The Mall

The Mall, Westminster

The ceremonial route leading from Admiralty Arch to Buckingham Palace, bordered by St James’s Park along most of its southern side

Mall - Buckingham Palace

Charles II laid out the Mall in 1662 as a suc­ces­sor to the glo­ri­fied cro­quet alley of Pall Mall. The boule­vard grew in sig­nif­i­cance when St James’s Palace became the monarch’s prin­ci­pal home fol­low­ing the destruc­tion by fire of the Palace of White­hall in 1698.

As the sport of palle­maille declined in pop­u­lar­i­ty the Mall became a place of pub­lic prom­e­nade, lat­er giv­ing its name to the Amer­i­can cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­non the shop­ping mall, which was orig­i­nal­ly a store-lined street closed to vehic­u­lar traf­fic.

The pala­tial Carl­ton House was built on the north side of the Mall short­ly after 1700. Fred­er­ick, Prince of Wales, bought the house in 1732 and it was grant­ed to his grand­son, George, lat­er Prince Regent, in 1783. George remod­elled, dec­o­rat­ed and fur­nished Carl­ton House with excel­lent taste and at great expense but he moved out on his ascent to the throne as George IV in 1820.

Carl­ton House Ter­race

The man­sion was demol­ished a few years lat­er, to be replaced by Carl­ton House Ter­race, which con­sists of a pair of ter­races, each of nine sump­tu­ous hous­es, planned by John Nash and com­plet­ed in 1832. Carl­ton House Ter­race is present­ly home to sev­er­al august insti­tu­tions, notably the Roy­al Soci­ety, the British Acad­e­my, the Roy­al Acad­e­my of Engi­neer­ing, the Roy­al Soci­ety of Por­trait Painters and the Insti­tute of Con­tem­po­rary Arts.

Between the two ranges of Carl­ton House Ter­race, the Duke of York’s Col­umn over­looks the Mall from the top of Water­loo Steps. The col­umn was built in 1833 to hon­our Fred­er­ick, Duke of York, who was George III’s sec­ond son.

With the acces­sion of Vic­to­ria to the throne in 1837, Buck­ing­ham Palace became the new roy­al res­i­dence and the Mall’s straight-line approach to the palace brought it even greater sta­tus. From the late 19th cen­tu­ry the Mall served as the car­riage dri­ve for all roy­al pro­ces­sions and for the arrival of for­eign dig­ni­taries at Buck­ing­ham Palace. The con­struc­tion of Admi­ral­ty Arch and the Vic­to­ria Memo­r­i­al at oppo­site ends of the Mall in 1910 and 1911 brought greater for­mal­i­ty to the cer­e­mo­ni­al route.

The Nation­al Police Memo­r­i­al was erect­ed near the junc­tion of Horse Guards Road with the Mall in 2005. Her Majesty the Queen said at the unveil­ing cer­e­mo­ny, “It is sure­ly appro­pri­ate that this should be posi­tioned in the Mall – an area of Lon­don so often asso­ci­at­ed with our nation­al way of life.”

The Mall is usu­al­ly lined with Union flags but dur­ing state vis­its these are inter­mixed with the appro­pri­ate nation­al flags. The road is closed to vehic­u­lar traf­fic on Sun­days, pub­lic hol­i­days and state occa­sions.

Thomas Gainsborough painted The Mall in St James’s Park around 1783, a scene described by Horace Walpole as ‘all aflutter like a lady’s fan’. New York’s Frick Collection acquired the work in 1916.

Postal district: SW1
See also: Marlborough House