A Rump, a regicide, and two palaces

This day in London history: Pride’s Purge occurred on 6 December 1648. At the height of the second English Civil War, Colonel Thomas Pride, a supporter of Oliver Cromwell, led an attack on those Members of Parliament considered unlikely to support the army’s goal of punishing Charles I.Pride and his solders stood outside the entrance of Parliament, arresting and excluding more than half of the 460 Members. Following this coup a further 86 Members left in protest and the depleted gathering of around 200 became known as the Rump Parliament.

A small but determined band among the Rump drove through an Act that  established a court to try the king for high treason. Despite Charles I disputing the authority of the court, and widespread opposition to the trial, a verdict of guilty was declared. The death warrant was signed by a minority of less than half of the commissioners of the High Court originally established by the Rump, and later that month Charles I was beheaded outside the Banqueting House of the Palace of Whitehall.

Banqueting house
The Banqueting House

The palace gave its name to the street and area of Whitehall, long known as the seat of the English government. The Banqueting House, designed by Inigo Jones, is the only survivor of the original palace, which burned down in 1698. At the time, the palace was the largest in Europe, with over 1,500 rooms, outstripping even the Vatican and Versailles.

20131109-115052.jpgOriginally the official London residence of monarchs had been the Palace of Westminster and what later became the Palace of Whitehall was York Place, from the archbishop of York, and archbishops resided there for centuries. When Cardinal Wolsey became archbishop, he extended the palace to such a grand extent that, when he was deposed, Henry VIII took it over as his own residence and renamed it Whitehall after the colour of the building.

The name York Place lives on in  a small alley nearby, once called Of Alley.

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