The Palace buildings west of Whitehall

Survey of London: Volume 14, St Margaret, Westminster, Part III: Whitehall II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1931.

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'The Palace buildings west of Whitehall', in Survey of London: Volume 14, St Margaret, Westminster, Part III: Whitehall II, (London, 1931) pp. 3-9. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]


In the main, the lands acquired by Henry VIII for the purpose of his Palace and Park belonged to the Abbey of Westminster and Eton College. There were, however, some properties in other ownership. The land which formed the site of the Palace buildings on the west side of the main road was in the possession of three religious bodies, the Abbey of Westminster, the Abbey of Abingdon and the Fraternity of St. Mary within the Parish Church of St. Margaret, Westminster. The details available are not sufficient to enable even an approximately correct plan to be drawn of these properties, but there is no doubt of their relative positions, and a brief account of them and of as much of their history as has been ascertained is here given.

Abbey of Westminster (before 1540).

(i) Opposite the Bars of Westminster (which may be regarded as occupying the site of the Holbein Gate (fn. n1), and extending for a distance both north and south, was the inn called The Bell, with its appurtenances. According to a document (fn. n2) which gives details of the lettings of the properties belonging to Westminster Abbey on the west side of King Street "prope mansionem domini Regis vocatam Whytehale alias yorke place" in 1530, it is described as comprising 14 tenements, of which 9 were without the Bars, and 4 within, the position of the chief tenement (the inn itself) not being stated. The first mention of this property is in 1293–4, when Viviana de Clenefeld, John de Brackeleye and Lucy, his wife, sold to Adam de Ruston and Mabel, his wife, their interest in a tenement in Westminster called "Hoppindehalle," belonging to the office of precentor in Westminster Abbey. (fn. n3) It is presumably the same tenement which is referred to in a grant, dated 7th June, 1330, to John de Sanye and Joan, his wife, freeing their house by Westminster called "la Hoppynghall" from right of stewards, marshals and other ministers of the household to take livery and lodge there. (fn. n4) Nothing more is heard of this property of the precentor until 14th July, 1512, when the abbot granted to Richard Russell all that inn called "le bell" with all lands, tenements, or cottages, gardens and meadow belonging, in the street called "le kingestrete iuxta lez barres," between the inn called "le Rose" on the south and divers gardens (fn. n5) belonging to the office of the treasurer within the Abbey on the north, the common ditch at the end of the aforesaid meadow near the ditch of St. James on the west, and the highway on the east. The rent was to be paid to the abbot or the precentor. The description enables us to identify the property with one having precisely the same boundaries which formed the subject of a demise made by Robert Oldum to Margaret Hurtebees on 18th March, 1469–70. (fn. n6) It had been leased to the former by Westminster Abbey on 21st February, 1465–6, and is said to have contained in width along the highway 77 virgates called "tayloursyerdys." Leases of the property as a whole were granted to Richard Russell in 1512 (fn. n7) and William Russell in 1521, (fn. n8) but in 1524 it was divided among four lessees: William Russell (who obtained the chief tenement, and the greater part of the property), John Russell, John Garland, and Guy Gascoyne. (fn. n9)

(ii) Next, to the south, came the inn called "le Rose." In 1377 John "Boterwyk" (fn. n10) sold (fn. n11) to William Hull and Ellen, his wife, a messuage in the street called "le kyngestrete," formerly belonging to Reginald, the King's janitor, and lying between the tenement of the precentor of Westminster formerly called "Hoppyndehalle" on the one side, and the messuage formerly of Rosie of Claygate on the other. By several transfers (fn. n12) it came into the trusteeship of Sir John Cornewayle, Robert Charryngworth, John Corve, Thomas Hewster and others, who in 1434–7 parted with it (fn. n13) to David Selly. In the 1434 documents it is referred to as a messuage formerly called "Hoppynghalle" and now called "le Rede Lyon," and in the 1437 deed as formerly called "le Rede Lyon" and now called "le Rose." The identification with Hopping Hall (which was really its northern boundary, see above) is, obviously, a mistake, probably caused by a misreading of the earlier deeds. In 1475 John Selly, Richard Levermore and Walter Lokyngton transferred (fn. n14) to the wardens of the Fraternity or Gild of the Blessed Virgin Mary within the Parish Church of St. Margaret, Westminster, all that messuage in the street called "kyngestrete" which was formerly called "hoppynghalle" and afterwards "le Redelyon" and now "le Rose," lying between a tenement of the Abbey of Westminster on each side. On 11th July, 1482, an indenture (fn. n15) was drawn up between the wardens and Nicholas Cleveley and Cicely, his wife, daughter of David Selly, containing most interesting details of the privileges accorded to Nicholas and Cicely in return for the grant. On 24th March, 1494, the wardens let the "Inne hostry called the Rose" to William Tull for a term of 50 years, and Geoffrey Tull, probably his son or grandson, was in occupation when Henry VIII acquired the premises in 1531. (fn. n16) The draft indenture with the wardens describes the premises as "all that their grete mease or tente wt the garden therto lyeing and wt all other thappertenaunces called the Rose, and also all those their cotages, tentes and gardens set and being wtin the lane or alley there called the Rose Alley." According to the details of payments made on behalf of the King, (fn. n17) there were 22 tenements, with gardens, in addition to "the Sygne of the Rosse."

