Fulham Palace has often been described as a hidden gem of London and it is completely true. I’ve lived in the Fulham area for some time and it has taken me a while to go visit and discover this beautiful heritage site for myself. Now, it’s my turn to introduce you to the Palace hoping next time you’re in London, you’ll be moved by curiosity and more willing to visit it.
What exactly is and was this place? The Palace used to be the country residence, and then principal home of the Bishop of London from 700 AD to 1973. There is also archaeological evidence of Romans and even Neolithic habitation (check the archaeology events if you want to be involved first-hand). However, if these specialised events don’t sound attractive to you, then the picturesque place itself will change your mind.
Upon your arrival, you’ll notice that Fulham Palace has several different architectural styles as well as its own lawn and garden bordering the bigger, and more well-known Bishop’s Park. This architectural peculiarity makes the Palace quite unique, and the reason for the many changes is because of the different owners of this location over the years. Bishops in London were rich and powerful, and even if you’re not a religious person, it’s undeniable that they were interesting personalities.
Here at Fulham Palace it is possible to know more about few of them, such as Bishop Compton, Bishop Tait or Bishop Winnington-Ingram. Knowing more about these people might change one’s perspective on what being a bishop means. They did more than just change the architecture and furniture in the Palace. One of the aforementioned Bishops was a keen botanist. Yet another added the beautiful chapel, and another opened the Palace during wartime for a much-needed infirmary. The facilities were also used to throw beautiful parties that were attended by international and famous guests that have stayed at Fulham Palace.
Thanks to these Bishops and their will to leave a mark on the palace, Fulham Palace offers a stunning Tudor façade and courtyard. On the opposite side of the building, you will see three different periods of Georgian architecture. Inside the Great Hall and the Chapel are impressive; though I might suggest visiting the museum first or joining a tour to be guided through the unravelling of the hidden wonders of the Palace.
Finally, if you are just looking for a place to relax after your visit, or if being in the open-air suits you, the main lawn is where you can largely walk around the Palace. You may find it by going through the lovely Drawing Room Café and then you’ll arrive at your destination. Once at the main lawn, there is a small Tudor gate that is the entrance of the Walled Garden. Gardeners and volunteers work all year long to let allow for the opportunity to enjoy this place at its best and once in it, you really have the feeling of being in the Burnett’s Secret Garden of our time. I would suggest checking the schedule to attend one of the Garden Walk in order to learn many of the things that might typically go unnoticed.
Fulham Palace faces the many challenges of a heritage site with huge history behind it and many intriguing facts to share. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to reach the public so I ask you, museum lovers, to visit it and spread the word about the many delights it can offer!
Thanks to a massive Restoration Project, that has been divided in phases and started in 2005, many things have changed at Fulham Palace in terms of facilities and accessibility. Now, in the current phase of the project, the museum will expand, and more activities will be offered. To encourage this attitude towards heritage sites it is important to visit and show support.
I wish I could present all the activities and events they offer, but I will simply suggest visiting their website and checking out the “What’s On” section if you’re planning a visit (http://www.fulhampalace.org).
If you’d like to have useful and intriguing updates I also suggest following Fulham Palace on Twitter (@Fulham_Palace).
Opening hours (free admission):
Museum, Historic Rooms and Shop
The Drawing Room Café
London SW6 6EA
Just a ten-minute walk from the Putney Bridge Underground Station (District Line)
* * *
Irene will graduate in 2019 with a BA degree in Cultural Heritage (History of Art) from The University of Turin, Italy. She is passionate about the historical and cultural significance of fashion interpretation in museums and the museum institution overall and is looking forward to expanding her knowledge of museology from innovative perspectives.