What's your area like? Continuing on her journey around South East London, Lisa visits Eltham Palace, just up the road from The Tarn. An interesting mix of ancient and modern, the current Eltham Palace is a stately home built on the ruins of the original palace, the childhood home of Henry VIII, which was sacked during the English Civil War.
The ruined palace - by this time most of what remained was The Great Hall, a Buttery called Court House, and a bridge across the moat - was given, in the Restoration, to Sir John Shaw, who already owned nearby Eltham Lodge and The area surrounding The Tarn. The property stayed in ownership of the Shaw family until as late as 1893.
The current house was built for Stephen and Virginia Courtauld, with one of the conditions of their leasehold being that they restored The Great Hall, which had been used as a barn. Their home was built in the Art Deco style, and the Courtaulds, keen gardeners, substantially modified and improved the gardens.
The Palace was damaged during World War 2, and the Courtaulds, who had purchased the property in 1936, moved to Scotland, and later to Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. It had been a briefing centre for SOE (Special Operations Executives) during the war, with the Courtauld family firm helping to fund the organisation, and passed into the hands of the Army, which housed educational units on the site until English Heritage assumed management of the Palace in 1995, completing major repairs to the building and gardens in 1999.
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