(iii) South of The Rose were three properties belonging to the Chapel of St. Mary within Westminster Abbey. The northernmost of these was in 1473 leased to Thomas Burgeys. (fn. n18) It is described as consisting of two shops, with garden adjoining, situate in "le kyngestrete" near the Bars, formerly held by Thomas "Maycent," and abutting on the tenement of David Selly called "le Rose" on the north, the street called "le Kyngestrete" on the east, a tenement belonging to the Chapel of St. Mary and demised to William Langston on the south, and on the mansion called "le mote" on the west. A lease (fn. n19) to Joan, the widow of Burgeys, in 1500 repeats the description, but in a later lease (fn. n20) to Sir Henry Wyatt, dated 7th December, 1513, the property is said to comprise four shops with gardens. No dimensions are given. (fn. n21)

(iv) It will be seen from the above that the property to the south of that of Burgeys was occupied by Langston, and from the account of (v) it appears that the latter was succeeded by William "Dyxson." The lease to "Dykson" was granted in 1461, (fn. n22) and the property is therein described as a tenement, with garden adjoining, situate in King Street "apud Endyve," between the tenement of Thomas "Maysent" on the north and that of Robert Colyns on the south. The rent was payable to the abbot or the keeper of the Chapel of St. Mary. No dimensions are given. At the time of the acquisition of the property by Henry VIII it was held by Richard Walker alias Hampstede. The lease to Walker was for 25 years from 24th June, 1523, and the premises are discribed as bounded on the north by a tenement demised to Henry Wyatt. (fn. n23)

(v) The southernmost of the three properties belonging to St. Mary's Chapel was that leased on 4th March, 1478–9, to Sir James Friis, doctor of medicine. (fn. n24) It comprised four tenements lying together, with garden adjoining, on the west side of King Street, between the tenement of St. Mary's Chapel "late in the tenure of William Langston and now … of William Dyxon" on the north, and the tenement called "Stoners" on the south. The length of the tenements and garden was 223 feet. A further lease was granted to Friis' widow, Elizabeth, on 29th May, 1488, and another to Robert Litton, sub-treasurer of England, on 6th March, 1493–4, for 37 years. (fn. n25) Normally this lease would expire in 1530, and the absence of any particulars of this property from the document giving details of the Abbey's lettings in that year, and the fact that no record exists of the purchase of the leasehold interest by Henry VIII, suggest that it had not been re-let.

This property was either the same as, or included in, that granted by the Abbey in 1355 (fn. n26) to John Penehalowe, and described as a messuage formerly held by Thomas Pykard, opposite the lane of "Henedehuthe" (Endif), with garden adjoining, belonging to the Chapel of St. Mary, situate between the tenement, formerly of Sir John de "Stonore," called "Charles," on the south, and a tenement of the Chapel on the north, abutting on King Street to the east, and Stonor's tenement to the west, and containing 22 royal ells in width.

The acquisition by the Chapel of St. Mary of a part (but which part is uncertain) of the three properties (Nos. iii-v) took place in the reign of Henry III. Peter of Ely granted to Richard, merchant of St. Paul's, and Sabina, his wife, a messuage "cum mora" in the street which leads to Charing, opposite "Enedehuthe." Sabina afterwards transferred the property to Roger le Bere and Constance, his wife, who sold it to the Altar of the Blessed Mary of the Church of St. Peter, Westminster. It is described as lying between the messuage of Ivo the cook and that of widow Wimarch. From the names of the witnesses the grants (fn. n27) would seem to date from about the middle of the 13th century. A later grant (fn. n28) (circa 1270) by Margery, widow of Richard the barber, to Osbert of Frenielesworthe and his wife Katherine, Margery's daughter, of a house lying opposite "Enedhuthe," between the houses of Nicholas the cook and William the cook, and subject to the payment of 2s. annually to the Altar of the Blessed Mary, also relates to a portion of these three properties.

