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Eltham Palace

Set within moated gardens, Eltham Palace is the country's leading Art Deco attraction. A masterpiece of modern design, which is attached to the remaining Great Hall of the medieval royal palace, Eltham is a marvellous combination of the innovative and the traditional. The building is often overlooked by visitors to London, but is close enough to the centre of town to be worth the excursion.

The 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 elegant park, 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.

The palace was largely abandoned, narrowly avoiding demolition in 1828, but was rescued and restored by the Courtauld family in the 1930s. The great textile family commissioned the leading designers of the day to decorate the house and many innovations were incorporated, such as underfloor central heating. Outside, beautiful landscaped gardens were laid out and part of the medieval moat was restored. Thanks to the unusual combination of Tudor and Art Deco styles, it is possible to glimpse how the great and good lived six centuries apart.

Of the original palace, the Great Hall with its hammerbeam roof is undoubtedly the crowning glory. Dating from the late 15th century, it was used as a model for other great Tudor halls of the period, including Hampton Court. Under the Tudor kings and queens the palace underwent numerous alterations.

The Royal apartments were made even more palatial. Henry VIII built a new chapel and Elizabeth I oversaw an improvement to her father's work by ordering a new facade for the same chapel. As was often the case with royalty during this period, trends and fashions were of high importance and they required new playthings to amuse them. So it was that Greenwich Palace, nearby on the Thames, rose to prominence, and as it did so Eltham declined.

Visitors can tour the house on guided tours, explore the rose gardens, picnic on the lawns beside the moat and enjoy the shop and tea room.

Eltham Palace, London. © English Heritage

Eltham Palace Information

When: Mon, Tue, Wed, and Sun only

Where: London

Cost: £9.30; concessions £8.40; children £5.60; family tickets & gardens only tickets available

Opening Hours:

Address: Court Yard, Eltham, London, SE9 5QE

Hotels near Eltham Palace

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