Polesden Lacey, southern front. Thomas Cubitt, 1821-23; extended and refitted, Ambrose Poynter, 1906. Photograph and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. 2008. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

LIke so many other big country homes, the house at Polesden Lacey was built on what was once a medieval estate, and rebuilt and extended over the years. In this case, the house was first completely rebuilt in 1631. This rebuilt house was later owned by the playwright Richard Sheridan. Then in the early 1820s it was rebuilt again by its next owner, Joseph Bonsor, to the design of Thomas Cubitt). "This is, in its essentials, the house we see today" ("Polesden Lacey Garden," 2). As first built, it "consisted of six bays in the centre of the present s front [shown here], with an octastyle Ionic colonnade in front & an attractive, impressionistic style far more concerned with atmosphere than accuracy" (Nairn and Pevsner 414). Cubitt was also responsible for the very handsome drawing room and library behind these bays. The library for instance has "a rhythm of coupled Ionic pilasters with alternate lunettes and deep square recesses between"; Nairn and Pevsner add that it is all "expertly done, with the recesses acting as spatial joists, as it were, fixing and defining the spatial character" (415). In 1906, when the house was extended by Ambrose Poynter, it took on a more Edwardian appearance with extra bays, a new eastern front, a cupola and so on. Owned by the wealthy socialite Mrs Greville (1863-1942), it was then used for some very grand entertaining indeed: the future George VI and his wife spent part of their honeymoon here. It is now a very popular National Trust property.

Working in this beautiful downland area, with its sweeping views, was what made Cubitt decide to build his own country house at nearby Denbies. Unfortunately, that house has since been demolished and completely rebuilt.

Related Material


Polesden Lacey Gardens. London: National Trust Enterprises, 1992.

Nairn, Ian and Nikolaus Pevsner, Nikolaus. The Buildings of England: Surrey. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2nd ed. 1971.

Last modified 31 August 2008