Three months ago I became a National Trust member and so far I am thrilled that I did. Although I have not used the membership a lot yet, I have managed to visit three impressive estates, Tyntesfield, Knole House and Polesden Lacey. The National Trust do incredible work in restoring old properties and their grounds, it is great to know that money raised through memberships are going directly on refurbishment and improvements that we as members can enjoy.
Polesden Lacey is situated in Surrey and is a fifty minute walk from Box Hill and Westhumble rail station if you are arriving from London. The walk is beautiful and you are surrounded by rolling hills, grazing animals and stylish farmhouses as soon as you step out of the station.
Built as a weekend party house, this lavish country retreat belonged to Maggie Greville, the illegitimate daughter of wealthy entrepreneur William McEwan. William was a successful Scottish beer brewer and set up his business in Edinburgh aged 29, becoming a millionaire with his working man's ale "McEwan's" which is still sold today.
Maggie Greville became one of the most successful socialites of the Edwardian era, partly due to her father's connections and incredible wealth. She created Polesden Lacey as a place to entertain her important guests, from maharajas of India to diplomats and royals including King Edward VII.
This 1400 acre estate comprises of the main house, stables, rose garden, dairy courtyard, home farm orchard, garden shop and granary cafe. The cafe pays tribute to Maggie's Scottish heritage serving haggis Scottish rolls and in the shop you can purchase the very ale that made William into a self-made millionaire.
Approaching the house I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the surroundings, a wonderful view of the Surrey Hills and well designed and kept grounds. There were lots of people relaxing on deck chairs, pic nic blankets filled with goodies and a jazz band playing at the front of the house. A truly great welcome indeed.
Venturing into Maggie's home, the rooms are very much worth exploring, each filled with gifts and souvenirs from all over the globe, specifically the Far East and India. You get a real sense of the parties that were hosted and the home is set up as if it was left and abandoned only yesterday. There are lots of delicate champagne glasses and bottles of Maggie's favourite Bollinger decorating the tables, which makes you understand why their current exhibition is aptly called "Beer to champagne: the rise of a sparkling socialite".
It was a really interesting and fun day out at Polesden Lacey, the sunshine and Jazz band made the experience an exceptional one.