London, England, United Kingdom
For 1,300 years Fulham Palace was the esteemed seat of the Bishops of London. Today the medieval and Tudor palace houses a museum, gallery, and beautiful botanical gardens that tell its history, alongside its intriguing Neolithic, Iron Age and Roman origins.
About Fulham Palace
Fulham Palace served as the seat of the Bishops of London from the 8th century until the mid-1970s, and today provides a glimpse into over 1,300 years of fascinating history in the city.
Fulham Palace history
The Manor of Fulham was first purchased by Waldhere, Bishop of London in 704 and titled as a ‘palace’ – since bishops were considered to be ‘Princes of the Church’.
Over its long history Fulham Palace bore witness to some of Britain’s most tumultuous events, from the captivity of Bishop Robert de Sigello during the Anarchy of the 12th century, to the German bombing raids of World War Two that partially damaged its structure.
Royal visits have also been enjoyed at the Palace over the years, including a visit by Henry VI and his entourage in around 1449, a lavish feast hosted to honour Elizabeth I in 1601, and a far simpler breakfast affair presented to George III over 150 years later!
The site’s 13-acre botanical gardens flourished further in the late 17th century under Bishop Compton, who sent Reverend Bannister to Virginia, ostensibly as a missionary, but also to send back seeds and cuttings of ‘exotic’ plants. To this end Europe’s first magnolia tree was grown at Fulham Palace and other species debuted including the Cork oak, the Black walnut and numerous varieties of maple, some of which are still present today.
Another of Fulham Palace’s intriguing features was its vast moat, that was once the longest in the country at 1,400 metres! Likely constructed in the medieval or even Anglo-Saxon period, it was filled in during the 1920s when upkeep became a burden – excavations began to unearth its secrets in 2010 however.
Fulham Palace today
Today, Fulham Palace is open daily for visitors to explore. Grade I listed, the manor house dates to the site’s Tudor occupation and includes the Great Hall, which over the centuries was added to with Georgian, Gothic Revival and Victorian architecture. The striking Tait Chapel (the fourth on the site) was added in the 19th century, where a number of Biblical murals adorn its walls.
The accompanying museum may also be explored which includes Roman artefacts found by the Thames riverbank, grand paintings of past residents and reigning monarchs, as well as a plethora of objects depicting how residents, guests, and visitors of Fulham Palace lived, worked, and entertained themselves.
While most of the visible buildings date from between the 15th and 20th centuries, during extensive archaeological excavations in the early 21st century evidence of Neolithic, Iron Age and Roman settlements were also uncovered!
Getting to Fulham Palace
Fulham Palace is located in west London next to Putney Bridge, with metered parking available on Bishop’s Avenue in Controlled Parking Zone Y. The Putney Bridge Underground station is a 15-minute walk to the site through Bishop’s Park, while Putney train station is a 20-minute walk over Putney Bridge. Buses 74, 220 and 430 stop on Fulham Palace Road at the ‘Bishop’s Park Road’ stop, from which the site is a 5-minute walk down Bishop’s Avenue.
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