Literati and sybarites unite at Beaverbrook House, the recently redeveloped 18-bedroomed Surrey manor extolling the finest of British virtues; class, elegance, eccentricity and utterly unrepentant excess...
Beaverbrook House, known as Cherkley Court in its day, was one of those English country houses at the heart of the most captivating political and social affairs. – A precursor if you will to Cliveden House in the sixties. Formerly owned by the legendary Canadian-born press baron Lord Beaverbrook, the house served as a meeting place for Churchill and his cronies and attracted a veritable VIP guestlist of the rich, famous and intellectual. Guests included Ian Fleming, H.G Wells, Charlie Chaplin, Rudyard Kipling, and Elizabeth Taylor, who all have eponymously named suites in their honour.
As well as being a strong hand within British political affairs, Lord Beaverbrook revolutionised the British media, forging a new atmosphere of optimism and patriotic joviality through his running of Daily Express. The millionaire businessman’s lasting legacy and the rich history at Cherkley Court can be felt in the Victorian neo-classical mansion’s vibrant, tactile and somewhat witty interiors expertly curated by interior design doyen Susie Atkinson; the woman behind Babington House and Soho House’s Brit-luxe aesthetic.
Churchill, one of Beaverbrook’s closest friends, spent so much time at Cherkley Court he even had his own room (now available for guests to stay in) uniquely situated so that he could survey the driveway and see who was approaching in case he needed to make a hasty getaway. The rather suave suite uses bold patterns, lines and dark wood to represent Churchill’s powerful character, and even features the original desk he used to paint on. Guests may be confused and/or charmed by the low seated chair by the bathtub. Supposedly, Churchill got his best ideas while enjoying a hot soak, which naturally meant a secretary had to be on hand at all times to put pen to paper…
I stayed in the overtly feminine Elizabeth Taylor suite, which works rattan carpets and delicate country florals into the pinnacle of sophistication. With a plump pastel pink four- poster domineering the champagne, chocolate truffle and Sipsmith gin littered chamber, I felt very much at home and inspired to write some long overdue letters.
It is easy to imagine Taylor huffily sashaying to the balcony, in a delicate negligee, for an angry cigarette while Burton lied mesmeric-eyed on the bed. The balcony in question now looks out onto a delightful ‘Italian garden’ featuring a sunken pond designed by influential British horticulturist Richard Bisgrove. Back in the day this was a rather chilly outdoor pool, perhaps popular with Lord Beaverbrook’s more eccentric skinny dipping accomplices. The beautifully tiled marble bathroom with polished wooden accents is a bonafide showstopper. Allow the trappings of time to fade in the stately sun-lit bath or enjoy the expansive double shower with your very own Hollywood squeeze.
The Dining Room is host to a Japanese restaurant, very much following the Nobu-ification of the world’s most upmarket restaurants. In fact the Chef Maruyama worked extensively at Nobu in both London and Monaco and trained at Tokyo’s famous Kojyu. With excellent credentials, the food is expectedly sublime and uses ingredients found on in the beautiful herb gardens on the estate.
Beaverbrook’s Peacock Bar is a feat of design genius, rivalling London’s top members clubs for pure swank, majesty and twenties glamour. With cocktails smoother than the bespoke blue satin seating, I simply cannot imagine a more beautiful bar. Full stop.
If cocktails aren’t your thing, and perhaps you’re with the kids, you can watch an old movie in the original art-deco cinema room. Alternatively, drop them off at kids club ‘Sharky and George’ before heading to the soon to open Coach House Spa which is being designed by one of the world’s finest glass architects Brian Clare, and promises to be a sharp upgrade of the old outdoor pool…
In addition to the main house, accommodation can be found at the Garden House and The Coach House Cottages where smaller rooms makes for a more authentic, less ostentatious country feel with the same brilliant design by Susie Atkinson. The downstairs restaurant at the Garden House is a delight, populated by all the right sort of locals wolfing down some exceptional Anglo-Italian fare.
There is something Wodehousian about Beaverbrook House, perhaps it's the smattering of quaint illustrations and newspaper clippings that makes one constantly feels as if bespectacled writer of ‘Society Spice’ might be pottering about the place putting beakers to doors. Or it may be the feeling that it is you who is Blandings Castle’s most recent imposter. If only walls could talk… My advice? Forget The Ned, and head to bed at Beaverbrook House.
The former home of press baron Lord Beaverbrook - lies just 19 miles from London, near Leatherhead, Surrey.
Photography courtesy of Beaverbrook and Christabel Milbanke.