When you think of the words ‘London’ and ‘palace’ there’s usually only one that comes to mind.
You know, it’s the one you can’t go inside but that’s nevertheless mobbed by tourists.
Meanwhile over in Fulham the city’s craftier, in-the-know palace-goers are basking in the luxury of being able to wander around a stunning regal residence with a 13-acre botanical garden and a history stretching back 6,000 years. For free.
Welcome to Fulham Palace, the official residence of the Bishop of London since the 11th century. There’s evidence of settlement here from the late Mesolithic Era (in English: the end of the Stone Age) and everyone from the Romans, to the Saxons, to the Tudors, to the Instagrammers have treated it with due reverence. So what can you expect when you head down there?
We’ll start with The Residence. Wander through the ancient corridors of the recently restored main building, and you’ll be able to learn about the hodgepodge of different architectural styles within, as well as the lives of its various residents over the years. There’s a museum, a collection of historic rooms, and there’s even a sensory room where you can hear the sounds of the past recreated as faithfully as possible.
Then there’s the garden. This is the second-oldest botanic garden in the city (the oldest is actually in Chelsea, not Kew), and it’s large enough to have a whole second walled garden within it, which has a whole apple orchard within that (not to mention a beautifully geometric ‘knot garden’). Wander around, and you’ll also come across a 500 year old oak, a collection of exotic plants, a cafe, and a picnicking spot.
Which, in many ways, is just the whole place.
NOTE: Fulham Palace is open now. It’s completely free, but you will nevertheless need to book your ticket in advance at their website right HERE.
Fulham Palace | Bishop’s Avenue, Fulham, SW6 6EA