Few people know that it is possible to visit Lambeth Palace in London, lying next to the Thames within a stone’s throw of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Off the beaten track and with beautiful grounds, it makes for a lovely, peaceful way to explore this lesser known part of London's history.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF LAMBETH PALACE
By the 12th century, the Archbishop of Canterbury was well established as a spiritual leader and one of the King’s chief counsellors with an important place at court. He needed a suitably imposing residence so, on land previously held by the bishop and monks of Rochester, building began.
By Stephen Langton’s time in 1207 the most important rooms of the medieval palace had been established – the Chapel, the Great Hall, the Great Chamber and the archbishop’s private apartments.
These have been significantly altered over the years, but the 15th century Lollards’ Tower and Morton’s Tower still stand. The Lollards ‘ Tower was built by Archbishop Chichele and outside there is a niche which once housed a statue of Thomas Becket. Passing Thames watermen used to doff their caps to this statue.