The Admiralty

The Admiralty

The oldest of these Departments was the Admiralty, responsible for the Navy. In 1546 Henry VIII created a Navy Board to oversee the administrative affairs of the naval service; policy direction, operational control and maritime jurisdiction remained in the hands of the Lord High Admiral. From 1628 this post was more often than not filled by a "committee" of Lords Commissioners - the Board of Admiralty, whose head was the First Lord, the Minister who was the political master of the Navy. For 200 years the Navy was run by these two Boards, under a system devised largely by Samuel Pepys.

The organisation served well enough during the wars with the Spanish, Dutch and French, but relations between the two Boards were not always harmonious. In 1832 a reforming First Lord abolished the Navy Board, bringing its functions under the superintendence of "Their Lordships" - the Board of Admiralty.

In the eighteenth century the Department moved to the building in Whitehall still called the Old Admiralty. The Admiralty Board continues to hold meetings in the historic Boardroom in the Old Admiralty Building.

Admiralty Citadel

The Admiralty Citadel in 2008

The Admiralty Citadel, London's most visible military citadel, is located just behind the Admiralty building on Horse Guards Parade. It was constructed in 1940-1941 as a bomb-proof operations centre for the Admiralty, with foundations 30 feet (nine metres) deep and a concrete roof 20 feet (six metres) thick.

Sir Winston Churchill described it in his memoirs as a "vast monstrosity which weighs upon the Horse Guards Parade" - and ivy has been encouraged to cover it in an apparent attempt to soften its harsh appearance. Its brutal functionality speaks of a very practical purpose; in the event of a German invasion, it was intended that the building would become a fortress, with loopholed firing positions provided to fend off attackers.

The Admiralty Citadel is still used today by the Ministry of...