Polesden Lacey

Picture is copyright Chris Shaw and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

Name: Polesden Lacey
Address: Great Bookham, near Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6BD
Telephone: 01372 458203

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Polesden Lacey is an Edwardian house on the North Downs near to Dorking in Surrey. It was home to the famous socialite Mrs Ronald Greville who hosted some of the most elaborate parties for the rich and famous in the early to mid 20th century.

Originally the first house on the site was built in 1336. Later the estate was purchased by Anthony Rous in 1630 and the famous poet and playright Richard Brinsley Sheridan purchased the estate in 1804. Sir Francis Geary was owned the estate, but the present day house was erected by the then owner Joseph Bonsor until he died in 1835. A succession of people took ownership of the estate until it was bought by William McEwan (founder of the Scottish brewery that still bears his name) on behalf of his daughter the former Margaret Anderson and her husband Captain the Honourable Ronald Greville.

After 1906 the house was substantially enlarged and the interiors were improved by the architects of the Ritz Hotel, Charles Mewès and Arthur Davis – a conscious decision on behalf of Mrs Greville in terms of achieving her ambition of attracting important guests and improving her social standing. To further enhance the opulence of the house a range of fine antiques were introduced and which are still in place to this day. Important examples include Flemish tapestries, English, continental and Oriental pottery pieces, French and English fine furniture and European paintings which range from the 14th – 18th centuries.

Famously Polesden Lacey was known as the place to be for socialites from 1906 until the outbreak of the Second World War, an image that Mrs Greville carefully and cleverly perpetuated. Dignitaries that range from maharajahs to royalty have enjoyed the hospitality of Mrs Greville at Polesden Lacey. In fact the future George VI and Queen Elizabeth enjoyed a portion of their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey in 1923. Other notable guests have included Osbert Sitwell, Beverley Nichols, Grand Duke Michael of Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm II and a range of famous politicians of the day. To have been invited to a party by Mrs Greville at Polesden Lacey was an invitation to the “in crowd” at that time.

The extensive 1,400 acre grounds contain a walled rose garden, lawns and landscape which is shaded by mature beeches, limes and cedar trees. There are a series of intimate walled and hedged enclosures that include the rose garden and iris garden and a number of Mrs Greville’s extensive collection of ornaments can be found in the grounds.

What’s There?

  • A magnificent Edwardian house.
  • Stunning formal gardens.
  • Revel in the history of the range of important house guests.
  • Enjoy guided tours and walks.
  • Restaurant and coffee shop.
  • Free parking for National Trust members.
  • Baby change and baby feeding facilities.
  • Children’s play area.
  • Children’s quiz and trail.
  • Family activity packs.


The house has been featured in TV and film specifically –

  • The 1991 Stephen Poliakoff film Close My Eyes featured the gardens.
  • The 1997 film Shooting Fish used the front of the house as a location.
  • The house was featured in TV shows, Miss Marple, At Bertram’s Hotel and also Midsomer Murder, The Creeper.


Standard adult admission is £10.80 to see the house and gardens. Each child costs £6 and a family ticket is £27.

Free admission for National Trust members.

See more information on National Trust Membership.

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