Eltham Palace

Last updated

Eltham Palace
Eltham Palace (25098625346).jpg
Greater London UK location map 2.svg
Red pog.svg
Eltham Palace
Location within Greater London
England location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Eltham Palace
Eltham Palace (England)
General information
Architectural style Art Deco interior
Location Eltham
London, SE9
United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°26′50″N00°02′53″E / 51.44722°N 0.04806°E / 51.44722; 0.04806 Coordinates: 51°26′50″N00°02′53″E / 51.44722°N 0.04806°E / 51.44722; 0.04806
Current tenants English Heritage
Owner Crown Estate
Website
www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/eltham-palace-and-gardens

Eltham Palace is a large house in Eltham ( /ˈɛltəm/ ) in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, in south-east London, England. It is an unoccupied former royal residence owned by the Crown Estate, and managed since 1995 by English Heritage which restored the building in 1999 and opened it to the public. [1] The interior of the Art Deco house has been critiqued as a "masterpiece of modern design". [2]

Contents

History (1300–1900)

The original palace was given to Edward II in 1305 by the Bishop of Durham, Anthony Bek, and used as a royal residence from the 14th to the 16th century. According to one account, the incident which inspired Edward III's foundation of the Order of the Garter took place here. As the favourite palace of Henry IV, it played host to Manuel II Palaiologos, the only Byzantine emperor ever to visit England, from December 1400 to January 1401, with a joust being given in his honour. There is still a jousting tilt yard. Edward IV built the Great Hall in the 1470s, and a young Henry VIII when he was known as Prince Henry also grew up here; it was here in 1499 that he met and impressed the scholar Erasmus, introduced to him by Thomas More. Erasmus described the occasion: [3]

I had been carried off by Thomas More, who had come to pay me a visit on an estate of Mountjoy’s (the house of Lord Mountjoy near Greenwich) where I was staying, to take a walk by way of diversion as far as the nearest town (Eltham). For there all the royal children were being educated, Arthur alone excepted, the eldest son. When we came to the hall, all the retinue was assembled; not only that of the palace, but Mountjoy’s as well. In the midst stood Henry, aged nine, already with certain royal demeanour; I mean a dignity of mind combined with a remarkable courtesy…. More with his companion Arnold saluted Henry (the present King of England) and presented to him something in writing. I, who was expecting nothing of the sort, had nothing to offer; but I promised that somehow, at some other time, I would show my duty towards him. At the time I was slightly indignant with More for having given me no warning, especially because the boy, during dinner, sent me a note inviting something from my pen. I went home, and though the Muses, from whom I had lived apart so long, were unwilling, I finished a poem in three days.

Tudor courts often used the palace for their Christmas celebrations. With the grand rebuilding of Greenwich Palace, which was more easily reached by river, [4] Eltham was less frequented, save for the hunting in its enclosed parks, easily reached from Greenwich, "as well enjoyed, the Court lying at Greenwiche, as if it were at this house it self". The deer remained plentiful in the Great Park, of 596 acres (2.4 km2), the Little, or Middle Park, of 333 acres (1.3 km2), and the Home Park, or Lee Park, of 336 acres (1.4 km2). [5] In the 1630s, by which time the palace was no longer used by the royal family, Sir Anthony van Dyck was given the use of a suite of rooms as a country retreat. During the English Civil War, the parks were denuded of trees and deer. John Evelyn saw it 22 April 1656: "Went to see his Majesty's house at Eltham; both the palace and chapel in miserable ruins, the noble wood and park destroyed by Rich the rebel". The palace never recovered. Eltham was bestowed by Charles II on John Shaw and in its ruinous condition— reduced to Edward IV's Great Hall, the former buttery, called "Court House", a bridge across the moat and some walling—remained with Shaw's descendants as late as 1893. [5]

The current house was built in the 1930s on the site of the original, and incorporates its Great Hall, which boasts the third-largest hammerbeam roof in England. [6] Fragments of the walls of other buildings remain visible around the gardens, and the 15th-century bridge still crosses the moat.

