Eltham Palace
Eltham Palace is a large house in Eltham, within the London Borough of Greenwich, South East London, England; it is currently owned by English Heritage and open to the public. It has been said the internally Art Deco house is a "masterpiece of modern design".

Historic palace
The original palace was given to Edward II in 1305 by the Bishop of Durham, Anthony Bek, and used as a royal residence from the 14th to the 16th century. According to one account the incident which inspired Edward III's foundation of the Order of the Garter took place here. As the favourite palace of Henry IV it played host to Manuel II Palaiologos, the only Byzantine emperor ever to visit England, from December 1400 to January 1401, with a joust being given in his honour. There is still a jousting tilt yard. Edward IV built a Great Hall in the 1470s, a young Henry VIII back when he was known as Prince Henry also grew up here; it was here that he met and impressed the scholar Erasmus. Tudor courts often used the palace for their Christmas celebrations. With the grand rebuilding of Greenwich Palace, which was more easily reached by river, Eltham was less frequented, save for the hunting in its enclosed parks, easily reached from Greenwich, "as well enjoyed, the Court lying at Greenwiche, as if it were at this house it self". The deer remained plentiful in the Great Park, of 596 acres (2.4 km 2), the Little, or Middle Park, of 333 acres (1.3 km 2), and the Home Park, or Lee Park, of 336 acres (1.4 km 2). In the 1630s, by which time the palace was no longer used by the royal family, Sir Anthony van Dyck was given the use of a suite of rooms as a country retreat. During the English Civil War, the parks were denuded of trees and deer. John Evelyn saw it 22 April 1656: "Went to see his Majesty's house at Eltham; both the palace and chapel in miserable ruins, the noble wood and park destroyed by Rich the rebel". The palace never recovered. Eltham was bestowed by Charles II on John Shaw and"in its ruinous condition, reduced to Edward IV's Great Hall, the former buttery, called "Court House", a bridge across the moat and some walling"remained with Shaw's descendants as late as 1893. The current house was built in the 1930s on the site of the original, and incorporates its Great Hall, which boasts the third-largest hammerbeam roof in England. Fragments of the walls of other buildings remain visible around the gardens, and the 15th century bridge still crosses the moat. A little known fact about Eltham Palace is the reputed existence of at least three escape tunnels, which emerge in various parts of Eltham. One used to exit in the garden of the vicarage, which was adjacent to Eltham Baths (now demolished), and another exits in Avery Hill Park. This can be found by entering the park from the Southend Crescent gate, next to the church, and walking about 40 yards (37 m). On your left, you will see the remains of a brick construction. The third tunnel exits in the grounds of a former farm, just up the road from the palace.

Modern house
In 1933 Sir Stephen and Lady Courtauld (née Virginia Peirano) acquired the lease of the palace site and restored the Great Hall (adding a minstrels' gallery to it) while building an elaborate home, internally in the Art Deco style. The dramatic Entrance Hall was created by the Swedish designer Rolf Engströmer. Light floods in from a spectacular glazed dome, highlighting blackbean veneer and figurative marquetry. Stephen was the younger brother of industrialist and art collector Samuel Courtauld, founder of the Courtauld Institute of Art (his study in the new house features a statuette version of The Sentry, from a Manchester war memorial, by Charles Sargeant Jagger, who was - like Stephen - a member of the Artists' Rifles). The Courtaulds' pet lemur had a special room on the upper floor of the house which had a hatch to the downstairs flower room; he had the run of the house. The Courtaulds remained at Eltham until 1944 (during which time Stephen firewatched from the Great Hall roof, with the palace near the docks at Woolwich, a prime bombing target - in September 1940, the roof of the Great Hall was badly damaged by a bomb). In 1944 they moved to Scotland then to Southern Rhodesia, giving the palace to the Royal Army Educational Corps in March 1945; the corps remained there until 1992. In 1995 English Heritage assumed management of the palace, and in 1999 completed major repairs and restorations of the interiors and gardens. The palace is open to the public and can be hired for weddings and other functions. Public transport is available at the nearby Mottingham railway station or Eltham railway station, both a short walk from the palace, and there is free parking on site. There are also a café and gift shop.

Many films and television programmes have been filmed at Eltham Palace, including:
  • Bright Young Things
  • I Capture the Castle
  • High Heels and Low Lifes
  • The Gathering Storm
  • Home Front
  • Any Questions
  • The History of Romantic Love
  • This Morning
  • Antiques Roadshow
  • The Truth
  • The 200 Year House
  • Brideshead Revisited
  • Hustle
  • Gucci by Gucci perfume commercial featuring James Franco
  • Parachute , 2010 music video by Cheryl Cole
  • Fry and Laurie: Reunited

Eltham Palace is listed on English Heritage's list of "most haunted places." The ghost of a former staff member is said to have given tours of the palace when the palace should have been empty.


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