Historical London Walk Westminster and Whitehall – Four Palaces and a Cathedral

Discover the secrets of Whitehall and Westminster

2½ hours

Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Downing Street, The Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace are all readily recognisable and familiar. However, behind the familiar they all have stories and tales that are less well known.

Starting and finishing at Trafalgar Square, this is a circular walk that takes us past some of the most famous sites in the world! Our walk takes us through streets, courtyards and lanes that have been the seat of royal and parliamentary power for almost 1,000 years.

On our way we will tell the story and the changing fortunes of 4 palaces – Whitehall, Westminster, Buckingham and St James’s and one cathedral – Westminster.

Westminster and Whitehall – Four Palaces and a Cathedral Walking Tour
Whitehall, SW1

Whitehall has been the site of principal government offices since Henry VIII established his court at Whitehall Palace in the 1530s. There are a wealth of sites to discover in this walk including the Cenotaph war memorial, Admiralty Arch, Horse Guards Parade, and the Banqueting House (1619–22), designed by Inigo Jones.

The Palace of Westminster site was actually built on a low lying, swampy island called Thorney Island. Strategically important during the Middle Ages, the site may have been first-used for a royal residence by Canute the Great during his reign from 1016 to 1035.

Westminster and Whitehall – Four Palaces and a Cathedral Walking Tour
Outside the Palace of Westminster
Westminster and Whitehall – Four Palaces and a Cathedral Walking Tour
On guard at Horse Guards Parade

But it’s not all about the well-known. We’ll also come across the bizarre and unusual including the last resting place of a ‘Nazi’ dog, London’s smallest police station and smallest square, a secret wartime bunker and a mysterious lodge house amongst other curios!

Our walk finishes back at Trafalgar Square and an opportunity to visit the National Gallery or the National Portrait Gallery or to relax and enjoy a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants or bars in the area.

Did you know?

  • The Duke of York’s column in Waterloo Place was funded by docking every soldier in the army a day’s pay.
  • Duck Island in St James’s Park has its own governor.
  • The first pelicans to appear in St James’s Park were a gift from the Russian Ambassador in 1664.
  • Constitution Hill was the scene for three assassination attempts on Queen Victoria. (It is also where PM Robert Peel fell off his horse!)
  • St James’s Palace is built on the site of a former leper hospital.
  • Nestling in a corner of Horse Guards Parade is a mortar, a gift from the Spanish government in 1812. It had a range of 3 miles – an extraordinary range at that time.

Tour Gallery A few snaps from our recent Westminster and Whitehall – Four Palaces and a Cathedral tours.

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