Depending on the route a drive from Safestay to Eltham Palace and Gardens is between 8 to 10 miles. If you wish to use public transport the shortest route will take you about 58 minutes. At Larcom Street ( Stop D) take the 40 Bus towards the City of London. It will be 7 stops and take about 14 minutes. At London Bridge Borough High Street ( Stop M) you will need to disembark. Walk to London Bridge. This will take about 4 minutes. At London Bridge Stop ID: LBG you will need to take the train. The ride from London Charing Cross to Slade Green will take 21 minutes with 6 stops. At Eltham (Stop ID: ELW) you have less than a mile to walk to your destination.
Eltham Palace remains one of the few significant medieval palaces in England to survive to the modern era. Quite a bit of the original construction can still be viewed. Originally acquired by the future English king Edward II in 1305 he would later deed the property to his queen, Isabella. Later under Edward IV major changes were made to the property including the Great Hall which was added in the 1470's. Henry VIII would be the last monarch to spend any significant time or money at the site. It would later pass out of royal hands and for the next 200 years it would become a farm and much of the land would be under tenanted farmers.
In the early 1800's a villa was built within the original walls. After a campaign of restoration the Great Hall would be saved in 1828 but was still used as a barn. Later as the century wore on the Palace would become a gentleman's residence once again.
In the 1930's a wealthy couple acquired the property. The Courtauld's built a new private ultra modern house for its time adjoining the Great Hall. The couple took great pains to restore and expand the expansive gardens that had encompassed the original site.
The Courtaulds would leave Eltham in 1944 and the site would be used by Army educational units until 1992. In the late 1990's the Palace and grounds would be repaired and restored to its 1930's condition. The blend of old and fairly new gives the Eltham Palace and grounds a unique flavor that makes the trip there worthwhile.
An adult ticket price is 9.90 British pounds. Reduced rates for children, families, students and seniors are available. At present the gardens are open on Sundays with the house closed for conservation repairs until March 2014 when normal operations will once again commence. Of course the best time to visit the gardens which encompass 19 acres total would be during the growing season. It is especially pretty in late spring and early summer. The gardens combine the 20th century with a medieval flavor. So if you plan to be in the area at that time of year or even later in the season you may wish to consider an outing to this historical and beautiful site.
There is a gift shop and a tea room on the property as well as a picnic area on the property if you would like to spend the day enjoying the gardens and surrounding landscape.