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Situated on the banks of the River Thames in West London, the historic Fulham Palace and gardens 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, Fulham Palace is set in 13 acres of incredible Grade II listed botanical gardens (the second oldest in London) including a wonderful Walled Garden. The Fulham Palace gardens are beautiful.
Fulham Palace Gardens are one of the best free attractions in London (donations are appreciated) and easily accessible by rail or river.
Read our 2023 guide to all the incredible things to do at Fulham Palace and Gardens in West London:
Table of Contents
Fulham Palace Walled Garden
A hidden gem and easily one of London’s most beautiful and tranquil places, the Fulham Palace Garden (it is a Walled Garden) has undergone significant restoration in recent years, restoring the bothy / glass conservatory and reintroducing original pathways that have long been forgotten.
Fulham Palace gardens have also reintroduced species that would have been grown here hundreds of years ago.
Fulham Palace has a Head Gardener and a team of garden apprentices who can be seen working hard in Fulham Palace garden, no matter what the weather. There is also a team of Fulham Palace Garden Volunteers who help with planting and weeding.
Together they grow organic produce in the Fulham Palace garden which is sold on a market barrow within the walled garden.
The fresh Fulham Palace Garden 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 in Fulham. Flowers and plants are also available (Fulham’s very own Columbia Road).
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Fulham Palace Garden Lawn
The 13-acre Fulham Palace garden 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 to the Fulham Palace garden using all natural materials and overlooking nearby Fulham Bishops Park and the Thames.
The Fulham Palace Garden lawn is home to the ancient holm oak tree, one of London’s ‘Great Trees’ which is over 500 years old.
In fact, the Fulham Palace 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 and its gardens.
On the west side of the Bishop Palace garden 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).
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 Fulham Palace, head left to also explore the gift shop and museum. There is also an informative video about the history of Fulham Palace and Fulham Palace gardens.
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Great Hall and Interiors
Once you’ve read more about the rich and varied history in the new (and free) Fulham Palace 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 which often take place in the Fulham Palace gardens or in the special marquee on the side of the Palace.
Edmund the Fulham Palace Cat (and introducing Pamunkey)
‘Feline’ like a visit to Fulham Palace? An honorary mention must go to Edmund, Fulham Palace’s cat and resident rat catcher. You’ll often see the Fulham Palace cats roaming around the Fulham Palace garden and main lawn.
A very affectionate and friendly feline, Edmund the Fulham Palace cat is looked after by the Fulham Palace 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, Pamunkey was patrolling the bothies (conservatory) and Fulham Palace garden and sleeping amongst the seedlings.
Such is the popularity of Edmund the Fulham Palace Cat, there is even an illustrated children’s book ‘The Palace Cat’ (by Jo Williamson) that can be purchased in the Fulham Palace gift shop.
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 in the Fulham Palace garden, 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 Fulham 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 at Fulham Palace?
Fulham Palace Drawing Room Cafe
Open 7 days a week with views over the main lawn and an alfresco sitting area, the Fulham Palace cafe (in the Drawing Room) 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 Fulham Palace sumptuous surroundings? Try the afternoon tea full of decadent delights and also available with a glass of bubbly.
Fulham Palace Wisteria
Fulham Palace’s wisteria blooms every spring (and sometimes even comes out for a second burst).
The best places to see wisteria in the Fulham Palace garden are in the knot garden within the Walled Garden or on the exterior of the Palace, towards the main lawn.
You can also get Fulham Palace wisteria hemmed window views from both the cafe and also Bishop Terrick’s Room.
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.
Getting to Fulham Palace Gardens and admission
The closest London Underground station to Fulham Palace Gardens is Putney Bridge station. The nearest National Rail station to Fulham Palace is Putney Station (a fifteen minute ride from London Waterloo Station).
As at February 2023, Fulham Palace and its gardens are free to visit although donations or shop and cafe purchases are very much appreciated.
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