The Lost Palace of Downing Street

(39 customer reviews)

Embankment underground station, London (river exit)

Guided by Dan Parry

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
7 October 2023 Tour du Jour 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Summer

Take a walk through the ‘Forbidden City’

With a superstar guide

The exclusive seat of power through the centuries, this is the most magical corner of the kingdom. 

Stand at the spot where King Charles I was beheaded, dare to enter Henry VIII’s jousting yard, stroll through once forbidden royal gardens, and take a glimpse through the gates of Downing Street. Laced with pomp and pageants, love, scandal and intrigue, this is a journey into a time of knights and tournaments, rebellion and sieges, Henry’s six wives, and Shakespeare’s first performances – all taking place behind the walls of Britain’s principal bastion of power. 

This is the story of the legendary Palace of Whitehall, once the home of royalty and courtiers, and forbidden to everyone else. Destroyed in a single night, from its smoking ruins grew an exclusive district that came to rule an empire and which still remains the centre of British political power today.

The Downing Street area was once dominated by the largest palace in Europe, a fabulous love nest designed by Henry and Anne Boleyn. The sprawling Palace of Whitehall contained a vast sports complex and extensive gardens, protected behind high walls that kept out the riff-raff. Royalty and their courtiers didn’t even have to cross the public road that ran through the middle, ornate bridges connected the buildings on either side.

Here Henry secretly married Anne, and here, too, he later married Jane Seymour. Elizabeth I played games with her suitors and James I watched Shakespeare appear in The Tempest. Oliver Cromwell died here, less than 10 years after the execution of his adversary Charles I, who walked to his death from the Banqueting House, the palace’s last surviving building.   

Today, most of the palace is long gone but the ghosts of the past live on. The public road, now known simply as Whitehall, is still home to the most important government departments. Here too is Downing Street, home of Britain’s prime minister, set amid buildings that are the legacy of a majestic and often bloody past, at the heart of which once lay a palace full of secrets, waiting to be rediscovered.

Walking along streets originally laid out in and around the palace, discover historic buildings, from the Houses of Parliament to the Old Admiralty to Churchill’s secret WWII bunker.  

Guided by Dan Parry

39 reviews for The Lost Palace of Downing Street

  1. Peter

    This walk is short in distance, but long on history. It was the first I’ve done with London Walks, and I’ll be doing others next time I’m here as a tourist.

  2. M.Sharma

    Excellent walk, thoroughly recommended.

  3. Mark and Penny

    Dan was a great guide. He entertained and educated us and the two hours flew by.
    Would definitely recommend this walk.

  4. William

    Another excellent walk from Dan – I have now done all three and recommend them all without hesitation.
    This walk really puts the Whitehall area into context – and Dan makes it a fascinating and very enjoyable subject.

  5. Jean Shepherd

    A great walk and very interesting. Dan was an excellent tour guide, very knowledgeable, personable and good fun. It was very hot yesterday but Dan stopped in the shade where possible to talk to us. The naked cyclists did give us a chuckle and Dan coped very well with the interruption.
    My sister and I had a great afternoon.

  6. Wendy Barish

    Very accommodating and he had a great sense of humor. Tied a lesser known piece of history all together with a very neat bow.

  7. Robert Oakley

    I’ve now done all three walks led by Dan and can’t recommend them highly enough. The pacing of the walks, as in the distance between stops and the amount of time talking at each stop is excellent, the history is brought to life by Dan’s presentation and he copes with anything unexpected with aplomb and a touch of fun – today we had the misfortune (?) of being on the route of a naked bike ride which brought a comment of “That’s unusual, they’re normally here on Wednesday” Go on any one of his walks and you’ll want to do the others too. A great time and a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

  8. Frances

    One of the best London Walks I’ve been on and I’ve been on quite a few. Dan was a very knowledgeable and informative guide.
    There was added interest as we joined the walk on 5th May, which was the day before the Coronation of King Charles. This meant some of the usual routes were closed but there were plenty of alternatives, and there were added benefits from Dan’s knowledge and insight into the extra the Coronation-related activities that day.
    I loved realising that I had previously ‘seen’ the now infamous garden of 10 Downing Street without knowing it where, of course, there were no parties during the Covid lockdown!!!

  9. Lou and Herta

    Have been on many London Walks and this one (May 1) was definitely one of the better ones – particularly in view of the upcoming coronation. Always great to listen to someone who truly knows history. Dan does and he shared it very well. Highly recommend any time of the year!

  10. Fiona

    Excellent walk. Our guide was very knowledgeable and also entertaining. Would definitely recommend this walk.

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