Beauty and history abound at Lambeth Palace

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Address: London SE1 7JU

Lambeth Palace is one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in the whole of the English capital and continues to attract hundreds of eager visitors every year.

The official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury since the 13th century, the palace is located in the heart of central London – opposite the River Thames and adjacent to the Palace of Westminster – placing it at the centre of British rule for the last 800 years.

Guests can continue to bask in the beauty and grandeur of the property to this day though, with tours taking place around the palace grounds and through the many impressive and imposing state rooms.

The History of Lambeth Palace

Originally named the Manor of Lambeth, also known as Lambeth House, the property has gone through many changes over the years, but at its heart it remains a place of tranquility and tradition in the centre of one of the busiest cities on Earth.

 Lambeth Palace

Archbishop Stephen Langton was the first official clergyman to hold residence at the palace and it was during his tenure that the majority of the building’s impressive additions were planned and built.

The Great Hall at Lambeth Palace was one of the first great state function rooms of its kind and maintains a special place in the lore of Lambeth Palace to this day.

Several renovations have taken place across the years though, as the palace has on many occasions required considerable repairs and upkeep.

A far-reaching upgrade to the property was carried out during the 19th century by Archbishop Howley in 1828 to heal the scars to the building caused by the English Civil War.

Architect Edward Blore – famed for his design of Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and many other prominent residences of the time – was tasked with revamping the property.

It was a service he completed with gusto, adding a new residential wing that was completed in 1838, as well as carrying out extensive renovations of the 14th century Guard Room.

The Second World War also took its toll on Lambeth Palace and required a massive restoration of the building and its grounds – work that was sanctioned by Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher and included full internal renovations for both The Chapel and Lollards Tower, each of which were gutted when struck by an incendiary bomb.

Today, the palace is a place of rumination, contemplation and wonder, providing a rich history of the city of London and giving visitors the chance to unwind in opulent surroundings.

Inside Lambeth Palace

A wealth of attractions await for lovers of classical architecture and English heritage during a visit to Lambeth Palace, with the many sights to see within its walls offering a truly magical experience for guests.

Some of the standout attractions that visitors will not want to miss during a tour of this impressive property includes:

The State Dining Room: Used for entertaining and official functions, the State Drawing Room has seen its fair share of dignitaries over the years, including the Queen, the Dalai Lama, senior Church leaders and prominent political figures from all over the world.

It overlooks the gardens of Lambeth Palace and is a perfect vantage point from which to enjoy the wealth of beauty that the palace has to offer.

The Pink Drawing Room: Decorated in pink and fuchsia, this impressive room is among one of the most unique in the whole of Lambeth Palace.

Complete with two Nigerian figureheads, which were given to Archbishop Robert Runcie during his visit to Nigeria in 1982, the Pink Drawing Room contains several priceless portraits and is used for daily meetings with visiting guests.

The Guard Room: Dating back to the 14th century, the Guard Room contains one of the most unusual artifacts in the whole of Lambeth Palace in the form of the shell of a tortoise that once belonged to Archbishop William Laud.

Given to him as a pet in 1633 by his Oxford college, the tortoise outlived the Archbishop for almost a full century.

The Atrium: A far-later addition to the palace than many of the other popular attractions, the Atrium was opened in the year 2000 by HRH the Prince of Wales and connects the main Palace building to the 13th Century Chapel and Crypt.

It was opened to the public for a full year as part of London’s ‘String of Pearls’ initiative and saw the unearthening of several highly prized artefacts and antiquities during its construction.

Morton’s Tower: An impressive red brick Tudor gatehouse with two five-storey rampart towers, Morton’s Tower forms the grand entrance to the palace and was built by Cardinal John Morton in around 1490.

Famous as the site of the ‘Lambeth toll’ – a charitable daily offering of bread, broth and money for the local people – the tower also acts as the gatekeeper’s private residence and houses a collection of more than 230,000 books, texts and manuscripts in storage for the Lambeth Palace Library.

Stunning gardens at Lambeth Palace

It is not just the interior of this beautiful property that leaves visitors breathless, however, as the extensive outside spaces also have their charm and are a delight to behold throughout the year.

