Days Out: Eltham Palace, south-east London


The venue

Turn off Eltham High Street at McDonald's, head down a leafy lane, across a cobbled bridge over a moat and you instantly feel as if you are a million miles away from suburban south-east London. In days of old, Eltham Palace was one of England's largest medieval royal palaces and Henry VIII spent much of his childhood here - but that is just part of the story. In the 1930s wealthy textile magnates Stephen and Virginia Courtauld built a luxurious Art Deco mansion alongside the Tudor Great Hall and created a masterpiece of 20th-century design.

For children

The Courtaulds were great animal lovers and there are two free children's trails guided by the couple's favourite pets. Caesar's Trail, named after their beloved Great Dane, explores the gardens, while Mah-Jongg's trail takes you around the interior. Jongy, as he was usually known, was the Courtaulds' ring-tailed lemur who was very much one of the family. He even had his own centrally heated sleeping quarters decorated with forest scenes.

In the Venetian Suite you can see more of the Courtaulds' pets' lives and travels in clips from their home movies. The beautiful 19-acre moated gardens are also a great place for a family picnic.

For adults

You may get a little house envy as you wander from the stunning glass-domed entrance hall into the dining room with its Belgian marble fireplace, pink leather upholstered chairs, maple-veneered walls and silver-adorned ceiling. In Virginia's exotic en suite bathroom the taps are gold plated and the walls are lined with onyx. Their home also had all the latest mod cons including underfloor heating and a loudspeaker system all over the ground floor. It is all quite a contrast to the magnificent oak roofed Great Hall that was originally built for Edward IV in the 1470s as a dining room.

Not surprisingly, Art Deco fairs and 1930s themed days are a regular feature on Eltham's events calendar which also includes a Tudor Times weekend with music, dancing and cookery (27 May) and open air theatre in the gardens in August.

Refreshments

In the 1930s tea room, the staff are dressed in Lyons Corner House-style uniforms and serve lunch-time meals such as lasagne or leek and macaroni cheese (£6.95) followed by bread and butter pudding (£3.25). It also offers home-made cakes and sandwiches. The tea room is open all day. In summer you can buy refreshments in the Orangery.

Access

The gardens and ground and first floor of the house are accessible to wheelchair users. There is disabled parking. Visitor wheelchairs, hearing loops and a touch list for the blind are available. No pushchairs are allowed in the house but hip seats can be borrowed.

Admission

From next Sunday it opens Sunday-Wednesday 10am-4pm and until 5pm from April. House and garden entry, adults £7.60, concs £5.70, children £3.80, under fives free.

How to get there

Eltham Palace, Court Road, London SE9 5QE (020-8294 2548; elthampalace.org.uk). By rail: 20 minutes from London Bridge, Charing Cross and Victoria. Eltham railway station is a 15-minute walk. By road: Junction 3 on the M25, then signposted from the A20. Free car parking. By foot: Eltham Palace is on the Green Chain Walk (greenchain.com), a 40-mile network of footpaths.

News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine