Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How the Other Half Lives

On the advice of a local in Kent, we took the bus from Chislehurst Caves to Eltham Palace instead of Windsor. It turned out to be one of the most interesting afternoons we’ve spent out on our travels. Eltham Palace was an attraction included with our London Pass and since we had never heard of it, we figured we might as well give it a go. It certainly would not have been on many tourists’ lists of things to see. This 1930’s Art Deco mansion was built by the Courtauld family, next to the original Eltham Palace, the childhood home of Henry VIII.

Upon entrance to the house, you are asked to wear shoe covers, in order to keep the floors as clean as possible. It looks like you can no longer take photos inside the mansion either, but luckily, that wasn’t the rule when I visited, so I took plenty. Eltham Palace is an amazing piece of history that is a bit out of the way for most travelers, but if you plan ahead and figure out how to get their on the train, you should have no problems finding it. You certainly won’t be disappointed you made the effort. The house is amazing and the gardens are gorgeous as well. Admission costs £9.30/£5.60 for adults and children and includes an audio tour, which can also be taken in other languages.

The Courtaulds were so wealthy that they had a lemur as a pet and completely revamped the gardens. Stephen Courtauld raised orchids in greenhouses, while Virginia turned her attention to raising roses. You can enjoy the gardens on a fine day by bringing a picnic or strolling through them after a visit to the tea room.

The old school elegance and opulence is apparent in every detail of the palace and it’s no wonder that it’s a popular venue for weddings. Originally a gift to King Edward II, it was often used for Christmas celebrations. There was certainly no shortage of room for revelers. The great room is the only standing room of the true Eltham Palace and it is incorporated in the newly built mansion. It even has a moat with a drawbridge! You should definitely add this to your must-see list on your next visit to London or make it a day trip if you call The Great Smoke home.
The Great Hall  

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