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Situated on the banks of the River Thames in West London, historic Fulham Palace has over a thousand years of tales to tell, and was once home to over 100 Bishops of London (although not all at the same time!).
Recently undergoing a significant restoration project to transform the ‘patchwork palace’ and restore the Tudor Courtyard and walls to how they once would have been, Fulham Palace is set in 13 acres of incredible Grade II listed botanical gardens (the second oldest in London) including a wonderful Walled Garden.
Fulham Palace is one of the best free attractions in London (donations are appreciated) and easily accessible by rail or river – discover all the incredible things to do at Fulham Palace:
Fulham Palace Walled Garden
A hidden gem and easily one of London’s most beautiful and tranquil places, the Fulham Palace Walled Garden has undergone significant restoration in recent years, restoring the bothy / glass conservatory and reintroducing original pathways that have long been forgotten, as well as reintroducing species that would have been grown here hundreds of years ago.
Fulham Palace has a Head Gardener and team of garden apprentices who can always be seen hard at work in the garden, no matter what the weather, and a team of Fulham Palace Garden Volunteers who help with planting and weeding.
Together they grow organic produce which is sold on a market barrow within the walled garden. The produce is often dug up and placed straight on the barrow for sale so this has to be some of the freshest fruit and vegetables available; flowers and plants are also available (Fulham’s very own Columbia Road)
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Fulham Palace Main Lawn
The 13-acre Fulham Palace site has a lush and large main lawn, enjoyed in the summer by picnickers, especially during the outdoor event season which includes movies on the lawn and jazz concerts (highly recommended – book in advance). A children’s outdoor play area has recently been added using all natural materials and overlooking nearby Bishop’s Park and the Thames.
The Fulham Palace main lawn is home to the ancient holm oak tree, one of London’s ‘Great Trees’ and over 500 years old. In fact, the gardens themselves are the oldest botanical gardens in London, after Chelsea Psychic Garden. A new wooden seating area has recently been introduced just in front of the giant oak tree, offering superb panoramic views of Fulham Palace.
On the west side of the lawn, make sure you check out the semi-hidden tree carved sculptures of Bishop Compton (very popular with the squirrels!) and also a throne to sit down in and take selfies (very Game of Thrones).
Fulham Palace Tudor Courtyard
A very regal and fitting entrance, the Fulham Palace Tudor Courtyard was restored recently as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund award.
The centre-piece is the fountain in the middle and if you look carefully into the upper floor windows, you’ll discover a hive of activity as several offices and external businesses are discreetly located on the upper floors (their rent helps with the Fulham Palace overheads and keep the site free admission). As you enter, head left to also explore the gift shop, museum and an informative video about the history of the site.
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Fulham Palace Great Hall and Interiors
Once you’ve read more about the rich and varied history in the new (and free) museum, you’ll be able to explore the inner workings of the former palace including the chapel (the intricate mosaics are a treasure), the hidden bookcase doorway in Bishop Porteus’s Library and the opulent ceiling in Bishop Sherlock’s Room.
One of the highlights has to be the Great Hall, once playing host to some incredible feasts and banquets including one attended by Queen Elizabeth I in 1607 – the paintings in here were recently restored and it is a delight to attend a themed event in here; Fulham Palace is also very popular for wedding ceremonies.
Edmund the Fulham Palace Cat (and introducing Pamunkey)
An honorary mention to Edmund, Fulham Palace’s cat and resident rat catcher – you’ll often see Edmund roaming around the Palace Walled Garden and main lawn like he owns the place (he kinda does).
A very affectionate and friendly feline, Edmund the Fulham Palace cat is looked after by the garden team and welcomes visitors (when he isn’t catnapping or catching rays in the bothy).
Recently, Edmund has been joined by another feline companion at Fulham Palace – Pamunkey (or Pam for short), named after the Pamunkey Native American tribal group who assisted Reverend John Bannister as he sent plant specimens back to Bishop Compton at Fulham Palace.
Pamunkey is a little more approachable than Edmund and on our last visit to Fulham Palace in January 2022, Pamunkey was patrolling the bothies (conservatory) in the Walled Garden and sleeping amongst the seedlings.
Fulham Palace Archaeology
Given the significant history of Fulham Palace (there is said to have been activity on this site for over 6,000 years), there is no wonder so many incredibly interesting and intricate artifacts have been uncovered over the years, many of which are now on display in the museum.
Several large scale digs have taken place in recent years, as part of the restoration project recovering such items as neolithic flint, historic gambler’s loaded dice (known as ‘Fulhams’ – how appropriate), ceramics and even a well preserved dog skeleton. Given the Palace’s close proximity to the Thames, there has even been talk of the possibility of a viking settlement once being here. Who knows what will be uncovered in the future?
Fulham Palace Drawing Room Cafe
Open 7 days a week with views over the main lawn and an alfresco sitting area, the Drawing Room Cafe offers a selection of sweet and savoury snacks plus a selection of lunches and light bites? After something a little more in keeping with the Palace surroundings? Try the afternoon tea full of decadent delights and also available with a glass of bubbly.
Reputedly the first place in Europe to grow wisteria although Fuller’s Brewery in nearby Chiswick also claim the same thing – wisteria hysteria eh! Fulham Palace’s beautiful wisteria blooms every spring (and sometimes even comes out for a second burst). The best places to see wisteria at Fulham Palace are in the knot garden within the Walled Garden or on the exterior of the Palace, towards the main lawn. You can also get wisteria hemmed window views from both the cafe and also Bishop Terrick’s Room.
Fulham Palace Beekeepers and Honey
Fulham Palace has a team of volunteer beekeepers who tend to the hives once a week. Each year, a batch of organic honey is harvested and sold in the Palace gift shop and at the annual apple day celebrations – demand is so high that the year’s harvest sells out within just a few days. So make a beeline to Fulham Palace if organic honey is your sweet spot.
Fulham Palace Ghosts
Have you heard about Fulham Palace’s spirits? And we don’t mean the Pimms in the Drawing Room cafe. There are several stories of haunted rooms and spooky sightings from staff members, including a ghostly apparition that disappeared into the wall of the Fulham Palace Great Hall, plus more recently, the restoration site manager described seeing a ‘white figure’ early one morning in the old porter’s lodge.
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