The Polesden Lacey estate has played host to royalty throughout history. The location and picturesque views across the Surrey Hills was the perfect setting for entertaining the high society during the early part of the 20th Century.
Margaret and her husband Ronald Greville bought Polesden Lacey in 1906. They commissioned architects Mewès and Davis, who had recently designed the Ritz, and interior decorators White, Allom and Co. Between them, these firms created a sumptuous and luxurious house fit for royalty. Sadly Ronald passed away in 1908, but Margaret remained at Polesden Lacey for many years, entertaining a stream of high profile guests, including Kings Edward VII, George V and George VI.
The house has many opulent rooms from Dining Rooms, a Saloon which was decorated with early 18th-century paneling from an Italian palace and of course a Billiard Room, all entertaining the most powerful dignitaries and politicians in their time including the likes of Winston Churchill.
Mrs Greville organised her social life in the study by the the early 19th-century mahogany writing table which today is covered with a collection of photographs of, amongst others: her parents, the Aga Khan, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the two princesses.
This room was the first to make an impact on Mrs Greville's guests, so it needed to be impressive. White Allom and Co. specialised in architectural salvage and it features a carved reredos (screen from behind the altar) from St Matthew's Church, one of Sir Christopher Wren's churches. Flemish tapestries from the 16th, 17th and 18th-centuries cover the walls and a silver-plated chandelier hangs from the ceiling.
Author Beverly Nichols remembers the footman serving drinks here at 6pm as the glamorous guests began to mingle before dinner.
After Margaret Greville died, paintings from her London home were brought to Polesden. Some of the most spectacular, including her collection of Dutch old masters, now hang in the Picture corridor. Margaret consulted experts for advice on her collection and in this Jacobean inspired oak-pannelled gallery, you'll find fine paintings by Teniers, ter Borch and de Hooch, as well as an antique Roman sarcophagus, dating from 3AD.
Polesden's afternoon teas were sumptuous affairs and good enough to entice royalty. Queen Mary, wife of King George V, would often telephone to announce herself for tea the same afternoon. Mrs Greville kept her favourite tea in stock as well as the blend enjoyed by Lord Reading, Viceroy of India. Much of the French furniture in this room was originally used to furnish the guest bedrooms.