctly oriental atmosphere. The red and blue Chinese Luncheon Room is made up from parts of the Brighton banqueting and music rooms, but has a chimney piece designed by W.M. Feetham. The Yellow Drawing Room has wall paper which had been supplied in 1817 for the Brighton Saloon, and the chimney piece in this room is a European vision of what the Chinese equivalent would look like, complete with nodding mandarins in niches and fearsome winged dragons, designed by Robert Jones.[44]

The Queen's Breakfast Room

At the centre of this wing is the famous balcony, with the Centre Room behind its glass doors. This is a Chinese-style saloon enhanced by Queen Mary, who, working with the designer Sir Charles Allom, created a more "binding"[45] Chinese theme in the late 1920s, although the lacquer doors were brought from Brighton in 1873. Running the length of the piano nobile of the east wing is the great gallery, modestly known as the Principal Corridor, which runs the length of the eastern side of the quadrangle.[46] It has mirrored doors, and mirrored cross walls reflecting porcelain pagodas and other oriental furniture from Brighton. The Chinese Luncheon Room and Yellow Drawing Room are situated at each end of this gallery, with the Centre Room obviously placed in the centre.

The original early 19th-century interior designs, many of which still survive, included widespread use of brightly coloured scagliola and blue and pink lapis, on the advice of Sir Charles Long. King Edward VII oversaw a partial redecoration in a Belle epoque cream and gold colour scheme.[47]

When paying a state visit to Britain, foreign heads of state are usually entertained by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. They are allocated a large suite of rooms known as the Belgian suite, situated at the foot of the Minister's Staircase, on the ground floor of the North-facing garden wing. The rooms of the suite are linked by narrow corridors, one given extra height and perspective by saucer domes designed by Nash in the style of Soane.[48] A second corridor in the suite has Gothic influenced cross over vaulting.[48] The Belgian rooms themselves were decorated in their present style and named after Prince Albert's uncle Léopold I, first King of the Belgians. However, at this time the suite was not reserved exclusively for foreign heads of state; in 1936, the suite briefly became the private apartments of the palace when they were occupied by Edward VIII.[49]

Court ceremonies

The Ballroom is the largest room at Buckingham Palace. It was added by Queen Victoria and is used for ceremonies such as investitures and state banquets. This picture dates from 1856. The polychrome colour scheme has been replaced by mainly white decoration with gold details and red upholstery.

Court dress

Formerly, men not wearing military uniform would wear knee breeches of an 18th-century design. Women's evening dress included obligatory trains and tiaras or feathers in their hair (or both).

The dress code governing formal court uniform and dress has progressively relaxed. After World War I, when Queen Mary wished to follow fashion by raising her skirts a few inches from the ground, she requested a Lady-in-Waiting to shorten her own skirt first to gauge the King's reaction. King George V was horrified and her hemline remained unfashionably low.[50] Subsequently, King George VI and his consort, Queen Elizabeth, allowed daytime skirts to rise.

Today, there is no official dress code.[51] Most men invited to Buckingham Palace in the daytime choose to wear service uniform or morning coats, and in the evening, depending on the formality of the occasion, black tie or white tie. If the occasion is "white tie" then women, if they possess one, wear a tiara.[49]

Presentation of debutantes

Court presentations of aristocratic girls as to the monarch took place in the Throne Room. These girls were known as débutantes, and the occasion – termed their "coming out" – represented their first entrée into society. Débutantes wore full court dress, with three tall ostrich feathers in their hair. They entered, curtsied, performed a choreographed backwards walk and a further curtsy, while manoeuvring a dress train of prescribed length. (The ceremony, known as evening courts, corresponded to the "court drawing rooms" of earlier reigns.)

In 1958, the Queen abolished the presentation parties for débutantes,[52] replacing them with Garden Parties in Buckingham Palace Garden.[53] Today, the Throne Room is used for the reception of formal addresses such as those given to the Queen on her Jubilees. It is here on the throne dais that royal wedding portraits and family photographs are taken.

Investitures

Investitures, which include the conferring of knighthoods by dubbing with a sword, and other awards take place in the palace's Ballroom, built in 1854. At 36.6 m (120.08 ft) long, 18 m (59.06 ft) wide and 13.5 m (44.29 ft) high [54] (120' X 59' X 44' 3.5"), it is the largest room in the palace. It has replaced the throne room in importance and use. During investitures, the Queen stands on the throne dais beneath a giant, domed velvet canopy, which is known as a shamiana or a baldachin and was used at the coronation Durbar in Delhi in 1911.[55] A military band plays in the musicians' gallery as award recipients approach the Queen and receive their honours, watched by their families and friends.[56]

State banquets

Guests ascending the Grand Staircase in 1870.

State banquets also take place in the Ballroom; these formal dinners take place on the first evening of a state visit by a visiting Head of State.[56] On these occasions, 150 or more guests in formal "white tie and decorations", including tiaras for women, may dine off gold plate. The largest and most formal reception at Buckingham Palace takes place every November, when the Queen entertains members of the foreign diplomatic corps resident in London.[57] On this occasion, all the state rooms are in use, as the Royal Family proceed through them[58] beginning through the great north doors of the Picture Gallery. As Nash had envisaged, all the large, double-mirrored doors stand open, reflecting the numerous crystal chandeliers and sconces, causing a deliberate optical illusion of space and light.

Other ceremonies and functions

Smaller ceremonies such as the reception of new ambassadors take place in the "1844 Room". Here too the Queen holds small lunch parties, and often meetings of the Privy Council. Larger lunch parties often take place in the curved and domed Music Room, or the State Dining Room. On all formal occasions the ceremonies are attended by the Yeomen of the Guard in their historic uniforms, and other officers of the court such as the Lord Chamberlain.[59]

Since the bombing of the palace chapel in World War II, royal christenings have sometimes taken place in the Music Room. The Queen's first three children were all baptised here[60] in a special gold font. Prince William was also christened in the Music Room; however, his brother, Prince Harry, was christened at St George's Chapel, Windsor.

The largest functions of the year are the Queen's Garden Parties for up to 8,000 invitees in the Garden.

Modern history

Buckingham Palace panorama, 1909

In 1901 the accession of Edward VII saw new life breathed into the palace. The new King and his wife Queen Alexandra had always been at the forefront of London high society, and their friends, known as "the Marlborough House Set", were considered to be the most eminent and fashionable of the age. Buckingham Palace—the Ballroom, Grand Entrance, Marble Hall, Grand Staircase, vestibules and galleries redecorated in the Belle epoque cream and gold colour scheme they retain today—once again became a setting for entertaining on a majestic scale. Many people feel King Edward's heavy redecoration of the palace does not complement Nash's original work.[61] However, it has been allowed to remain for over one hundred years.

The east front of Buckingham Palace was completed in 1850, seen here in 1910
 
...it was remodelled to its present form in 1913.

The last major building work took place during the reign of King George V when, in 1913, Sir Aston Webb redesigned Blore's 1850 East Front to resemble in part Giacomo Leoni's Lyme Park in Cheshire. This new, refaced principal facade (of Portland stone) was designed to be the backdrop to the Victoria Memorial, a large memorial statue of Queen Victoria, placed outside the main gates.[62] George V, who had succeeded Edward VII in 1910, had a more serious personality than his father; greater emphasis was now placed on official entertaining and royal duties than on lavish parties.[63] He arranged a series of command performances featuring jazz musicians such as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band(1919) - the first jazz performance for a head of state, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong (1932) which earned the palace a nomination in 2009 for a (Kind of) Blue Plaque by the Brecon Jazz Festival as one of the venues making the greatest contribution to jazz music in the United Kingdom.[64][65] George V's wife Queen Mary was a connoisseur of the arts, and took a keen interest in the Royal Collection of furniture and art, both restoring and adding to it. Queen Mary also had many new fixtures and fittings installed, such as the pair of marble Empire-style chimneypieces by Benjamin Vulliamy, dating from 1810, which the Queen had installed in the ground floor Bow Room, the huge low room at the centre of the garden facade. Queen Mary was also responsible for the decoration of the Blue Drawing Room.[66] This room, 69 feet (21 m) long, previously known as the South Drawing Room, has a ceiling designed specially by Nash, coffered with huge gilt console brackets.[67]

A 1999 book published by the Royal Collection Department reported that the palace contained 19 state rooms, 52 principal bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms.[68] While this may seem large, it is small when compared to the Russian imperial palaces in Saint Petersburg and at Tsarskoe Selo, the Papal Palace in Rome, the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Stockholm Palace, or indeed the former Palace of Whitehall, and tiny compared to the Forbidden City and Potala Palace. The relative smallness of the palace may be best appreciated from within, looking out over the inner quadrangle. A minor change was made in 1938, in which the north-west pavilion, designed by Nash as a conservatory and altered in 1911-13 to a racquets court, was converted into a swimming pool.

The Victoria Memorial was created by sculptor Sir Thomas Brock in 1911 and erected in front of the main gates at Buckingham Palace on a surround constructed by architect Sir Aston Webb.

During World War I the palace, then the home of King George V and Queen Mary, escaped unscathed. Its more valuable contents were evacuated to Windsor but the Royal family remained in situ. The largest change to court life at this time was that the Government persuaded the King to ostentatiously and publicly lock the wine cellars and refrain from alcohol for the duration of the war, to set a good example to the supposedly inebriated lower classes. The lower classes continued to imbibe and the King was left reputedly furious at his enforced abstinence.[69] The King's children were photographed at this time serving tea to wounded officers in the adjacent Royal Mews.