Eltham Palace today (1930s–present)

In 1933, Stephen Courtauld and his wife Virginia "Ginie" Courtauld (née Peirano) acquired a 99-year lease on the palace site and commissioned Seely & Paget to restore the hall and create a modern home attached to it. Seely and Paget added a minstrel's gallery and a timber screen to the hall, while creating a design for the main house inspired by Christopher Wren's work at Hampton Court Palace and Trinity College Cambridge. [7]

The home was decorated internally in the Art Deco style. The dramatic Entrance Hall was created by the Swedish designer Rolf Engströmer. Light floods in from a spectacular glazed dome, highlighting blackbean veneer and figurative marquetry. [8] Other rooms in the house, including the dining room, drawing room and Virginia Courtauld’s circular bedroom and adjoining bathroom, were the work of the Italian designer Piero Malacrida de Saint-August, while Seely and Paget designed many of the bedrooms. [7] Keen gardeners, the Courtaulds also substantially modified and improved the grounds and gardens. [9]

Stephen was a younger brother of Samuel Courtauld, an industrialist, art collector and founder of the Courtauld Institute of Art. His study in the new house features a statuette version of The Sentry, copied from a Manchester war memorial, by Charles Sargeant Jagger, who was - like Stephen - a member of the Artists' Rifles during the First World War.

The Courtaulds' pet lemur, Mah-Jongg, had a special room on the upper floor of the house which had a hatch to the downstairs flower room; he had the run of the house. The Courtaulds remained at Eltham until 1944. During the earlier part of the war, Stephen Courtauld was a member of the local Civil Defence Service. In September 1940 he was on duty on the Great Hall roof as a fire watcher when it was badly damaged by German incendiary bombs. In 1944, the Courtauld family moved to Scotland then to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), giving the palace to the Royal Army Educational Corps in March 1945; the Corps remained there until 1992.

In 1995, English Heritage assumed management of the palace, and in 1999, completed major repairs and restorations of the interiors and gardens. [9]

The palace and its garden are open to the public and can be hired for weddings and other functions. Most of the rooms have been restored to resemble their appearance during the Courtaulds' occupation (although it is uncertain how some of them were furnished) but some have been left as they were when the palace was used by the Educational Corps.

Public transport is available at the nearby Mottingham railway station or Eltham railway station, both a short walk from the palace.

Filming

Many films and television programmes have been filmed at Eltham Palace, including:

Eltham Palace.jpg
The north side of the palace

Haunting

Eltham Palace is listed on English Heritage's list of "most haunted places." The ghost of a former staff member is said to have given tours of the palace when the palace should have been empty. [10]

Related Research Articles

Hampton Court Palace historic royal palace in Richmond, Greater London

Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace in the borough of Richmond upon Thames, 12 miles south west and upstream of central London on the River Thames. Building of the palace began in 1515 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII. In 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the cardinal gave the palace to the King to check his disgrace; Henry VIII later enlarged it. Along with St James' Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many the King owned. The palace is currently in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II and the Crown.

Blackheath, London inner suburban area of South East London, England

Blackheath is a district of south-east London, England, straddling the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the London Borough of Lewisham. It has borders with parts of London hubs Lewisham and Greenwich and other borders with Lee, Kidbrooke and a small part of Deptford.

Royal Borough of Greenwich Royal borough in United Kingdom

The Royal Borough of Greenwich is a London borough in southeast London. Taking its name from the historic town of Greenwich, the London Borough of Greenwich was formed in 1965 by the London Government Act 1963. The new borough covered the former area of the Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich and part of the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich to the east. The local council is Greenwich London Borough Council which meets in Woolwich Town Hall. The council's offices are also based in Woolwich, the main urban centre in the borough.

