Whitehall, which preserves the memory of the old palace of that name, is now synonymous with the central government of the country and the civil service.Coming from Trafalgar Square, we see on the right the Admiralty, the older part of which was built by Thomas Ripley in 1723-26, while the domed building to the rear was added between 1895 and 1907.
Transit: Underground: Westminster, Charing Cross.
The Horse Guards, a finely proportioned building with a handsome clock tower designed by William Kent (1753), occupies the site of a guard house belonging to the old Palace of Whitehall. It is now occupied by government offices; on the north side of the parade ground is the Admiralty building.The Household Cavalry consists of two separate regiments, the Life Guards, who wear scarlet tunics and white plumed helmets, and the Blues and Royals, who wear blue tunics and red plumed helmets. The Life Guards originated as a cavalry unit which formed Charles I's bodyguard during the Civil War, the Blues and Royals (formerly the Royal Horse Guards) as a troop of Cromwellian cavalry.The headquarters of the Household Cavalry are in Hyde Park Barracks, Knightsbridge, some 2.5km/1.5mi from Whitehall. The new guard, riding daily to Horse Guards, passes Buckingham Palace. The changing of the guard and the Sunday parade are among London's greatest tourist attractions.In June every year, on the Queen's official birthday, the parade ground behind the Horse Guards is the scene of a colorful military spectacle, Trooping the Color.
Serving as the venue for government receptions, the Whitehall Palace Banqueting House was amongst the first Renaissance style buildings in the country.
In this quiet, residential street the great decisions on British government policy are taken. No. 10 has been the official residence of the Prime Minister since 1732, when George II presented it to Sir Robert Walpole who, although he did not use the title, can be regarded as the first Prime Minister in the modern sense. No. 11 is the official residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and No. 12 is the Government Whip's Office. All three houses are elegant Georgian buildings. Downing Street was built by Sir George Downing, who contrived to hold office under both Cromwell and Charles II and was knighted by the latter in 1660. On February 7, 1991 the IRA fired several rockets aimed at the house, while the Cabinet was in session. Fortunately the rockets fell into the garden and nobody was hurt. Downing Street is closed to public access.
The Cenotaph, Britain's memorial to the dead of the two world wars, stands in Whitehall, in the heart of London's government and administrative quarter. Designed by Sir Edward Lutyens, it bears the simple inscription "To the Glorious Dead". The term cenotaph means "empty tomb". Originally constructed of plaster, it was rebuilt in Portland stone in deference to public feeling and unveiled on the second anniversary of the 1918 armistice, 11 November 1920. In the years after the First World War men raised their hats when passing the Cenotaph, even when they were on the top deck of a bus. The Cenotaph bears no religious symbols, in recognition of the fact that the dead belonged to many different races and faiths, but only military emblems - the flags of the army, the air force, the navy and the merchant fleet. Every year on Remembrance Day (the second Sunday in November) at 11 am a memorial service in honor of those who died is held at the Cenotaph, in the presence of the Queen, Members of Parliament, members of the armed forces and other representatives of public life.
Cabinet War Rooms
The 21 Cabinet War Rooms, situated only a few feet below ground level, were used during the Second World War by the British Cabinet under Sir Winston Churchill. The rooms contain all kinds of mementos of that time, including the telephone which Churchill used for long conversations with President Roosevelt. The Cabinet Room, Map Room, Transatlantic Telephone Room and even Churchill's simple bedroom are all excellently preserved.
Address: Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AQ, England
Opening hours: 9:30am-6pm
Always closed on: Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Christmas Eve - Christian (Dec 24), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26)
Entrance fee in GBP: Adult £12.00, Senior £9.50, Students £9.50, Group discounts £9.40, Child 16 & under FREE
Useful tips: Last admission 5:00 pm.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Guides: Guided tour included with admission.
Facilities: Gift shop
Transit: Underground: Westminster; Bus: 2, 24, 29, 77, 77a, 109, 172, 184, 11, 88, 170, 12, 53, 70, 59, T6.