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Whitehall - Architecture & history

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02 Jul 2024 £220 Book this tour

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Whitehall is shorthand for the civil service, the administrative function of government whose intersection with the political branch is sometimes uncomfortable. It is also, of course, a street. The name migrated from a riverside palace located here, the main royal residence of the Tudor and Stuart dynasties and the largest princely residence in Europe. With adjacent streets and precincts, this slice of London between Trafalgar Square and the Palace of Westminster is the most historically significant half mile in England.

The architectural legacy is of commensurate importance. Inigo Jones's Banqueting House, Kent's Horseguards, Barry and Pugin's Houses of Parliament, Scott's Foreign Office, Shaw's Scotland Yard and many other fascinating buildings, both grand and domestic, crowd into the district. The footprint of the largely invisible Whitehall Palace is intriguingly omnipresent.

The area has been at the centre of English political life for a thousand years. As one of the broadest streets in central London, it forms a processional way for state occasions, a parade ground for Remembrance Sunday and state funerals, a destination for protests, and an arena for memorial statues. Behind the walls as we stare at them discussions and decision-making will be taking place which will affect us all.

Led by an architectural historian, the primary focus is on the buildings and their changes over time. But the history of a nation – and of an empire – is woven into the physical fabric, and commentary will touch upon events past and recent, and people historical and contemporary

Martin Randall

Martin Randall

Martin founded the company in 1988 to combine his background and continuing passion for art history and music with what he had learnt from ten years in the travel business. He has a BA (Hons) in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London University, and studied aesthetics in the Philosophy Department York University. After a number of temporary and part-time posts in the museum world, and spending a year in both Italy and Germany, he turned to specialist tour operating. He stepped down as Chief Executive in April to take on the new role of Creative Director.

Start and finish

Westminster Underground Station, 9.45am & 5.00pm.


£220. This includes two refreshment breaks and a good lunch, radio guides, the assistance of a tour manager, the words of the speaker.

More information about Culture Days gift vouchers.


Walking: nearly 4 miles. Our normal indication of the fitness required is that you should be able to walk at about 3 mph for at least an hour at a time. There are three refreshment breaks, and the terrain is flat.

Are you fit enough to join the tour?

Dietary requirements

Please inform us at the time of booking if you have any.

Group size

10–18 participants.


We will return the full amount if you notify us 22 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within three weeks and 100% if within three days. Please put your cancellation in writing to We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.