Saturday, 18 June 2011

A Day at Eltham Palace - Part 1

The Mister surprised me today by whisking me off to Eltham Palace, on the outskirts of South East London.

I have wanted to come here for quite some time but never managed to get round to it, so you can imagine how excited I was when he told me where we were going!

Eltham Palace is partly a Great Hall, built in the 1470's by Edward IV, and partly a hidden away Art Deco gem! Can you tell by looking out the outside? I couldn't!

It has featured in many films and TV programmes, such as:

Bright Young Things
I capture the Castle
High Heels and Low Life
Home Front
Brideshead Revisited
Antiques Roadshow

It's owners had a very colourful life, but as I know this post will end up far too long if I go into detail, if you want to find out more, the link to their website is posted at the end.

The beautiful front door of Eltham Palace...if only this was my place! 

The Art Deco Mansion was built for Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in the 1930's. They acquired the site from the Crown, and were granted permission to restore the original Great Hall, but due to the damage to the remaining rubble, they built their own dream party home.

Leading designers were brought in to create this masterpiece of architecture and design. No expense was spared by the looks of things, so come and take a step inside to see just how lavish it is.

Unfortunately, you have to put on these fetching shoe covers to protect the floors. A small price to pay in my opinion!

The Great Entrance Hall:

This has to be the showpiece of the entire house, so of course you would have it as your entrance hall!

Guests would have been greeted by the butler, their coats taken from them, and lead towards the powder room at the back, to have cocktails served when they came back out.

The circular rug is a reproduction as the original was so threadbare, English Heritage had to put it in storage. However, this is an exact copy, the original having been designed by the influential carpet and textile designer Marion Dorn. It was huge! We weren't allowed to step on it because it is so fragile, but were told that it used to be rolled away, to reveal a wooden dance floor underneath. How cool!

The hall is lined with Australian blackbean veneer, and the stunning panels at the sides of the powder room were designed by the Swedish artist Jerk Werkmaester. I cannot describe just how breathtaking this room is. I was speechless. Everything was perfect. The furniture mirrored the structure beautifully, and the simplicity of the design is truly timeless. 

Dining Room:

Designed by Malacrida in a Moderne style. The ceiling was painted with aluminium leaf, so that at night, when the lights were dimmed, it glowed like the night sky, shimmering above the diners. 

English Heritage painstakingly reproduced most of the furniture in the house. They soon found out that the original dining table had been leant to Ealing Studios, who returned it to them in a somewhat abused state after having been donated by the family as a prop.

Drawing Room:

Decorated in an old Italian Style, as Virginia was half Italian, half Hungarian. It was meant to be a cosy place to retire to, to get away from the parties, and you can find many examples of the Hungarian/Italian influences, such as the Oak Beams, delicately painted.


This was Stephen 's room. Also designed by Malacrida, it is lined with Indian Mahogany. The cupboards used to store his vast coin collection. They used to travel a lot, so there are many reference books still remaining from their travels. The desk is another replica, but the original was made of walnut, wish I had one like this!


So this was Virginia's retreat within the house. There was a secret door between her room and his library, so they could sneak into each other's studies.

It was sycamore panelled, and again designed by Malacrida. I love how he place a mirror at the end of the wall, to give the ceiling a never ending illusion. It all seemed to be about fun and games here!

Back Hallway:
The doors were closed along here, except for the gift shop at the end, but I did really want to take a peek, if only there weren't other people about to stop me :(

The tour of the house had to finish there unfortunately as they had temporarily closed the upstairs. But I am determined to come back again, as there are bedrooms, gold bathrooms, the billiards room, and much more to find.

I even saw a maid disappear behind a secret door, and then realised there are secret doors all of the place here! I can just image their dinner parties, playing hide and seek and sneaking around the back corridors. If only they could host just one more party...

The Gardens:

The weather wasn't too fabulous, so we just had a quick play in the gardens and the Mister took a few piccies of us messing about. One minute it was pouring down, the next it was sunny! Where has the summer gone?! 

Sitting by the Moat

If you want to find out any more about Eltham Palace or English Heritage, go check out there site HERE. You'll also find opening times and upcoming events. They also give guided tours around the buildings, and today we happening across a Medieval Jousting day in the gardens! Pics to follow in Part 2. 

I cannot wait to go back again, and I'm even contemplating becoming a member of English Heritage, I can see myself going to other houses more often now!

Much Love from Eltham:



  1. Eltham Palace is one of my favourite buildings!! Seriously, if I could live anywhere, it would most probably be there. It's just beautiful, isn't it? I love the juxtaposition, and the deco bits are just to die for. *Sigh* In a perfect world...

    They have art deco fairs there from time to time too. But it really is a shame about those shoe covers, isn't it? It's kind of hard to pretend that you're floating around your own house when you've got those on. I asked the woman if I could just go barefoot but of course I couldn't, for health and safety reasons... They should give you fluffy slippers or something!

  2. Wow what a lovely place, i will have to go myself. That fireplace is beautiful!!!

    Shoe covers look like the ones i have at my work with infectious animals in the hospital and you get a full body suit too hehe. at least you dont have to wear one of those there! x

  3. Ooh I have been wanting to visit for ages, I didn't know just how beautiful it was!! p.s that skirt is amazing!!


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