The palace fared worse during World War II; it was bombed no less than seven times, the most serious and publicised of which resulted in the destruction of the palace chapel in 1940. Coverage of this event was played in cinemas all over the UK to show the common suffering of rich and poor. One bomb fell in the palace quadrangle while King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were in residence, and many windows were blown in and the chapel destroyed.[70] War-time coverage of such incidents was severely restricted, however. The King and Queen were filmed inspecting their bombed home, the smiling Queen, as always, immaculately dressed in a hat and matching coat seemingly unbothered by the damage around her. It was at this time the Queen famously declared: "I'm glad we have been bombed. Now I can look the East End in the face". The Royal family were seen as sharing their subjects' hardship, as The Sunday Graphic reported:

By the Editor: The King and Queen have endured the ordeal which has come to their subjects. For the second time a German bomber has tried to bring death and destruction to the home of Their Majesties...When this war is over the common danger which King George and Queen Elizabeth have shared with their people will be a cherished memory and an inspiration through the years.[71]

On 15 September 1940, an RAF pilot, Ray Holmes, rammed a German plane attempting to bomb the palace.[72] Holmes had run out of ammunition and made the quick choice to ram it. Both planes crashed and their pilots survived, and the incident was captured on film. The plane's engine was later exhibited at the Imperial War Museum in London. The British pilot became a King's Messenger following the war, and died at the age of 90 in 2005.[73]

On VE Day—8 May 1945—the palace was the centre of British celebrations, with the King, Queen and the Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, and Princess Margaret appearing on the balcony, with the palace's blacked-out windows behind them, to the cheers from a vast crowd in the Mall.[74]

The boy Jones was an intruder who gained entry to the palace on three occasions between 1838 and 1841 as recorded by Charles Dickens some 40 years later.[75] In 1982, Michael Fagan, was able to break into the palace twice, and conversed with the Queen on one of these [76] Reportedly, Her Majesty maintained her composure while the palace police were en route and Fagan made no threatening motions towards the Queen.

The Garden, the Royal Mews and the Mall

The west façade of Buckingham Palace, faced in Bath stone, seen from the Palace Gardens.

At the rear of the palace, is the large and park-like garden which, together with its lake, is the largest private garden in London.[77] Here the Queen hosts her annual garden parties each summer, and also holds large functions to celebrate royal milestones, such as jubilees. Originally landscaped by Capability Brown, it was redesigned by William Townsend Aiton of Kew Gardens and John Nash. The artificial lake was completed in 1828 and is supplied with water from the Serpentine, a river which runs through Hyde Park.

Adjacent to the palace is the Royal Mews, also designed by Nash, where the royal carriages, including the Gold State Coach, are housed. This rococo gilt coach, designed by Sir William Chambers in 1760, has painted panels by G. B. Cipriani. It was first used for the State Opening of Parliament by George III in 1762 and is used by the monarch only for coronations or jubilee celebrations.[78] Also housed in the Mews are the carriage horses used in royal ceremonial processions.[79]

The Mall, a ceremonial approach route to the palace, was designed by Sir Aston Webb and completed in 1911 as part of a grand memorial to Queen Victoria. It extends from Admiralty Arch, up around the Victoria Memorial, bounded by the Canada Gate, South Africa Gate and Australia Gate, to the palace forecourt. This route is used by the cavalcades and motorcades of all visiting heads of state, and by the Royal Family on state occasions such as the annual State Opening of Parliament as well as Trooping the Colour each year.

21st century: Royal use and public access

The Royal Family on the balcony in 1986

Every year some 50,000 invited guests are entertained at garden parties, receptions, audiences, and banquets. The Garden Parties, usually three, are held in the summer, usually in July. The Forecourt of Buckingham Palace is used for Changing of the Guard, a major ceremony and tourist attraction (daily during the summer months; every other day during the winter).

The palace, like Windsor Castle, is owned by the British state. It is not the monarch's personal property, unlike Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle. Many of the contents from Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace and St. James's Palace are known collectively as the Royal Collection; owned by the nation, they can, on occasions, be viewed by the public at the Queen's Gallery, near the Royal Mews. Unlike the palace and the castle, the gallery is open continually and displays a changing selection of items from the collection. The rooms containing the Queen's Gallery are on the site of the former chapel, which was damaged by one of the seven bombs to fall on the palace during World War II. The palace's state rooms have been open to the public during August and September since 1993. The money raised in entry fees was originally put towards the rebuilding of Windsor Castle following the 1992 fire which destroyed many of its state rooms.

In May 2009, in response to a request from the Royal Family to the government for money for a backlog of repairs to the palace, a group of MPs on the Public Accounts Committee proposed that in return for the extra £4 million in annual funds requested, the palace should be open to the public more than the 60 days it is now, as well as when members of the Royal Family are in residence.[80] The British Government currently provides £15 million yearly for the palace's upkeep.

