London ball

St James’s Palace, London 2020

There’s no place like home, and there’s no place like St James’s Palace for the British Royal Family. With a history dating back to the 15th century, this palace has been a hub for the royal family for centuries. From turbulent times to momentous occasions, St James’s Palace has seen it all. Keep reading to learn more about its fascinating history!

History of St James’s Palace in London

St James’s Palace, London – Mistervlad image credit via Shutterstock

St James’s Palace is a royal palace located in the City of Westminster, central London. It was often used by the British monarch and members of the royal family as their official residence in London. Today the royal apartments are used for official functions and as a reception venue for overseas guests.

St. James’s Hospital

St James Palace at Pall Mall
St James’s Palace at Pall Mall – Image Credit Claudio Divizia via Shutterstock

The original St James’s Hospital was dedicated to Saint James the Minor, one of the Twelve Apostles, and served as a refuge and leper colony. In 1531, King Henry VIII acquired St James’s Hospital from Eton College, and it became a royal palace. The site has been redeveloped to add a range of large cabins overlooking St James’s Park.

Which members of the royal family lived in St. James’s Palace

King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII – Image Credit Andy Lidstone via Shutterstock

During the Tudor period, St James’s Palace was home to many members of the royal family. Some of the most famous royals who have lived at St James’s Palace include:

  • King Henry VIII – The Tudor King is perhaps the most famous king to have resided at St. James’s Palace. He took possession 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 when the Spanish Armada invaded in 1588.
  • King Charles I – St James’s Palace was the birthplace of King Charles I in 1600. He also spent his childhood here before moving to other royal residences.
  • King James II – King James II was born at St James’s Palace in 1633 and 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 spent much of his childhood there. He is best known for his rule during the American Revolution and for his mental health issues later in 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.

Queen Victoria era

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – Image Credit Everett Collection via Shutterstock

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.

Modern times

St. James Park Gardens
St. James’s Park Gardens – Image Credit Bonnie Fink via Shutterstock

Staterooms in St James’s Palace include the Queen’s Chapel, built by King Henry VIII; the 18th century guard room; and the Chamber of Presence, where courtiers gathered 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 reception venue for foreign guests. They include the King’s Drawing Room, where courtiers gathered to meet the monarch; and the King’s Dining Room, which is used for state banquets and other formal events. The audience halls, the throne room and the banquet hall are particularly impressive.

The gardens of 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.

Location

The Mall of London
The Mall London – Image Credit SimoneAmy via Shutterstock

St James’s Palace is located in the City of Westminster, central London. It is located near The Mall, a tree-lined avenue leading from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. The nearest London Underground station is St James’s Park.

In summary

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 are lucky enough to visit, be sure to take advantage of all the history this place has to offer. And if you have any tips or tricks for visiting the palaces, let us know in the comments below!