Monday, 13 February 2017

Back at Eltham Lodge, courtesy of Captain Brooks and his book on Eltham Palace

I am back with the Story of Eltham Palace by Roy Brook and what a treasure trove is here.

For a start it is not just about the Palace and the royal residents who lived there but also an account of the many people who visited it and left their mark on the place and the surrounding area.

One of these was Sir John Shaw who became tenant of both the Palace and its grounds in 1663 and who went on to build Eltham Lodge.*

The Shaw’s continued to live there until 1820.  During the next 19 years it was the home of Lord Wynford, Lady Crewe and Lord Rivers and from 1840 was occupied by Benjamin and Anna Wood.

He was a banker and politician.  He died in 1845 and Mrs Wood continued to live there until her death in 1889.

The chapter on the house contains a fine plan of the ground floor.

Now I have never wandered through its doors so it is interesting to get a sense of what the place was like.

The house faced north and even now the first glimpse of the property as you walk towards it is pretty impressive.

And beyond that front door was the hall and off to the left the parlour. There were two separate staircases in the centre of the house and the breakfast and dining rooms were at the rear facing south over parkland.

“The windows were originally stone mullioned, but the stone was replaced by sash-bars in the time of George II.  

The flat roof probably had a balustraded roof gallery as its central feature when originally built.

Most of the ceilings on the ground floor and first floors are richly modelled with ornament of seventieth and eighteenth century floral design. The parlour on the ground floor has high walls richly decorated with Rococo plaster-work containing the portraits of Roman emperors.

On the first floor the Grand Parlour on the south side originally contained six Flemish tapestries, of scenes from classical mythology.”**

And as you would expect it attracted visitors one of whom was the diarist John Evelyn who recorded in his diary in July 1664 that

“went to Eltham to see Sir John Shaw’s new building; the place is pleasant if not too wet, but the house is not well contrived especially the roof, and the rooms too low pitched; the orangery and aviary handsome and a very large plantation.”

And if you want more there is always Mr Brook’s book or perhaps a visit to the Lodge.

Pictures; from the cover of the Story of Eltham Palace, and exterior and interior of Eltham Lodge from the collection of Jean Gammons.

*Eltham Lodge,

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