Thus, Buckingham Palace is a symbol and home of the British monarchy, an art gallery and tourist attraction. Behind the gilded railings and gates which were made by the Bromsgrove Guild[37] and Webb's famous facade which has been described as looking "like everybody's idea of a palace";[37] is not only the weekday home of the Queen and Prince Philip but also the London residence of the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex. The palace also houses the offices of the Royal Household and is the workplace of 450 people.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Traditionally the British Royal Court is still resident at St. James's Palace. While foreign ambassadors assuming their new position are received by the British sovereign at Buckingham Palace, they are in fact accredited to the "Court of St. James's Palace". This anomaly continues for the sake of tradition as Buckingham Palace is to all intents and purposes the official residence. See History of St James's Palace (Royal website).
  2. ^ a b Robinson, p. 14
  3. ^ Goring, P.15
  4. ^ The topography of the site and its ownership are dealt with in Wright, chapters 1–4
  5. ^ Goring, p.28
  6. ^ Goring, p.18
  7. ^ The Acquisition of the Estate, Survey of London: volume 39: The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 1 (General History) (1977), pp. 1–5. Date accessed: 03 February 2009
  8. ^ Wright, pp. 76–8
  9. ^ Goring, pp. 31&36
  10. ^ Audley and Davies were key figures in the development of Ebury Manor and also the Grosvenor Estate (see Dukes of Westminster), which still exists today. (They are remembered in the streetnames North Audley Street, South Audley Street, and Davies Street, all in Mayfair.)
  11. ^ Wright, p. 83
  12. ^ Goring, Chapter V
  13. ^ a b c Harris, p.21
  14. ^ Wright, p. 96
  15. ^ Goring, p.62
  16. ^ Goring, p.58
  17. ^ Harris, p.22
  18. ^ Nash, p. 18, although the purchase price is given by Wright p. 142 as £28,000
  19. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Measuring Worth: UK CPI.
  20. ^ In 1775, an Act of Parliament settled the property on Queen Charlotte, in exchange for her rights to Somerset House (see Old and New London (below)
  21. ^ Westminster: Buckingham Palace, Old and New London: Volume 4 (1878), pp. 61–74. Date accessed: 03 February 2009. The tradition persists of foreign ambassadors being formally accredited to "the Court of St. James's", even though it is at Buckingham Palace that they present their credentials and staff to the Queen upon their appointment.
  22. ^ Harris, p.24
  23. ^ Harris, pp.30–31
  24. ^ Jones, p. 42
  25. ^ Harris, p.33
  26. ^ "The Royal Residences > Buckingham Palace > History". www.royal.gov.uk. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page568.asp. Retrieved 2 February 2009. 
  27. ^ Ziegler, Phillip (1971). King William IV. Collins. p. 280. ISBN 0-00-211934-X.. 
  28. ^ "The Royal Residences > Buckingham Palace". www.royal.gov.uk. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page555.asp. Retrieved 2 February 2009. 
  29. ^ Hedley, p. 10
  30. ^ a b Woodham-Smith, p. 249
  31. ^ Harris, de Bellaigue & Miller, p. 33
  32. ^ Holland & Hannen and Cubitts - The Inception and Development of a Great Building Firm, published 1920, p. 35
  33. ^ Hedley, p. 19
  34. ^ Healey, pp.137–138
  35. ^ Healey, p.122
  36. ^ Allen's Indian Mail, and Register of British and Foreign India, China, and all parts of the East. 1850, Vol. VIII. Google Book link
  37. ^ a b c Robinson, p. 9
  38. ^ [1] Reference for floorspace.
  39. ^ a b Harris, p.41
  40. ^ Harris, pp.78–79
  41. ^ Healey, pp.387–388
  42. ^ Harris, p.81
  43. ^ Harris, p.40
  44. ^ Healey, pp.159–160
  45. ^ Harris, de Bellaigue & Miller, p. 93
  46. ^ Harris, de Bellaigue & Miller, p. 91
  47. ^ Jones, p. 43
  48. ^ a b Harris, p.82.
  49. ^ a b 40 facts about Buckingham Palace (Royal Insight: The British Monarchy Media Centre) accessed 3 February 2009
  50. ^ Healey, p.233, quoting The Memoirs of Mabell, Countess of Airlie, edited and arranged by Jennifer Ellis, London:Hutchinson, 1962.
  51. ^ Advice given by HM's representatives
  52. ^ "Mailbox". Royal Insight Magazine. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page5299.asp. Retrieved 25 May 2007. 
  53. ^ The late Princess Margaret is reputed to have remarked of the débutante presentations: "We had to put a stop to it, every tart in London was getting in." See Blaikie, Thomas (2002). You look awfully like the Queen: Wit and Wisdom from the House of Windsor. London: Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-714874-7
  54. ^ http://www.royal.gov.uk/LatestNewsandDiary/Factfiles/40factsaboutBuckinghamPalace.aspx
  55. ^ Harris, p.72
  56. ^ a b Healey, p.364
  57. ^ Healey, p.362
  58. ^ Hedley, p. 16
  59. ^ Healey, pp.363–365
  60. ^ Robinson, p. 49
  61. ^ Robinson (Page 9) asserts that the decorations, including plaster swags and other decorative motifs, are "finicky" and "at odds with Nash's original detailing".
  62. ^ Harris, p.34
  63. ^ Healey, p.185
  64. ^ "Buckingham Palace hits right note with jazz fans" London Evening Standard (August 3, 2009)
  65. ^ Bates, Stephen, "By royal approval: Buckingham Palace's place in jazz history" The Guardian (August 3, 2009
  66. ^ Healey pp.221–222
  67. ^ Harris, p.63
  68. ^ Robinson, p. 11
  69. ^ Rose, Kenneth (1983). King George V. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0297782452. 
  70. ^ Thornton, Michael (1984). Royal Feud. M.Joseph. p. 216. 
  71. ^ The Sunday Graphic, September 18, 1939, p. 1
  72. ^ "Pilot who 'saved Palace' honoured" 2 November 2005, BBC News. Retrieved 25 April 2007.
  73. ^ "Pilot who 'saved Palace' honoured". BBC news website (British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)). 2 November 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/4398484.stm. Retrieved 18 March 2009. 
  74. ^ 1945: Rejoicing at end of war in Europe (BBC On this day.) Retrieved 3 February 2009.
  75. ^ Dickens, Charles (5 July 1885) "The boy Jones", All the Year Round, pp. 234–37.
  76. ^ God Save the Queen, Fast Spencer Davidson and Arthur White Time Magazine 26 July 1982 accessed 3 February 2009
  77. ^ Buckingham Palace (Museum of London.) Retrieved 3 February 2009.
  78. ^ "Kid's Zone:The Gold State Coach". The official website of the British Monarchy. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page1210.asp. Retrieved 25 May 2007. 
  79. ^ "The Royal Residences > The Royal Mews". www.royal.gov.uk. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page556.asp. Retrieved 2 February 2009. 
  80. ^ "Queen must open palace more in return for extra funds". The Daily Telegraph. 30 May 2009. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/theroyalfamily/5407953/Queen-must-open-palace-more-in-return-for-extra-funds.html. Retrieved 4 June 2009. 

