As a nation, the British have seen off Napoleon, Hitler and the Spanish. But often, we tend to forget how often we were invaded before William the Conqueror overcame King Harold at Hastings in 1066. Previously, four main waves of invaders settled here: the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, the Norsemen or Vikings and the Normans, and when they departed, they left fragments of their language and culture and the names given to the places and the buildings in which they lived. This paper focuses on Britain’s Royal Palaces, Castles and Stately Homes. My apologies for those I have omitted.
Buckingham Palace has served as the British monarch’s administrative headquarters since 1837. It was built in 1703 as Buckingham House – a London residence for John Sheffield, the 3rd Earl of Mulgrave. Today, it is a focal point for significant national celebrations and commemorations, with more than 50,000 visitors each year. I was there (in top hat and tails, of course) at a Garden Party, but that was many years ago. This iconic building has a fascinating history some facts about which are shown below:
- Buckingham Palace started life as Buckingham House. It was built by John Sheffield, 3rd Earl of Mulgrave and Marquess of Normandy, as his London residence in 1703. Sheffield was made the Duke of Buckingham and consequently named the house after his title in the same year. In 1761, George III purchased Buckingham House for his wife, Queen Charlotte, to create a comfortable family home near St James’s Palace.
- Buckingham Palace was built on a site where James I planted a mulberry garden to cultivate silkworms. Unfortunately, it seems as if the King used the wrong type of mulberry bush and could not produce any silk successfully.
- Buckingham House was renovated into a palace in the 1820s after George IV commissioned architect John Nash.
- Queen Victoria was the first British monarch to use the Palace as the official residence when she moved there in 1837. Since then, the Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns, and today it is the administrative headquarters of the monarch.
- Buckingham Palace was referred to as “The Queen’s Palace” during George III’s reign.
- Queen Victoria was the first monarch to use the balcony for public appearances. We are familiar with members of the royal family waving to crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. However, in 1851, during the Great Exhibition opening – an international exhibition organised by Prince Albert – Queen Victoria made the first-ever public appearance on the balcony. In the 20th century, George VI brought in the tradition of commemorating the end of the Trooping the Colour celebrations, which marks the monarch’s annual birthday parade, with an RAF fly-past.
- Buckingham Palace has an impressive 775 rooms in total – boasting 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 19 staterooms and 78 bathrooms. There are also 760 windows and 1,514 doors. Over the years, the Palace’s music room has been used for royal christenings. The Prince of Wales, Princess Anne, the Duke of York and Prince William have all been christened there by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Edward VII (1841–1910) is the only monarch who was born and died at Buckingham Palace. William IV was also born there, and Queen, Elizabeth II, gave birth to the Prince of Wales and Prince Andrew at the Palace.
- Buckingham Palace was at the centre of the suffragette campaign – in 1914, a group of suffragettes tried to breach the Palace’s gates to present their ‘Votes for Women’ petition. Two suffragettes also chained themselves to the railings of the Palace.
Other British Royal Palaces and Homes
During Queen Victoria’s long reign, she used several royal residences, primarily Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace in London, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, Holyrood House in Edinburgh, and Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands. Other buildings are no longer Royal residences but started that way. Here are some brief details of these magnificent buildings:
- Kensington Palace – In 1689, newly crowned monarchs William III and Mary II chose Nottingham House as a new retreat that was near, but pleasantly removed from, urban London. It was rapidly redeveloped into Kensington Palace, and the royal couple were installed in December that year. The Palace was enlarged during the reign of George I; his successor’s wife, Queen Caroline, shaped the design of the gardens. George III disliked Kensington Palace but granted apartments to royal family members, including Edward, Duke of Kent, whose wife Victoire gave birth to the future Queen Victoria here in 1819. Kept largely secluded in the Palace by her mother, Victoria was still living here in 1837 when, after King William IV died, she ascended the throne. Victoria departed to live in Buckingham Palace shortly after her accession, but two of her daughters later lived here.
- Windsor Castle – Construction of the world’s oldest and largest occupied castle was begun by William the Conqueror in 1070. Over the following nine and a half centuries, it has been home to 40 British sovereigns. Describing it as “prison-like”, Victoria preferred to light the Castle with candles rather than electric lighting and famously kept it cold and draughty. Nonetheless, it was a favoured family home – indeed, Victoria and Albert spent their honeymoon there. In 1861, Albert succumbed to illness in the Blue Room (also called the Albert Room). He was buried in a mausoleum at Frogmore Estate in Windsor Home Park, near the Castle.
