Daisy, Countess of Warwick, had a special relationship with Easton Lodge, her ancestral seat – more so than she had an affinity with Warwick Castle. She had grown up in this secluded corner of England, and spent a fortune improving and maintaining the house and gardens, although her efforts to hand over the lodge to the Socialist movement were unsuccessful. Her impact on Easton Lodge was so great, however, that even after her death links with Warwick are apparent.
After Daisy’s death in 1938, the ownership of Easton Lodge was transferred to her youngest son Maynard. It was during WWII when the entire estate was requisitioned and brutally disfigured whilst being transformed into an airfield. Maynard, a keen botanist who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of tree species, began to revive his mother’s dilapidated garden in the decades after the War, having already had the majority of the mansion torn down in the 1950s.
His death in 1960, which some newspapers suggested was the result of a suicide attempt, ended these efforts. His descendants continued to own the majority of the gardens until the later decades of the century, when various portions were divided in the 1970s. The remaining section of the living quarters, aptly named ‘Warwick House’, was then purchased and renovated by Brian and Diane Creasey, who established the Easton Lodge Gardens Trust to gradually restore this neglected paradise.
Due to their superb efforts, it is now possible to visit the gardens and gain a glimpse of what was once one of Britain’s finest Estates. Their modest archive building is a rich fountain of information relating to Daisy’s various passions, from socialism to gardening and interior design. In contrast with her former Warwick home, which is now filled with lifeless waxworks relating to a period of her life she later shunned, it is undeniable that the spirit of Daisy Maynard is still very much alive in this beautiful corner of the Essex countryside.
Warwick echoes in names
It is due to this extraordinary Countess that the name and associations of ‘Warwick’ will forever be connected with this place. The most pertinent example, perhaps, being Little Easton’s annual Countess of Warwick’s Country Show, which attracts hundreds of visitors from every corner of the county each August.
The gardens are open to the public once a month and are a must see for those who, in Daisy’s words, find joy in the quiet of solitary places, and dream dreams for a brighter happier future.
For more information about Daisy, Countess of Warwick, listen to this podcast recorded with fellow Warwick Castle historian, Aaron Manning.