Visiting the house at Polesden Lacey
Polesden Lacey, the weekend party house of Edwardian socialite Maggie Greville, was designed to impress and entertain. From the stunning décor in the gold Saloon to state-of-the-art conveniences, such as Maggie’s personal lift, no expense was spared when Ritz architects Mewès and Davies renovated the house ready for Maggie’s first house party in 1909.
Currently, there are 24 showrooms in the house that can be open to the public, including our recently renovated exhibition spaces. Read on to find out why we sometimes have to close rooms, and our plans for opening more spaces in the future.
What you can see today
As part of our Adventures in Asia: a socialite abroad programme, which runs from 5 January – 3 May, the following rooms in the house will be open:
On the ground floor:
- Central Hall
- Blue Cloakroom
- Dining Room
- Servants' Hall
- Housemaids' Room
- Linen Room
- Smoking Room
- Billiard Room
- Gold Saloon
- Study (from February)
On the first floor:
From 2 February, with the launch of our exhibition Beyond the dragon: Maggie's Asian treasures, our exhibition suite will also be open to explore.
Access to the house is by guided tour on weekdays from 11am – 12.30pm, with free flow exploration in the afternoons and all day at weekends. Last entry to the house is one hour before closing.
We also hold introductory talks every day at 11.30am (weekends), 12.30pm (weekdays), 1.30pm and 2.30pm. Come to the front of the house to learn a little about socialite Maggie and her extravagant party house, Polesden Lacey.
Resting the rooms
The house team carry out conservation work year-round to look after the house and its collection of over 9,000 items. As part of the conservation work, we sometimes have to close rooms to ‘rest’ them.
Light is just one of the conservation factors the team have to consider. By resting areas we can reduce the irreversible deterioration to the collection – particularly textiles and other organic materials. Other essential conservation work is also carried out, such as moving and cleaning large pieces of furniture, high level cleaning from scaffolding, and polishing floors.
The house was not built to host the 160,000 visitors we welcome each year, so even the floors have to be left to rest, so as not to cause lasting damage to the floorboards.
Our plans for the future
When Polesden Lacey first opened to the public in 1948, only 7 ground floor spaces were open to explore, including the Dining Room, gold Saloon and Library. The bedrooms and servants’ areas were therefore kept shut, and many rooms were turned into offices, accommodation and conservation stores.
In the 70 years since we first opened to the public, we have worked to open many more rooms; most recently, since December 2015, restoring the servants’ quarters, William McEwan’s bedroom (Maggie’s father) and the exhibition spaces.
Work continues as part of our exciting and ambitious Unlocking Polesden project to restore and open 10 further rooms in the house, including King Edward VII’s suite, more guest bedrooms and the servants’ bedrooms.
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