Whitehall

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Image:Whitehall, London.jpg
Whitehall, London, looking south towards the Houses of Parliament. The tower is Victoria Tower.
For other places with the same name see Whitehall (disambiguation)

Whitehall is a road in Westminster in London, the capital of the United Kingdom. It is the main artery running north from Parliament Square, centre of national government, towards the traditional Charing Cross, now at the southern end of Trafalgar Square and marked by the statue of Charles I, which is often regarded as the heart of London for its residents and tourists. Along its way it is lined by many government ministries; "Whitehall" is therefore also frequently used as a metonym for governmental administration, as well as being a geographic name for the surrounding district .

The name is taken from the vast Palace of Whitehall that used to occupy the surrounding area but was largely destroyed by fire in 1698. Whitehall was originally a wide road that ran up to the front of the palace. Trafalgar Square was built at its northern extremity in the early 19th century. Strictly speaking, the southernmost part by Parliament Square is Parliament Street. However there is no longer any obvious distinction between the two on the ground. Combined, the streets cover a total distance of about 1 km (0.6 mile).

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[edit] History

Originally Parliament Street was a small side road alongside the palace leading to the Palace of Westminster. When the palace was destroyed and its ruins demolished, Parliament Street was widened to match Whitehall's width. The present appearance of the street is largely the result of 19th century redevelopment.

The Banqueting House, built in 1622 by Inigo Jones, is the only surviving portion of the former palace. Charles I was executed on 30 January 1649 on a scaffold erected outside the building, stepping onto it from a first-floor window. Royalists still commemorate the regicide annually on the anniversary of the execution.

Whitehall and the surrounding area is the administrative centre of the UK government; it is dominated by government buildings, to such an extent that the term is often used, by extension, to refer to the British Civil Service or the government itself.

The Cenotaph, the principal war memorial of Britain, is located in the centre of the road, and is the site of the annual memorial ceremonies on Remembrance Sunday. In 2005 a memorial to the women of world war two was placed just a short distance northwards to the Cenotaph and is designed in the same form as its male partner.

The central portion of the street is dominated by military buildings, including the Ministry of Defence and the former headquarters of the British Army and Royal Navy, the Horse Guards building and the Admiralty respectively. The road also hosts an equestrian statue of George, Duke of Cambridge, a former Army Commander-in-Chief.

Downing Street leads off the south-west end of Whitehall, just above Parliament Street. It is no longer open to the public and is closed at both ends by imposing security gates erected in 1986. These have since been supplemented by a further gated barrier around three metres outside the main gates.

Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, was originally located in Great Scotland Yard off the north-eastern end of the street.

Image:Whitehall sketch map.png
Outline sketch map of Whitehall showing the major UK Government buildings.

[edit] Government buildings in Whitehall (north to south)

[edit] Other notable buildings in Whitehall

[edit] External links

[edit] Gallery

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Whitehall

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