Time for tea with Mrs G March 14

Charlotte Burford, Conservation and Engagement Assistant Charlotte Burford Conservation and Engagement Assistant
A view of the tea room at Polesden Lacey

Conservation Intern Sarah has spent most of her internship inventory marking the huge collection at Polesden Lacey. One of her favourite rooms to work in has been the tea room. In this week's blog post, Sarah talks about her favourite room and explains everything she got up to during her internship.

As my conservation internship comes to an end I thought I’d write about my favourite room in the house. For me, despite stiff competition from the library, it has to be the tea room. It holds a special place in my heart and not just because of my love for all things tea and cake. 

It's not all just tea and cake

Way back in September I began my internship in the tea room by completing an audit of its contents. Going full circle, I’ve also ended in there by targeting the room for inventory marking. I’m happy to report that all items now have their own identity numbers on them – even the lampshades!  

At Christmas, I also decorated the fabulous (if I do say so myself) tree in there for our 1930s party, which was my pride and joy, despite the odd battle with fairy lights and uncooperative bows. 

Latecomers will not be permited

Of all the rooms in the house, the tea room is the most intimate and feminine. You can imagine Mrs Greville relaxing in there and having a good gossip with her guests. 

Tea was served at 5 o’clock and not a minute past! If you were late you weren’t getting in, no matter who you were. There is one amusing tale of King Edward VII being refused entrance through the windows because of his poor time-keeping skills. 

On offer was mouth-watering hot cinnamon scones, buttered toast, coffee creams, meringues, petits fours, thick cream from Polesden Farm, and Indian or China tea. 

Queen Mary loved to invite herself for tea with little warning – a sign of her strong friendship with Maggie but a nuisance for the unprepared household. Mrs Greville was one of the few women with whom the Queen took tea (always Indian) as a private individual; unaccompanied by a companion. 

The room itself is a twentieth-century version of the Louis XVI style. It is home to a beautiful series of eighteenth-century pastoral landscape paintings (salvaged and cut to fit the panelling), which definitely add a subtle wow-factor. 

A black and white photograph of the Tea Room in the 1940's
A black and white photograph of the Tea Room in the 1940's
A black and white photograph of the Tea Room in the 1940's

As most of the original furnishings were sold in 1942, today it houses some smaller items of French furniture from Mrs Greville’s London home. 

Object of desire

I’ll finish this post with one item that has truly captured my heart. This is the heart shaped Louis XV table de toilette. It is made of tulipwood and purple heart and inside has a mirror and two hinged drawers which would have held toilet materials. 

A heart shaped vanity table
A heart shaped vanity table
A heart shaped vanity table

I absolutely love this table because of the beautiful marquetry decoration on its lid and the more I look at its inlaid floral design the more I fall in love with it. 

Although my time as an intern has ended, I won’t be saying goodbye to Polesden Lacey quite yet as I’ve decided to stay on as a research volunteer. Many thanks to the house team for making these 6 months so amazing that I don’t want to leave.

Mrs Greville speaks with some guests with a Facebook logo in the corner of the picture

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Mrs Greville chats with some guests with a twitter logo in the corner of the picture

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