As the Christmas lights flickered and the last of the mince pies had been finished off, we packed up a couple of bags and headed to the beautiful Surrey hills and a retreat in a National Trust cottage at Polesden Lacey.
We arrived at night, the post-Boxing Day traffic being heavier than we anticipated, and it took a few minutes longer to navigate the little lanes up to Polesden Lacey, a few miles outside of Dorking in Surrey, in the dark. Once we pulled up though, the lights inside the cottage glowed, beckoning us inside and into its warmth. With a basket heaving with logs we immediately lit the fire and at once felt at home.
Polesden Lacey was the Edwardian country pad of Margaret Greville, the daughter of a brewery millionaire and someone who by all accounts loved a good party. She was great friends with the Queen Mother, who had her honeymoon at Polesden Lacey and enjoyed hosting gatherings which included maharajas and royalty from across the world. And Polesden is a beautiful house.
How much the head gardener in the cottage overlooking Polesden, knew about the wild parties in the main house isn’t known. As we nestled inside his 19th century house we could only imagine the stories that this beautiful cottage could tell.
Our first night was all about settling in and we took it in turns to have long bubbly soaks in the roll-top bath, the perfect way to unwind after a long drive.
The cottage was well set up for families with two bedrooms on the ground floor, along with two bathrooms and another bedroom and bathroom on the first floor.
There was a large lounge with open fire (and an endless supply of wood outside), tv, and a huge chest filled with board games.
We loved all the books placed around to read up on Polesden Lacey and other publications from the National Trust library and we thought the vases of fresh flowers everywhere was a lovely touch. As we visited in between Christmas and New Year it was all looking suitably festive too and we appreciated the lovely knit blankets on the backs of every chair.
When morning came we cooked up a big breakfast before heading out on a walk of the grounds in the beautiful winter sunshine. Polesden Lacey is surrounded by 1400 acres of land and there are some beautiful and well marked walks into the ancient woodland surrounding the property. It was wonderful to get out and blow away the cobwebs of a few Christmas days spent largely indoors.
We then took a quick trip into Dorking nearby, packed full of antique shops and lovely little independent traders and bought all the bits to cook up a huge veggie roast. As Christmas had only just passed we bought half price crackers and decided to recreate our Christmas meal. It was lovely to all sit around the big table in the kitchen, heaving under bowlfuls of vegetables and a delicious nut roast. Perfect family time, a chance to all be together without the distractions of home, to chat and relax and enjoy each other’s company.
We spent the next few days exploring the grounds. We loved looking around Polesden Lacey which was all decked out for a 1930’s Christmas.
Unfortunately only the main hall and dining room were open to the public, so we will have to return as I loved the feel of the place and want to explore it some more. It was interesting to see it all set up for the guests in 1935 though, complete with a menu from the day.
We shopped in the gorgeous little National Trust shop and little ‘potting shed’ plant shop and loved running through the gardens surrounding the house. But it was the Garden Cottage that called us back time and time again, for reading by the fire, endless games of Cluedo and hot chocolates.
We absolutely loved the space the cottage offered us and it felt really special to be right in the grounds of somewhere so historic. We could see people at the end of our little path, looking back up at the cottage, little signs telling them it wasn’t accessible to the public, and we felt really lucky to be here and to know we could just open the front door and walk in to the rose or vegetable garden of the main house and explore the grounds.
My favourite part of the day was dusk, which came early in the winter day, when the last few visitors would make their way home and in the falling light, it would gradually just be us and Polesden Lacey once again. We would light the fire, lock the door and spend more time, so happily as a family. I’m going to remember this stay for the longest time.
You can watch our video of our time here –
We were guests of the National Trust for the purposes of this review but all opinions are our own.