Not wanting to waste a sunny afternoon, I decided to the pay a visit to the recently reopened Eltham Palace. Located within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, it’s an easy trip from Central London – simply hop on a train from Waterloo, or if like me you’re already in East London you can jump on a bus from North Greenwich.
Constructed in the 1300s, Eltham Palace was used as a royal residence until the 16th century. Henry VIII even lived here as a child. The palace fell into disrepair during the English Civil War but in 1933 Stephen Courtauld and his wife Virginia acquired the lease of the palace site and restored the Great Hall while building an elaborate Art Deco style home, which is what you see today.
The Courtaulds travelled extensively and the design of the house is a reflection of this lifestyle. They drew inspiration from Swedish design for the grand Entrance Hall.
I loved Virginia’s bedroom, just look at how stunning her bathroom is.
I also appreciated the Kew Gardens print that lined the walls of Stephen’s bedroom.
The Great Hall is the only room that remains from the original medieval palace.
If you walk through the Great Hall you will discover the Orangery. I don’t really know what the word orangery means, I’d never heard it before I moved to the UK, but I do love this room. So light and airy and perfect on a sunny day.
During Eltham’s recent renovation project, conservators found wall decorations hidden for over 70 years beneath thick wallpaper. They believe the maps that covered these walls were used by the Courtaulds to plan and document their world travels. Work is still underway to restore the Map Room but you can take a sneak peek at their progress. I’d love to come back and see this when it’s fully restored!
I explored the last of the downstairs entertaining rooms before heading outside to see the gardens.
The weather was perfect and since it was a weekday there weren’t too many other visitors around so wandering through the gardens was incredibly peaceful.
It was a bit of a shame to leave these beautiful gardens to head back into London!
The entry fee is £13 without gift aid, however I was able to visit Eltham Palace for free with my National Art Pass. Just be careful with this one as you aren’t able to gain free entry on event days so always check the website or phone ahead to avoid disappointment. There are a lot of events held on weekends over the summer or during school and bank holidays. English Heritage members can get in for free regardless of whether there’s an event taking place or not.
With this visit to Eltham Palace, plus my visits to Apsley House and Rangers House I’ve recuperated almost half the cost of the National Art Pass membership in the first two months so I’m doing pretty well!
Have you been to Eltham Palace? Can you recommend any other English Heritage properties around London?