The history of Polesden Lacey under 20th Century socialite Maggie Greville is Great Gatsy-esque. Mr and Mrs Greville bought the manor house in Great Bookham, Surrey, in 1906 and immediately expanded and renovated the property to make it into the stately home we see today. Whilst Ronald Greville tragically died at the young age of 36 in 1908, Mrs Greville went on to become a renown and beloved hostess and transformed Polesdeon Lacey into a famous party house, playing host to royalty and nobility from around the world. Mrs Greville left the property to the National Trust in her will, and they have owned it since 1942.
It was a beautiful day in late February when I visited, and the seasons were on the cusp of changing from Winter to Spring. There was warmth in the sun at last and a light, comfortable breeze, but the sky was still hazy with cold air high above. The house overlooks a spectacular valley and I walked through woods below the rolling lawns of the house down into the dell and across to the fields beyond before winding back up the hill into the formal gardens of the house.
Guests who attended the famous weekend house parties enjoyed outdoor activities, and so it was important to keep the gardens and lawns immaculate. Polesden Lacey had a team of gardeners and a head gardener’s cottage, which is still used today and can be rented as a holiday home! Besides the formal walled gardens including a spectacular rose garden, there is also a vegetable garden and orchard.
The best display on my visit in February came from a border simply burstingwith beautiful Spring flowers - dainty Iris’s in shades of blue and violet, lilac cyclamen, hellebores in antique tones and blooming pure white snow drops. The air was heavenly fragant with scent from japonica, daphne and cherry blossom.
I am looking forward to going back when the herbaceous border and rose garden are a riot of intoxicating Summer colours.