Eltham Palace, London
Client: English Heritage
Eltham Palace is a Scheduled Monument, Grade I listed house, and Grade II* registered park and garden in south east London. It developed as a moated manor house, and later became a favourite royal residence, so that the site today is unusually complex, with archaeology and surviving buildings from numerous periods. Richard II’s bridge and Edward IV’s remarkable great hall survive, whilst extensive additions by Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and James I fell into ruin after the Civil War, and attracted some of the greatest Picturesque artists. After more than a century of debate over its conservation the site was finally transformed into a country house by Stephen and Virginia Courtauld, who for a few brief years in the 1930s entertained lavishly in a suite of grand new Art Deco interiors.
The site was subsequently used by an Army education unit, before being taken over by English Heritage and opened to the public in the early 1990s. It is best known today for its Art Deco elements, but the great hall is one of the most important buildings to survive from the 15th century. With English Heritage recently becoming an independent charity, Eltham Palace is one of their flagship sites and subject to considerable investment in visitor facilities. In anticipation of this, we were engaged to produce a Conservation Management Plan to evaluate the site’s complex history and significance, and to set out policies to guide future changes following the completion of a new visitor centre and the re-presentation of the interiors. Alongside this we also produced a comprehensive Gazetteer covering every room and feature on the site, to act as a day-to-day tool for management and decision-making.