References

  • Blaikie, Thomas (2002). You look awfully like the Queen: Wit and Wisdom from the House of Windsor. London: Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-714874-7.
  • Goring, O.G. (1937). From Goring House to Buckingham Palace. London:Ivor Nicholson & Watson.
  • Harris, John; de Bellaigue, Geoffrey; & Miller, Oliver (1968). Buckingham Palace. London:Nelson. ISBN 0-17-141011-4
  • Healey, Edma (1997). The Queen's House: A Social History of Buckingham Palace. London:Penguin Group. ISBN 0718170893.
  • Hedley, Olwen (1971) The Pictorial History of Buckingham Palace. Pitkin, ISBN 0-85372-086-X
  • Jones, Nigel R. (2005). Architecture of England, Scotland, and Wales. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0313318506. 
  • Nash, Roy (1980). Buckingham Palace: The Place and the People. London: Macdonald Futura. ISBN 0354045296
  • Robinson, John Martin (1999). Buckingham Palace. Published by The Royal Collection, St. James's Palace, London ISBN 1-902163-36-2.
  • Williams, Neville (1971). Royal Homes. Lutterworth Press. ISBN 0-7188-0803-7.
  • Woodham-Smith, Cecil (1973). Queen Victoria (vol 1) Hamish Hamilton Ltd.
  • Wright, Patricia (1999; first published 1996). The Strange History of Buckingham Palace. Stroud, Gloucs.: Sutton Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7509-1283-9

External links

Coordinates: 51°30′04″N 0°08′31″W / 51.501°N 0.142°W / 51.501; -0.142


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to London/Westminster article)

From Wikitravel

The Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster
The Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster

Westminster is a district of central London.

Understand

Westminster is a city in its own right, the twin to the ancient City of London further east and historically they jointly formed the focus of what is today regarded as London. The Palace of Westminster came to be the principal royal residence after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, and later housed the developing Parliament and law courts of England. The neighbouring Westminster Abbey became the traditional venue of the coronation of England regents. Westminster has therefore been the seat of royal, and later parliamentary, government and power for 900 years.

As a result, many of its attractions are of an historical and cultural variety. Even so Westminster very much retains a bustling, modern feel as the centre of British government and is often used as shorthand for Parliament and the political community (including the elected Government) of the United Kingdom generally.

For the traveller and for the scope of this article, it is important to understand though that the district of Westminster is bounded to the north by Trafalgar Square and Mayfair, to the east by Covent Garden and to the west by Knightsbridge and Chelsea.

St. James's is the region of Westminster that encompasses Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and the eponymously named park. This is a very affluent area of the city and has a great deal to offer visitors. Belgravia to the west of Buckingham Palace is probably the grandest residential area in the whole of the United Kingdom. Victoria and Pimlico in the south-west are the least grand regions of the district but still have much to offer including The Tate Britain, some wonderful Regency architecture and a number of good value accommodation options.

Get in

By tube

The district is serviced by the following tube stations:

  • Westminster (Circle, District and Jubilee lines)
  • Embankment (Bakerloo, Circle, District and Jubilee lines.
  • Green Park (Jubilee. Piccadilly and Victoria lines)
  • Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly line)
  • Pimlico (Victoria line)
  • St James's Park (Circle and District lines).
  • Victoria (Circle, District and Victoria lines).

By train

The nearest mainline train stations are London Waterloo (approximately 15 minutes walk) and London Victoria (20 min walk). It is worth taking the tube from these two stations to arrive at Westminster.

