Three hundred years ago The Mall was still a dirty, dusty track to St. James’s Palace. It wasn’t until Queen Victoria moved the royal residence to Buckingham Palace that work began on decorations.
The name ‘Mall’ – and nearby Pall Mall – come from the French game Palle Maille, which the King was fond of playing up and down the muddy track.
These days, The Mall acts as a grand processional route from Her Majesty’s residence to the Admiralty Arch. The Queen rides her golden carriage past the waving crowds on State occasions.
The best place to start your tour of The Mall is at the opposite end to the Palace – Trafalgar Square. This was laid out between 1829 and 1841 to commemorate Lord Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. It is now the nation’s favourite setting for celebrations, demonstrations and political rallies.
The gate through which you walk – Admiralty Arch – may look like a monument, but it is actually an office block with rooms inside. It was commissioned by King Edward VII to commemorate the death of Queen Victoria.
The inscription along the top reads ANNO DECIMO EDWARDI SEPTIMI REGIS VICTORIÆ REGINÆ CIVES GRATISSIMI MDCCCCX, which is Latin for
In the tenth year of King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria, from most grateful citizens, 1910.
St. James’s Park is on the south side of The Mall – on your left-hand side as you walk through the arch. It is both the oldest and smallest of London’s parks, built by Henry VIII in 1536.
It takes its name from St. James’s Palace, built by Henry VIII in the 1530s. This has been home to many Kings and Queens, but now houses Prince Charles and his sons.
At the far western end of the Mall lies Buckingham Palace. This became the official home of the head of state in the reign of Queen Victoria.
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