I’d never really thought about going to Fulham Palace before, even though when I went to the Isabella Plantation last week I went via Putney Bridge and could easily have made a detour as it’s just a few minutes walk away. But then I mentioned to some friends that I was on the lookout for wisteria and Sue of It’s your London told me about the gardens there.
Fulham Palace is the historic home of the Bishops of London, used as their country retreat since 704 AD, though the last bishop moved out in 1973. The site is now managed by the Fulham Palace Trust, which is working on its restoration.
I went in via the woodland walk which led me straight into the walled garden which has wisteria running all along one side, dividing off the knot garden and the greenhouses. It’s a bit late in the season for wisteria, so I was glad to see there was still enough of it in flower to make a great display, augmented by the irises in the knot garden which are at their best now.
I was especially taken with the Tudor Gate which leads from the knot garden to the Palace lawn. The gate and the wall date from the time of Bishop Fitzjames in the early sixteenth century. In the late sixteenth century Bishop Grindal sent grapes from the Palace gardens to Elizabeth I.
There are spaces in the wall for bee hives.
The knot garden was restored in 2012 to its original 1830’s design and the original glasshouses, used for growing vines and pineapples, which were sadly beyond restoration, were replaced by a new metal-framed replica.
You can visit the house as well, though the rooms are mainly unfurnished. The Tudor courtyard is the oldest part.
There’s comfortable café in the drawing room, looking out over the lawn, and more wisteria grows along one side of the house, though I was a bit late to see this in flower. One for next year!
The gardens at Fulham Palace are open daily 9:30 am to 5 pm in the summer, 10 am to 4 pm in the winter. The house is open from 12:30 Monday to Thursday and from 12 pm Sundays. Entry is free.