Woolwich district in South East London, England

Woolwich is a district of southeast London, England, within the Royal Borough of Greenwich. It has been part of the London metropolitan area since the 19th century. In 1965, most of the former Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich became part of Greenwich Borough, of which it remains the administrative centre. The population of Woolwich was 84,959 in the 2011 census.

Greenwich town in south-east London, England

Greenwich is an area of South East London, England, centred 5.5 miles (8.9 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross. It is within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, to which it lends its name. Historically it was in the county of Kent for hundreds of years, then the County of London from 1889 to 1965.

Inigo Jones 16th/17th-century English architect

Inigo Jones was the first significant English architect in the early modern period, and the first to employ Vitruvian rules of proportion and symmetry in his buildings. As the most notable architect in England, Jones was the first person to introduce the classical architecture of Rome and the Italian Renaissance to Britain. He left his mark on London by his design of single buildings, such as the Queen's House which is the first building in England designed in a pure classical style, and the Banqueting House, Whitehall, as well as the layout for Covent Garden square which became a model for future developments in the West End. He made major contributions to stage design by his work as theatrical designer for several dozen masques, most by royal command and many in collaboration with Ben Jonson.

Eltham District of southeast London, England

Eltham is a district of southeast London, England, within the Royal Borough of Greenwich. It is 8.7 miles (14.0 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross, and is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London. It is within the historic county of Kent. The three wards of Eltham North, South and West have a total population of 35,459.

Sir Stephen Lewis Courtauld was an English philanthropist associated with geographical exploration, the restoration of Eltham Palace in south-east London, and cultural and education causes, both in the UK and in Southern Rhodesia, where he and his wife also donated to organisations promoting racial equality.

Fulham Palace Grade I listed historic house museum in London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, United Kingdom

Fulham Palace, in Fulham, London, previously in the former English county of Middlesex, is a Grade I listed building with medieval origins and was formerly the principal residence of the Bishop of London. The site was the country home of the bishops from at least the 11th century until 1973. Though still owned by the Church of England, the palace is managed by the Fulham Palace Trust and houses a museum of its long history as well as restored historic rooms. It also has a large botanic garden and is situated next to Bishops Park. The palace garden is listed Grade II* on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Tudor architecture architectural style

The Tudor architectural style is the final development of Medieval architecture in England, during the Tudor period (1485–1603) and even beyond, and also the tentative introduction of Renaissance architecture to England. It is generally not used to refer to the whole period of the Tudor dynasty (1485–1603), but to the style used in buildings of some prestige in the period roughly between 1500 and 1560. It followed the Late Gothic Perpendicular style and was superseded by Elizabethan architecture from about 1560 in domestic building of any pretensions to fashion. In the much more slow-moving styles of vernacular architecture "Tudor" has become a designation for styles like half-timbering that characterize the few buildings surviving from before 1485 and others from the Stuart period. In this form the Tudor style long retained its hold on English taste. Nevertheless, 'Tudor style' is an awkward style-designation, with its implied suggestions of continuity through the period of the Tudor dynasty and the misleading impression that there was a style break at the accession of James I in 1603, first of the House of Stuart.

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has over fifty parks and open spaces within its boundaries. They include:

Loseley Park Grade I listed historic house museum in Artington, United Kingdom

Loseley Park is a large Tudor manor house with later additions and modifications 3 miles (4.8 km) south-west of Guildford, Surrey, England in Artington close to the hamlet of Littleton. The estate was acquired by the direct ancestors of the current owners, the More-Molyneux, at the beginning of the 16th century. The house built for Sir William More is a Grade I listed building, the highest rank in architecture or heritage. Loseley appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Losele. It was held by Turald (Thorold) from Roger de Montgomery. Its domesday assets were: 2 hides. It had 4 ploughs, 5 acres (20,000 m2) of meadow. It rendered £3. The papers of Sir Thomas Cawarden, Master of the Revels were formerly preserved in the house. Loseley Park is still the residence of the More-Molyneux family and is open to the public. The 17th century tithe barn is available for weddings.

