The old Palace at Westminster

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The old Palace at Westminster, which, from decay and frequent fires, had become so damaged as to be almost uninhabitable, was deserted now by the King and his court, who had removed to Whitehall. Wolsey, who as Archbishop of York had occupied this house pertaining to the archbishop, was residing here when disgraced.

It had been originally built by Hubert de Burgh on ground granted by the monks of Westminster. He left it by will in 1242 to the Black or Dominican Friars, then lodged in the old Temple near Holborn.

They in turn sold it to Walter Gray, or de Grey, Archbishop of York, who bequeathed it at his death to the See, and thus it received the name of York Place.

When in the occupation of Wolsey in the zenith of his power as Cardinal, Legate de latere, and Lord High Chancellor, it was rebuilt by him with great magnificence.

A description of the palace, with its many state rooms, hail, chapel, and gallery, and their magnificent furniture, hangings, and plate, gives us an insight into the luxury of that most profuse and luxurious court of Henry the Eighth. The state rooms were probably in the building along the riverfront.

The news of the fall of such an exalted personage soon spread, and the river was crowded with boats full of spectators waiting to see Wolsey conveyed to the Tower.

But to their astonishment the Cardinal's barge, with him and his retinue on board, turned up the river and landed him at Putney, where he proceeded to Esher Palace, his palace as Bishop of Winchester.

At Putney he was met by a gentleman, Mr. Norris, who rode down the hill to meet him with a letter from the King assuring him of his present and future favour. This was a favourite trick of the Tudor sovereigns, who played with their victims as cats do with mice.

Wolsey never returned to York Palace, and was compelled to surrender the buildings and gardens to the King. Judge Shelly had been sent to him in order to obtain a recognisance before a judge that the right belonged to the King. Wolsey's reply was that he could not give what was not in his power to give.

Parliament and the Dean and Chapter of York, however, confirmed the "gift," and Henry was no sooner in possession than he set to work to enlarge the palace considerably.

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