- Osborne House – Victoria and Albert bought the Osborne estate on the Isle of Wight in 1845, demolishing the existing house and replacing it with a grand Italianate ‘palazzo’ built under Albert’s supervision. The Pavilion provided a royal retreat for Victoria, Albert and their growing family. Further additions were made after Albert’s death in 1861, most notably the richly decorated Durbar Wing, inspired by Indian style; the Durbar Room, with its extravagant peacock overmantel, was designed by Lockwood Kipling, father of the poet and author Rudyard.
- Balmoral Castle – was designed by Scottish architect William Smith and built in 1853 of local granite. Victoria and Albert bought the Balmoral estate by the River Dee in Aberdeenshire in 1852. The following year they began building a grand Scottish baronial castle to replace the smaller existing building, landscaping the grounds and adding a model farm. After Albert’s death, Victoria spent increasing periods at Balmoral, often staying at Glas-Allt-Shiel lodge, her “widow’s house”.
- The Palace of Holyroodhouse – commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace or Holyrood House, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Founded as a monastery in 1128 at the end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is closely associated with the History of Scotland. Today, the Palace is a close focus for national celebrations and events in Scotland, most notably The Queen’s ‘Holyrood Week’, which usually runs from the end of June to the beginning of July every year. David I of Scotland founded the Palace of Holyroodhouse as an Augustinian monastery in 1128. With Edinburgh recognised as Scotland’s capital, her kings chose to live in Holyroodhouse, surrounded by parkland, rather than in the bleak Castle, high on a rock overlooking the town and exposed to the elements. In 1501, James IV cleared the ground close to the Abbey and built a Palace for himself and his bride, Margaret Tudor – the sister of Henry VIII.
- Eltham Palace – first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086, Eltham Palace (in Greenwich, London) was one of the largest and most popular residences of the medieval royals, and later Henry VIII spent much of his childhood at the Palace. Eltham then fell into a period of decline and was poorly maintained. The Palace enjoyed a glamorous new lease of life in the 1930s when it was purchased by millionaire socialites Stephen and Virginia Courtauld. This stylish home now incorporates original medieval features into an otherwise ultra-modern 1930s design.
- Kew Palace (Richmond upon Thames) was built in 1631 as a country retreat for Flemish silk merchant Samuel Fortrey and Catherine’s wife. Kew Palace passed through the hands of several wealthy and well-known tenants in its early years, including the Lord Mayor of London in 1699. The red brick villa became a royal residence in 1729 when it was purchased by King George II and Queen Caroline. Kew is now world-renowned for its Royal Botanic Gardens, the foundations of which were laid by Prince Frederick, son of King George II, in the mid 18th century. After Frederick’s unexpected death at age 44, his widow Augusta continued his work on the gardens. Augusta built an exotic miniature world in Kew’s grounds with architect William Chambers and gardener William Aiton, including a brick pagoda and replica mosque.
- Apethorpe Palace, Northamptonshire – built between 1470 and 1480, Apethorpe was an informal retreat for Tudor and Stuart monarchs, including Elizabeth I, Henry VIII, James I and Charles I. It’s a cross between a palace and hunting lodge and was well equipped for leisure and conveniently located close to quality hunting in the nearby Rockingham Forest. James 1 is the monarch most associated with the hall. English Heritage renovated the building to prevent decay and disrepair, and it was sold to French millionaire Baron von Pfetten in January 2015. He renamed it from Apethorpe Hall to Apethorpe Palace to recognise its connections to royal history.
- St Davids Bishop’s Palace, Pembrokeshire – a dramatic medieval ruin on the stunning Pembrokeshire coast, St Davids Bishop’s Palace is one of Wales’ most important ecclesiastical sites. A holy site dating from the 6th century, the religious community at St David’s was ransacked by Norse raiders at least ten times over the next 400 years. Initially, it consisted of two grand sets of rooms around a courtyard; the simpler one intended for bishops’ private use, the other for entertaining. Following the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, the Bishop’s Palace fell into disrepair, becoming the roofless ruins left standing today.
