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Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham

Description: Polesden Lacey

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 7 September 1951
English Heritage Building ID: 290447

OS Grid Reference: TQ1359152195
OS Grid Coordinates: 513591, 152195
Latitude/Longitude: 51.2576, -0.3735

Location: Dorking, Surrey RH5 6BD

Locality: Great Bookham
Local Authority: Mole Valley District Council
County: Surrey
Country: England
Postcode: RH5 6BD

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Listing Text


07-SEP-51 Polesden Lacey


Country house, now National Trust property and office. 1821-24, by Thomas
Cubitt, for Joseph Bonsor in Neo-Classical style; much extended 1902-6 by Sir Ambrose Poynter for the Scottish financier William McEwan in matching style; enlarged 1906-9 for Ronald Greville, his son in law by Architects Mewes and Davis who also carried out comprehensive internal refurbishment. Stucco on brick, slate roofs, stuccoed chimneys. Rectangular plan composed of single-depth ranges round a large central courtyard, with projecting wings added to the east front and another at the north-west corner. Two storeys, with prominent cornice carried round. Windows are mainly 12-pane sashes.
EXTERIOR: The symmetrical east front is E-plan and is mainly by Poynter but with an extension to the left wing and a semi-circular bow front to the right hand wing by Mewes and Davis. It comprises 3:3:3 bays between projecting wings, and has a projecting pedimented centre with double doors framed by Ionic columns carrying a segmental canopy, a tripartite sashed window above, and a mutule pediment containing a Diocletian window; the windows are 15-pane sashes at ground floor, 12-pane sashes above, those flanking the door with radiant tympani and the others with decorated friezes and simple cornices. Each side of the pediment is a parapet with infilling of semi-circular tiles, and in the centre of the roof is a tall octagonal 2-stage cupola with windows in the lower stage, clock-faces in the upper, a prominent cornice, and domed roof with finial. At each end of the main facade is a one-bay link with tripartite openings. The re-entrants of the wings, of 3 and 4 bays respectively, have blind windows at ground floor except the centre of the left wing which has a glazed door with overlight, and 12-pane sashes above, all these openings with louvred shutters; the front wall of each wing has a central bow, that to the left with a French window and 18-pane sashes at ground floor, that to the right with blind windows at ground floor, and both with curved 12-pane sashes above; both wings have prominent cornices, low blocking courses, and hipped roofs. Various tall chimneys, including one at the outer corner of each wing.
The south front incorporates six bays of the original Cubitt house, originally 1:4:1 bays, extended by two bays each end and pediment added over central four bays by Poynter and with two end bays to the right added by Mewes and Davis, so that it is now 2:4:4 bays. The centre breaks forward slightly has an Ionic octostyle loggia protecting 3 large French windows with overlights at ground floor, a square-headed niche in the centre above this, and a panelled parapet with a small open pediment in the centre with male and female masks; the windows are 18-pane sashes at ground floor and 12-pane sashes above, those flanking the colonnade set in round-headed recesses, and all with louvred shutters. The left return wall of this range has a recessed loggia surrounded on 3 sides by Venetian-style screens with Ionic columns. Further to the rear (beyond a one-bay link with tripartite openings) is a symmetrical west range of 2:3:2 bays, which has a projecting pedimented centre with a French window in the centre, a coved niche above this, and an oculus in the pediment; and sashed windows of 18 panes at ground floor, 12 panes above, all with blind-hoods. At the north-west corner is a projecting wing of 3x3 bays, with an Ionic colonnade on its south side and an oriel in its west side.
The service wing forming the north range-has inter alia a recessed 3-storey centre under a shallow pediment, sashed windows at ground floor, and large casements above.
INTERIOR: Entrance Hall by Poynter contains oak staircase and fine oak reredos of 1682-5 by Edward Pierce from former church of St Matthew in City of London, built by Wren in 1665, demolished c.1883. Picture Corridor was adapted by Poynter but Davis provided a barrel-vaulted ceiling with strapwork plaster decoration copied from the Long Gallery of Chastleton House Oxfordshire and there is reused Jacobean panelling. Dining Room is as designed by Poynter but with late C18 white marble chimneypiece with panel of cupids probably installed by Mrs Greville. The Library was decorated by Mewes and Davis with built-in bookshelves with Ionic pilasters and a brought in English chimneypiece of c1765, the central panel depicting Winter. The study with similar panelling to the Library and marble fireplace with bolection moulding was designed by Mewes and Davis. The Saloon fitted by Mewes and Davis comprises a c1700 "salone" moved from an Italian palazzo complete with painted canvases to the ceiling, two marble fireplaces in French style of c1730 and herringbone parquet floor. Tea Room designed by Mewes and Davis 1906-9 in Louis XVI style with panelling incorporating eight late C18 style pastoral landscapes based on Fragonard and Boucher and marble fireplace. Billiard room by Poynter but with marble fireplace of c1800 with ram's heads, urns and paterae. Smoking Room has C18 fireplace of green and white marble with lion's head panel and paterae. Gun Room has glazed screen leading to Bachelor Stairs. First floor has room with marble fireplace, four bathrooms with Edwardian fittings , one with green tessellated floor and the end room to the south east has a marble fireplace with paterae and brackets and built-in cupboards where George VI and Queen Elizabeth spent part of their honeymoon in 1923.
HISTORY: The estate, with a former house on this site dating from the early C17, was owned and occupied by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (dramatist and politician) from 1797 to 1816. William McEwan, for whom the Cubitt house of 1821-4 was extended between 1902-6 by Poynter had an important collection of Dutch Old Masters and other paintings. His daughter Mrs Greville extended the collection with purchases of Italian majolica, English, European and Chinese porcelain, silver bronzes and furniture. The house was the centre of lavish entertaining during the Edwardian and later period including royalty. Mrs Greville bequeathed the house to the National Trust in 1942.

["Builder" 07/09/1907.
"Buildings of England: Surrey" ps 414-5.
A Stuart Gray "Edwardian Architecture." P294.
Polesden Lacey National Trust Guide Book.]

Listing NGR: TQ1359152195

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.