Home » Famous London Buildings » A Short Guide to Lambeth Palace

A Short Guide to Lambeth Palace

On the south bank of the Thames, opposite the Palace of Westminster is Lambeth Place which for nearly 800 years has been the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Lambeth Palace was acquired for the archbishop from around 1200 AD and has had a varied history which is documented within the palace in the Lambeth Palace Library. The library contains over 120,000 books as well as the archives of the Archbishops of Canterbury and other church bodies dating back to the 12th century.

Lambeth Palace 1685

The palace once stood in its own grounds and has many stages of development, the Crypt Chapel is the oldest part of Lambeth Palace with Lollard’s Tower later dating from 1435 to 1440. The early Tudor brick gatehouse at the front of the palace was built by Cardinal John Morton and completed in 1495. Further construction was added to the Palace in 1834 by Edward Blore.

The Palace was attacked in 1381 during the Peasant’s revolt and suffered considerable damage by Cromwellian troops during the English Civil War. After the Restoration, the Great Hall was rebuilt by archbishop William Juxon with a late Gothic hammerbeam roof. Founded in 1197, the Lambeth Palace garden covers just over 10 acres and is considered one of the oldest gardens in England.

Near to the entrance of the Place stands the former parish church of St Mary-at-Lambeth. The tower dates from 1377 and tombs within the church include some of the archbishops, gardeners John Tradescant the elder and his son of the same name, and Admiral William Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame. The church deconsecrated in 1972 and now houses The Garden Museum.

Many Kings and Queens have visited Lambeth Palace over the centuries, however Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 become the first pontiff to step foot inside the Palace. The Pope was welcomed to the Palace by the then Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

As a working palace and family home, Lambeth Palace is not open to the public on a daily basis. However, visitors can go on guided tours or attend special open days when it is open.

For more information, visit the Lambeth Palace website here

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