- St James’s Palace, Westminster, was built by Henry VIII between 1531 and 1536. St James’s Palace stands on the site of a former hospital that treated leprosy patients in Westminster. Over the centuries, St James’s has witnessed several royal events: Anne Boleyn stayed there the night before her coronation in 1533. Charles I stayed there the night before his execution.St James’s Palace is the most senior royal palace in the United Kingdom. It gives its name to the Court of St James’s, which is the monarch’s Royal Court and is located in the City of Westminster in London. Although no longer the principal residence of the monarch, it is the ceremonial meeting place of the Accession Council, the office of the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, and the London residence of several minor members of the Royal family. Nowadays, St James’s is not open to the public, as it remains a working palace. St. James’s Palace has been the setting for some of the most important events in Royal history, having been a residence of Kings and Queens of England for over 300 years until the reign of Queen Victoria. As the home of several members of the Royal Family and their household offices, St James’ Palace today hosts up to 100 receptions each year for charities associated with members of the Royal Family. St. James’s Palace retains an important ceremonial function. The Accession Council meets in St. James’s Palace following the death of a monarch, and later, the accession of a new Sovereign is proclaimed by the Garter King of Arms from the Proclamation Gallery overlooking Friary Court.Royal family occasions have also been held at St James’s Palace over the years, most recently the christening of Prince George in 2013. St. James’s Palace contains the London residences of The Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra. The palace was commissioned by Henry VIII on the site of a former leper hospital dedicated to Saint James the Less.
- Hampton Court Palace, Surrey – Henry VIII was a keen builder and, of all his 60 houses, Hampton Court was arguably the most significant and his favourite. From 1528, he undertook major building works to redesign and expand the Palace (originally built by Cardinal Wolsey), modernising it for royal entertaining. He introduced tennis courts, pleasure gardens, a bowling alley, and more than 1,100 acres as a hunting park.
- Stirling Castle is located in Stirling, is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusive crag, forming part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. It is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times. Most of the principal buildings of the castle date from the 15th and 16th centuries. A few structures remain from the 14th century, while the outer defences fronting the town date from the early 18th century. Before the union with England, Stirling Castle was also one of the most used of the many Scottish royal residences, very much a palace as well as a fortress. Several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned at Stirling, including Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1542, and others were born or died there. Stirling Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is now a tourist attraction managed by Historic Environment Scotland.
- Glamis Castle is situated beside the village of Glamis in Angus, Scotland. It is the home of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and is open to the public. Glamis Castle has been the home of the Lyon family since the 14th century, though the present building dates largely from the 17th century. Glamis was the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, wife of George VI. Their second daughter, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, was born there. The castle is protected as a category A listed building, and the grounds are included on the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland, the national listing of significant gardens.
- Clarence House is one of the last remaining aristocratic townhouses in London and the official residence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. John Nash built Clarence House in 1825-27 for George III’s third son, the Duke of Clarence. During its history, Clarence House has been altered, reflecting the changes in occupancy over nearly two centuries. It was the London home of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother from 1953 until 2002 and was also the home of The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, and The Duke of Edinburgh following their marriage in 1947. Clarence House also provides office accommodation for The Prince of Wales’s Household, who support Their Royal Highnesses in their official engagements and liaise with over 350 organisations with whose work they are involved.
- Highgrove House is the family residence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. It lies south-west of Tetbury in Gloucestershire, England. Built-in the late 18th century, Highgrove and its estate was owned by various families until it was purchased in 1980 by the Duchy of Cornwall from Maurice Macmillan. The Prince of Wales remodeled the Georgian house with neo-classical additions in 1987. The duchy manages the estate and the nearby Duchy Home Farm. The gardens at Highgrove have been open to the public for 25 years. Gatcombe Park, the country residence of the Prince of Wales’s sister, Anne, Princess Royal, is six miles away, between the villages of Minchinhampton and Avening.The gardens of the late 18th century home at Highgrove were overgrown and untended when Charles first moved in but have since flourished and now include rare trees, flowers and heirloom seeds. Current organic gardening techniques have allowed the gardens to serve also as a sustainable habitat for birds and wildlife. The gardens were designed by Charles in consultation with highly regarded gardeners such as Rosemary Verey and noted naturalist Miriam Rothschild. The gardens receive more than 30,000 visitors a year. The house and gardens are run according to the Prince of Wales’s environmental principles and have been the subject of several books and television programmes. The Prince of Wales frequently hosts charitable events at the house.
- Birkhall is a 53,000-acre estate on Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, located alongside the River Muick to the south-west of Ballater. The property was built in 1715. Birkhall was acquired by Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, as part of the Balmoral Castle estate in 1849 and given to his eldest son, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales. Queen Victoria repurchased Birkhall to provide accommodation for her staff and extended family in 1884; Prince Albert Edward had only visited Birkhall once, for he preferred the larger Abergeldie Castle. King George V lent Birkhall in the 1930s to the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), who holidayed there with their children, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. The house was redecorated by the Yorks, who also replanted the gardens. After the Duke of York ascended to the throne in 1936, the new King and Queen occupied Balmoral during the summer while Princess Elizabeth, her husband Prince Philip and their children occupied Birkhall during the late summer season. Birkhall was inherited by Charles, Prince of Wales, from Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother upon her death in 2002.
