Once you enter the grounds of Eltham Palace, you’ll find it hard to believe you’re still in Zone 3 of central London. It’s by far Greenwich’s best kept secret and well worth a jaunt if you want to escape the city and enjoy the palace’s serene gardens and beautiful architecture.
Originally a moated medieval palace, the place is steeped in history and over the years has served various purposes. In the 1400s Henry VIII even grew up there with his siblings, but more recently it was home to a 1930’s multi-millionaire, making the palace a complete mash-up of different eras. Stephen and Virginia Courtauld acquired the lease in 1933 and renovated the house to suit the art deco tastes of the time. Thankfully they kept the original great hall in all its glory.
Whilst the building is beautiful, my favourite part was exploring the gardens surrounding the palace. The grounds are very well kept and you’ll find lots of little hidden away areas to explore – it has a bit of a secret garden feel to it. There’s also a pond with some of the biggest Koi Carps I’ve ever seen in my life, a beautiful rock garden, as well as acres of fields full of wildflowers. It’s safe to say there are definitely lots of picnic spots!
Eltham Palace has a brilliant guided tour you can listen to through a headset (included in your ticket price). I’m not usually one for using these as I like to explore at my own pace, but the one at Eltham was particularly brilliant.
English Heritage really have done a fantastic job and I’d highly recommend to a visit if you ever get the chance!
Top tips //
- Take a picnic! We wanted to go for a pub lunch afterwards, but couldn’t really find anywhere nearby that looked decent. There’s a restaurant at the front of the palace housed in a pretty greenhouse. Plus, there’s also a much quieter eating area in the orangery (at the back of the great hall) where you can get cakes, scones and hot and cold drinks.
- Go explore the gardens and surroundings. As mentioned above, there are lots of little hidden alleyways. You don’t have to stick rigidly to the guide.
- Speaking of guides, make sure you get a headset and listen to the tour as you walk around. It’s probably the best one I’ve listened too. Very interesting and not too long either.
- Make sure you visit the basement that was used as a WW2 bunker. History geeks will be in heaven!
- Address: Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, London, SE9 5QE
- Tickets: £15 including Gift Aid. Free if you’re a member of English Heritage.
- Website: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/eltham-palace-and-gardens/
- Transport: The nearest train station is Mottingham. Trains run from London Bridge roughly every 10 minutes. From there it’s about a 10-minute walk. Alternatively, you can also get the 124, 126, 160 or 161 bus. If you’re coming by car there is a large car park, but use the postcode SE9 5NP if using a Sat Nav.