Address: Marlborough Road, London SW1A 1BS


Time: No public entry

Phone: 0207 930 4832

1000m from Charing Cross

600m from Green Park

Built by Henry VIII between 1531-6, St James’s Palace is the official residence of the Sovereign today, being Britain’s most senior palace. It lies to the north of St James’s Park and is of a striking red brick design, built in a similar style to Hampton Court and also built around the same time. It was originally called St James’s House.

It stands near to Buckingham Palace, the latter being built later, and has been the setting for a host of major historical events. It became the main royal residence when Whitehall Palace was destroyed in the 17th century and remained so up to the reign of William VI. The formal move to Buckingham Palace was made by Queen Victoria in 1837.

The Palace was built on the site of St James’s Hospital, a former leper colony, and effects from the time include Henry VIII’s initials HR near the Tudor Gatehouse on Pall Mall and Henry and his second wife, Anne Boleyn’s initials HA in a lover’s knot in the state apartments. Henry’s initials ‘HR’ can be seen in the Tudor gatehouse on the south side.

Charles II, James II, Queen Anne and Queen Mary were all born at the Palace and Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in the Chapel Royal in 1840.

The Palace contains four main courts, the Ambassadors’ Court, Friary Court, Colour Court and Engine Court plus many offices and apartments. The Palace is often used for state visits and charity receptions and has an abundance of historic artefacts. These include portraits, furnishings, tapestries and armour.

Clarence House, the former home of the Queen Mother, is nearby and is part of St James’s Palace. The buildings today are the London base of many royals including Princes Charles, William and Harry and the Princess Royal.

Whilst not amongst the most viewed London sites, to historians, this is without doubt one of the most famous London landmarks.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.