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Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace is a former royal palace in south-east England. Eltham, once rural, is now surrounded by the south-east London suburbs.

Eltham Palace History

The old de Vesci manor was rebuilt between 1295 and 1311 by Bishop Bek of Durham, who bequeathed it to Prince Edward, later Edward II, from whom it passed to Queen Isabella.

She made additions to it under the supervision of Michael of Canterbury. Before 1360 Edward III spent over £2500 on new buildings; by this time Eltham had a great hall, chambers and chapels for the king and queen, a court and a ‘long chamber’, all moated and walled.

Eltham remained popular with Richard II, who added a ‘dancing chamber’, an outer court and further accommodation.

Henry IV added new royal chambers fitted with stained glass and elaborate wooden ceilings, stretched over a cloister leading to his chapel, and in 1445Henry VI built an additional great hall and chambers for Queen Margaret. Edward IV, however, demolished and rebuilt much of the palace, and the principal remnant of royal building at Eltham is the Great Hall erected by him between 1475 and his death in 1483.

No evidence survives concerning its designers, although Thomas Jordan and Edmund Graveley were respectively the King’s chief mason and carpenter at the time. Henry VIII rebuilt the main chapel, added a ‘clerestoryed’ and embattled gallery and an embattled timber cloister.

Two 16th-century plans of the Tudor palace survive, which compensate somewhat for the ruinous and fragmentary state of the remains and enable the Tudor layout to be established. One plan (London, PRO) is signed by John Thorpe and dated 1590, the other (Hatfield House, Herts) is to the same scale but unsigned.

There were two irregular courts on different axes, c. 300×140 m, with an inner moated enclosure of c. 110×95 m, making Tudor Eltham about the same size as Hampton Court. The probably 15th-century stone bridge to the inner Great Court survives, with three angular, four-centred arches.

The walled court was aligned north–south and had brick angle towers. A large six-bay chapel measuring 36×13 m with flanking western stair-turrets projected into the court. A pentise and cloister connected the west end of the chapel to the royal apartments.

On the south side of the court stood the Great Hall of Edward IV and other chambers. South of this range were five irregular courts, the Great Kitchen and many other chambers.

The outer Green Court skewed east of the main axis and contained numerous apartments, including the Lord Chancellor’s, which may survive in part within an existing structure. A Parliamentary Survey of 1649 lists a ‘fair chapel’, hall and nearly 100 chambers in the inner court alone. Eltham was allowed to decay from this time.

The restored Great Hall measures 31×11 m, with a screens passage to the east and flanking square oriels to the west. The structure is brick with stone facing. Stepped buttresses divide the side walls into five bays, each with twin four-centred clerestory windows with Y tracery.

The oriel windows are similar but full height with embattled transoms; internally, they have blind panelling and stone vaults. The magnificent timber roof stands on embattled stone corbels. It follows the hammerbeam form, though unconventionally.

Moulded principals with hammerbeams, hammerposts, double butt-purlins and upward and downward wind braces create a rich effect with a minimum of applied decoration. The hammerposts have simple, embattled pendants. Thehall is a perfect example of late medieval English domestic architecture and has parallels in many Oxford and Cambridge colleges and in contemporary structures such as Crosby Hall, London.

Eltham Palace Visitor Information

Eltham Palace is a beautiful castle to explore both for its interior as for its exterior. It is the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in England. Its elegant room decorations, beautiful gardens and magnificent architecture makes Eltham Palace one of the most pleasant places to spend one day outside.

Visit the official website to find out more informatin about ticket prices and opening hours.

Eltham Palace Map&Location

Eltham Palace is located in southern London, at the following address: Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, London - SE9 5QE
Get help with directions using the map provided bellow:

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 Eltham Palace Photos

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Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace and garden

Eltham Palace bridge

Eltham Palace entrance

Eltham Palace garden
Eltham Palace yard
Eltham Palace interior