(vi) From what has gone before it is evident that to the south and west of the three properties belonging to the Chapel of St. Mary was that known variously as "Charles," "Stoners" and "The Mote." This property is first met with in 1305, when it was found by inquisition (fn. n29) taken after the death of Joan, widow of William Charles, that she had owned a messuage and 32 acres of land in Westminster, held by the abbot in chief, rendering to him 10s. yearly, to the Hospital of St. James 5s., to the Church of St. Margaret 5s., and to William de Wauden 10d. Her heir was her son, Edward, then aged 35. Edward (then Sir Edward) Charles died some time before June, 1329, as on the 4th of that month an order (fn. n30) was issued to Simon de Bereford, escheator, not to intermeddle further with a messuage and adjoining close and 19 acres of land in Westminster, since it had been ascertained that Edward at the time of his death held no lands in chief in his demesne as of fee, the said messuage and land being held of the Abbey of Westminster and the Hospital of St. James. Edward's heir was his grandson, William, son of William Charles. On September 29th, 1334, the younger William released (fn. n31) to Sir John de Stonor (fn. n32) his right and claim in all lands in Westminster and Eye held by John and formerly belonging to Sir Edward Charles. By inquisition taken after the death of Stonor in 1353 he was found (fn. n33) to have held a messuage and 60 acres of land in Westminster, rendering to the abbot 10s. a year. The property was valued at 13s. 4d. a year. Stonor's son and heir, John, died in 1361, (fn. n34) and his grandson, Edmund, in 1382. The inquisition (fn. n35) on the latter's death only mentions 20s. rent proceeding from four shops in Westminster held of the Abbey, and sub-leased to Ralph and Alice Staynor and Maurice their son for the term of their lives, and contains no reference to the chief part of the property. That Edmund had been in possession of this, however, is shown by a grant (fn. n36) made four years later to Hanekin Grys, yeoman of the King's chamber, of the custody, during the minority of the heir, of the lands and tenements worth 13s. 4d. a year in Westminster, late of Edmund "Stonore," tenant in chief, except those which the King's knight, John de Salesbury, and Ralph Steignour had in custody or at farm. John, son and heir of Edmund, who was under age at his father's death, died a few months later (January, 1382–3) before he reached his majority, and the inquisition taken in 1390 records (fn. n37) that he had inherited a tenement in Westminster called "Le Mote," 60 acres of land, and a barn then in the King's hands. His brother Ralph (afterwards Sir Ralph) de Stonor, died in 1394, and his property in Westminster is given (fn. n38) as a messuage, with appurtenances, called "le Mot," with three cottages, worth 33s. 4d. a year, and a grange and 60 acres of land worth 40s. In the following year an order (fn. n39) was issued to the escheator on the subject of the lands left by Sir Ralph, which were in the King's hands by reason of the minority of the heir, stating that the King had assigned to the widow, Joan, inter alia, the "Mote" with the grange and 60 acres. Gilbert, the heir, died in 1396, and his brother Thomas in 1431. The latter left (fn. n40) to his widow, Alice, in dower, inter alia, the manor of "la Mote" in Westminster. His son Thomas died in 1474, and his will (fn. n41) refers to "the Mote at Westm' wt all the londes that longeth therto wt all other londes & ten', rentes, services, medowes, lesnes & pastures in Westm' & in the pariche (sic) of Seynt James." Thomas's son, Sir William Stonor, in 1478 sold to John Sant, Abbot of St. Mary, Abingdon, "the Manor called the Moote in the parishe of St. "Margarete in the Town of Westminister." (fn. n42) Thus ended the connection of the "Mote" with the Stonor family.


The Abbot of Abingdon became implicated in the rebellion of Lambert Simnel, and by Act of Parliament (fn. n43) passed on 13th January, 1488–89, was attainted. The next we hear of the "Mote" is on 6th August, 1490, when the King granted to Hugh Vaughan, one of the gentlemen ushers of his chamber, the "Moteplace" in the borough of Westminster, with divers lands and tenements thereto pertaining, "purchased of William Stoner, knight, by the late abbot of Abendon, by whose rebellion the same have come into the king's hands." (fn. n44) The abbot subsequently made his peace with the King, and on 2nd February, 1492–93 received a general pardon and the return of his lands. (fn. n45) The last we hear of the "Mote" under that name is in an acquittance, (fn. n46) dated 24th June, 1495, from the warden of St. Mary's Chapel in Westminster Abbey to John Sant, "Abbot of Abendon," for a yearly rent of 11s. issuing from "Le Mote" and other tenements lying near it and divers lands in St. James's Fields.

