After much deliberation, it was decided that the Hubby and I were to become members of the National Trust. It’s been quite a few years since my last membership and I am ashamed to say I didn’t utilise it in the way that I should have. Now, a few years older, I am finding myself going on days out with friends and their families, quite often to places owned by the NT. So yesterday morning, we took the plunge. Encouraged by the good weather that was coming, the Hubby and I scrolled through the many options available to us on the NT app and decided that Polesden Lacey would be a good choice to start our NT adventures.
For as long as I can remember, the visiting of a country house estate, castle, mansion and the like has appealed greatly to me. I adore the history within the bricks and learning about the building’s individual stories – if only the walls and furniture could talk!
Armed with our walking boots we arrived at Polesden Lacey shortly before lunchtime, deciding to go straight to the house before walking around the grounds. What I loved straight away was the fact that you could take photographs inside. This is a bit of a revelation for a house such as this, as normally cameras are not allowed. I thoroughly agreed with the sign that met us at the door, take photos to help you remember your day. I am a believer that many more places should be like this. Capturing moments and memories is so important!
The house both inside and out is beautiful. Exploring inside took us into living quarters and rooms such as the dining room, saloon, library, study and billiard room to name a few. Each room beautifully decorated to show off wealth and to provide the idyllic environments for the super rich and royalty. Aptly named as the party house of Margaret Greville (Hon. Mrs Greville DBE), a popular British society host and philanthropist, Polesden Lacey was bought especially for her by her father, William McEwan in 1906. William McEwan was a brewery multimillionaire, whose fortune in today’s standards would be well over one hundred million pounds. Margaret’s mother, Helen Anderson, was not married to Margaret’s father at this time and it wasn’t until the family had moved to London and Margaret was 21, that William married Helen.
Margaret was able to launch herself fully into London society, finally being able to shake off the embarrassment of her start in life, being born to an unmarried mother in Edinburgh. She later married the Honourable Ronald Greville in 1891, the eldest son of Baron Algernon Greville. The Greville’s had only owned the house two years when Ronald died.
Margaret continued to live the social and party lifestyle that she had worked so hard to achieve; Polesden Lacey played host to a wide and glitzy society of politicians, celebrities and Royalty. In 1923, Margaret even invited the Duke and Duchess of York to spend their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey, in which they spent two weeks in residency.
Today, Polesden Lacey is lovingly looked after by the NT after it was entrusted by Margaret in memory of her father. Although much of the house is not open to the public, the rooms that are give an interesting glimpse into the Edwardian way of life, and lavishness that was so important to the Greville family. So important was it, that Margaret and Ronald had the house remodelled by architects Charles Mewès and Arthur Davis, who were responsible for the Ritz hotel in London.
Surrounding the house are the rolling hills of the North Downs. Beautiful views can be seen through the many windows of the house, made even better by the sun shining. The grounds at Polesden Lacey are a mixture of formal and informal, with lawns, bushes, hedges, grand statues and secluded spots. During our visit, we spotted staff busy clipping and weeding in amongst vibrant flowerbeds.
Although Margaret and Ronald didn’t have any children themselves, Polesden Lacey is a suitable family day out. The grounds are perfect for picnics and games; there are trails to follow, a play area and some interactive activities in the house. The Granary Café and Cowshed Coffee Shop provide hot and cold meals, using some of the produce grown at Polesden Lacey.
The Hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed our day out to Polesden Lacey as it has something for everyone.
We are now looking forward to our next National Trust adventure!