Whitehall, London, looking south towards the Houses of Parliament
Whitehall is a road in London, the capital of the United Kingdom, running two-thirds of the distance from Trafalgar Square towards Parliament Square; the other third constitutes Parliament Street. The two streets cover a combined distance of a little less than a mile.
The name is taken from the vast Palace of Whitehall that used to occupy the surrounding area but was largely destroyed by fire in 1698. Whitehall was originally a wide road that ran up to the front of the palace, while Parliament Street was a small side road alongside the palace leading to the Houses of Parliament. When the palace was destroyed and its ruins demolished, Parliament Street was widened to match Whitehall's width. The two roads are all but indistinguishable on the ground, with their only distinction being a sign indicating where one begins and the other ends. The present appearance of the street is largely the result of 19th century development.
Banqueting House, built in 1622 by Inigo Jones, is the only surviving portion of the former palace. Charles I was executed on 30 January 1649 on a scaffold erected outside the building, stepping onto it from a first-floor window. Royalists still commemorate the event annually on its anniversary.
Whitehall and the surrounding area is the administrative centre of the UK government; it is dominated by government buildings, to such an extent that the term is often used, by extension, to refer to the British Civil Service or the government itself.
The Cenotaph, the principal war memorial of Britain, is located in the centre of the road, and is the site of the annual memorial ceremonies on Remembrance Sunday.
The central portion of the street is dominated by military buildings, including the Ministry of Defence and former headquarters of the British Army and Royal Navy, Horse Guards and the Admiralty respectively. The road also hosts an equestrian statue of George, Duke of Clarence, a former Army commander-in-chief.
Downing Street leads off the south-west end of Whitehall, just above Parliament Street. It is no longer open to the public, being closed at both ends by massive security gates erected in 1989. A van parked on Whitehall was used by the IRA to launch a terrorist mortar attack on 10 Downing Street on 7 February 1991. Fortunately the bombs narrowly missed the building and nobody was hurt.
Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, was originally located in Great Scotland Yard off the north-eastern end of the street.
Government buildings in Whitehall (north to south)
Other notable buildings in Whitehall
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