Abbey of Abingdon.

On 3rd November, 1507, the then Abbot of Abingdon leased to Nicholas Palle seven tenements, with gardens and meadows adjoining, "sett & lieng in the Kinges Strete of Westm'," for a term of 39 years, at a rent of £7. 6. 8, and on 18th May, 1531, the King acquired the leasehold interest from Elizabeth, Palle's widow, and her son-in-law, Thomas Duffield. (fn. n47) About nine years previously Elizabeth had sub-leased (fn. n48) a portion of the property to Richard Sheld under the description of "all that hir Tenemet and Bruhowse called the Axe, sett and beyng in the kyngesstrete of … Westm'." As will be shown in Chapter 9, The Axe included the site of Hampden House (where Downing Street now is), and The Peacock, which lay immediately to the south of Hampden House, is described as bounded on the north by the property of Abingdon. The identification of the site of a portion of the Abingdon property is therefore settled. This part of the property was never utilised for the Palace, but it cannot be proved that the whole of that portion of Elizabeth Palle's estate which abutted on the street was included in Hampden House, and since the southern boundary of the premises (iii-v) belonging to St. Mary's Chapel cannot be precisely defined, it is possible that some part of Elizabeth's property was utilised for the extreme southern portion of the Palace buildings on the west side of the road. (fn. n49) Inasmuch as the ground of "The Mote" had originally extended along the rear of the St. Mary's Chapel premises, at a distance of about 223 feet from the road, it is evident that a part (probably the "meadows" referred to in the lease of 1507) must have been incorporated in St. James's Park when that was formed.

No record has been found of the transfer to the King of the Abbot of Abingdon's interest in the property leased to Palle. That it was not effected at once is suggested by the fact that in 1532 payment was made "for setting of iiij greate howpis upon a brewing Fatte within the Kings brewhouse situate in Westmenster … callid the Axe, for that his grace standith chargid with the Reperaction of the brewing vessells there from tyme to tyme." It would appear that the obligations imposed by the lease were still in force. (fn. n50)


