The exterior of this ancient pile strongly reminds us of its original destination, having, previous to the Dissolution, been an hospital for lepers; it was not, however, employed as a royal residence till after the destruction of the palace at Whitehall by fire. It was presented to Henry, Prince of Wales, by his father James I, An apartment was hastily fitted up here for the reception of the misguided but unfortunate Charles, who was brought here upon the 19th of January previous to his execution. Upon the arrival of William, Prince of Orange, this palace was offered to him as a place of residence, by the bigoted, pusillanimous, and perjured James II. It was next occupied by Anne, and her husband George, Prince of Denmark, during their continuance in England. It is at present uninhabited by the royal family, as the king prefers residing at Windsor, whence he occasionally comes to hold levees and transact business at the Queen's Palace.
The state apartments of this gloomy edifice, though little distinguished by the splendour of their furniture or decorations, are, notwithstanding, commodious and handsome ; they are entered from a stair-case opening into the principal court next to Pall Mall ; two guard-rooms, distinguished as the king's and queen's, are situated at the top of this staircase. The presence-chamber, which is now merely employed as a passage to the other rooms, is immediately, beyond the king's guard-room, it opens into the privy chamber, beneath a canopy in which his Majesty receives the Quakers ; adjoining to this are two withdrawing-rooms, opening the one into the other, and at the upper end or most remote is the royal throne in this room are held occasionally, levees, &c. which, however, are now most frequent at Buckingham House in the Park. Two levee-rooms formerly meanly, but, since the marriage of the Prince of Wales, elegantly fitted up, are situated to the left of the king's guard-room the tapestry with which the walls are hung was intended to have been put up in the time of Charles II, but happening to be neglected at the time, lay till within these few years undiscovered and unthought-of in a chest. The canopy of the throne was made for the first birth day of the Queen after the Irish Union and is appropriately decorated. Several good paintings furnish the walls. The chapel is a small mean structure, supposed to have been the original chapel of the hospital; it is a royal peculiar, independent of all Episcopal jurisdictions; cathedral service is performed in it and the bishop of London usually its dean.
Use the "Show me" link to locate St James's on the map. You may need to scroll down to see St James's highlighted.
© 2008 The Republic of Pemberley