- Bagshot Park – is a royal residence located near Bagshot, a village 11 miles south of Windsor. It is on Bagshot Heath, a fifty square-mile tract of formerly open land in Surrey and Berkshire. Bagshot Park occupies 21 hectares within the designated area of Windsor Great Park. It has been a royal residence for around 200 years, and it is now home to the Earl and Countess of Wessex – Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie.
Bagshot Park in Surrey, England from Morris’ Country Seats (1880).
Picture Credit: Public Domain. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bagshot_Park_morris_edited.jpg#filelinks
Other Stately Homes and Palaces
- Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, is the largest stately home in England and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace has a rich history; it is the only non-royal country house that includes the word ‘palace’ in its name. Blenheim was built for John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, on land gifted to him by Queen Anne who also awarded him £240,000 for his victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession. The only non-royal or non-episcopal country house in England to be called a palace – is a masterpiece of English Baroque architecture. Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, Blenheim includes many beautiful features, such as the painted ceiling in the Saloon.7F The palace is named after the 1704 Battle of Blenheim and thus, ultimately after Blindheim (also known as Blenheim) in Bavaria. Following the gift from Queen Anne, construction began in 1705, but the project became the subject of political infighting, with the Crown cancelling further financial support in 1712, the Duke of Marlborough’s three-year voluntary exile to the Continent, the fall from influence of his duchy and lasting damage to the reputation of the architect Sir John Vanbrugh. Designed in the rare and short-lived English Baroque style, architectural appreciation of the palace is as divided today as it was in the 1720s. It is unique in its combined use as a family home, mausoleum and national monument. The palace is notable as the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill.
- Wentworth Woodhouse, Rotherham, South Yorkshire is undoubtedly one of the finest and grandest Georgian houses in England and at 606 ft, and is famously considered to have the longest I. It was built principally for Thomas Wentworth, later Marquess of Rockingham and comprises the unusual combination of two back-to-back houses, which began with the West Front from 1724-28, followed by the East Front from 1731-50. The West Front is brick in the English Baroque style, whilst the East is in sandstone and is a classical, Palladian masterpiece. The Rockingham’s were one of the greatest Whig dynasties of the 18th century. Wentworth Woodhouse was a centre of great political influence. Charles, the 2nd Marquess, was Prime Minister in 1765-66 and again in 1782. On his death, the estate passed to the Earls Fitzwilliam, who remained in ownership until the late 20th Century. The house and its 87 acres of grounds was sold to a private purchaser in 1988, again in 1999 to the Newbold family and then in April 2017, to the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust.
- Hatfield House is a country house set in a large park, the Great Park, on the eastern side of the town of Hatfield, Hertfordshire. The present Jacobean house, a leading example of the prodigy house, was built in 1611 by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and Chief Minister to King James I. It is a prime example of Jacobean architecture. The estate includes extensive grounds and surviving parts of an earlier palace. The house is currently the home of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury. It is open to the public. An earlier building on the site was the Royal Palace of Hatfield, only part of which still exists – a short distance from the present house. That palace was the childhood home and favourite residence of Queen Elizabeth I. Built in 1497 by the Archbishop of Canterbury (formerly Bishop of Ely), King Henry VII’s minister, John Cardinal Morton, it comprised four wings in a square surrounding a central courtyard.The palace was seized by Henry VIII with other church properties. The nearby parish church of St Etheldreda’s in Old Hatfield once served the bishop’s palace as well as being the village church. Henry VIII’s children, King Edward VI and the future Queen Elizabeth I, spent their youth at Hatfield Palace. His eldest daughter, who later reigned as Queen Mary I, lived there between 1533 and 1536 when she was sent to wait on Princess Elizabeth as punishment for refusing to recognise Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn and his religious reforms.
