TUCKED away in a quiet corner of Surrey is one of the UK’s most glamorous historical homes.
Built in 1824, Polesden Lacey in Great Bookham was admired not just by British royals but aristocracy from as far afield as India.
Polesden Lacey hosted three English kings and seven Indian maharajasCredit: Getty
It served as the honeymoon destination for the future George VI and his wife Elizabeth, the Queen MotherCredit: Alamy
The sprawling property was once owned by an influential socialite who threw high-profile parties with VIP guests like Charlie Chaplin.
The home even served as the honeymoon destination for the future King George VI and Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Now run by the National Trust, it is open to the public and has been used as a film location for Hollywood blockbusters and TV shows.
Here we take a peek inside the property – including it’s ‘secret rooms’.
Margaret Greville, one of the most influential socialites of her generation, was the property’s last ownerCredit: National Trust Images – John Hammond
Charlie Chaplin was a guest at the propertyCredit: Alamy
In 1818, stationer and bookseller Joseph Bonsor asked renowned architect Thomas Cubitt to build the home.
It took six years to construct, and sadly Bonsor didn’t get to enjoy it for long as he died in 1835, passing it down to his son.
After going through different owners and renovations it was eventually bought by Scottish politician William McEwan for his daughter Margaret Greville in 1906.
Architects Charles Mewes and Arthur Davis, who masterminded the Ritz Hotel, renovated the home for the socialite, who moved in with her husband, Conservative MP Ronald Greville.
They decked it out with expensive furniture, vast collections of porcelain, silver and art and threw luxurious parties until, two years they moved in, Ronald died aged 46.
Margaret, who owned another impressive home in London, continued to host lavish dos, inviting VIP guests including three English kings and seven Indian maharajas.
Other visitors included British prime minister Winston Churchill, actor Charlie Chaplin, Spain’s Queen Ena, and the Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
In 1923, Margaret invited the royal couple to spend their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey.
They stayed for two weeks, and were pictured playing golf and enjoying walks in the garden. The Queen Mother was so impressed she later described the home as “delicious”.
The Saloon where Margaret hosted a number of dignitaries and threw lavish house partiesCredit: Alamy
The huge writing table in the library has photographs of some of the property’s famous guestsCredit: National Trust Images – John Hammond
The dining room has regal paintings on the wall and a fireplaceCredit: Alamy
Margaret collected artworks from some of the world’s most notable paintersCredit: National Trust Images – Andreas von Einsiedel
Polesden Lacey was one of the first properties in the UK to have electricity installed – Margaret even had a lift that linked her study on the ground floor to her bedroom.
The National Trust, who were the beneficiaries of the property when Margaret passed away in 1942, describe the home’s regal interiors as “a showcase of Edwardian opulence”.
An entertaining room features an elegant Persian carpet and golden panelled walls, an ornate chandelier and a huge mirror above a grand fireplace.
The oak panelling in the central hall is originally from St Matthew’s Church in London, while bits and pieces of the saloon were taken from an Italian palazzo.
The house boasts a huge library with 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, visitors can experience its splendour and view Margaret’s personal items such as her Fabergé, Cartier, and Meisssen pieces – many of which were gifts from royalty.
Last year Polesden Lacey hosted an Unseen Spaces tour, where families were able to explore some of the property’s secret rooms usually closed to the public.
These include the king’s sitting room, which was reinstated based on archive photos of the period, with original furniture.
The trust is slowly restoring these rooms back to their former glory.
Polesden Lacey’s interior with golden panellingCredit: Alamy
Margaret’s library has a yellow carpet with matching furniture and curtainsCredit: Alamy
The billiard room features a large pool tableCredit: Alamy
The oak panelling in the central hall is originally from St Matthew’s ChurchCredit: Alamy
Exterior and gardens
The exterior of Polesden Lacey retains the air of a Regency villa with roughcast and yellow-washed walls.
It sits on 1,600 acres of land and boasts extensive manicured gardens – highlights of which include a walled rose garden and a winter garden inspired by horticulturist, Graham Stuart Thomas.
In the Cut Flower Garden there is a “colourful mix of blooms” including dahlias, zinnias, gladioli, and phlox.
There’s also a vegetable garden which provides year-round produce including fruits, herbs, potatoes and peas.
Guests can also explore the creepy pet cemetery where many of Margaret’s dogs are buried.
Margaret had many dogs – they are all buried in the Dog Graves section of the gardensCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
The gardens also feature a lavender hedgeCredit: Photolibrary RM – Getty
Polesden Lacey opened to the public in 1948.
It survived a huge fire that destroyed around half of its roof in 1960.
Many ground floor ceilings were also damaged, but the furniture and other precious items were rescued by workers.
Later it was announced that the cost of repairs was £65,000 – covered by insurance.
The gardens and the property have been used for a number of films and TV shows, including 1991’s Close My Eyes and the Antiques Roadshow in 2013.
A fire destroyed around half the building’s roof in 1960Credit: Times Newspapers Ltd
Polesden Lacey has been used to film TV shows like the Antique RoadshowCredit: BBC
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