With a museum, a café and extensive walled gardens, there’s plenty to do in Fulham for all the family in one convenient location. If you’re looking for things to do to alleviate boredom at the weekends or on school holidays then look no further than Fulham Palace.
Botanical gardens of sheer beauty
Fulham Palace was the summer home of the bishops of London from 704 until 1975. This grand and imposing house has been improved and extending down the centuries, alterations which are reflected in the multiple period styles of the building’s architecture. A superb botanical garden which was begun in the 17th century remains one of palace’s most enticing features. The popular garden walks take visitors past a multitude of trees and shrubs collected from abroad, particularly America. During WWII space was set aside for allotments as part of the “grow yourself to victory” ideology. To this day the people of Fulham still grow food on these allotments.
The gardens of Fulham Palace had a set back in the early 1600s when the residing bishop took to hacking away at the trees. Not everyone was impressed by this act with Sir Francis Bacon, a notable gardener of the time, referred to the bishop as a “Good expounder of dark places”. Even in the Middle Ages there were people who cared deeply about conservation and nature.
In the 16th century Henry VIII chopped down many of England’s finest trees to support his ship-building efforts. People started to notice bare, stark, wide-open spaces where there were once woods filled with wildlife.
In 1675 Henry Compton was ordained as the Bishop of London. Compton started collecting specimen trees and plants like the American Azalea and Magnolia and planting them in the gardens at Fulham Palace. Bishop Henry Compton became known as the most celebrated gardener Fulham Palace has ever seen. With many trees and plants native of America surrounding the Palace, the Bishop’s legacy clearly lives on today.
However spiriting and invigorating the botanical gardens might be there are plenty of other things to do and see at Fulham Palace. The palace’s museum is a fantastic setting to learn about its long history that includes prehistoric times and Roman settlements, through Medieval, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian eras to the present day. One of the museum’s highlights is the Museum Collection, which includes paintings, archeology, artefacts and the Palace itself, in a fascinating 1:50 scale model.
The museum, art gallery and library are free for all to enjoy. Whether you decide to picnic outside in the lovely gardens or have a bite to eat in the café, the whole family can spend a great day escaping the bustle of the city in this real piece of Old England.
For opening times and information about forthcoming events visit the Fulham Palace website.