- Longleat House is an English stately home and the seat of the Marquesses of Bath. A leading and early example of the Elizabethan prodigy house, it is adjacent to the village of Horningsham and near the towns of Warminster and Westbury in Wiltshire and Frome in Somerset. The Grade I listed house is set in 1,000 acres (400 ha) of parkland landscaped by Capability Brown, with 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of let farmland and 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of woodland, which includes a Center Parcs holiday village. It was the first stately home to open to the public, and the Longleat estate has the first safari park outside Africa and other attractions, including a hedge maze.The house was built by Sir John Thynne and designed mainly by Robert Smythson, after Longleat Priory was destroyed by fire in 1567. It took 12 years to complete and is widely regarded as one of Britain’s finest examples of Elizabethan architecture. It continues to be the seat of the Thynn family, who have held the title of Marquess of Bath since 1789. Longleat was previously an Augustinian priory.Sir Charles Appleton (1515–1580) purchased Longleat for Sir John Thynn in 1541 for £53. Appleton was a builder with experience gained from working on The Old School Baltonsborough, Bedwyn Broil and Somerset House. In April 1567, the original house caught fire and burnt down. A replacement house was effectively completed by 1580. Adrian Gaunt, Alan Maynard, Robert Smythson, the Earl of Hertford and Humpfrey Lovell all contributed to the new building, but most of the design was Sir John’s work. He was the first of the Thynne ‘dynasty’ – the family name was Thynn or Thynne in the 16th century, later consistently Thynne, but the 7th Marquess reverted to the spelling Thynn in the 1980s.
- Arundel Castle, Arundel, West Sussex The original structure was a motte and double bailey castle. Roger de Montgomery was declared the first Earl of Arundel as the King granted him the property as part of a much larger package of hundreds of manors. De Montgomery, a cousin of William the Conqueror, stayed in Normandy to keep the peace while William was away in England. He was rewarded for his loyalty with extensive lands in the Welsh Marches and across the country, together with one-fifth of Sussex (Arundel Rape). After de Montgomery died, the castle reverted to the crown under Henry I. In his will, the King left Arundel Castle and the attached land to his second wife Adeliza of Louvain. In 1138, three years after Henry’s death, she married William d’Albini II (aka d’Aubigny, the first Earl, of the d’Aubigny family of Saint-Martin-d’Aubigny in Normandy). From 1138 to the present day, Arundel Castle and the Earldom of Arundel have passed by inheritance, in all but two or three generations in a direct male line, and with only two or three temporary forfeitures to the crown. Since the Aubigny family first acquired the castle, progressive changes have been made, and the castle has been restructured to meet the requirements of modern living. In 1846, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Arundel Castle for three days. Henry Charles Howard, 13th Duke of Norfolk, remodelled the castle for the visit. He was thinking of disposing of some of the 11th Duke of Norfolk’s work, as there had been several complaints from the celebrities of the day that it was too cold, dark and unfriendly. The Duke devised a new apartment block for the new Queen and Prince Albert to stay in, commissioning a portrait of the Queen and decorating the block with the best Victorian furniture and art. There was also a restructuring of bedrooms for the court. The Duke spared no expense to make the Queen’s visit enjoyable, and he succeeded. Almost every part of the castle that the Queen would visit was refurbished and exquisitely decorated to meet Royal standards. The 16th Duke had planned to give the castle to the National Trust, but following his death in 1975, the 17th Duke cancelled the plan. He created an independent charitable trust to guarantee the castle’s future and oversaw restorative works. Today, the castle remains the principal seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, the dukedom currently being held by the 18th Duke, the Earl Marshal of England. Most of the castle and its extensive grounds are open to the public.
Arundel Castle. The 19th-century embellishments had not been completed when this picture was published in 1880.
Attribution: Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons
- Hever Castle, Kent is located in the village of Hever, Kent, near Edenbridge, 30 miles south-east of London. It began as a country house, built in the 13th century. From 1462 to 1539, it was the seat of the Boleyn (originally ‘Bullen’) family. Anne Boleyn, the second queen consort of King Henry VIII, spent her early youth there after her father, Thomas Boleyn, inherited the property in 1505 on the death of her grandfather, Sir William Boleyn. It later came into the possession of King Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. The property came into the possession of Henry VIII after the death of Anne’s father, Thomas Boleyn, in 1539. He bestowed it upon Anne of Cleves in 1540 as part of the settlement following the annulment of their marriage. Hever Castle still has one of Henry VIII’s private locks, taken with him on his various visits to noblemen’s houses and fitted to every door for his security. The property subsequently passed through various owners, including the Waldegrave family from 1557 to 1715, the Humfreys family to 1749 and the Meade-Waldo family from 1749 to 1903. During this latter period of ownership, the castle fell into a poor state of repair, during which time it was leased to various private tenants.There have been three main periods in the construction of this historic castle. The oldest part of the castle dates to 1270 and consisted of the gatehouse and a walled bailey. It was then owned by James Fiennes, 1st Baron Saye and Sele. The second period was when the castle, then in need of repair, was converted into a manor in 1462 by Geoffrey Boleyn, younger brother of Thomas Boleyn, Master of Gonville Hall, Cambridge. He added a Tudor dwelling within the walls. The third period of repair and renovation was in 1903 when it was acquired and restored by the American millionaire William Waldorf Astor who used it as a family residence. He added the Italian Garden to display his collection of statuary and ornaments. In 1983, the Astor family sold the castle to Broadland Properties Limited, which the Guthrie family runs. The castle is now open to the public as a tourist attraction.