  • Westminster Millennium Pier [1]. You can take a circular cruise.
  • Banqueting House, Whitehall SW1A 2ER (tube: Westminster), +44 870 751 5178, [2]. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, closed Su, Bank Holidays and 24 December-1 Jan (inclusive); The Banqueting House is liable to close at short notice for government functions, telephone to check before you travel. Designed and built in 1619-1622 by the Neo-Classical architect Inigo Jones, The Banqueting House is now all that remains of Whitehall Palace, the sovereign's principal residence from 1530-1698 when most of it was destroyed by fire. Renowned for its architecture and paintings (by Rubens, amongst others), the building is also famous for being the scene of Charles I's execution in 1649 at the end of the English Civil War. £4.00, students (with ID) and seniors (60+) £3.00, children 5-16 £2.60, under 5 free.  edit
  • Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum, Clive Steps, King Charles Street SW1A 2AQ (tube: Westminster), [3]. 9:30AM-6PM daily (last admission 5PM), closed 24-26 Dec. A branch of the Imperial War Museum, the Cabinet War Rooms preserves the underground corridors and rooms from which Churchill and the cabinet directed the war against Hitler and the Nazis, maintained almost exactly as they were left in 1945. Newly-opened in 2004, the attached Churchill Museum is the world's first permanent museum dedicated to the life and wartime achievements of Sir Winston Churchill, recently voted the Greatest Briton. £10, children under 16 free, seniors £8, students £8, unwaged £5, group concessions available.  edit
  • Cleopatra's Needle, Victoria Embankment, along the Thames (tube: Embankment). Cleopatra's Needle originated in the ancient Egyptian city of Heliopolis, in the Temple of Atum, but the Romans moved it to Alexandria in 12 BC. In 1819, viceroy Mehemet Ali presented Cleopatra's Needle to the British, commemorating military victories in Egypt, but it remained in Alexandria until 1877 when transportation was arranged to bring it to London. On the voyage, the ship capsized in a storm, killing six crewmembers. Cleopatra's Needle was thought to be lost, but Spanish trawlers found it afloat a few days later, and after some repairs, it arrived in London on 21 Jan 1878. The obelisk is flanked by two faux-sphinxes, which show the effects of bombings of London during World War I. Today, Cleopatra's Needle shows some wear from exposure to London's damp weather.  edit
  • Downing Street, (tube: Westminster). Site of the London residences for the Prime Minister (No. 10) and the Chancellor (No. 11).  edit
  • Henry VII's Ladys Chapel, [4]. Described as the wonder of the entire world, this chapel at the eastern end of Westminster Abbey is a breathtakingly beautiful masterpiece of medieval architecture.  edit
  • St. Margaret's Church, Parliament Sq (tube: Westminster. Next to Westminster Abbey within Parliament Sq), [5]. M-F 9:30AM-3:45PM, Sa 9:30AM-1:45PM, Su 2PM-5PM. St. Margaret's is the church of the British Parliament, more specifically, the parish church of the House of Commons.  edit
  • Westminster Abbey, (tube: Westminster), +44 20 7654 4900 (, fax: +44 20 7654 4894), [6]. Abbey admission: M-Tu and Th-F 9:30AM-3:45PM, W 9:30AM-7PM, Sa 9:30AM-1:45PM (extended in summer to 3:45PM), Su open for worship only, the Abbey closes 1 hr after last admission; Chapter House admission: 10:30AM-4PM daily; Westminster Abbey Museum: 10:30AM-4PM daily; Pyx Chamber: 10:30AM-4PM daily; Cloisters: 8AM-6PM daily. Note that the Abbey itself charges tourists for entry, but not for worshippers. Attend a church service for free and enjoy some of the finest choral music in London from the choir. Evensong at 4PM or 5PM, depending on time of year, is an especially good bet. The Abbey is the traditional scene for the Coronation of British monarchs and the burial place of many past kings and queens. £12, concessions £6 (seniors 60+, children 11-16, students with full-time student card), family ticket £18 (two adults and two children under 18), children under 11 free (maximum of two children per paying adult).  edit
  • Whitehall, (tube: Westminster, Charing Cross). This street runs between Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square, and is the site of several British government buildings. Horseguards Parade, and the heavily guarded entrance to Downing Street (see below) are on the west side. Banqueting House is on the east side. In the centre of the street sits the Cenotaph, a war memorial erected following the World War I, which is the centre of the annual Remembrance Day ceremony on 11 November.  edit
  • The Jewel Tower (Opposite the Houses of Parliament). This small tower across the road from the Houses of Parliament is the only part of the original Palace of Westminster still standing. While it is overshadowed in splendour by the surrounding buildings, it's well worth a visit, and has good displays about the early history of Westminster.  edit
Westminster Bridge, Big Ben and The Palace of Westminster
Westminster Bridge, Big Ben and The Palace of Westminster

Parliament Square (tube: Westminster), [7].

