St James’s Palace | Attraction Guides | History Hit

About St James’s Palace

St James’s Palace has been the official residence of the British Sovereign since the reign of King Henry VIII.

In fact, it was under Henry VIII that the redbrick Tudor structure of St James’s Palace was begun in 1531 on the former site of a hospital. It was mostly completed by 1536. Much of this original work remains today, including a gatehouse, parts of the state rooms and the Chapel Royal.

With its status of royal residence, St James’s Palace has played host to many an important event. Amongst these was the death of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy in 1536, the signing of the treaty of the surrender of Calais by Mary Tudor in 1558 and the births and baptisms of numerous future monarchs such as Charles II, James II, Mary II and James Francis Edward Stuart.

Today, St James’s Palace is still a working palace, although it has not served as a de facto royal residence since the reign of Queen Victoria, when this role was taken over by Buckingham Palace. Instead, St James’s Palace houses the offices of several members of the royal family including Princes William and Harry and is used for official functions. As such, it is not open to the public.