The Foxearth and District Local History Society

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Meetings and activities, announcements and notices for the Foxearth and District Local History Society, and associated organisations. For more information on recent events and current programme, please email or contact Clare Mathieson 01787 311337 or Lynda Rumble 01787 281434

A History of Easton Lodge

 Foxearth and District History Society

A History of Easton Lodge – the Countess and Her Gardens

A talk by Gary Matthews

10th January 2023

At the FDHS’s first meeting of the year, Gary Matthews expertly wove together two stories of transformation –  of the lifestyle of an Edwardian socialite, the other of her fabulous gardens designed by renowned landscape architect Harold Peto at the turn of the last century (writes Andrew Le Sueur of Borley Lodge).

The backdrop to both narratives was Easton Lodge, a large country house near Great Dunmow in Essex. Over the centuries this morphed from a small hunting lodge into an Elizabethan manor house into a Jacobean mansion until a devastating fire in 1874 created an opportunity to build a large Victorian Gothic pile. Arguably, its heyday was the Edwardian period when it became a setting for lavish parties attended by the Marlborough House Set including Bertie, the Prince of Wales and future Edward VII.  The hostess was Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick, who had inherited Easton Lodge aged three. Daisy lived her life at full throttle, taking several lovers while married, and becoming an accomplished horse woman. In her middle years, her life took an unexpected turn: she became an avowed socialist and devoted her remaining years to fighting social inequality, philanthropy, and stood (unsuccessfully) as a Labour party candidate. By the end of her life, her colossal fortune was so depleted that she faced the prospect of imprisonment for debt. She died a woman of modest means in 1938.

During the Second World War the house was requisitioned for the RAF and many thousands of trees were destroyed and the elaborate gardens fell into ruin. After the War, the house was demolished except for one wing, which remains in private ownership. 

From the 1970s, volunteers have devoted countless hours to restoration of the gardens, which is an ongoing project. These are open to visitors every Thursday from March to November with open days on selected Sundays. February provides a chance to see the garden’s fabulous display of snowdrops.

To find out more about the gardens, visit