Michael More-Molyneaux is seriously houseproud. His family has lived at Loseley since it was built by Sir Christopher More to entertain Elizabeth I, in the 1560s.
‘We think of it as a peaceful, down-to-earth family house,’ says More-Molyneaux, who took the reins of the 1,400-acre estate in 1998.
Relaxed Loseley may be, but it is rarely silent. Three generations of the More-Molyneaux clan, and their many dogs, live in the manor.
However asset-rich Loseley’s custodians may be, long term, they can’t fund the house by selling off assets, so the family has developed an impressive entrepreneurial streak.
Michael’s father, James, founded the famous Loseley Dairy business in 1968. The cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream, made from milk from Loseley’s Jersey herd, was a staggering success. James’s firm line on additives (no thanks) and premium ingredients (yes please) struck a chord with buyers that continues to resonate.
Between 1975 and 1985 sales doubled every 18 months and the company turnover was £5 million. But the business outgrew the farm buildings and began to suffer from competition from the big brands, so, in 1985, the company left family hands and a new era of diversification began.
The house has been a location for films and TV programmes, and is soon to appear as a backdrop to the BBC’s new adaptation of Jane Austen's ‘Sense and Sensibility’.
And, with his wife, More-Molyneux has designed new gardens, laid out within the Victorian walls in a series of ‘rooms’, including a rose garden, a herb garden and a white garden.
In May, when Loseley Park opens to the public for the summer, he hopes visitors will come to see how the garden, and its most recent addition, the wildflower meadow, is progressing.
Inside, the house is a perfect Tudor manor, with a fascinating collection of family paintings, furniture and tapestries. Highlights are the extravagantly pilastered bookcases of the library, and the drawing room, with its elaborate chimneypiece fashioned out of a single block of chalk, and spectacular gilded ceiling.
How to find it
Loseley is near Guildford, less than an hour from London, down the A3, by car.
The entrance to Loseley Park is off the B3000, which links the A3100 with the A31.
Trains take an hour and five minutes from Waterloo to Guildford, about three miles away.
Loseley Park, Guildford, GU3 1HS (01483 304440).
Around & about
Explore the gorgeously verdant Surrey hills
Choose from the chalk North Downs, north of Guildford, or, to the south, beauty spots such as Devil’s Punch Bowl and Leith Hill. Plot your walk at www.surreyhills.org.
RHS Garden Wisley
Highlight of the late spring and early summer are the rhododendrons, and from 15 June, the new 32,300sq ft glasshouse.
RHS Garden Wisley, on the A3, just north of Guildford (01483 224234).
1730s house with an astounding collection of porcelain, including Meissen.
Clandon Park, West Clandon, Guildford, GU4 7RQ (01483 222482).
Where to eat
Informal and inexpensive lunch menu of brasserie-style food, Napa Valley cuisine and plenty of pizza.
Zinfandel, 4-5 Chapel Street, Guildford, GU1 3UH (01483 455155).
Seventeenth century cottage in a sweet village, about six miles east of Guildford. Excellent seafood and game in season, imaginatively prepared. Good value is the two-course prix fixe lunch for £14.95, Tuesday to Saturday.
Kinghams, Gomshall Lane, Shere, GU5 9HE (01483 202168).