Garden Portrait: Polesden Lacey

I have visited Polesden Lacey a few times, but always too late for the wonderful Mrs Greville’s Rose Garden. This National Trust owned property is in Great Bookham, Surrey and designed as the perfect setting for entertaining royalty, politicians and the top dogs of the Edwardian society. Just a little second home then. I’ve never been inside the house where Mrs Greville launched the party house with a royal gathering in 1909 with Edward VII as guest of honour. In the opulent dining room the table is set for this special occasion.

I’m just going to take you for a stroll around the grounds and the formal gardens so grab your parasol and floppy hat and we shall begin.

The House

The present house, a yellow-washed and green-shuttered villa was built in the 1820s, but redesigned for the Grevilles in the French Neo-classical style in 1906. The house stands in a marvellous setting, just below the southernmost ridge of the North Downs and the trees on the lower lawns frame sweeping views over the valley and wooded crest of Ranmore Common.

Rose Garden

Mrs Greville’s roses are a thing of wonder. She was keen to show the foreign dignitaries who visited her house a typical English rose garden. Set out in a simple cross pattern with long, box-edged, wooden pergolas, it was created on the site of the nineteenth century kitchen garden. During the summer months it is a mass of pink, white and crimson. Lavenders, clematis and even wisteria adorn the walls surrounding the garden.

It is enclosed by weathered bricks, statues and a border of lavender. Best in the summer months of June and July. My visit was in late August, but as you can see there was still plenty of colour in the gardens, even if most of the roses had ‘gone over’.

Iris and Lavender Gardens

Within the walled garden are compartments with collections of irises and lavenders. A discus thrower can be found in the lavender garden as well as other statues. A playful sundial situated where several paths converge.

The Thatched Bridge

To the west a path leads past herbaceous borders to a winter garden shaded by three large Persian ironwood trees and beyond is a thatched bridge leading to the former Edwardian kitchen garden, now grassed over.

Herbaceous Borders

These borders line the pathway back to the house and have recently been restored. The southern half was turned into beds to grow potatoes in WWII but now are back to their former beauty.

At 137m long they are divided into four sections. Pastel colours with spires of yellow achillea, kniphofia and day-lilies. Grey-green yuccas, agapanthus add structure and there are many small shrubs such as whitebeam, smoke-bush and viburnums. Berberis, lilacs and hydrangea provide a succession of flowers.

The Lawns

Mostly used for playing a game of croquet on or lounging on the deckchairs with loads of room for children to run around in safety. With the most wonderful views over the Surrey Hills. You can picnic on the Theatre lawn and in the orchard. More urns and statues and even a Roman bath can be found among the trees and hedges of the lower lawns.

Long Walk

The Long Walk stretches for 0.4km eastward above the valley and was begun in 1761. This walk will transport you back to those Edwardian days as you stroll along the terrace towards the colonnades which originally formed part of the regency house at Polesden Lacey. The views over the valley are worth admiring from the many benches along the way.

Size: 30 acres (12 hectares)

If you like a walk, long or short, then please visit Jo for her regular strolls in the UK and the Algarve and maybe you would like to join in too. She’s very welcoming.

Town: Great Bookham
Postcode: RH5 6BD
County: Surrey
Website: Polesden Lacey House and Gardens


28 thoughts on “Garden Portrait: Polesden Lacey

  1. I can’t help but be in awe of these elegantly sculpted gardens and imagining life in this pastoral setting. Funny how I never imagine myself as one of the workers though 😉

  2. Good job I’m on the ball or I’d have missed this. 🙂 🙂 A handful of roses and some musical cupids sound just the job, Jude. I was wondering if they could spare that sundial with the cute cupids but decided it’s a bit big for our current des res. Oh to be in England… but not yet awhile. 🙂
    The kids carnival was rained off but we think they may give it another go tomorrow. The main event is on till next Tuesday with a sunny forecast. I’m wondering if they might do Carnival stuff in Barca? I’m sure Lisa will have a mask or two with her, just in case. Thank you very kindly for the link and the lovely company.

  3. Fab-looking place and your photos are so enticing. I can’t believe (looking back as my middle-aged self_ that I hardly ever went to any of these fabulous places when I lived in England. Thanks for letting me enjoy Polesden Lacey 🙂

    1. The NT have a reputation for being such a fuddy-duddy, but in recent years they have been trying to attract the younger crowd and making their places fun for kids. I just love the gardens 🙂

  4. I enjoyed this stroll very much, especially the parasol and floppy hat. The whole lot made me feel gracious. I loved the Cupid sundial, and you always do prospects beautifully. What a contrast to the Arboretum!

    1. Lots of people have a love/hate relationship with the National Trust, but I for one am grateful that they preserve gardens for us all to enjoy like this one.

  5. I can barely keep up with the weeds at my tiny estate. The time to keep these gardens so beautiful must take a large crew working full-time. Hopefully someday I will be able to explore them in person.

  6. I love visiting English gardens like this one and fantasising what it would be like to own one. I don’t fantasise about what it would be like to look after it though. I would leave that job to someone else!

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