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Days out guide: Eltham Palace
IT was a medieval Royal palace and a cutting-edge Art Deco home, now Eltham Palace is a great day out.
Hidden away in suburbia, English Heritage now looks after the house and gardens, which were listed in the Domesday Book in 1083.
It was home to royalty including Edward IV, who has re-emerged in the public consciousness in The White Queen. The young Henry VIII famously met the Dutch philosopher Erasmus at Eltham Palace.
The house was a ruin by the 16th century, but was restored, and then transformed into a stylish modern home by the rich Courtauld family in the 1930s, though the medieval Great Hall remains.
Curator Annie Kemkaran-Smith described Eltham Palace’s allure said: “People enjoy the odd pairing of a medieval great hall and a fantastic 1930s home next to it. That’s the unique thing about it. I cannot think of anywhere else you will find that.
“A lot of people really enjoy coming to see the 1930s interiors. I cannot think of any other place in London where you can look around a 1930s home. There are lots of hotels.”
She added: “Eltham is really a shining example of what the Art Deco style is all about – what people could do.”
The house is a popular filming destinations and David Suchet, who has often filmed Poirot there, even recorded the audio tour.
Events at the house, which also has picturesque gardens, include a twice-yearly Art Deco fair in the Great Hall and Time Travellers kids events.
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Annie said: “When people come into Eltham Palace, they walk over the moat and an old fifteenth-century bridge. I am told it is the oldest working bridge in London.
“People are walking across an important part of the house and often don’t realise it.
The Courtauld’s home videos
A series of home videos of social gatherings and parties were taken by the Courtauld family and provide a glimpse into their lives.
Annie said: “It is really evocative of the era when see the five to ten minute films.
“That’s really fascinating for people to see. It is all in colour too, which is quite unusual.”
The Lemur’s cage
Annie said: “The Courtaulds has a ring tailed lemur as a family pet and it had its own beautiful quarters.”
Eltham Palace is open 10am to 5pm Sunday to Wednesday. Entry costs £9.90 adults, £5.90 children. Go to English-heritage.org.uk
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