Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Eltham Palace

Eltham palace was built by a 14th century Bishop of Durham, then ceded to the crown. Richard II built the bridge over the moat, Edward IV built the Great Hall, Henry VIII spent much of his childhood there. Later it fell into dis-use, eclipsed by later, grander royal palaces. Charles I was the last king to visit. By the time Turner dropped by with his sketch pad only the Great Hall was still standing- and in use as a barn. The Ministry of Works effected repairs- and in the 1930s sold the lease to Stephen and Stephanie Courtauld- who inserted a fanciful Deco mansion, put underfloor heating in the Great Hall and used it for cocktail parties. Bombs fell in the 1940s, burning holes in the hammerbeam roof and singeing the minstrels gallery. After the war the government moved back in and used the place as a military training facility. Servicemen scratched their names and dates on Yorkist stone. Then came another phase of restoration- which returned the building to a simulacrum of its Deco glory days. Money was no object. I got told off for walking on a replica carpet that cost English Heritage £45,000.

I love the medieval and I love Deco. Here the two exist side by side- with just a wheelchair friendly ramp between them.

A view across the moat- with the Great Hall on the left and the 30's Palace on the right.

The circular hall of the new house. That's the carpet I trespassed on. The wall decorations are in inlaid wood.

Vesta, goddess of the hearth, welcomes you to Stephen and Stephanie's lovely home.
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