London is famous for royal palaces like Windsor, Buckingham Palace, and St James’s Palace. But what about those royal palaces long lost to history? Take for example, Kennington Palace. Yes, such a place did exist. The home of the legendary Black Prince. Go there now and you’ll find a post-war office block. Ditto Baynard’s castle – site of a 1970s piece of brutalism today.
How on earth could entire royal palaces disappear in London? Surely it’s unthinkable. And yet it’s happened. Whitehall Palace once rivalled the Vatican in size with 1,500 plus rooms. Begun in earnest by Cardinal Wolsey – though it was already owned by the Archbishops of York – it was taken over by Henry VIII who turned it into a magnificent residence and centre of government. Then a careless maid burned the place down in the late 17th century while drying out some linen. All that remains is the Banqueting House on the road still called Whitehall.
Baynard’s Castle was close to where Blackfriars tube station now stands. It fell victim to the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was never rebuilt. Along with Montfichet’s Tower and the Tower of London – this was part of the Norman military grip on the capital of the realm. Keeping a beady eye on rebellious Londoners.
Montfichet’s Tower – in case you’re interested – stood between St Paul’s Cathedral and the Thameslink station just down Ludgate Hill towards what was one the river Fleet. Montfichet was demolished to make way for a huge Dominican priory – the so-called ‘black friars’, hence the name of the area.
Other lost royal palaces include much of St James’s which burned down and was never rebuilt. King George III and Queen Victoria moved the monarchy decisively into Buckingham Palace. The fire at St James’s explains why the chapel is separated from the main palace to this very day by a busy main road.
This list of lost royal palaces of London goes on but do watch the video to get the full story!