After two years living in South West London, my brother and I finally visited the Fulham Palace. Shame, indeed.
Unlike Buckingham Palace which is always moated by tourists with their annoying selfie sticks, Fulham Palace is (or rather was) surrounded by an actual moat, what’s more the longest domestic moat in England!
It used to be the residence of Bishops of London and is called a “palace” because Bishops are considered the Princes of the Church.
Upon entering, we were greeted by this pink Gothic Lodge that is coincidentally relevant to this time of the year – you know, ole British Summer, a time frequented by drizzles, orange tanners, Wimbledon crowd, strawberry and cream and all things pink...
Then the Coachman’s Lodge.
On our way to its main building, we took a little peek at the garden and were much surprised to discover this collection of very beautiful and sublime tree art!
Look at all these interesting sculptures depicting the lives of Bishops and their pets.
And now, the main courtyard.
Some of the rooms are now offices of the Trust.
There are also adult workshops offering horticulture classes or art and craft courses throughout the year.
As we made our way into the building, we came to the Great Hall, the oldest part of the building.
It is now a pleasant place for weddings and banquets, but back then, there were more interesting events that took place here.
In this room, Bishop Bonner used to torture prisoners in the 16th century, then it became a chapel. All was quite solemn until one of the Bishops turned this into a venue for children parties.
I learnt that clergymen were only allowed to marry after England became a Protestant country. Naturally, Bishops houses around the country would then have to accommodate their families.
Fulham Palace has over 100 rooms and it was once occupied by one, and only one family with a full staff of servants!
The more interesting thing to know is the role of a Bishop’s wife. It was said that she was a wealthy woman with a hard life. She took on the role of running large houses belonged to the Bishop and was expected to be submissive to her husband.
She rarely saw her husband, prohibited from helping his work and was often left out from invitations.
Bishops also had many children, but many of them died at a young age after contracting scarlet fever.
Delicately embroidered and studded with semi-precious stones.
And here’s the library with a secret door concealed by the spines of book!
We finished the tour of the Fulham Palace with the chapel.
Then, headed over to the Drawing Room Cafe to join a room of children’s laughter with wine and cake.
We sat outside, of course.
In England, unless you are allergic to fresh air, which no one is, one doesn’t say no to drinking or eating al fresco. To do so is like saying no to a dinner at the Beckham’s.
Chances like this don’t come around a lot throughout the year. Sometimes, none. So, it’s considered luxurious, or even priceless.
Forget about Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park or the whole of West End, really.
Join the locals, have a picnic and a tipple. At Fulham Palace.
With love x