Polesden Lacey and Open Studios
A trip down to Surrey yesterday, National Trust-ing with my friend Susan. We had a trouble free drive down, and had time to revive ourselves with coffee and cake before meeting at the front of this beautiful Edwardian house for a short introductory talk – and then it was, in NT speak, ‘free flow’, which is how I like it!
The house is lovely, and has an interesting story, as its owner, Maggie Greville. was the illegitimate daughter of William McEwan, who made a fortune in the Scottish brewing industry, which he left to her. McEwan’s beers are still made, and in fact were for sale in the NT shop! Maggie, and her husband Ronnie Greville, were renovating and updating Polesden Lacey as a ‘party house’ when Ronnie tragically died in his early 40s.
Maggie, though, continued with the renovations and became one of the great society hostesses of her age – any one who was anyone went to stay at Polesden Lacey, from politicians like Winston Churchill, to famous writers and, of course, royalty, including King Edward VII – and the future George VI and his wife had their honeymoon there! Queen Elizabeth – the Queen Mother as she later became – said it was ‘a delicious house’, and I don’t think anyone could disagree!
Maggie expressed a wish during the remodelling of the house, that the drawing room should be ‘suitable for entertaining mararajahs’. This was the result . . .
The house is full of paintings, as William McEwan was a great art collector, and I particularly liked this painting of the Port of London, by a Scottish artist, whose name I have forgotten!
Lunch was long overdue by the time we had finished looking round the house, but after lunch we had plenty of time still to look round some of the enormous grounds. To the south of the house there is a wonderful view as the house is on the North Downs, and there are lovely formal gardens – rose gardens, long herbaceous borders, a cutting garden, kitchen gardens, beautiful crochet lawns, and unusual thatched bridges over a sunken path running below. Lots of people were enjoying sitting in the sun in the NT deckchairs on the south lawns, and lots of picnics had been consumed and a host of little children were running about up and down the grassy slopes.
Well worth a visit – and easy to get to as its just off the M25.
On a different subject it is A FORTNIGHT TILL OPEN STUDIOS!!!
Go to www.colchesteropenstudios.org and search my name under ‘artists’ for all the details including a map. I’m opening on 17th/18th and 24th/25th September, from 11.00am – 6.00pm each day. There will be recent paintings, 2017 calendars (two designs), greetings cards, postcards, mugs, canvas prints, cotton tote bags and Christmas cards – but there is absolutely no obligation to buy. Come for a browse, a cuppa and a chat!
Hope September has got off to a good start for you! 🙂