  • n1. See Survey of London, Vol. XIII, p. 17.
  • n2. Westmr. Abbey Deed 18049a.
  • n3. Westmr. Abbey Deed 17692. The deed is not dated, but a record of the sale (with a slight difference in the names) is contained in the Feet of Fines for 22 Edw. I.
  • n4. Cal. of Patent Rolls, Edw. II., 1327–30, p. 529.
  • n5. The site of these gardens was, at the time of Henry VIII's acquisition, occupied by seven cottages with a barn and a piece of land with gardens adjoining, near the Cross called "le whyte Crosse." The property had been leased on 3rd June, 1528, to Dr. Richard Duck (Westmr. Abbey Reg. II, f. 245), and included the meadow "late Docter Dookys" where the frame of the privy gallery was afterwards put together (Survey of London, Vol. XIII, p. 19).
  • n6. P.R.O., C. 54/322.
  • n7. Westmr. Abbey Reg. II, f. 38.
  • n8. Ibid., II, f. 183b.
  • n9. Westmr. Abbey Deeds 18026, 18025, 18024 and 18023. All four interests were acquired by Henry VIII, that of William Russell on 23rd May and the other three on 18th May, 1531 (P.R.O., Exch. T.R., Ancient Deeds, A. 13086, A. 13406, A. 13446 and A. 13447).
  • n10. For details of John Doget of Butterwick, see Survey of London, Vol. VI, pp. 4–5.
  • n11. P.R.O., Exch. T.R., Ancient Deeds, A. 1468.
  • n12. Ibid., A. 1465, 1555–8.
  • n13. Ibid., A. 1457, 1459, 1458, 1540, 1460.
  • n14. Ibid., A. 1464.
  • n15. P.R.O., C. 54/334.
  • n16. Tull's interest was acquired on 18th May, 1531 (P.R.O., Exch. T.R., Ancient Deeds, A. 1563). A draft of the indenture with the wardens is contained in P.R.O., S.P. 1/67, f. 70–2, but omits the date.
  • n17. Ibid., f. 68.
  • n18. Westmr. Abbey Deed 17815.
  • n19. Westmr. Abbey Reg. I, f. 124b.
  • n20. Ibid., II, f. 51b.
  • n21. Wyatt's interest was acquired by Henry VIII: "And payd to Sir Henry Wyatt, Knight, ffor his right & Interest in iiij tenementes standyng next unto the lambe (sic) in the Kynges stret … xxvli."
  • n22. Westmr. Abbey Deed 17779.
  • n23. The particulars are taken from the indenture transcribed in Westmr. Abbey Reg. II, f. 202b, and the document containing details of the lettings of Abbey properties on the west side of the road referred to above. There seems, however, something wrong with the copy of the indenture, which, in fact, is a transcript of the particulars of Walker's other property on the east side of the road (see Survey of London, Vol. XIII, p. 13).
  • n24. Westmr. Abbey Deed 17841.
  • n25. Westmr. Abbey Reg. I, f. 25 and f. 68b.
  • n26. Westmr. Abbey Deed 17657.
  • n27. Westmr. Abbey Deeds 17317, 17373 and 17379.
  • n28. Ibid., 17448.
  • n29. Cal. of Inquisitions, IV, No. 299.
  • n30. Cal. of Close Rolls, 1327–30, p. 468.
  • n31. Ibid., 1333–7, p. 339.
  • n32. John de Stonor was a notable judge in the reigns of Edward II and his successor. In 1329 he was made Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and a few months later Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. With an interval of four years he held the latter position until 1340, when, with certain other judges, he was removed from office on the King's sudden return to England, and was for a time imprisoned in the Tower. In 1342 he was restored, and held the position until his death, which occurred on 24th August, 1353.
  • n33. P.R.O., C. 135/128/11.
  • n34. From the genealogical table of the Stonor family given in Kingsford's edition of The Stonor Letters and Papers.
  • n35. P.R.O., C. 136/21/53.
  • n36. Cal. of Patent Rolls, 1385–9, p. 161.
  • n37. P.R.O., C. 136/61/48.
  • n38. P.R.O., C. 136/85/39.
  • n39. Cal. of Close Rolls, 1392–6, p. 339.
  • n40. Stonor Letters and Papers (Camden Socy.), I, pp. 47–8.
  • n41. P.R.O., Ch. Misc. 37/9/22. The document is an imperfect draft of the will, made, according to Kingsford, circa 1470.
  • n42. Indenture, dated 20th February, 17 Edw. IV, between John Sant and Thomas Say with Sir William Stonor (Close Roll, 332) and defeasance by Sant and Say of a statute staple made to them by Sir William Stonor on condition that he convey to them the manor called "the Moote." (Cal. of Ancient Deeds, VI, C. 6967.)
  • n43. Rotuli Parliamentorum, VI, pp. 436–7.
  • n44. Cal. of Patent Rolls, 1485–94, p. 316.
  • n45. Ibid., p. 403.
  • n46. Westmr. Abbey Deed 17127.
  • n47. P.R.O., Exch. T.R., Ancient Deeds, A. 12837.
  • n48. Indenture, dated 6th November, 1522 (Ibid., A. 1564).
  • n49. That this was the case is distinctly suggested by the description of Penehalowe's property as lying opposite Endif Lane. This property extended along the street 22 ells (71½ feet) to the north of Stonor's tenement, but Endif Lane (see plan in Survey of London, Vol. XIII, p. 17) was about 180 feet from the boundary of Hampden House.
  • n50. The 60 acres of land which the Stonors had held in conjunction with the "Mote" do not come into the history of Whitehall, but a brief reference to what became of these may not be out of place. On 1st June, 1536, the King effected an exchange of property with the Abbot of Abingdon whereby the latter transferred" Threscore acres of arable Lande Lying and beyng in the parisshe of seynt Margaretts Wtin that his towne of Westm', Whiche be valued by the seide Abbott to & at the clere yerely value of Fyve pounds sterlyng" (Statutes of the Realm, 28 H. VIII, No. 48). In a document entitled "The Kynges new purchest landes" (P.R.O., Rentals and Surveys, 3/13) they are referred to as follows: "George Sutton holdyth lx acres of erable land & pasture in the parishe of Saint Margarett purchesid of the Abbote of Abyngton … Cs." The Ministers' Accounts for 1–2 Edwd. VI contain the information that Sutton's lease had been granted by the abbot on 17th November, 1518, and that the lands were in the neighbourhood of St. James's Field ("Et de Cs receptis de Georgio Sutton' pro Redditu omnium illorum Terrarum & Tenementorum iuxta Saynte James Feilde perquisitorum de Abbate de Abendon' sic sibi dimissorum per Indenturam datam xvijmo die Novembris Anno Regni nuper Regis Henrici viij xmo"). The position of about 33½ acres can be identified. Of these, 21 acres (Kingsford's Early History of Piccadilly, etc.) lay north of Piccadilly, chiefly in the neighbourhood of Soho, while 12½ acres are shown in the Plan of the Manor of Ebury, reproduced by the London Topographical Society, within the site of the Green Park.