With stunning gardens a key feature of the palace since its first creation, the gardens were given a less formal tone by Archbishop John Moore in 1783. Later, a total of nine acres of land were set aside by Archbishop Frederick Temple in 1901 to help in the creation of Archbishop’s Park – a popular meeting place that remains open to this day and is managed and curated by Lambeth Council.

Inside the grounds of the palace, the curved walkways, belts of trees and landscape contours of the original gardens can still be enjoyed to this day, while the palace and garden grounds are maintained and owned by the Church Commissioners for England.

A range of volunteers help to keep the outside spaces in pristine condition throughout the year and with its outstanding heritage, the gardens remain the oldest continuously cultivated garden in London.

Travel options for Lambeth Palace guests

Visitors planning head to Lambeth Palace during a trip to the English capital might like to make use of the swift and easy travel that is afforded by the London Underground network. Anyone keen to take the Tube to Lambeth Palace can do so via one of the many nearby stations, including:

  • Lambeth North (Bakerloo line)
  • Waterloo (Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern and Waterloo & City lines)
  • Westminster (Circle, District and Jubilee lines)
  • Elephant & Castle (Bakerloo and Northern lines)
  • St James’s Park (Circle and District lines)
  • Southwark (Jubilee line)
  • Embankment (Bakerloo, Circle, District and Northern lines)

Overground rail services can also be found nearby, with both Waterloo Station and Elephant & Castle Station offering National Rail services to the rest of the capital and beyond.

Full details of all public transport options – including Underground, overground and bus networks – can be found by visiting the official site of Transport for London. The website offers up-to-date timetables, station opening times, service updates and much more.

Meanwhile, travellers that prefer to hire a car during their London getaway can make use of the myriad local parking facilities that this busy part of the city has to offer, such as:

  • Waterloo C Car Park (0.8 miles, 16 minutes’ travel time on foot)
  • Newington Causeway Car Park (1.2 miles, 25 minutes)
  • Hungerford Bridge Car Park (0.8 miles, 15 minutes)
  • APCOA Waterloo Station Car Park (0.8 miles, 16 minutes)
  • Cornwall Road Car Park (one mile, 20 minutes)
  • Abington Street Car Park (0.5 miles, ten minutes)

Fans of two-wheeled travel are also well catered for in terms of parking in the local area, with motorcycle-only spaces available at:

  • Motorbike Parking St Thomas Hospital (0.4 miles, nine minutes)

Anyone planning to travel via road in central London should be aware that traffic volumes can be high throughout the day, especially during the morning and evening rush hours. It can therefore be prudent for visitors to both plan their journeys in advance and pre-book their parking.

Other nearby attractions for London visitors to explore

Anyone planning a visit to London can be assured there are plenty of sights to see and things to do besides a visit to Lambeth Palace. Here are just some of the many fantastic attractions that anyone planning a trip to the English capital should have on their itinerary during their stay:

  • Coca-Cola London Eye (0.6 miles, seven minutes’ travel time via public transport)
  • The London Dungeon (0.5 miles, eight minutes)
  • Sea Life London Aquarium (0.5 miles, five minutes)
  • Churchill War Rooms (0.6 miles, nine minutes)
  • Westminster Abbey (0.4 miles, 11 minutes)
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London (1.5 miles, 17 minutes)
  • Big Ben (0.4 miles, nine minutes)
  • Palace of Westminster (0.4 miles, eight minutes)
  • London Bridge Experience (1.9 miles, 19 minutes)
  • Buckingham Palace (1.2 miles, 16 minutes)
  • Shrek’s Adventure (0.4 miles, nine minutes)
  • Shakespeare’s Globe (1.6 miles, ten minutes)
  • IWM (0.5 miles, six minutes)
  • Florence Nightingale Museum (0.4 miles, four minutes)
  • The View from the Shard (1.8 miles, 19 minutes)
  • St Paul’s Cathedral (1.9 miles, 23 minutes)
  • Tower Bridge (2.4 miles, 29 minutes)
  • Tower of London (2.4 miles, 29 minutes)

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