Situated off a quiet leafy road in the suburbs of Eltham in SE London, is the exquisite Eltham Palace - once home to the phenomenally wealthy Courthalds - textile millionaires of the early 20th century.
Before the Courthalds transformed the palace into a glamorous art deco showhome of the 1930s, it was the boyhood home of Henry VIII and later his daughter Elizabeth I also lived there.
It now belongs to English Heritage, and costs £8.20 for adults to visit. And it is well worth it with the fabulous interiors, stunning gardens, extensive audio tour and home movies of the Courthalds.
End your tour with a cream tea in the former servant's kitchen for around £10 for two.
Check the website for full details of opening times etc.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
If you love Art deco, come here.
Tucked away, almost incongruously, in the residential streets of Southeast London, is the magnificent Eltham Palace. It has a rich history, going back to the time of the Norman Invasion. The first major builder was the Bishop of Durham who presented the manor house to Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward II), and he in turn extended the place. Later Richard II would make further improvement, the work being supervised by the famous author Geoffrey Chaucer.
Subsequent monarchs used to spend time here, and Henry VIII spent much of his youth at Eltham, although his successor Elizabeth I rarely visited, and the geat old palace fell into decline, with the Great Hall eventually suffering the indignity of being a barn.
In disrepair for many years, Eltham was rescued early in the 20th century when it was leased by Stephen Courtauld and was refurbished between 1931 and 1937. As well as the refurbishment of the medieaval building, Courtauld commissioned Seeley and Paget, the architects, to build a new house adjoining and it is this that provides the main draw today. It is one of the finest example of Art Deco style in the world.
Today it is retained as it was and it is a fascinating place. From Courtauld's study with it's fine statue of a First World War sentry to the centrally heated dwelling for his pet ring-tailed lemur (yes, that's right - a wedding present to his wife) and much, much more besides, it really is a must-see.
There are also magnificent gardens on display.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
The rich can die poor...
In the churchyard at Eltham is buried Thomas Doggett...in his time he was quite wealthy, managing two well known theatres, and he founded the Doggetts Coat & Badge race up the Thames, which is still held annually (theres a pub on the south embankment called DCB...after him). He lost his fortune in later life, and was buried in a paupers grave.
Although there has been a church on the site since the 12th century the current one is relatively recent...and is not that wonderful.
In the churchyard can be found the gravestone of one of the first two Aboriginals who left Australia in modern times. Obviously this was not their choice...but a sad 'gift' sent back to the then King. It seems he died of alcohol poisoning...which I guess was new to him.
Oldest Golf Club in the world...
The Royal Blackheath Golf Club is recognised as the oldest of its kind...established 1608. Oldest 'golf club' that is... NOT oldest course. Originally it was on Blackheath as its name suggests. But relocated to Eltham in the 1920's as the golfers were causing havoc with the new fangled cars then crossing the heath. The photo is of the Clubhouse which was built in 1664.
Not worth visiting as such but its close to the Palace...just a local theatre, but when Bob Hope, who was born in Eltham, found out that it was in financial difficulties he made sure its future was safe by a sizeable donation!
In the 1930's Stephen & Virgina Courtauld, of the textile family, restored the Great Hall, and built next to it a house 'of its day'. It is the best example of art deco in England, with lavish centralised systems controlling vacuuming, music etc...way ahead of its time!
The Great Hall
This is a view from the Minstrels Gallery...its kinda dark even though I used a flash! Built in 1472, its said that over 2000 were invited to a feast by Edward IV at Christmas 1482. Hard to see but its hammerbeam roof is one of the finest in England. The artist Van Dyck spent many of his summers here and used the Hall for backdrops in many of his paintings.
Eltham Palace, just two miles from Royal Greenwich, has a royal history dating back 800 years. From 1311, when Edward II began spending his Christmas here, hunting red deer in the grounds, which stretched down to Greenwich, and East to Woolwich. It was a beloved royal home for the next 300 years. Henry VIII spent much of his boyhood here before moving in adulthood to his palace at Greenwich. It then fell into disrepair, and only the great hall with its vaulted ceiling is left.
This is the bridge that crosses the moat to Eltham Palace, lovely architecture...and in good repair considering its over 500 years since it was built!