Welcome to our Lambeth Palace history section. You can skip to subsequent pages using the links below or simply continue reading to start at the beginning.
The residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury since the close of the 12th Century, Lambeth Palace is the last of the old riverside palaces of London.
It was originally the manor house of Lambeth, and in the proximity to it of the "village" church we have a touch of the old manorial system that is unique in the central area.
The older brick buildings of the palace are some of the earliest examples of brickwork in London.
Conspicuous from the riverside and Lambeth Bridge are the massive gatehouse called Morton's Tower, the Great Hall, and the so-called Lollards' Tower. The gatehouse was built about 1490 by John Morton, the Cardinal Archbishop who was the chief minister of Henry VII; the Great Hall, wherein the valuable library of the palace is now housed, was erected by Archbishop Juxon in 1663, to replace an earlier structure dismantled by the Cromwellians; while the Lollards' Tower dates from 1435, and was used at times for the detention of political and religious offenders.
Observe on the river front of the Lollards' Tower the niche in which there was formerly an image of St. Thomas of Canterbury (Becket) - strangely enough, it is to the riverside adjoining Lambeth Palace that the hospital dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury was removed.
Other old buildings include the Early English Chapel, with a late 12th Century crypt ; and the Guard Chamber, now used as the dining hall and containing portraits of archbishops by celebrated painters.
The Archbishop's residence is a pleasing Gothic building designed by Edward Blore in 1829-30; it abuts on the eastern courtyard, which has an aspect remindful of a Cambridge college.
The greater part of the grounds that were attached to the palace now composes ARCHBISHOP'S PARK (entered from Lambeth Road), whence come other views of the palace.
ST. MARY'S CHURCH is a reconstruction, by Philip Hardwick, of one erected in the 14th Century.
The interior has an aspect of age about it. In the chancel five archbishops, including Tenison, lie buried; and among other people of note interred in the church is Elias Ashmole the founder of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford; John Tradescant, and his son, who first formed the Ashmole Collection, are buried in the churchyard.
Observe the memorial of Archbishop Benson in the tower, and, in the Chichester Chapel, the Pedlar's Window, to the memory of a pedlar, who, long ago, is said to have presented to the parish the piece of land on which the new County Hall stands. This version has been disputed, however.
Among the tombs in the churchyard is that of Admiral Bligh, the Lieutenant Bligh of the "Bounty."
Lambeth Palace is a short stroll from Westminster Underground Station.