Monday, 1 June 2009

A real discovery

I just spent a luxurious week off work doing frankly very little other than lying in the sun and reading (quick recommendations The Children's Book by AS Byatt and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, the latter so spooky that I refused to go into the house by myself... so easily led). But with a couple of days of crappy weather, we needed to get out and about. So we settled for Eltham Palace in Bromley - I'd vaguely heard of it as being where Henry VIII grew up so I kind of thought I knew what to expect.
Well. As Bill Bryson once said, if you've never been, take my car and go. Go now. I've never been anywhere so surreally and wonderfully not what I expected. The whole house has been fabulously restored to 1930s Art Deco, the period when it was owned by the Courtaulds. It's like nothing so much inside as a stately ocean liner - all clean lines, elegance and grace and even a cage for their pet ring-tailed lemur. The picture above shows the entrace hall-cum-drinks area - a perfect circle of light and wood like a forest glade open to the sun. Virginia Courtauld's bedroom is worth a visit alone - utter fabulousness with its gold mosaic bathroom.
The gardens are beautiful - there's a moat with its own inquisitive carp, sunken gardens, rockery, fountains, and an orangery which looks like being a sweet cafe in the sunnier months.
Frankly I can't enthuse enough. I know I'm biased - it's my favourite era - but seriously, we all need a little touch of fabulousness at the mo. Just go. Oh - weirdly only open Sunday - Wednesday. Weird.

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