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.

Life and Style
Rebel, rebel: Vivienne Westwood in her baroque-influenced early-Nineties designs
fashionWhy we mustn't take Dame Vivienne Westwood for granted
News
The police have been criticised in a raid on the luxury home of Sir Cliff Richard
people
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Sport
Harry Kane
premier leagueLive minute-by-minute coverage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Morgana Robinson
arts + entsIt is not easy interviewing Morgana Robinson. Here's why...
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
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

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Investigo: IT Auditor

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin