Tucked away in south west London is the home of the Bishops of London since 704 AD. Set in magnificent grounds close to the River Thames it is a secluded environment that manages to combine places for children to explore, historical interest and a great café – all in a country-side setting.
Fulham Palace remained the home of the Bishops of London until this moved to near St Paul’s Cathedral in 1973. As you walk through the grounds and buildings it’s incredible to think you’re following in the footsteps of such famed men as St Dunstan (957), Simon Sudbury (1361), Nicholas Ridley (1550) and William Laud (1628). St Dunstan ‘created’ the modern day coronation service but, sadly, the other three bishops met their demise at the will of the people, monarch and parliament respectively! It was a high risk job, in exchange for one of the most powerful, rewarding and influential jobs at the top table of England! Not for nothing, were you regarded as a ‘prince of the church’ – hence your residence being a palace.
The site has further historical significance. Archaeological finds date back to nearly 10,000 BC – owing to a natural spring and an important Thames crossing nearby. There is evidence of Neolithic, Iron Age and Roman occupation. In medieval times a moat was built around the palace and you can still see the deep ditch as you cross the west entrance into the palace and grounds.
At Fulham Palace, you will visit the historic home of the Bishops of London and the on-site museum, walk in an 18th-century walled garden and woods – and then picnic on the lawn or visit the Drawing Room Cafe (formerly the Bishops’ dining room!). And as with many of London’s best-kept secret places, it’s free to visit.
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