5 of the UK’s less well-known palaces that are definitely worth a visit

There are so many palaces dotted around the UK, that you may not have heard of all of them. Here are 5 lesser-known historic gems.

Press Association
Last updated: 11 April 2018 - 9.48am

Britain is full of famous palaces and castles, but there are some you may not even be aware of. Here are 5 such ones to check out.

1. Eltham Palace

This palace in Greenwich, London, started life in the 15th century when Edward IV commissioned the Great Hall, which survives today and boasts the third largest hammer beam roof in the country.

Henry VIII grew up at Eltham Palace and it was a favoured hunting spot of his. However, he was the last monarch to spend significant time at the palace before it fell into disrepair, with many of the buildings demolished and the site used as a farm.

[Read more: 7 of the UK’s most enchanting castles to visit on a day out]

In the 1930s the palace was bought by millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld, who turned it into a stylish Art Deco home, incorporating the sumptuous Great Hall.

After a £1.7 million restoration project by English Heritage, visitors can now see the unusual blend of medieval palace and Art Deco mansion, surrounded by 19 acres of lush landscaped gardens, including a moated area featuring London’s oldest working bridge, the remains of Henry VIII’s hunting park, and a sunken rose garden.

2. Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace, set in its own park beside Linlithgow Loch, was a favoured residence of the Stuart kings and queens from James I (1406-37) onward.  James V (1512) and Mary Queen of Scots (1542) were both born here.

[Read more: 7 of Britain’s most amazing ruins]

Although the palace was burned out in 1746, it was rebuilt and was in use until the 19th century. Its ruins are well preserved and it’s now a visitor attraction in the care of Historic Environment Scotland – and they host jousting in the summer.

3. Kew Palace

Kew Palace, which was built in 1631 in Richmond, London, was first used by the royals in 1729, and ‘mad King’ George III officially bought the property in 1781 and used it as a country retreat for his family. Perched on the River Thames and set amid the beautiful green space that now forms Kew Gardens, the palace later became a more permanent home for the Royal Family – Queen Charlotte died here in 1818.

It’s the last survivor of several important royal residences at Kew and after a long closure for restoration, the palace is open – take a peek into the kitchens and enjoy the gardens.

4. Falkland Palace

In the 1500s, King James IV and his son, James V, commissioned a ‘pleasure palace’  for their country pursuits of falconry and hunting, on the site of an ancient hunting lodge in Falkland, Fife, Scotland. The result was Falkland Palace, seen as one of Scotland’s finest Renaissance palaces. The Stuart kings were frequent residents, and Mary, Queen of Scots was said to have loved the palace, with its magnificent turrets.

Visitors can see detailed panelling in the drawing room, the stunning Chapel Royal, recreated royal apartments, and the extensive grounds, which are home to the oldest real or royal tennis court in Britain, built for King James V, plus an ancient orchard and a wildflower meadow.

5. Spynie Palace

Built in the 12th century on the shores of Loch Spynie near Elgin, Spynie
Palace is the largest surviving medieval bishop’s palace in Scotland and was residence of the Bishops of Moray for 500 years, as well as a guesthouse for travelling royalty.

Spynie remained a residence for the Bishops of Moray until 1682 and is now in ruins, but is maintained by Historic Scotland and is open to visitors. The oldest surviving buildings date from the 1300s. The colossal David’s Tower, named after Bishop David Stewart (1462–76), dominates the palace complex.