On this day………………317 years ago, London’s Palace of Whitehall burned down. Once the greatest palace in Europe, it met its end when a servant put some linen to dry by a fire, then left it.
Soon not only the linen but the whole room was alight, and by the time the alarm was raised, the flames had taken such a strong hold that the primitive fire-fighting apparatus of the time could make no impression on them.
The blaze raged for 16 hours, and destroyed the whole palace apart from the Holbein Gate and the Banqueting Hall (pictured), with its magnificent Rubens ceiling, where Charles I had been executed half a century before.
The fire also destroyed 150 nearby houses, mostly homes of the nobility. William III, who was king at the time, didn’t like the palace, believing it aggravated his asthma, and so it was never rebuilt. For more, see London’s Disasters.