Open house for an art deco treasure

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The Independent Online
Courtauld House, with one of Britain's finest art deco interiors, and the adjoining Eltham Palace in south-east London were formally handed over to English Heritage yesterday to be preserved and opened up fully to the public.

The house, built by the architects Seely and Paget for the Courtauld textile family in the Thirties, and the former royal palace, which dates back to the 11th century, were held until yesterday by the Ministry of Defence, which had an army training school there and allowed the public limited access.

Courtauld House has all the conveniences the era could provide. All bedrooms boast en suite bathrooms with lido-style tiling, the floors are heated and there are runs for the family's pet lemur. There is a synchronised clock system, a Tannoy and a centralised vacuum cleaner with connections in each room.

English Heritage is now working on proposals for the buildings. Many of the house's original furnishings have been sold or lost and it has to decide whether to restore it to its original state, convert it to other uses such as a conference centre, but still with public access, or preserve it as it stands.