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Whitehall is a road in Westminstermarker in Londonmarker, Englandmarker. It is the main artery running north from Parliament Squaremarker, towards traditional Charing Crossmarker, now at the southern end of Trafalgar Squaremarker and marked by the statue of Charles I, which is often regarded as the heart of London. Recognised as the centre of HM Government, the road is lined with government departments/ministries; "Whitehall" is therefore also frequently used as a metonym for overall UK governmental administration, as well as being a geographic name for the surrounding district.

The name is taken from the vast Palace of Whitehallmarker that used to occupy the area but which was largely destroyed by fire in 1698. Whitehall was originally a wide road that ran up to the front of the palace. Trafalgar Squaremarker was built at its northern extremity in the early 19th century. The southernmost part by Parliament Square is Parliament Street, but there is no longer any obvious distinction between the two on the ground. Combined, the streets cover a total distance of about 0.6 mile (1 km).


Parliament Street was a small side road alongside the palace leading to the Palace of Westminstermarker. When the palace was destroyed and its ruins demolished, Parliament Street was widened to match Whitehall's width. The present appearance of the street is largely the result of 19th century redevelopment.

The Banqueting Housemarker, 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 regicide annually on the anniversary of the execution.

The name Whitehall is often used as a metonym to refer to the government of the United Kingdom or senior ministers (such as the prime minister and other cabinet members), in the same way the Kremlin refers to the Russianmarker/Sovietmarker governments, or White Housemarker refers to the executive branch of the government of the United Statesmarker.

The Cenotaphmarker, the principal war memorial of Britain, is in the centre of the road, and is the site of the annual memorial ceremonies on Remembrance Sunday. In 2005 a Monument to the Women of World War IImarker was placed just a short distance northwards from the Cenotaph.

The central portion of the street is dominated by military buildings, including the Ministry of Defence, with the former headquarters of the British Army and Royal Navy, the Royal United Services Institute, the Horse Guardsmarker building and the Admiralty, on the opposite side. The road also hosts equestrian statue of George, Duke of Cambridge, a former Army Commander-in-Chief and Earl Haig, Commander in Chief of the British Armies in France 1915-1918.

Scotland Yardmarker, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, was originally located in Great Scotland Yard off the north-eastern end of the street, but relocated to New Scotland Yard on the Victoria Embankmentmarker in 1890.

Downing Streetmarker leads off the south-west end of Whitehall, just above Parliament Street. It is closed to the public at both ends by security gates erected in 1989. These have since been supplemented by a further gated barrier around three metres outside the main gates.

During recent years, significant security measures have been put in place along Whitehall for the protection of the government buildings that line the street. This is partly due to a £25 million pound 'streetscape' scheme undertaken by the Westminster City Councilmarker, which was agreed just months before the 2005 London bombings. This has caused significant disruption along Whitehall, but the building programme appears to be coming to an end, with wider pavements, better lighting and hundreds of concrete and steel security barriers now in place.

Whitehall showing the major UK Government buildings.

Government buildings in Whitehall (north to south)

Other notable buildings in Whitehall


  • Whitehall Through The Centuries by George S Dugdale (Assistant at the London Museum) with black and white reproductions and plans. A foreword by Sir Edward Bridges

External links


Image:Whitehall1799.jpg|In 1799 many of the sites now occupied by large government buildings were covered with terraced houses and Parliament Street had not been widened.Image:Taxi_and_Monuments_on_Whitehall.jpg|A London cab zooms between two monuments on Whitehall, between Horse Guards and 10 Downing Streetmarker


  1. John Michael Lee, George William Jones, June Burnham, At the Centre of Whitehall: Advising the Prime Minister and Cabinet, p. 42. St. Martin's Press, 1998. ISBN 0312177305
  3. First published by Phoenix House (London) in 1950 with no ISBN

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