Eltham Palace – where Henry VIII meets Art Deco

Eltham Palace was a complete surprise. When I heard that Henry VIII grew up there, I expected gothic arches and rolling heads. But I walked through the door and got smacked in the head by Art Deco.

The childhood home of the un-lucky in love Henry was bought by the Courtauld family (as in the Courtauld Gallery) who built an astonishing extension. The first room you walk into (pictured above) is straight out of an Agatha Christie. Curved walls, inlaid wooden panels depicting yachts and Roman soldiers, a domed glass studded ceiling and perfectly white furniture. Sigh.

The house just gets better from there. As a curious mix of institution-esque corridors, exquisite art deco details and fat chunks of Henry’s childhood. Who dosen’t want to have a bathroom with a curved gold tiled wall, a dining room with pink leather chairs and then be able to walk down to the medieval banqueting hall.

But as always when it comes to British history, there is something so bizarre that it eclipses all else. In the case of Eltham Palace that would be the family ring-tailed Lemur. They bought the Lemur (named Mah-Jongg, or Jonggy for short) from Harrods – you know, as you do. It roamed free throughout the house and even had a special bamboo ladder built between the floors so that Jonggy could make a quick exit. Only downside was the ‘charming’ habit that Jonggy had of biting people – an act which once delayed an adventurers journey to the South Pole after the bite got infected.

Oh the English.

Eltham Palace is only a 20 minute train ride from London Bridge station, and if you have an Art Fund card entry is totally free!

4 Comments

  1. Linda
    April 24, 2013 / 3:32 pm

    When I was in the 1st yr of Primary School we were told about Eltham Palace (I lived in New Eltham just down the road) I thought they meant they meant the Palace Cinema which was in Eltham High Street, I imagined the King or Elizabeth 1st walking down the aisles!

    • April 24, 2013 / 5:53 pm

      That’s amazing!!!

  2. April 24, 2013 / 9:42 pm

    It is quite a surprise no? I’ve been using my art fund card to give direction to explore london for about a year now.

    • April 25, 2013 / 7:35 am

      It’s the best way to do it. I can’t believe some of the discounts the Art card gets me…should be called the Culture fund.