Old Royal Naval College architectural centrepiece of Maritime Greenwich, a World Heritage Site in Greenwich, London

The Old Royal Naval College is the architectural centrepiece of Maritime Greenwich, a World Heritage Site in Greenwich, London, described by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as being of "outstanding universal value" and reckoned to be the "finest and most dramatically sited architectural and landscape ensemble in the British Isles". The site is managed by the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College, set up in July 1998 as a registered charity to "look after these magnificent buildings and their grounds for the benefit of the nation". The grounds and some of its buildings are open to visitors. The buildings were originally constructed to serve as the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich, now generally known as Greenwich Hospital, which was designed by Christopher Wren, and built between 1696 and 1712. The hospital closed in 1869. Between 1873 and 1998 it was the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

Paul Edward Paget British architect

Paul Edward Paget was the son of Henry Luke Paget, Bishop of Chester and Elmer Katie Hoare.

Jonathan Foyle British architectural historian

Jonathan Foyle is an architectural historian, broadcaster and advocate for heritage sites. He is also an artist.

Mah-Jongg or Jongy was a ring-tailed lemur who was owned by Virginia and Stephen Courtauld. Jongy was purchased at Harrods in 1923 and lived with the Courtaulds for fifteen years, accompanying the couple on their travels and changes of residence. Jongy died at Eltham Palace, Greenwich, in 1938.

The Old Court House house located off Hampton Court Green in Richmond upon Thames

The Old Court House is a Grade II* listed house located off Hampton Court Green in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames; its origins date back to 1536. The architect Sir Christopher Wren, who lived there from 1708 to 1723, was given a 50-year lease on the property by Queen Anne in lieu of overdue payments for his work on St Paul's Cathedral. The lease passed from Wren's son to his grandson. It was purchased from the Crown Estate in 1984.

Tudor Barn, Eltham

The Tudor Barn is a large brick barn in Eltham in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. It was built in 1525 by William Roper. The Ropers lived next door in a manor house in the centre of a moat for several years. William married Margaret More, the daughter of Thomas More, and one of the most learned women of sixteenth-century England. It is a Grade II* listed building.

Henry John Alexander Seely, 2nd Baron Mottistone was an architect whose work in the partnership of Seely & Paget included the interior of Eltham Palace in the Art Deco style, and the post-World War II restoration of a number of bomb-damaged buildings, such as houses in the Little Cloister, the London Charterhouse and the church of St John Clerkenwell.

Seely & Paget was the architectural partnership of John Seely, 2nd Baron Mottistone and Paul Edward Paget (1901-1985).

References

  1. "Unoccupied Royal Residences". The Royal Household. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  2. "Eltham Palace". LondonTown.com. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  3. Collected Works of Erasmus, Toronto University Press, volume 9, letter 1341A. The reference can be found also in R. W. Chambers, Thomas More, 1935, edn 1976, p. 70; E. E. Reynolds, Thomas More & Erasmus, 1965, p. 25, and The Field is Won, The Life and Death of St Thomas More, 1968, p. 35.
  4. "Through the benefite of the river, a seate of more commoditie", observed Lambarde, in his Perambulation of Kent 1573, noted by Walter Thornbury and Edward Walford, Old and New London: A Narrative of Its History, Its People and Its Places 1893:238.
  5. 1 2 Thornbury and Walford 1893:239.
  6. James Dowsing (3 June 2002). Forgotten Tudor palaces in the London area. London: Sunrise Press. ISBN   978-1-873876-15-2.
  7. 1 2 "The Partners: Seely and Paget". English Heritage. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  8. "Eltham Palace". prop a scene. 2000. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  9. 1 2 "The History of Eltham Palace and Gardens". English Heritage. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012.
  10. Copping, Jasper (27 June 2009). "English Heritage reveals most haunted sites". The Daily Telegraph . London. Retrieved 14 September 2011.