Thursday, October 19, 2017

Eltham Palace: Medieval Meets Art Deco

🇬🇧 Great British Design Inspiration 
London: A Visit to Eltham Palace and Gardens 

Entrance Hall (1936). Elegant glazed dome bathes room in light.

Medieval masterpiece 
Eltham Palace is located a few miles from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. The land was first settled in 1086 and became a Royal residence in 1307. Jousting tournaments and lavish banquets were held here, and the property was occupied by the Crown into the 16th century. Edward IV, who frequented Eltham more than any other monarch, oversaw the construction of the Great Hall in the 1470s. But Henry VIII, who spent his childhood here, preferred Hampton Court and its proximity to the Thames. Charles I was the last king to visit Eltham in the mid-1600s. Then the property began a sad decline, eventually falling into ruin.

Fast-forward to the 20th century
In 1933, Virginia and Stephen Courtauld leased the former Royal estate from the Crown and built a fashionable Art Deco house adjacent to the medieval Great Hall, which they restored as a music room.

Eltham Palace and Gardens is now an English Heritage property open to the public. Our friend David Thomas suggested a visit and graciously served as guide. Thank you, David!

Once inside, we heard a docent-led talk in the Great Hall, then wandered through the two-story house on a self-guided tour. Stepping into the light-filled Entrance Hall (1936), with period furnishings and details, and the vast Great Hall, are worth a visit alone.

From the outside, you'd never guess the house features Scandinavian modern and Art Deco design throughout. Room after room of stylish, elegant fittings and artwork, much like an opulent ocean liner of the 1930s. Outside, acres of mature trees and plants surround the property, with various flowers in bloom on this warm, spring day (26 May 2017). Garden walls, moat and bridges from Eltham's royal past remain, with spectacular views at every turn.

English Heritage's website contains a detailed history of Eltham here.

We always seek out classic architecture, gardens and design when traveling — inspiration for our creative work. Take a look at a few of our photos of Eltham Palace and Gardens below.


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Photos by Emilie Pallos and Vic Pallos

• Desktop / laptop view: Click any photo in this blog for a complete slide show •

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Great Hall (1470s), originally part of the Medieval palace.
Minstrels' Gallery overlooking the Great Hall. With David Thomas.
The Great Hall's hammerbeam oak ceiling was once partly gilded.
David has sung the role of Polifemo in Handel's "Acis and Galatea" here.
House: Sleek Art Deco fireplace in dining room.
House: Leather map features the Woolwich Coat of Arms.
A nod to a former Palace resident.
House: View of the motor court from the first floor.
"Jonggy," Virginia Courtauld's pet lemur, in his own climate-controlled suite in the house.
Stuffed toy for sale in Eltham gift shop!
Mrs. Courtauld's exquisite bath (1936). No expense spared for the lady of the house.
South Lawn. 15th century south moat wall still stands.
Black Tudor bricks in an "X" pattern indicate a Royal residence.
More Tudor bricks, smaller than modern bricks.
Edward IV's 15th century moat bridge.
Rock garden.
Lime tree planted by the Courtaulds. Great Hall on far right.
Left: 15th century Great Hall (constructed of Kentish ragstone) blends harmoniously with 1936 addition.
Vesta, Roman goddess of hearth, greets visitors to the house.