The original palace was given to Edward II in 1305 by the Bishop of Durham, and used as a royal residence from the 14th to the 16th century.
As the favorite palace of Henry IV it played host to Manual II Paloiologos, the only Byzantine emperor ever to visit England, from December 1400 to January 1401, with a joust being given in his honor. There is still a jousting tilt yard. Edwar IV built the Great Hall in the 1470s, a young Henry VIII back when he was known as Prince Henry also grew up here; it was here in 1499 that he met and impressed the scholar Erosmus, introduced by Thomas More.
In 1933, Stephen Courtauld and his wife acquired the lease of the palace site and restored the Great Hall (adding a minstrels' gallery to it) while building an elaborate home, internally in the Art Deco style. It has been said the internally Art Deco house is a "masterpiece of modern design".
The dramatic Entrance Hall was created by the Swedish designer Rolf Engströmer. Light floods in from a spectacular glazed dome, highlighting blackbean veneer and figurative marquetry.
Keen gardeners, the Courtaulds also substantially modified and improved the grounds and gardens.
It is a short train ride from Charing Cross station to Mottingham. A 10 minute walk from the train station takes to the entrance of the palace.
Tudor courts often used the palace for their Christmas celebrations. In the 1630s, by which time the palace was no longer used by the royal family, Sir Anthony van Dyck was given the use of a suite of rooms as a country retreat. During the English Civil War, the parks were denuded of trees and deer. The palace never recovered. Eltham was bestowed by Charles II on John Shaw and in its ruinous condition— reduced to Edward IV's Great Hall, the former buttery, called "Court House", a bridge across the moat and some walling—remained with Shaw's descendants as late as 1893.
The original wood ceiling remains.
In the 17th and early 18th centuries it was fashionable for property-owners to display maps and bird-eye's views of their estate. The leather map below over the fireplace, depicting Eltham Palace and its surroundings, is a revival of that tradition. It was created in Paris by Margarita Classen-Smith