Visiting Eltham Palace: Art Deco London gem

Eltham Palace is a luxurious Art Deco home inside a medieval palace, a mix of styles making it one of the most fascinating buildings in London.

I found Eltham Palace when I was looking for Art Deco buildings in London, and discovered a lovely hidden gem.

Eltham Palace is worth visiting if you love architecture, interior design, and curious tales from British history.

It’s also a good idea for an activity outside of touristy central London, for those days when you need to get away from the crowds for a bit.

I really enjoyed my visit to Eltham Palace and would love to share my impressions with you in this post.

Eltham Palace tickets

You can visit the palace by booking an entry ticket online. A multimedia guide is included in the ticket price.

You can also have an expert guide show you around Eltham Palace on a private tour.

The Eltham Palace Private Tour includes round-trip transfer, and in-depth explanations about the history, the architecture, and the gardens around the palace.

If you choose to visit without a guided tour, this post is a guide to Eltham Palace that walks you through some of its best highlights.

The story of Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace is a medieval palace with a history as a royal residence, that dates back to the days of King Edward II (14th century).

Successive monarchs used it as their residence, but it was later neglected and by the 17th century, it was no longer a royal palace, but was used as a farm instead.

In 1933, Stephen and Virginia Courtauld, a millionaire couple, decided to buy the neglected palace, renovate it, and use it as their residential mansion.

It underwent comprehensive renovations that transformed it into an Art Deco masterpiece.

Quite a few of the historical features were preserved, so when you visit Eltham Palace today you see an aesthetically pleasing blend of ancient and modern.

What to see at Eltham Palace

There’s so much to see when you visit Eltham Palace: the architecture, the interior design, decorative items in each room, the Courtaulds’ art collection, technological innovations from the 1930s, and one pet lemur….

The Art Deco entrance hall

Entrance Hall - Eltham Palace Art Deco

Your visit to Eltham Palace starts when you enter through the entrance hall, which feels a bit like a stunning hotel lobby.

Take a few moments to appreciate the impact it makes. It was intended to be dramatic. This is where the family used to entertain their guests.

Its Art Deco style is evident in the clean lines and geometric shapes.

There’s a bright light coming in from the glass dome. The curved walls are decorated with scenes from Scandinavia and Italy. In the centre of the room, you’ll see an Art Deco circular rug and stylish period furniture.

Eltham Palace rooms

Go upstairs and pick up the multimedia guide that will lead you through the rooms and corridors of the palace. It’s quite easy to navigate. There are also large print texts in each room with more information.

Next, head to the room along the corridor to watch a quick intro film. It gives you a nice historical overview of the building.

After the intro film, you can start exploring the beautiful rooms in the palace.

Some of my favourite rooms at Eltham Palace

Virginia’s bedroom
Eltham Palace  Bedroom

Virginia and Stephen Courtauld had a spacious bedroom each, designed in very different styles.

Virginia’s Courtauld bedroom is especially beautiful and has some interesting details to notice, like the 1930s telephone by the bed.

The golden bathroom
Golden bathroom at Eltham Palace

One of the most flamboyant, opulent, and peculiar rooms in Eltham Palace is the golden bathroom.

Virginia Courtauld’s bathroom has golden mosaic tiles all over the walls and a statue of a Greek goddess above the bathtub. It’s as striking as it sounds.

The dining room
Eltham Palace Dining room

The dining room at Eltham Palace was used for family meals as well as large formal dinners. I loved its shiny aluminium leaf ceiling that creates a festive vibe.

It’s another great example of Art Deco style. Have a look at the fireplace and the beautifully decorated doors with geometric Greek motifs.

The Boudoir
The Boudoir at Eltham Palace

The Boudoir is a beautiful room that was used for entertaining friends and family members. The panelled walls create a warm atmosphere. I liked the elegant furniture and the deep blue carpet.

The map room

Next door to the Boudoir, I was pretty surprised by the small room called “the map room”.

That was where the Courtaulds would plan their travels and yacht trips.

The map room has hand-painted maps covering the walls like wallpaper and a desk with an old telephone and a typewriter.

The Great Hall at Eltham Palace

The Great Hall - Eltham Palace

This extraordinary part of the Eltham Palace complex has a completely different style from the rest of the rooms.

It dates back to the 1470s when it was a space for dining and entertainment for Edward IV.

The Great Hall was restored by the Courtaulds’ architects in the 1930s. They made an effort to preserve the original medieval style, with an impressive oak roof and stained glass windows.

You can visit the Great Hall downstairs, and also view it from the gallery upstairs.

The Eltham Palace bunker

The palace basement served as an underground bunker, where the family were hiding during the Second World War. They survived the bombings, which hit parts of the Great Hall.

Eltham Palace gardens

After a tour of the palace, take a walk in the gardens.

I didn’t get to spend too much time in the gardens, because it started raining heavily, but the short walk I took was very interesting.

The Courtaulds left some of the remains of the medieval palace in the gardens and added their own modern garden design alongside those remains. Visit the Rock Garden, Rose Garden, and ponds.


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1 Comment

Wow, Eltham Palace is a true gem of Art Deco architecture in London! The blend of medieval grandeur with modern elegance is simply mesmerizing. Can’t wait to visit and immerse myself in this unique historical experience!

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