Whether you’re passionate about architecture, Art Deco, or simply looking for something new to do in London – Eltham Palace might be for you.
Located in Greenwich, South-East London, you can reach the Palace by bus like I did or by train (Mottingham station). Since you can easily spend a whole day visiting the interior and the gardens, I suggest you go there in the morning and take your time to fully immerse yourself in the luxury and decadence of the 1930s.
Eltham Palace is famed for being the only English Art Deco house open to the public. The site is now dominated by the stylish house built in 1933–6 by the architects Seely and Paget for Stephen and Virginia Courtauld. They incorporated the great hall – the most substantial survival from the medieval royal palace – into the design. Like the house, the palace’s 19 acres of gardens feature both 20th-century and medieval elements.
An amazing insight into the life of the wealthy Coutauld family who transformed this medieval building into a home where they entertained in style. Take the excellent audio tour and relish the architectural details in the rooms.
Did you know that Mah Jongg, the family’s pet lemur, had his own heated bedroom?
The house was way ahead of its time when it came to amenities, including underfloor heating, en suite bathrooms and a central vacuum-cleaning system.
The Courtauld family transformed the house’s air raid bunker in the basement when World War II broke out. Of course they did it in their own unique style!
The house was the scene of many a lavish parties for royals and politicians.
This is the map room, where the family’s secretary planned their extensive worldwide travels.
The 19 acres of stunning gardens are a big highlight as well, especially the Rock Garden with its series of pools and cascades running down to the moat.
If you cross the moat on London’s oldest working bridge you’ll find yourself in the lovely Rose Garden. Virginia had a passion for roses, and even had a red rose named after her.
I have a last tip to share with you: visit Eltham Palace in Spring / Summer, when the flowers are in bloom and you can enjoy a picnic in the garden. Don’t eat at the café located in the new visitor centre though, the food is overpriced and bad quality!