As I've already mentioned in my Freelancer's Guide Part 6 - Claremont Landscape Gardens, Surrey is lucky to have so many beautiful National Trust properties scattered across it.
Last week I combined a sunny walk, a coffee and a chat with a friend with the chance to check out Polesden Lacey, in Bookham. I wanted to see if it would fit the bill as a good place for freelancers to escape to when they need a change of scene. (It's a hard life, being a freelance writer...)
The National Trust website is unusually scant on the history of this beautiful house and grounds - and of its owner, the endlessly fascinating socialite Margaret (Maggie) Greville - but this 2013 article, in The Independent, gives an interesting account instead.
There has been a house on the Polesden Lacey land since approximately 1336 and it has been rebuilt several times over the centuries. It was remodelled for the final time in 1906 - when Maggie and her husband Ronald moved in - by Charles Mewès and Arthur Davis, the architects who had designed The Ritz.
The house is definitely worth a visit: Maggie was a firm believer in bling and the decor reflects her fabulous sense of style. George and Elizabeth (the then Duke and Duchess of York and future King George VI & Queen Elizabeth) spent part of their honeymoon here in 1923 at Maggie's invitation.
The grounds are also pretty spectacular: over 1,400 acres of landscaped walks, a walled garden, ancient woodland and lawns. At the moment the gardens are crammed with stunning flowers which, in turn, are a workplace for an amazing amount of bees. There's nothing that says summer to me more than the sound of happy bees and my friend, the photographer Susannah Wheeler took some beautiful photographs of them buzzing about..
Polesden Lacey is, apparently, one of the National Trust's top ten most visited properties and the house and grounds have been used as the backdrop to several film and television shoots, including an episode of Jeeves and Wooster, Agatha Christie's Marple - At Bertram's Hotel and Midsomer Murders.
And obviously, being a National Trust place, the coffee shop is lovely. Inside and outside seating and the usual array of hot drinks and tasty food. It definitely deserves a place in the Freelancer's Guide - and it gets extra points for the beautiful surroundings which are guaranteed to motivate and inspire your imagination!
So many places, so little time...where shall I visit next?!