Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Royal Favour

In the late 13th century Anthony Bek, the then Bishop of Durham, bought Eltham Manor. It didn't meet his idea of a residence befitting his station so he rebuilt a grander affair with a moat. Upon his death it was bequeathed to his friend Edward I. He too thought it fell below the standards he would expect for his domestic arrangements as the Monarch so once again it was upgraded into a palace. 

For many generations it remained as a Royal residence. The hunting was good, you could hold lavish Christmas festivities for 2000 and it could sleep 800. It also provided an excellent base for diplomacy. Henry IV holds the record for being the only King to have entertained a Byzantine Emperor in 1400. All the stops were pulled out for his visit....a joust held in his honour and even fire breathing dragons [now that is something I'd have liked to have seen!]. Henry VIII spent much of his boyhood here and I rather liked the detail that he had his own fool, John Goose, there with him. However, us humans like novelty and new shiny things. We also like whichever option is easiest and with the building of Greenwich Palace this one's days were numbered. The new palace was far easier to reach by river and Eltham was quietly abandoned. Cromwellian troops running amok in the 1640s caused damaged to an already vulnerable building and by 1663 it was being run as a farm. Little remains from this time bar a few old walls with their diapered decoration and the footprint of some of the demolished parts. The bridge is now the oldest working bridge in London




The most magnificent part though is thankfully still standing. This is the Great Hall which was commissioned by Edward IV in the 1470s. During the site's time as a farm this was used as a barn, but thankfully a few enlightened souls realised the merit of saving the ruins and restoration started in the 1820s. I'll cover the next chapter of this amazing place in tomorrow's post, but for now I'll leave you with photos from the inside of this imposing edifice with its hammerbeam roof and interior details.








Arilx


5 comments:

  1. Here there be dragons! Dragons as entertainment and dragons as ornament, and one wonders if someone, somewhere, saw something very odd...
    That court cupboard is magnificent! What a pleasure it would be to give it a loving scrub with some Murphy's soap.

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    1. The pieces of furniture in the Great Hall were gorgeous, but it was a dull day and you're not allowed to use a flash so not all of them came out. Ah well! Arilx

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  2. I love old buildings. Unfortunately, I live in a rather new country. I have enjoyed these pictures very much. Thank you.

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    1. We sometimes take our beautiful buildings for granted, but yes we are incredibly lucky. I saw some fabulous buildings in New England many years ago. Arilx

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  3. Our oldest house is from 1830. It has a hand dug well in the basement. But when you compare that to buildings dating back to the 1600s, we seem like children!

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