The Trust are delighted to have been able to dress the Garden Room this spring with furniture and possessions owned by the last resident of West Horsley Place, Mary, the Duchess of Roxburghe.

The Duchess' favourite and most personal room has now been added to our Nooks & Crannies tours this spring.

Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe used only a few rooms in the house when she was in residence. She particularly loved the walled gardens and chose a bedroom that looked out over them rather than the most impressive bedroom (used when her parents owned the house). During waking hours however, she used the Garden Room almost exclusively. This was because it was (relatively) small, cosy and easier to keep warm, but also because its French doors opened directly into her beloved gardens. 


It is this room that she used to write her correspondence, sit with close friends for tea, read and relax. It is far and away the room that is most personal to Mary and has intimate objects in situ that reveal much about the Duchess' character and concerns. Letters now on display include one from a professor at the Victoria & Albert museum, with whom she was corresponding in an attempt to find out more about the double-headed eagle carpet in the Drawing Room. She was very interested in the history of the building (though unable financially to keep it in good repair) and its contents, as well as maintaining the gardens and estate as shown by a letter sent out to local tree surgeons after the great storm of 1987.  Mary was named for her godmother Queen Mary (wife of George V), amongst the treasured possessions in the Garden Room are signed photographs from the Queen as well as from Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother - a close friend. Like the rest of the manor house, this room radiates authenticity and a sense of those here before us, but what particularly amplifies this is the little things: her National Trust card, her match boxes, garden magazines, her favourite straw hat and family snap shots.

Mary Roxburghe's life is a fascinating one; she is one of the last of a long line of remarkable women to have touched the story of West Horsley Place. Though she died ten years ago, she is still fondly remembered by the local community for her kindness and sense of duty. She was a grand lady, a patron of the arts and a friend to the great and the good of her day, but in this little room we feel her more 'everyday' persona and get a real sense of the last occupant of this special place.

You can see the Garden Room by booking a Nooks & Crannies tour - tickets now selling to the end of the year.