Polesden Lacey in Great Bookham was built in 1824 and was admired by British royals and aristocrats from as far as India. The home was once owned by an influential socialite who threw high-profile parties with VIP guests like Charlie Chaplin in attendance. The sprawling property also served as a honeymoon destination for King George VI and the Queen Mother. Here’s what it looks like inside.
In 1818, Joseph Bonsor a stationer and bookseller asked architect Thomas Cubitt to build the property. It took six years to construct and Joseph died before it was finished, passing it down to his son.
After several different owners and renovations, the property was eventually purchased by Scottish politician William McEwan for his daughter Margaret Greville in 1906, and it was architects Charles Mewes and Arthur Davis’ chance to renovate the home for the socialite.
Charles Mewes and Arthur Davis were known for designing the Ritz Hotel, and after working their magic, Margaret moved in with her husband, Conservative MP Ronald Greville.
The couple chose lavish furnishing to decorate inside and had vast collections of porcelain, silver and art.
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When Margaret passed away in 1942, The National Trust became the beneficiary of the property and described the home’s regal interiors as “a showcase of Edwardian opulence”, but the public can witness the lavish interiors for themselves should they choose to visit.
An entertaining room features an elegant Persian carpet and golden panelled walls, an ornate chandelier and a huge mirror above a grand fireplace.
In the central hall, there is oak panelling along the walls which is said to be original from St Matthew’s Church in London. In the saloon, bits and pieces were taken from an Italian palazzo.
In the gold saloon, there is stunning ornate decor adorning the walls, with large portraits hung, as well as a beautiful glass chandelier.
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There is also a large library still housing Margaret’s collection of books, as well as a gun room, tea room, billiard room with a pool table, and corridor galleries.
For just £10 a ticket, visitors can experience Polesden Lacey and view Margaret’s personal items such as her Fabergé, Cartier, and Meissen pieces – many of which were gifts from royalty.
Visit Surrey says Polesden Lacey is “rich in history” and the “1400-acre estate dates back to Roman times and boasts stunning views over the Surrey Hills”.
Today the estate is looked after by the National Trust and is open all year round.
Alongside the house and gardens, it includes two working farms, ancient woodland, historic farmsteads and rolling downland offering a diverse range of habitats for wildlife.
Ranmore Common was added to the estate in 1959 and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its rich biodiversity.
From March, the National Trust is marking 80 years since Dame Margaret Greville left Polesden Lacey and her collection, by showcasing over 100 treasures in a major exhibition.