Victorian London - Buildings, Monuments and Museums - Lambeth Palace

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Lambeth Palace. This quaint old building, for centuries the official residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury, is situate nearly opposite to the Houses of Parliament. The Lollard's Tower the chapel, the great hall, the great dining-room, and the magnificent library, which contains a remarkable collection of MSS., black letter tracts, &c. are the principal attractions. The picture gallery and the guard chamber contain many curious portraits. Few of the London sights are better worth a visit than Lambeth Palace. NEAREST Railway Stations, Westminster-bridge and Vauxhall; Omnibus Routes, Westminster-bridge-road, Kennington-road, Palace-road, and Harleyford-road.

source: Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

LAMBETH PALACE ... This has been the town residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury for nearly seven centuries, and is full of historical interest. The oldest part of the building is the chapel, which dates from 1244. In the "Lollard's Tower", a massive square keep, still remain the large iron rings fastened to the wall, to which, in former times, heretics are said to have been chained. The Library, containing 30,000 volumes, and many valuable MSS., is open to the public daily, except Saturday, 10 to 3, 4, or 5 p.m.

source: Reynolds' Shilling Coloured Map of London, 1895


Just east of Lambeth Bridge, on the south side of the Thames, is the Palace that for six centuries and more has been the London residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury. What is commonly called the Lollards' Tower was used as a prison, and the followers of Wycliffe were not the only persons who experienced its rigours. Lovelace here found that stone walls do not a prison make. The Chapel is the oldest part of the Palace, having been built in 1245, and its windows and screen were presented by Laud. Various great ecclesiastics have added to the pile, which architecturally is of uncommon interest The Lollards' Tower is on the left in our view the Library is seen in the middle, with a lantern springing from the roof the building on the right is the parish church-St Mary's.

source: The Queen's London, 1896


Two of the most interesting parts of Lambeth Palace are the Chapel and the Library. The former, Early English in style, is the oldest part of the London residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury, and dates from Archbishop Bonifaces time -1245. It is 72 feet long by 26 feet broad, and is bisected by a handsome carved screen, raised by Archbishop Laud, to whom also the windows are due.


The Library of Lambeth Palace, founded by Archbishop Bancroft early in the seventeenth century, now contains thirty thousand books and two thousand manuscripts and since 1834 it has been housed in the Hall, a room 92 feet long by 40 feet broad, built by Archbishop Juxon in 1663. Except on Saturdays, it is open to the public during the greater part of the year.

source: The Queen's London, 1896


The Lollards' Tower at Lambeth Palace is really the Water Tower, and only since the beginning of last century has it been believed that Wycliffe's followers were incarcerated here. In the upper part of the tower is the room once used as a prison, dating probably from the thirteenth century. It forms part of a staircase turret, and is 13 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 8 feet high. On the walls may still be seen the inscriptions of prisoners who were chained to the rings shown in our picture. As stated on an earlier page, the poet Lovelace, on account of his Royalist principles, and the Earl of Essex, who for a time enjoyed Queen Elizabeth's favour, were here held in durance.

source: The Queen's London, 1896