On the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Palace of Westminster (more widely known as the Houses of Parliament) is the seat of Parliament in the United Kingdom. It's often termed the "Mother of All Parliaments" - an exaggeration, but perhaps only a slight one. The present building largely dates from the 19th century when it was rebuilt following a fire in a splendid example of Victorian neo-Gothic architecture. The House of Commons (elected Members of Parliament or MPs) is located to the north of the building and is decorated with green leather upholstery, and the House of Lords (unelected Lords) is located to the south and decorated with red leather upholstery.

  • Visiting while the Houses are in session. While the house is sitting (most of the year), visitors can sit in the Strangers' Gallery of the Commons and Lords. There is no charge to do this. You should queue at St. Stephen's Entrance (opposite Westminster Abbey). Depending on the popularity of debates happening in the Houses, queueing for admission can take 30min or more. Avoid Wednesday lunchtime when the Prime Minister takes questions, and you are unlikely to find space at all unless you have a ticket from a Member of Parliament. If you do not wish to visit the Commons, then tell one of the police officers standing guard outside that you only wish to see the House of Lords, and you should be able to enter immediately. Upon entry, you pass through a metal detector, and are very thoroughly searched. You then proceed into St. Stephen's Hall, where you are seated to wait for admission. A representative of the Serjeant-at-Arms gives you a slip of paper to write your name and address on.
  • House of Commons Strangers' Gallery. When called, you proceed from St. Stephen's Hall to the Central Hall, and then upstairs. You must leave all items (bags, cameras, mobile phones, writing and written material) outside and then proceed through to the Strangers' Gallery. Upon entry, you can pick up a copy of the proceedings being discussed in the House that day. You should be quiet, anything above a whisper may lead to you being asked to leave. After leaving the Commons, you head back down to the Central Hall.
  • House of Lords Strangers' Gallery. If you head away from the Commons, you pass along a corridor towards the Lords. If you ask to visit the Strangers' Gallery, a representative of Black Rod asks you to complete another slip of paper with your name and address. You then proceed up a staircase to the Lords Strangers' Gallery. Again, all items need to be left outside. Of the two chambers, the Lords is by far the most impressive, featuring the stunning throne (opposite the Strangers' Gallery) upon which the Queen delivers a speech outlining the Government's plans for the year ahead at the State Opening each year. Also, the queue for the Lords is always very short.
  • Westminster Hall. After visiting the two Houses, visitors pass back through St. Stephen's Hall, and through Westminster Hall. Westminster Hall is one of the few areas of Parliament in which photography is permitted, and it is a very impressive place, dating back to the 9th century. Plaques on the floor mark where the bodies of deceased members of the royal family lay in state (most recently the Queen Mother in 2002), and significant events which took place in the hall (such as the trial of King Charles I).
  • Summer Opening, +44 870 9063773, [8]. 28 Jul-27 Sep M-Sa. While the Houses are in recess, the Palace of Westminster is generally closed - apart from the long Summer recess, during which tours are run through the building, led by Parliamentary employees. Popularity of these tours means you're best advised to book in advance - a stall erected on the green opposite the Palace of Westminster on Millbank sells tickets in the Summer. £7.  edit
  • Clock Tower (Big Ben), [9]. Strictly limited numbers of tickets are available to climb the Clock Tower (containing the Great Bell, commonly known as "Big Ben"). British visitors should write to their Member of Parliament to request tickets. Unfortunately there are no tours for overseas visitors. Free.  edit
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

The main residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (reigned since 1952, coronated 1953)[10]. Other residences are Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle.

  • Changing of the Guard. May-Jul 11:30AM daily, other times see website. Each morning between May and July at 11:30am the guard changes outside Buckingham Palace. The rest of the year, the guard changes on alternate days, weather permitting. A board is placed outside the palace in the morning to say whether the Changing of the Guard ceremony will take place or not. There is no charge to view the Changing of the Guard - simply turn up and stand at the fence in front of the Palace, but it is worth getting there early to ensure a good view, particularly when the weather is fine. Free.  edit
  • Summer Opening. 31 Jul-29 Sep 9:45AM-3:45PM. 19 State Rooms open to the public, while the Queen is staying at her Scottish palace at Balmoral. Places are strictly limited, and it might not be possible to just turn up and get a ticket for a specific entry time, visitors should really book in advance to ensure admission. £8.75-15.50.  edit
  • Tate Britain, Millbank (Nearest tube: Pimlico), [11]. M-Su 10AM-5:50PM. This gallery houses the Tate collection of British art from 1500 through to contemporary art. A side wing collects together the gallery's collection of paintings by Turner, including some stunning seascapes. Temporary exhibitions are exceedingly varied - recent examples include exhibitions of Turner's paintings of Venice and the work of photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. The best known exhibition is the Turner Prize, consists of works by four artists shortlisted for the annual contemporary art prize, which runs from late October to January each year. Admission free (though there is a charge for temporary exhibitions).  edit
  • See the guardsmen standing outside Horseguards Parade. Also, watch the daily changing of the guard.
  • Free Walking Tours, Duke of Wellingon Arch (tube: Hyde Park Corner exit 2), [12]. 11AM and 1PM daily. There are a number of regular free walking tours in London but the most well known leaves from The Duke of Wellingon Arch twice daily and covers many of the important sights in Westminster. Duration about 2 and half hours. Free, donation.  edit

Buy

Perhaps the world's most famous shirts are made in Jermyn St SW1 and resident shirtmakers include:

  • New & Lingwood (No. 53)
  • Turnbull & Asser (No. 71) [13]
  • Hilditch & Key (Nos. 37 and 73)
  • Harvie & Hudson (No. 77)
  • Charles Tyrwhitt (No. 92) [14]

Victoria Street has high-street shops.

