Wanting a little sunshine now that Autumn is upon us and I’m reminded of our lovely visit to National Trust manor house Polesden Lacey during the heatwave in the summer.
I remember visiting this lovely manor house because I recall that we were unable to visit the top floor, as someone fainted due to the static heat up there.
So until our next visit where we can indeed visit the top floor, I can reminisce about the ground floor delights and the lovely expansive gardens.
As you walk up to the manor house, you can see how splendid it is on the outside. And then you enter the massive lobby, where the Edwardian socialite Margaret Greville hosted extravagant parties.
In this very lobby is displayed a panel from a Christopher Wren church, where King Edward VII visited, where Queen Mary took afternoon tea, and where Mrs Greville entertained royalty.
The lovely informative staff members informed us that Mrs Greville held 12 course dinners and had 70 staff to man these lavish parties. Mr Gatsby eat your heart out!
In the nearby dining room, where the dinner courses were served, charts the history of Mrs Greville’s father, William McEwan. McEwan brewed Indian Pale Ale and was an astute business man: by the time the beer reached its destination it was ready for drinking.
McEwan made a name for himself and had a long-standing relationship with Margaret’s mother, Helen, but the two did not marry till Margaret was 21. Perhaps the society back then frowned upon the marrying of people from different classes.
We walked along the shaded corridors to the study, which was amazing: lovely warm colours and cosy bookcases everywhere – my work from home situation was nothing in comparison.
I don’t actually know the name of this room, but it had floor to ceiling mirrors and gold on every wall and on the ceiling. As we walked in, live classical music was played on the piano, giving a luxurious ambience. I could just imagine the dancing going on in this room back in the day in those lavish parties.
On display in this room are gifts from monarchs, including invitations to the coronations of King George V and VI. In fact, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth honeymooned in this estate.
Mrs Greville had no children and planned to leave the house to King George VI, but then he became King so she left it to National Trust instead.
As you continue walking around the ground floor, you feel the lavishness and expensive taste of Mrs Greville. In one drawing room there is a carpet believed to be gifted by the Maharajah of Agra and Jaipur, Sahib Bahadur, when he stayed at the estate.
In the Billiard room there actually was a full sized billiards table, which I never knew was so big. In one room there was a spade, which was used by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother to plant a tree to commemorate the late Queen’s silver Jubilee.
Then we stepped out to the great expansive gardens. I imagine summer parties here would have been magnificent, or even just a shaded picnic would have been glorious.
There was a rose garden with 2000 flowers. We visited a little late for roses season, but we could still smell the sweetness of the flowers.
As we walked around there was also a lovely display of lavender – I have never seen so many different kinds of lavender before.
Definitely worth a visit to the extravagant and lavish Polesden Lacey, and I plan to visit again next summer, hopefully a little earlier to catch more roses in the rose garden and hopefully we’ll manage to see the top floor.
The staff were very friendly and knew a lot about Mrs Greville and her partying days. I was very impressed by the amount of links to the royal family and really enjoyed Mrs Greville’s interior design.