A North View of the ancient palace at Eltham
Artist: Lens, A. B.
Medium: Pen and ink on paper
This palace was built by Anthony Bec, the Bishop of Durham, and given to Queen Eleanor (wife of Edward I) as a place of retirement. In the 18th century, Eltham was known for its "wholesome air". In the 1720s, Daniel Defoe commented that Eltham is "now a pleasant town, very handsomely built, full of good houses, and many families of rich citizens inhabit here". He was also pleased that an "abundance of ladies of very good fortunes dwell here, and one sees at the church such an appearance of the sex". However as a great deal of the local men were based elsewhere - in the army, at court or abroad - he thought that in a few years time "all the ladies will abandon the place".