On Friday 12th July 2019 twenty members of The Chelsea Society enjoyed a private visit to Lambeth Palace
Lambeth Palace has been the London residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury for over eight centuries. The building is Grade I listed, and the early Tudor gatehouse resembles that at Hampton Court palace.
Victorian additions were made to the Palace by Edward Blore, who would go on to re-design Buckingham Palace.
The Great Hall was ransacked by Cromwell’s troops during the English Civil War but was rebuilt after the Restoration in its original style; described by Samuel Pepys (who was present at the reopening) as a “new old-fashioned hall” .
The tour included the elegant State Rooms, the Archbishop’s chapel – in use since the 13th century -where the daily cycle of worship takes place in the crypt beneath. Portraits of Archbishops dating back to the early 15th century were also viewed. Lambeth Palace has the longest unbroken line of portraits of office holders, other than monarchs, in the country. They include works by Holbein, Van Dyck, Hogarth and Reynolds.
The visit included a walk in the gardens on a glorious summer day, and concluded with tea in the State Drawing Room, not normally open to visitors.
The Palace is also home to the official Library of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which constitutes the largest religious collection outside the Vatican, and contains manuscripts dating back as far as the 9th century. A new library is being built in the grounds to accommodate this priceless collection under controlled atmospheric conditions.