Eltham Palace- A Great Half Term Day Out in London with the Kids!
I visited Eltham Palace a couple weeks ago as my family birthday outing so I am a little delayed in writing this. But, seeing as how it is half term in London next week and I know that lots of you will be looking for places to take the little ones, I thought there is no better time to blog about it!
If you are a fan of The Crown like me then you might be familiar with some of the rooms as they used several areas of the house to film scenes. Including the Queen’s quarters of the Royal Yacht Britannia, Bermuda Government House, the HMSS Queen Mary, and it’s where the Queen meets fashion designer Norman Hartnell in his studio. It was used for the yacht because the first floor looks like cabins in luxury cruise liners would have in the 30s and 40s. If you haven't watched The Crown yet I highly recommend it! Ok, back to Eltham.
I thought I was being selfish in choosing this as my birthday outing as my family would find looking at Art Deco interiors super boring but I was so wrong! There was something for everyone. In the house they have an Animal Explorers Trail so that kids up to 7 at least can entertain themselves by searching for animal motifs in the decor in each room. It seems as if the Courtalds (the owners who built the art deco house next to the original medieval great hall) were avid animal fans. They also owned a pet lemur who is basically the house mascot. It had its own room and a bamboo ladder through a secret passage way so it could explore the house as it pleased! My three year old was very into the animal trail and getting his card stamped every time he found one of the animals. Luckily by the time the trail ended we had finished the tour as he quickly lost interest in the house once he got all of his stamps.
Art Deco is one of my favourite design periods so I found the house and interiors very interesting and inspiring. But my favourite room in the house was the Map room. You couldn't go all the way inside the room for preservation reasons, but I would LOVE to have a room like this in my house. I am a firm lover of maps in case you couldn't tell by my Map Print and Treasure Map Play Mats!
We didn't spend much time outside in the gardens the day we went because it was a bit miserable and grey (January birthdays are the worst!) but there are also extensive gardens to explore with underground tunnels, bridges, and even a medieval moat. I was also 29 weeks pregnant at the time so wasn't up to much more walking after the tour of the house. I should also mention that this is a great place for toddlers and kids, but for babies you will definitely need to bring a sling or baby carrier as its a very old house and so not exactly buggy friendly.
After the house tour and a short stroll through the gardens we returned to the visitor centre where there is a great kids play area, complete with a wooden airplane the kids can wing walk on. And most importantly, there is a great coffee shop! They also serve a nice selection of hot and cold sandwiches and cakes. There is a beautiful conservatory you can sit in to enjoy your lunch or tea, or you can sit at outside tables while the kids tire themselves out in the play area. All around I was impressed by this English Heritage site. And if you , like me, live in London and don't drive its still possible to get there by train or bus. The Palace and gardens will be open every day next week and have a special Early Man Quest activity (based on the film currently out in cinemas) on for the half term. After next week they will have limited opening times until the 1 April when they are again open every day through out the summer.