Friday 18 May 2018

A Family Trip to Polesden Lacey - National Trust, Surrey

polesden lacey header
I absolutely adore National Trust properties. Looking around an old character house, exploring the grounds and enjoying some good food whilst I am there is my idea of a dream day. I am super lucky that there are so many of them around and I can always find somewhere new within a couple of hours of our home in East Sussex. 

A couple of weeks ago my girls had a Friday inset day so we headed off to Surrey and met my Mum at one of her local National Trust properties - Polesden Lacey and as I expected it was a delight. As you can see from the photos we were very lucky with the weather and this helped us to have a wonderful time there. 

Getting there/ Parking
We took a bit of an 'odd' route as we were picking my Mum up on the way but once we joined the A246 it was a very easy drive and Polesden Lacey was well-signed with the brown attraction signs. They advise that it is best to use the postcode KT23 4PZ for sat navs. There appeared to be plenty of parking and it was on hard-standing. This is free if you are an NT member or otherwise £2 for up to 2 hours or £5 for the whole day. 

There are toilets right at the entrance (including accessible ones and baby change) and also the pleasant Cowshed coffee shop with outside seating, which seemed to be a hit with many dog owners. In fact, we saw so many dogs at this NT site and it thrilled my daughters. Dogs on a lead are welcomed in the pleasure gardens and in the wider estate but not in the house or the cafes. 

polesden lacey house

The House
Queen Elizabeth, the Queens Mother honeymooned at Polesden Lacey, so that gives you an idea of the grandeur you'll find in the house. It was home to the famous Edwardian hostess Mrs Greville, who entertained royalty and the celebrities of her time. The glittering Gold Saloon designed to impress kings and maharajahs is an amazing and totally over-the-top sight and Mrs Greville had an extensive collection of art and ceramics ranging from world-famous Dutch old masters to sparkling Fabergé and Cartier objects, some given to her by royalty.

There is an interesting exhibition on at the moment, called Power Play and it depicts how Mrs Greville used her talent for entertaining to gain the ear and trust of many, man influential people of her time.

polesden lacy

We spent around an hour looking inside the house as there are many, many rooms and corridors open for you to look round. As with most sights, there were many volunteers who were absolute gems themselves and loved to share their knowledge of the estate the volunteer within.

inside polesden lacey house

I think I'd have enjoyed being invited along to one of Mrs Greville's famous afternoon teas, as depicted below.

mrs grevilles salon

inside polesden lacey

Whilst we were there I think my girls were the only children on-site (as it was an inset day from their out-of-area school) and as such, there wasn't anything on for them in particular but they did enjoy dressing up in some clothes provided, playing puff, planning a dinner seating plan and there is obviously normally a trail through the house as they kept spotting small stuffed dogs everywhere! 

The Pleasure Gardens
Of course, the part of the day that the girls love best was being able to get outdoors and enjoy the space. There are 30 acres of gardens and a further 1400 acres to the wider estate. The views over the rolling Surrey hills are just amazing. We all loved the NT deckchairs on the lawn where we could sit and enjoy the sun and the views. The girls particularly loved that there were also double width deckchairs too

polesden lacey gardens

An ice-cream was essential on their hit list and they weren't too expensive at all at £1.50 each. 

ice creams on the lawn

family selfie

Squirrels Corner is the adventure playground at Polesden Lacey and my girls were lucky enough to have this to themselves. There is loads of wooden play equipment and obstacles, blackboards for drawing, den building places and their favourite - the giant chess set.

Mum and I were glad of the benches in the play area, so we could sit and chat whilst they played. It was also useful that there are temporary toilets in the grounds during high season so we didn't have to walk far when they were needed.

giant chess game

polsden lacey gardens

There is a real variety of areas to explore. from a manicured croquet lawn (and you can borrow the equipment on your way in), to steps to climb (or dance on if my girls and Mum have any input), hills to roll down, lawns to do gymnastics on, rose gardens and formal gardens to explore, a pet cemetery and of course so many glorious flowers and colours. As it is only May, I can only guess just how beautiful it will all be in full summer colour.

polesden lacey garden stairs

As always I enjoyed getting my macro filters out and snapping a few pictures of some of the flowers I found on site.

macro flowers

We didn't walk out too far but there are four marked-out routes across the estate that you can explore, all differing in length and abilities. You can pick a leaflet up from reception for £1 if you want to explore further afield.

Eating and Shopping
There are loads of benches around if you wish to bring your own picnic but if not we can recommend the Granary cafe. Miss M and I had a cheese jacket potato each, these are served with salad and coleslaw for £5.25. Mum had a bowl of gorgeous homemade mushroom soup with a chunk of soft granary bread for £4.75 and Miss E went for the kids pick and mix box, which let her choose 5 items for £4.50. There is drinking water to help yourself to and of course a good range of hot and cold drinks to buy too.

I was very pleasantly surprised that there is so much seating (both inside and out) and the food came out to us quickly. We also used the attached toilets and the area was clean and well-stocked.

Just outside is the shop with a large selection of plants and garden products, as well as all the regular stock you find at NT shops - scarves, pretty ceramics, pocket money toys, books and produce.

We enjoyed our visit to the second-hand bookshop too, there is a wide selection of books there to chose from.

Essential Information
Address: Great Bookham, near Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6BD Postcode for SatNav: KT23 4PZ
Telephone: 01372 452048
Ticket costs: Adult £15, Child £7.60 or family £38
Opening Hours: Check for different times of the year, but currently it is 10am - 5pm for the gardens and from 11am for the house. If you happen to arrive early, you'll find the car park and the coffee shop open from 9am.
Dog-Friendly?: Yes, on a lead
Accessibility: There is good accessibility to the house and gardens. You can also book wheelchairs in advance if you need to.

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