Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament
Whitehall is two things; a concept, and a physical site in which that concept is said to live, though what one has to do with the other isn’t always clear. As concept, it is not of course a popular ooe. For the average citizen, including me as soon as 1 stop being a Civil Servant at the end of the day, Whitehall only too easily becomes synonymous with any and almost every kind of public control of individual enterprise and individual taste, whenever that control afreets one personally. Whitehall is the amorphous, impersonal “They” who refuse to let you do something that is obviously to your great advantage and really not at all to anyone ebe’s disadvantage.
Before inspecting Whitehall in some detail, I must indicate how it came about. From 1245, this was York Place, the London residence of the Archbishops of York, but it did not get really grand until Cardinal Wobey’s time; Wolscy elaborated the buildings, and set a scale of living of which 00c example must serve as symptom “a most sumptuous supper, the like of which was never given either by Cleopatra or Caligula.” Of his works, now only part of the wine cellar survives.
But at Wobcy’s fall in 1530, York Place passed into the hands of the Crown, those most capacious hands of its then tenant, Henry VIII, who in a few years managed to obliterate all memories of the name of York or of Wobey, in favour of Whitehall. But more than that, when Henry turned it into his main London palace, with splendid apartments of state, the seat of the government’s administration of England moved there too, a few hundred yards north up the road from Westminster (though the legislature remained there). English monarchy slipped a little apart from both church and parliament, as if to emphasise its control over them. (It was in the last years of Henry’s life, 1530 to
1346, that the Reformed Religion wn established and the King of England, head of the State, became also head of the Church). Though the Court did not really settle in one home till the Stuarts, before Henry VIII the primary palace had been Westminster for nearly five hundred yearsinee it moved from Winchester. After the Stuarts royalty moved from Whitehall, but the country’s administradon was to stay, and has now been there almost as long as it was at Westminster.