- Hillsborough Castle is an official government residence in Northern Ireland. It is the official residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the official residence in Northern Ireland of Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British royal family when they visit the region and a guest house for prominent international visitors. From 1924 until the post’s abolition in 1973, it was the official residence of the governor of Northern Ireland. Since April 2014, it has been managed by Historic Royal Palaces and is open to the public on certain dates of the year. It is located in the village of Hillsborough in the northwest of County Down. Not a true castle, but a Georgian country house, Hillsborough was built in the 18th century for the Hill family, Marquesses of Downshire, who owned it until 1922, when the 7th Marquess of Downshire sold the mansion and its grounds to the British government.
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Informally known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London.
Its name, which derives from the neighbouring Westminster Abbey, may refer to several historic structures but most often: the Old Palace, a medieval building complex largely destroyed by fire in 1834, or its replacement, the New Palace that stands today. The palace is owned by the monarch in right of the Crown and, for ceremonial purposes, retains its original status as a royal residence. The first royal palace constructed on the site dates from the 11th century, and Westminster became the primary residence of the Kings of England until fire destroyed the royal apartments in 1512 (after which the nearby Palace of Whitehall was established). The remainder of Westminster continued to serve as the home of the Parliament of England, which had met there since the 13th century, and as the seat of the Royal Courts of Justice, based in and around Westminster Hall. In 1834, an even greater fire ravaged the heavily rebuilt Houses of Parliament, and the only significant medieval structures to survive were Westminster Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephen’s, the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft and the Jewel Tower.
The Online Etymology Dictionary defines a Palace as:
“palace (n.) early 13c., palais, “official residence of an emperor, king, queen, archbishop, etc.,” from Old French palais “palace, court” and directly from Medieval Latin palacium “a palace” (source of Spanish palacio, Italian palazzo), from Latin palatium “the Palatine hill,” in plural, “a palace,” from Mons Palatinus “the Palatine Hill,” one of the seven hills of ancient Rome, where Augustus Caesar’s house stood (the original “palace”), later the site of the splendid residence built by Nero. In English, the general sense of “magnificent, stately, or splendid dwelling place” is by c. 1300…”
“…French palais is the source of German Palast, Swedish palats and some other Germanic forms. Others, such as Old English palant, Middle High German phalanze (modern German Pfalz) are from the Medieval Latin word.”
Sourced/Excerpted from and Recommended Further Reading
Balmoral, c. 1890–1900. Unknown author, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
File URL: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0d/BalmoralCastle1900.jpg
- To find out more see http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/apethorpe-palace/ ↑
- Source: https://www.royal.uk/royal-residences-st-jamess-palace and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_James%27s_Palace ↑
- To find out more, click http://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/ ↑
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_Castle ↑
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glamis_Castle ↑
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highgrove_House ↑
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkhall ↑
- Source: https://www.britain-magazine.com/features/britains-best-stately-homes/ ↑
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blenheim_Palace ↑
- Source: https://wentworthwoodhouse.org.uk/about-us/history/ ↑
- Prodigy houses are large and showy English country houses built by courtiers and other wealthy families, either “noble palaces of an awesome scale”] or “proud, ambitious heaps”, according to taste. The prodigy houses stretch over the periods of Tudor, Elizabethan, and Jacobean architecture, though the term may be restricted to a core period of roughly 1570 to 1620. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prodigy_house ↑
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatfield_House ↑
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longleat ↑
- A motte-and-bailey castle is a European fortification with a wooden or stone Keep situated on a raised area of ground called a motte, accompanied by a walled courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade. The Normans introduced the design into England and Wales. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motte-and-bailey_castle ↑
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hever_Castle ↑
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsborough_Castle ↑
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_Westminster ↑
- At: https://www.etymonline.com/word/palace ↑