The Great Hall from a 1911 postcard
The entrance to the Great Hall from the northeast from an 1842 engraving
The bridge across the moat from an 1842 engraving
The northeast bay window on the Great Hall from an 1842 engraving
The ruinous exterior of the Great Hall from an 1842 engraving
The north entrance to the Great Hall from an 1842 engraving
An orchestra playing in the Great Hall from an 1842 engraving
The Great Hall, as imagined in 1365, from an 1842 engraving.
House & Family History: Eltham began life, possibly in the 13th century, as an ecclesiastical palace. In 1305 the Bishop of Durham gifted Eltham to King Edward II and the Palace remained a royal residence until the 16th century. In the 1470s Edward IV, whose favorite residence this was, built the only fully surviving element of the medieval palace, the Great Hall. The Grade I-listed room, which has the third-largest hammerbeam roof in England, is where the young Prince Henry, later Henry VIII, played as a child. After Henry VII rebuilt Greenwich Palace in the early 16th century, Eltham slipped into a long decline. By the mid-17th century the Palace was mostly a ruinous; it was during this time that Anthony van Dyck was given a grace-and-favour suite of rooms in the Palace as a country retreat. All that remains today of the medieval palace is the Great Hall, fragments of walls of other buildings, and the 15th century bridge that crosses the moat. Eltham was restored in the 1930s by the Courtaulds, who also added the Grade II* Art Deco style additions, often called Eltham Court. According to legend, the incident that inspired Edward III's founding of the Order of the Garter in 1348 took place at Eltham Palace. In 1400 Henry IV hosted Manuel II Palaiologos, the only Byzantine emperor ever to visit England, at Eltham.
Country Life: LXXXI, 534, 568 plan, 594 plan, 1937. CXXXVII, 1342, 1965. CLXI, 1412, 1977.
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II
Past Seat of: Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, early 14th century. King Edward II, 14th century. Prince Henry (later Henry VIII), 16th century. Sir John Shaw, 1st Bt., until 1680; Shaw family here until the late 19th century. Stephen Courtauld, 1930s.
Current Ownership Type: The Crown / Royal Family
Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction
Ownership Details: Eltham is owned by the Crown Estate and managed by English Heritage