19 JUNE 1947, Page 5

The fate of country-houses in these times is varied and

interesting. It is illustrated by the fortunes that have recently befallen three of them within a radius of half-a-dozen miles in Surrey. Wotton House, the historic home of John Evelyn, and still owned by a John Evelyn today, is (lamentable to state) to become a National Fire Service College. Leith Hill Place, a flue Elizabethan mansion on the southern slopes of Leith Hill was, on the death of its owner, Mr. Hervey Vaughan-Williams, a few years ago, left to his brother Dr. Ralph Vaughan-Williams, who presented the house and the extensive woods to the National Trust. The house, which was acquired in 1847 by Josiah Wedgwood the third, of the famous pottery family, has now been leased by his great-grandson Sir Ralph Wedgwood, who gave a particularly delightful family party there a fortnight ago in celebration of the centenary. Polesden Lacey, on the North Downs, a mile or so from Bookham and about three from Dorking, was left by its owner, Mrs. Ronald Greville, to the National Trust just as it stood, with priceless pictures, furniture, signed photographs on tables, a library of richly-bound books. The grounds and ground- floor are open to the public on three days a week and four flats have . been constructed, and duly let, on the upper floors. But much more than that is contemplated. Last Saturday evening the music- room was filled for a most attractive concert of chamber music (Purcell and Handel and Arne, Bach and Mozart) the only instruments being a harpsichord, made in London in 1772, and a viol da gamba made in France in the seventeenth century and probably brought here at the time of the French Revolution. A similar concert is to be held on July 5th, and in other ways it is hoped to makes Polesden Lacey a centre for the study of Surrey history and archaeology and for the promotion of local culture generally. How better could such houses be used?

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