Lambeth Palace

Lambeth Palace (61)

This splendid building alongside the south bank of the Thames is the London residence of the head of the Anglican Church, the powerful Archbishop of Canterbury, which has been its owner since around 1200. In the past the palace was very close to the river and, in the absence of Westminster Bridge, which was built in the 18th century, the archbishops crossed the river on a raft that linked the building with the other bank.

Entrance to Lambeth Palace is made though the Gatehouse, a clear example of Tudor style made in brick by Cardinal Morton in 1495. The towers of this entry door are very recognisable from the river. 

You will immediately come across a courtyard with lots of fig trees and with the central residence, in neo-Gothic style, which dates from the reform undertaken in 1828 by Edward Blore. The architect was entrusted to demolish two irregular wings and replace them with this compact block, the façade of which is in Bath stone.

The oldest conserved parts of the building are the crypt, built at the beginning of the 13th century, and the chapel above the crypt. However, this space was seriously damaged during the bombings of the Second World War, its current excellent state of conservation being due to extensive restoration work.

Perhaps the most beautiful part of the building is the Great Hall. In the 17th century it was rebuilt in Gothic style by Archbishop Juxon, and, later, Blore used part of the space to house the palace library. This splendid library contains an infinite number of documents of the archbishopric, as well as many volumes of great historical value, such as a missal of Queen Elizabeth I.

Lambeth Palace also has its darker side, since on several occasions it has been used as a prison. In fact, Thomas Moore was tried here and Lollard’s Tower, originally a water tower, was turned into a prison cell for a period of time. 

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