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Whitehall Palace was built between 1514 and 1529 by Cardinal Wolsey on the site of York Place, the London residence of the Archbishops of York from 1245. After Wolsey's downfall the palace was acquired by Henry VIII and converted into the most important Royal Palace in London and the centre of English royal power for more than 150 years. Henry VIII redesigned the residential area building the great hall, chapel and royal apartments and built a new recreational area or pleasure buildings across the road which included tennis courts, bowling greens, a cock fighting pit and a tiltyard for tournaments.

The palace was altered and rebuilt on various occasions. Between 1622 and 1634 a new banqueting house was built to designs of Inigo Jones and a major programme of rebuilding was carried out by James II between 1685-8. By 1650 the Palace had become the largest complex of secular buildings in England and at the time of its destruction in 1698 it was probably the largest palace in Europe.
Whitehall palace was destroyed by fire in 1698 and although some areas were rebuilt much of the site was then built over. The only standing building of Whitehall Palace is the Banqueting House, however other parts have been incorporated into later buildings or are buried beneath them. These include a tower and parts of the covered tennis courts built by Henry VIII and a vaulted chamber, known as Henry VIII's Wine Cellar.

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