· By Herb Lester

Eltham Palace, London

Enjoy this taster of our book, How To Get Out Of London Without Really Trying.

In the mid 1930s Stephen and Virginia Courtauld took on the crumbling ruins of old Eltham Palace, adapting it for their very modern, very privileged lives — it was perhaps the ultimate fixer-upper. Throughout the building there’s an extraordinary mingling of the medieval with art deco, with no luxury spared. There’s a map room solely for the purpose of planning travels, billiards room in the air raid bunker, Virginia Courtauld’s bathroom walls are lined with onyx, with gold mosaic tiles above the bath. Even the pet lemur had underfloor heating in his cage space — and when they went sailing he had his own deck chair too. At its heart is the 15th-century Great Hall, stylishly incorporated into a new structure, that brought jazz age parties to a place where kings once sat.
With so much to see, and such an abundance of detail, the free electronic guide to the house and gardens is recommended.

Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, London SE9 5QE
Telephone 020 8294 2548