The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth

Historical print

In 1654 Cromwell took over Whitehall Palace as his official residence and preserved much of the remaining furniture for his own use.

Oliver Cromwell takes over the Banqueting House

After the death of Charles I, Whitehall Palace remained practically deserted for several years. A commission had already been appointed by Parliament to dispose of the King's property and the splendid Stuart art collection was gradually broken up.

Cromwell in Whitehall

This was interrupted when Oliver Cromwell formally became the new Head of State as Lord Protector and took up residence at Whitehall in 1654. The Banqueting House became the Lord Protector's hall of audience where he held his first reception for the ambassadors of the Estates-General in Holland.

There was probably little difference between Cromwell's receptions and those of the king on whose court etiquette they were based.

Whitehall Palace stands empty

After Cromwell's death at Whitehall in September 1658 an unsuccessful attempt was made to put the palace up for sale. It then stood empty until 1660 when a new parliament called for the monarchy to be restored and the palace returned to the new king.

Whitehall Palace from the River Thames by Wenceslaus Hollar, c1650, showing the Banqueting House and, to its right, the Tudor great hall.

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