For 900 years Fulham Palace was the home of the Bishops of London. During the extensive restorations from 2001–06, excavations on the grounds of Fulham Palace have revealed the remains of several former large scale buildings and even evidence of Neolithic and Roman settlements. Habitation on the land on which the Palace stands can be traced back to as early as c.700 AD, when ownership passed to Waldhere, Bishop of London. The estate was owned by the Bishops of London for over 1300 years and the Palace was their country home from at least the 11th century, and their main residence from the early 20th century until 1973. In the early part of the 17th century, the gardens at Fulham Palace appear to have suffered from some unsympathetic attention. The antiquary John Aubrey records among his memoranda, "the Bishop of London did cutte-down a noble Clowd of trees at Fulham", occasioning the sharp remark from Sir Francis Bacon, a dedicated gardener, "that he was a good Expounder of dark places." Henry Compton was ordained Bishop of London in 1675; he imported several new plant species to the gardens at Fulham Palace and first cultivated some flora found in Britain today, including the American magnolia, M. virginiana, Liriodendron, Liquidambar and the first American azalea grown in England, Rhododendron viscosum. In his heated "stoves" he grew the first coffee tree in England. The red horse chestnut, a hybrid of Aesculus hippocastanum and the American Aesculus pavia, was still noted in Fulham Palace gardens as late as 1751.
The Palace also boasts the longest moat in England. Although the Palace has its own chapel, the gardens adjoin the churchyard of the neighbouring parish church, All Saints Church, Fulham, where several former bishops are buried. In spite of the depredations of Henry Compton's successor, some of the ancient trees in and around Fulham Palace remain to this day, and visitors can still see the knot garden and wisteria which survive in the Palace's walled gardens. A large holm oak (quercus ilex)is believed to be 500 years old and has been designated a Great Tree of London. The Museum of Fulham Palace partially occupies Bishop Howley's Dining Room and the Porteus Library (named after Bishop Beilby Porteus, 1731–1809), in the early 19th century part of the Palace. It contains some of the paintings that once hung in the building, stained glass, carved fragments of masonry and the bishop's cope, as well as displays describing the Palace's history. The lost manuscript of William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation (1620–47), an important founding document of the United States, was discovered in the library in 1855 and first published the next year. No one knows how it made its way there from America, but in 1897, through the efforts of US Senator George Frisbie Hoar, it was repatriated to New England. There is also an art gallery, known as Fulham Palace Gallery, which displays work related to the history of the building and its grounds. The cafe, in Bishop Howley's Drawing Rooms, has a wonderful view of the gardens. Torches and magnifying glasses are available as are large print copies of our leaflets and café menu. A four minute audio/visual introduction to the restoration project is available in the Museum. A Museum Steward is in each Museum room and will provide assistance as required. Guide and assistance dogs are welcome. There are wheel chair accessible toilets. Use the East Courtyard entrance to the Great Hall to avoid a step.
Location : Bishop’s Avenue, Fulham, SW6 6EA
Transport: Putney Bridge (District Line). London Buses routes 14, 22, 39, 74, 85, 93, 220, 265, 414, 424, 430, stop nearby (600 m).
Museum Opening Times: Summer 12:00 to 16:30. Winter until 15:30
Sunday, Bank Holidays and Monday to Thursday.
Cafe : Summer 09:30 to 17:00; Winter 10:00 to 16:00
Gardens : Summer 10:15 to 19:00; Winter 10:15 to 15:45
Tickets : Free
Tel: 020 7736 3233.