Eltham Palace

18th July 2011
Yesterday, I decided to visit Eltham Palace, in a tiny corner of London. It is owned and maintained by English Heritage and is listed as a Grade II building.

Eltham Palace Eltham Palace Eltham Palace


Eltham Palace was originally a manor house with a surrounding moat with a large area of open parkland. In 1305, Edward II obtained the palace when it was given to him by the Bishop of Durham, Anthony Bek. Edward II then passed it onto Queen Isabella. When Edward IV acquired the property , he made several, notable changes. mainly the addition of the Great Hall in the 1470's, which stands proud to this day. The interior of the Great Hall is beautiful, taking on a church like feel. Henry VIII also inherited the palace, spending more money to bring it up to his needs, but after this, and the building of Greenwich Palace, Eltham started to decline, and became a farm for the next 200 years and the buildings were rented out to various tenants.

Eltham Palace Eltham Palace Eltham Palace


In the beginning of the 19th century more structural changes were made, including a villa built within the moat walls, and gardens built. In 1828 the Great Hall was restored, to save it from demolition but it use was still as a barn. Further on in the 19th century, the palace was used as a gentleman's residence, which caused more changes to be made.

Eltham Palace Eltham Palace


Stephen and Virginia Courtauld, built a house that joined onto the Great Hall, which creates the palace that is seen now. As keen gardeners, the land surrounding the palace was re-designed, which incorporated lawns, a mixed border, a sunken rose garden, a spring bulb meadow, a rock garden and woodland garden.

Eltham Palace Eltham Palace Eltham Palace Eltham Palace


In 1944, The Courtauld's vacated the palace, and the Army used the property as educational units until 1992 when English Heritage acquired the property, and restored the property to its former glory, and was opened to the public in 1999. Rumors have it that the palace is haunted by a ghost of a former staff member, who is said to have given tours of the palace when the palace should have been empty.

Eltham Palace Eltham PalaceEltham Palace


The visit to the palace was very enjoyable, and the interior is stunning, with light pouring in through a glass dome. The cafe is small, but serves some scrumptious, locally made cakes and puddings, along with a small selection of main courses. There is plenty of room to park, and entrance costs are fairly reasonable. Unfortunalty, photography inside the palace is not allowed. Well worth a visit, and make sure you obtain a map of the palace - its very easy to get lost and forget what rooms you have already seen.

Links
Eltham Palace on Flickr
Eltham Palace on English Heritage

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