Eltham Palace, one of the nation’s best preserved Art Deco buildings, will reveal five new rooms when it reopens on Friday 3 April 2015 following a £1.7 million makeover.
The unique Tudor Art Deco palace was originally the childhood home of Henry VIII, transformed in the 1930s by art collectors and philanthropists Stephen and Virginia Courtauld.
From 3 April 2015 visitors to Eltham Palace will be able to explore the Courtauld’s luxury wartime bunker and dark room, basement billiards room featuring a mural by the artist Mary Adshead, a 1930s map room from which the family’s secretary planned their exotic holidays and Virginia Courtauld’s walk-in wardrobe. There will also be a brand new visitor centre, shop and cafe, the chance to wander through the restored Art Deco rose garden and a new children’s trail.
Visitors will be invited to step back in time to experience one of the Courtauld’s legendary cocktail parties with the help of a new multimedia guide. For the first time a fully interactive children’s tour will be on offer exploring the animals who lived at the palace including Mah Jongg, the family’s pet lemur who had his own heated bedroom.
‘This April 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,’ said Laura Houliston, English Heritage curator at Eltham Palace.
‘Eltham Palace was the ultimate ‘Grand Designs’ project of its day boasting state-of-the-art mod cons including under-floor heating, multi-room sound systems and a centralised vacuum cleaner,’ added Andrew Hann, English Heritage property historian. ‘Our research has revealed a technologically advanced, innovative home that will be brought to life for visitors through new multimedia handsets.
‘Visitors will be whisked back in time to the swinging 1930s where Stephen and Virginia Courtauld entertained the elite of society including members of the Royal Family, composers, artists, politicians and key socialites.’
Recent investigations have also revealed a rare 1930s map room under decades of wallpaper and paint. English Heritage is appealing for the £25,000 needed for expert conservators to uncover and fully restore the maps. To donate see english-heritage.org.uk/donate-eltham
The Palace is currently open to the public on Sundays. The new rooms and gardens will be unveiled on 3 April 2015.