Eltham Palace - English Heritage

Eltham Palace - English Heritage
Greater London




020 8294 2548

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
An exterior view of Eltham Palace
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Eltham Palace is one of the few important medieval royal palaces in England to survive with substantial remains intact. Initially a moated manor house with vast parkland, it was acquired by the future Edward II in 1305 who subsequently passed it on to his queen, Isabella. Under Edward IV significant changes were made, most notably the addition of the Great Hall in the 1470s which is still visible today. Henry VIII was the last monarch to spend substantial amounts of money or time at Eltham and in the 16th century the Palace was eclipsed by Greenwich Palace and declined rapidly. In the mid 17th century, the owner, Sir John Shaw, built Eltham Lodge in the Great Park and lived there. For the next 200 years Eltham Palace was used as a farm and the buildings were tenanted. In the early 19th century a villa was built within the moat walls and gardens and kitchen gardens laid out in the west and south moats. A campaign to save the Great Hall from demolition resulted in its restoration in 1828 but it was still used as a barn. Later in the 19th century Eltham Palace became a gentleman's residence, and glasshouses and gardens were laid out in the west moat. By the early 19th century the parkland had been reduced to two small areas of 21 hectares and 29 hectares, the rest had reverted to arable or pastureland. The larger park was cleared of its parkland trees between 1808 and 1828. In the 1930s an important private house, boasting an ultra-modern design was built adjoining the Great Hall by a wealthy couple, Stephen and Virginia Courtauld. In 1935, an initial design for the gardens was produced by Andrew Mawson and Partners for the Courtauld’s. This was then modified to incorporate ornamental plantations, shrubberies and specimen trees. The Courtauld’s were keen horticulturists and new areas were laid out including lawns, a mixed border, a sunken rose garden, a spring bulb meadow, a rock garden and woodland garden. Stephen had a passion for orchids, which he raised in the glasshouses, and Virginia for roses. After they left Eltham, a red rose was created in their Rhodesian home and named ‘Virginia Courtauld’. The Courtaulds left Eltham in 1944 and the site was occupied by Army educational units until 1992. English Heritage assumed management of the palace in 1995, and in 1999 completed a major programme of repairs to and restoration of the 1930s interiors and gardens. Today the gardens are a rare and very fine example of a 1930s garden design with the fact that they incorporate elements of the medieval palace adds a further intriguing dimension.

Venue Type:

Castle or defences, Historic house or home, Garden, parklands or rural site

Opening hours

1-31 Oct daily 10am-5pm, 1 Nov-12 Feb Sun 10am-4pm, 13-17 Feb mon-weds 10am-4pm, 18 Feb-31 Mar Sun 10am-4pm, Closed 24-26 Dec & 1 Jan

Admission charges

House & Gardens 9.30/8.40/5.60/24.20, Gardens Only 5.80/5.20/3.50

Additional info

Access: Level access to ground floor (ramp into Great Hall). Stairs to the first floor are steep and have no handrail at the bottom, but there is a lift to first floor.
Access to gardens: Most areas accessible over grass. Some uneven ground. Visually impaired visitors should be aware of many low walls and deep moat.
Parking: Main car park 200m from entrance. Disabled visitors may park or be set down near the main entrance. Please use the intercom system at the front gate for assistance or call in advance. Access over uneven bridge.
Visually Impaired Visitors: Touch panel on display
Hearing Impaired Visitors: Audio tour included in the admission price; hearing loop available.
Facilities Toilets: Adapted WC on ground floor.
Refreshments: Tearoom has level access.

Collection details

Architecture, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Natural Sciences

Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Eltham Palace Teacher's Kit (English Heritage)


A downloadable photocopiable teaching resource sheet for use in the classroom. The teacher's kit is essential for pre-, during and post-site visit work and includes: site history, site plans & tour, documentary sources, activities, photos & reconstruction artwork, details of how to visit and supporting resources information.


  • English Heritage Education

How to obtain

Please click on the link to download.

Tudor Pastimes Discovery Visit

Explore the Tudor history of Britain and the wider world in this beautiful site. Learn about Tudor food, entertainment and pastimes and town and country life for rich and poor. See Tudor remains and the Great Hall, and through observation, games and discussion, discover the functions of different parts of the palace and what it would have been like to have lived there.
Duration: 1 1/2 hours
Key Stage: 2, History

How to obtain

Call 020 7499 5676 to arrange a 1 1/2 hour session on weekdays during term time. Price £60 per group of up to 30 pupils until April 2009, £75 per group after April 2009. Visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.19464 for more information.