A rare 1930s ‘map room’ in one of the nation’s best preserved Art Deco buildings will be revealed for the first time in decades as English Heritage starts a major renovation of Eltham Palace

Work on Eltham Palace, in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, has just begun and will see five new rooms unveiled to the public for the first time in spring 2015. The Palace will remain open to the public on Sundays as normal during winter, and the new rooms and the re-presentation will be unveiled in April 2015. The renovation is part of a project to restore the Art Deco jewel to its 1930’s heyday.

A team of expert English Heritage curators, conservators and historians are researching and renovating the former childhood home of Henry VIII, which was transformed in the 1930s by art collectors and philanthropists Stephen and Virginia Courtauld. The interior of the mansion is a glamorous, eye-catching showpiece, a mix of Art Deco, ocean-liner styles and cutting edge Swedish design.

Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace

When renovations are complete in spring 2015, visitors will be able to explore the Courtauld’s luxury wartime bunker, an extensive basement billiards room, an opulent walk-in wardrobe, two new bedrooms and the rare 1930s map room. There will also be a brand new visitor centre, shop and cafe in the former glasshouses.

‘Eltham Palace is one of the finest examples of art deco architecture and design surviving in Britain today,’ said Annie Kemkaran-Smith, English Heritage Curator at Eltham Palace. ‘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.’

The Courtaulds were avid explorers and among the first to embrace aviation as a means of travelling the world. Recent investigations have revealed the 1930s maps under decades of wallpaper and paint. English Heritage is appealing for the £25,000 needed for expert conservators to uncover, fully restore and protect them.

‘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,’ said Andrew Hann, English Heritage property historian. ‘Our research has revealed a technologically advanced, innovative home which will be brought to life for visitors through new multimedia handsets.

‘From next spring visitors to Eltham Palace 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.’

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