Visitors to Greenwich's famously beautiful Eltham Palace will be able to see further rooms to complement its Art Deco finery from spring 2015.
English Heritage has already started work on a restoration project which will open up five new rooms to the public for the first time:
- Luxury wartime bunker and 1930s dark room.
- Basement billiards room featuring a mural by artist Mary Adshead.
- Former owner Virginia Courtauld’s walk in wardrobe, including replica accessories for visitors to try on.
- A 1930s map room, from which the Courtauld's secretary planned their international jetsetting holidays.
- Two adjoining family bedrooms with a shared bathroom which contains one of the first showers to be installed in a residential bathroom.
The former medieval royal palace was occupied by Henry VIII before falling into disrepair in the 18th century and being used as farm buildings. It was restored in the 19th century and later became the home of Stephen and Virginia Courtauld, who built the 1930s house alongside the Great Hall.
Amazingly, a series of 1930s maps have also been discovered on the walls underneath decades'-worth of wallpaper and paint. English Heritage is now appealing for donations to raise £25,000 which will uncover and fully restore the maps. You can donate here.
English Heritage curator Annie Kemkaran-Smith said:
“Eltham Palace is one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture and design surviving in Britain today.
“It was also a decadent, fun place to visit. Next spring we’ll open up new rooms, the ropes will come down and we’ll be inviting people to step back in time and experience one of the Courtauld’s lavish parties as they try on vintage inspired designs, play in the billiards room and watch cinefilm of the family.”
Other new features planned include a fresh visitors' centre, greenhouse cafe and digital handsets with a visual guide to the rooms. You can still visit Eltham Palace during the renovation — it remains open to the public on Sundays as normal during winter. The new rooms will be unveiled in April 2015. We're already putting it on our list of things to do next year.
Londonist readers may remember that Eltham Palace previously headed our top 10 historic houses and stately homes.