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. Olga Shportun

    Dan’s tour was amazing, full of great stories, funny details and nice surprises. We definitely recommend doing it for everybody, interested in the history of London

  2. Jane

    Dan was absolutely wonderful. My brother, sister, their spouses, and I all agreed that Dan was a terrific tour guide; extremely knowledgeable, informative, great information, and excellent speaker. We learned so much and it was a perfect way to start our vacation in London. The five of us would highly recommend this tour and Dan!

  3. Chris

    A great tour in the most important and famous part of the city. Despite having lived in London previously, I had no idea about the story of the lost Palace of Whitehall. Dan really brings it all back to life and gives great perspective and humor to leave you seeing Westminster in a completely different way. Highly recommend!

  4. Nicky

    Dan was very knowledgeable and made the Lost Palace come alive! Filled the walk with lots of entertaining stories, and happily answered our questions. Highly recommend this walk.

  5. Jouko Riihonen

    Entertaining & informative. Brilliantly presented by Dan.

  6. Mira Tugnait

    We have done many London Walks over the years so it was really refreshing to come across this new walk developed by Dan. Interesting facts and anecdotes about Whitehall, Downing St and the area delivered in an entertaining way. I didn’t know Dan was a BBC journalist who has written several books so that was an added bonus. Top marks for tour and guide.

  7. Biny Mathew

    Very informative and enlightening guided tour of the sites of the old palace of Whitehall. History was brought alive in an engrossing and accessible way.

  8. Hannah

    Dan was an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable guide. He has clearly done a great deal of research into the subject. I learnt a lot about this area of London from the walk, and Dan also provided some very useful maps to look at whilst we went along. I would definitely recommend it.

  9. Kathleen Jeffreys

    Lovely walk very informative Dan is an excellent guide very knowledgeable

  10. Els Launspach

    Dan Parry has a magical voice and pays attention to every participant, so you do feel at home. He builds his tour carefully, starting with the mysteries you always wanted to solve. Only now I do know where the word Embankment comes from, and why the Strand is not lining the Thames. Only now I understand where exactly Whitehall Palace was located, and who developed its grounds. On and on we walked, listening to amazing stories, getting peculiar details finally in the right place, and at the same time enjoying the city. Thank you, Dan!

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