Fashion Tourist Attractions Travel

Eltham Palace

Eltham, London (Greenwich Borough) is a strange place to find a palace. But nevertheless, you’ll find this hidden historical beauty. Eltham Palace is an unoccupied royal residence, owned by the Crown Estate that was handed over to English Heritage in the mid-1990s.

Historically the palace was given to Edward II, and was the favourite residence of Henry IV.  With the restoration of Greenwich Palace, combined with the English Civil War, Eltham fell out of use altogether and was bestowed away.

Nothing of major note occurred until the 1930s when Stephen and Virginia Courtauld leased it, renovating the Great Hall and revolutionising the interior. This is why Eltham Palace is famous today. It’s a great example of Art Deco and is said to be “a masterpiece in modern design.” It was also one of the first examples of Swedish interior design in England. After the Courtauld’s moved away, they gave Eltham to the Royal Army Educational Corps who had the property until English Heritage.

This is hands down the most unique property that I have ever visited. When we were downstairs, I noticed a strange little ladder and hatch that led upstairs. It was only when we arrived upstairs that we learned that the Courtauld’s had a pet lemur named Mah-Jongg and that was his special path.

Sam is direly skeptical of pretty much everything. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, he’s not religious, he doesn’t believe in soul mates. (Just trying to paint a picture for you.) I walked into Virginia Courtauld’s bedroom and shivered, feeling immediately odd; as Sam simultaneously exclaimed, “Wow. It feels really strange in here, doesn’t it? An atmosphere or something…” How crazy that a room affected us both like that! It was only later, when I was reading up about Eltham on the train back to our house that I stumbled across an article naming Eltham as one of Britain’s “haunted” households. Spppoooookkkkkyyyy!

Eltham Palace, London, England
Eltham Palace, London, England
 The fabulous entrance hall.
Eltham Palace, London, England
Sitting area inside the entrance hall.
Eltham Palace, London, England
 Domed ceiling in the entrance hall.
Eltham Palace, London, England
Built in phone booth off of the entrance hall. I was placing a collect call to the future.
Eltham Palace, London, England
Look guys! I’m floating!
Eltham Palace, London, England
Stairway up to the second floor.
Eltham Palace, London, England
Dress: Miss Selfridge. Shoes: Nine West. Bag: Longchamp.
Eltham Palace, London, England
The pet lemur ladder from the first to second floors.
Eltham Palace, London, England
 A quick dance in the Great Hall. My LAMDA historical dance teacher would be proud….
Eltham Palace, London, England
The 3rd largest hammerbeam roof in England.
Eltham Palace, London, England
 Where there’s a dress up box, you’ll find me.
Eltham Palace, London, England
And Sam giving his finest gout-ridden Henry VIII.
Eltham Palace, London, England
The detail in Virginia Courtauld’s bathroom.
Eltham Palace, London, England
Every room had a clock built in to the wall. I was fascinated by them. How are they wound?
Eltham Palace, London, England
Eltham Palace, London, England
Eltham Palace, London, England
The gardens are beautiful and tranquil. Unfortunately it was getting close to closing time otherwise we would have sat there with our respective books for awhile.
Eltham Palace, London, England
A moat. Signs around it keep warning people of the “deep water”. But I wonder how deep it really is. Anyone fancy a swim to help me find out?
Eltham Palace, London, England
At first, I gracefully meandered through the garden pretending it was mine…
Eltham Palace, London, England
…only to then do a traditional Midsummer around-the-pond dance.

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  • GB

    Love, I like this post very much, as this mansion is super strange. HOW ARE THE CLOCKS WOUND? Perhaps that was the lemur’s job. Also, what is this bit with DIY dress up in English museums? Are you supposed to just put on the clothes and then leave them? Or can you casually walk around the museum in them? If so, I will my own Henry VIII costume next time I visit. xoxo

    • How ARE the clocks wound?! I am glad that you find this as necessary a question as I did. There’s always a kid’s section at all these British Heritage Foundation places and there’s always a dress up box there. But the clothing is huge, therefore I think the true nature of the dress up box is for adults to participate as well. Imagine how terrifying it would be to be a guest at this house and then all the sudden a lemur appeared out of a trapdoor? I completely forgot to mention that a bomb was dropped on the Great Hall of the mansion during the Blitz, which is another cool fact about this weird place.

  • sophie warner

    Ah this is on my places to visit. I’m off to Greenwich on Sunday so maybe I can persuade my boyfriend to do a detour!

  • I have never heard of this place, it looks very interesting and unique. Walking into that entrance hall would feel like stepping right back into the 1930’s, the art deco design is amazing! Also I love your dress, it is so suitable for the surroundings! The photo of you walking up the stairs is gorgeous! It looks very empty, was there no one else there?

    • Sam had never heard of it either! I met someone coincidentally the next day who lives round the corner for it and she had never been in either! It is pretty tucked away though. There was hardly anyone there. Maybe 5 other people in the whole place? To be fair, we went really late in the day so maybe it was busier earlier on! x

  • Moat! That water looks disgusting though, I’ll pass. That dress is perfect on you!

  • Fab photos! This place looks amazing, you’re giving me a long list of places to visit in the SE! Looks like you had a lovely day out! 🙂 x

  • I love a good creepy room!

