It may not be as well known as the official regal residence, visited by hundreds of tourists every day, but Eltham Palace, in the south of the capital, combines royal history with 1930s design. The original palace was a gift to King Edward way back in 1305 when Eltham was an ideal country escape from London. Two centuries later, it was the childhood home of King Henry VIII and provided the perfect backdrop for royal tournaments and jousting, and was an important royal mansion for entertaining European monarchs.
Unfortunately its fortunes declined and the palace fell into ruins. But now comes the unusual part: in the 1930s, Sir Stephen and Lady Courtauld acquired the lease of the palace site and restored the Great Hall and built an elaborate Art Deco home internally, complete with gold plated bathroom and a special room for their pet lemur! Hailed as a ‘masterpiece of modern design’, it’s a fascinating place to visit.
Featured in a number of films including Brideshead Revisited, the Palace is open to the public and can even be hired for weddings. Take the train to Eltham railway station from London Bridge or Charing Cross.