  • Cardinal Place, Victoria St (tube: Victoria, St. James's Park), [15]. High-street shops for example Marks & Spencer and a selection of chain restaurants.  edit
  • National Map Centre, 22-24 Caxton St (tube: Westminster), +44 20 7222246 (). M-F 9AM-5PM. Fantastic for maps and guide books.  edit
  • Circus, 1 Upper James St, +44 20 7534 4000. A popular haunt for theatre goers, this French bistro serves food as authentic as you would find on the other side of the Channel.  edit
  • Quaglinos, 16 Bury St, +44 20 7930 6767. Owned by famed designer Terence Conrad, it serves standard food with a men that changes frequently. It features live jazz every night and on Sunday lunch.  edit
  • Cardinal Place, Victoria St (tube: Victoria, St. James's Park), [17]. A selection of chain restaurants.  edit

Drink

Pubs

There are a large number of excellent pubs in the St. James's area of Westminster.

  • The Albert, Victoria St. A nice (but often crowded) traditional pub, dating back to the 1860s, named in honour of Queen Victoria's husband. Portraits of British prime ministers (many of them signed) hang on the stairwell, and Chelsea pensioners (British war veterans) can often be seen propping up the bar.  edit
  • The Elusive Camel Victoria (The Camel), 27 Gillingham St, +44 871 984 1229, +44 20 7233 9004 (), [18]. Popular with a young and sporty crowd, with a game always on screen, it is a great place to have a drink and cheer your favorite team.  edit
  • The Red Lion, Whitehall (Half way between Parliament Sq and 10 Downing St). A good place to see politicians and political commentators. The pub television shows (muted) debates from the House of Commons, and division bell rings here to summon Members of Parliament to vote on important issues in Parliament.  edit
  • Heaven, The Arches, Villiers and Craven St, +44 20 7930 2020, [19]. The worlds most famous gay nightclub. A must visit while in London, one of the biggest and most established institutions in the city.  edit

Sleep

Budget

There are lots of small B&Bs in the Pimlico and Vistoria areas which offer very good value for this part of London.

  • The Wellington, 71 Vincent Sq, SW1P 2PA, (tube: Pimlico), [20]. Located in quiet area. Rate includes simple breakfast. Internet access available. 10 min from Victoria Station. From £30.  edit
  • City Inn Westminster, 30 John Islip St, +44 20 7630 1000, [21]. A central london boutique hotel in Westminster. Offers a restaurant, bar, meeting venue and event offers. From £150.  edit
  • Jolly Hotel St Ermin's, 2 Caxton St, SW1H 0QW (tube: Westminster or Victoria), +44 20 72227888 (), [22]. Small but well appointed rooms in a convenient location near Westminster Abbey. From 115.  edit
  • Luna & Simone Hotel, 47/49 Belgrave Rd, SW1 (tube: Pimlico, Victoria), +44 20 7834 5897 (), [23]. Small yet comfortable hotel with friendly staff. Double en-suite £70-90, single basic £35-45.  edit
  • Sanctuary House Hotel, 33 Tothill St (tube: Westminster), +44 20 7799 4044 (), [24]. Small hotel in a lovely old building close to Westminster Abbey. From £195.  edit
  • Crowne Plaza London St James (St James Court Hotel), Buckingham Gate SW1E 6AF, +44 20 7834 6655. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 1PM. Four star hotel close to Buckingham Palace and The Houses of Parliament. Has three restaurants, Spa, and Gym. £150.00. (51.49,-0.1374) edit
  • The Grosvenor, Buckingham Palace Rd (tube: Victoria), +44 871 3769038 (), [25]. Handily located next door to Victoria railway and tube station.  edit
  • St. James’s Hotel & Club, 7-8 Park Pl (tube: Green Park, just off St. James’s St near Mayfair), +44 20 7316 1600 (, fax: +44 20 7316 1603), [26]. checkout: 12. A luxury townhouse hotel. From £215. (51.506765,-0.140590) edit

Cope

Public toilets

For £0.25 per message, visitors to the Westminster area can use a toilet-finding service called SatLav. Just text the word "toilet" to 80097 in order to receive a reply with directions to the nearest public toilet.

  • Just across the river on the South Bank are the London Eye and the Saatchi Gallery
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Proper noun

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Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Buckingham Palace

  1. the official London residence of the British monarch.
  2. (by extension) The British monarch or royal family

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