Fancy a day out near London?
Eltham Palace, an English Heritage venue which is also free for Art Fund members, is an excellent place to visit.
Henry VIII spent his childhood at Eltham, although you wouldn't think so by looking at the building which is a newer version built by the Courtauld family in the 1930s. In fact, an original manor house was turned into a moated bishop's palace in the 13th Century and by the 14th Century became one of the largest royal palaces able to cope with the 800 or so people who travelled round as part of the Tudor Court and was regularly frequented up to the reign of James I. The enormous Great Hall built for Edward IV in the 1470s is still in tact, it is 30.8m x 10.9m and has a false hammerbeam roof.
In 1930s millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld engaged Architects Seely and Paget to design an Art Deco house which incorporated and restored the great hall as the site had gone to ruin over the years. The interiors are fabulous but I was unable to take any photos so do look at the website. The highlights are the Swedish designed entrance hall, the dining room and Virginia's gold and onyx bathroom.
Mah-Jongg, the Courtauld's pet lemur had it's own room on the first floor which had a hatch to the downstairs flower room and had the run of the house.
The gardens are beautiful with twists and turns throughout the 19 acres across the moat.
Nearby was a tiltyard where jousting used to take place. It's presence is still preserved in the name of the road - Tiltyard Approach.
A few more rooms have recently been opened to the public including a Map Room and a deluxe air raid shelter.
There's a new cafe too. I must go back and test it and get some better photos!
Cheerio for now!