  • I love spooky buildings! 🙂

  • Ahh! SO cool!! I love anything that has to with the historic royals. It’s always neat to see how to the other half lived back in the day.

    • Definitely! Having money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness but it can buy some pretty awesome things! x

  • Love the costumes! And that dress, adorable!

  • Julie Maguda

    You look great in that red dress. I love the dress up area! I also laughed at Sam’s Henry VIII face! Too funny!

  • amitygardens

    I love that dress. You guys are hilarious.

    • Thank you! We were trying to be really sneaky about the costumes because they were in a dress up box. But it wasn’t labeled per se…. x

  • TheJessaOlsonBlog

    I love all your pictures.. I want to go with you on all your adventures.

  • Wow, I am obsessed with that architecture and design! So cool! But I think I’m more obsessed that they had a pet lemur… and named it Mah Jongg. Omg.

    • Right?! They didn’t have any children and they had loads of money, so from what I’ve gathered they threw some awesome parties, and were also mildly eccentric! x

  • I love your dress! You always go on the best adventures around the UK

  • Amanda, what an amazing place! I love that built in phone and your dress is phenomenal!!

  • Gianni Washington

    What a beautiful place! Even the bathroom tiles are lovely.

  • I want to visit!! The palace looks amazing and somewhat spooky! The grounds are so gorgeous – if only you had time for some laying in the grass reading your books!

    • Completely my fault that we didn’t budget in the extra time, and were there until they closed. I just didn’t expect Eltham to be as awesome as it was. And Sam’s lived in England his whole life, over ten years of that in London, and he had no idea it even existed! x

  • Hopefully not!!!! The facade is the restored 14th century building and then the owners in the late 20s/early 30s gave it a complete Swedish/art deco overhaul. The combination is odd but definitely interesting! x

  • He was making some amazing faces in that costume. I have so many hilarious snaps of him in it. And thank you! xx

  • Em

    Gah! I love love anything Art Deco! Swoon! I don’t dance, but I’d probably be dancing across ponds there, too 🙂

  • I love exploring historical places. I am fascinated with history…when I am immersed in it time could fly by and I wouldn’t be aware. I would love to visit this place when I return to England.

    • And England’s done such a good job about preserving a lot of things for the public that you can get really immersed in it! x

  • Country Girl’s Daybook

    Art Deco rocks… I love your dress too!

    Country Girl’s Daybook

  • Crumbling bridge, a moat, a castle, a dress up box AND art deco stuff? I am SO there! Also, Sam’s gout-ridden Henry VIII made my DAY! 🙂

  • I also have a special path for my lemur. You don’t?!

    • I mean, I do, but it’s far less exciting since he only has a two rooms to choose from…. 😉 x

  • Those pictures of you are stunning. The one of you inside, doing the little leap is really quite breathtaking. Sam captures some really great moments. A gout ridden Henry and he does it so well in a still shot and everything. You can really see the pain in his eyes from the gout.. LOL

    • Ah thanks Haley! I have some even more fabulous photos of him, but he likes to put a cap on how many photos appear of him/not the super silly ones, so those will have to forever be for me. Ha! xx

  • its so unexpected! pretty, pretty. same with that DRESS!

  • oh those GROUNDS! want to go back with me for another frolic in a few weeks?

    • can I join you guys???

    • It’s so lovely! I was thinking about how happy I am that you get to visit Jon in England soon and then thought how strange it is that blogging connects people so personally!

  • That dress is amazing! I’m taken by the pet lemur though and his ladder. Adorbs.

    • Thank you! How awesome would it be to have a pet lemur?! And for him to have his own secret pathways, etc? (Amazing!) x

  • The moat looks so pretty. Also, I love your dress!

  • Eltham palace looks cool – sadly it’s been on my wishlist for all together too long! (Sidenote: I need a pet lemur ladder…)

    • Get yourself there! You’ll love it! (Or you could get a panda and a slide for your home instead 🙂 ) x

  • Wow. This place looks amazing and so very close to me! You’d never guess Eltham is hiding something like this. The city centre is scary and there are loads of youths. You know how I feel about youths. Also, I love your dress and your fringe is back to making me jealous and wanting mine again. Damnit.

    • I know. Eltham centre is kind of….gross… I also didn’t see the best side of it as I was starving when I got off the t rain and insisted that I get french fries from McDonald’s before going anywhere. Eltham McDonald’s is NOT the place to be. On the bright side it’s close to a street called “King’s Butts” which made me laugh. Viva la fringe! (And thanks) x

  • gracey

    Wow,what a gorgeous place…and you are so dressed for it…….so many amazing details….

  • So much to say about all this: I love the idea of a pet lemur, that’s pretty awesome! love your dress! those pictures of you guys dressed up in period clothing are so cute. and how crazy that you guys were both affected by the atmosphere of the place without knowing it was part of those haunted places in England!

    • I also love the idea of a pet lemur! And thank you! I’ve never really experienced anything vaguely spooky like that before… it was strange! x

  • Interesting! How weird that you both felt a weird atmosphere in that room.. and especially Sam!! Maybe he will start to believe in ghosts 😉

    • He just laughed it off but who knows… maybe this will spark a lifetime of paranormal research! 😉 x

  • Miu

    You fit perfectly in there with your dress! 🙂