The Gardens of Easton Lodge in Little Easton are marking 100 years since the Countess of Warwick tried to gift the stately home to the Labour Party.

This unusual centenery will be celebrated with an open day on Sunday, May 21 - with visitors invited to explore the gardens and learn about Easton Lodge's history.

Archivists from the Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust will display the story of how the Countess of Warwick Frances Evelyn 'Daisy' Greville (née Maynard) grew up as one of the richest little girls in the UK.

Owning the countryside around Little Easton and beyond, Daisy made her own decisions in a way that was unusual for the time.

She chose her husband - turning down Prince Leopold for the man who would become the Earl of Warwick - and also chose her lovers, including Edward Prince of Wales, and her politics.

In 1904, Daisy joined the Social Democratic Foundation and installed socialist vicars in the churches of Thaxted and Tilty.

By 1923, the Countess was hosting Labour Party meetings and events in Easton Lodge and it became known in the press as the Labour 'Chequers'.

Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald and author H G Wells joined Daisy in welcoming party members to a Grand Gala Day at the Lodge in June 1923.

In the general election of December that year, Daisy stood as the Labour Party candidate for Warwick and Leamington, but was defeated by the Conservative candidate - future Prime Minister Anthony Eden, who was also her son's brother-in-law.


The Countess tried to get the Labour Party to accept the gift of the house as a continued venue for weekend gatherings, conferences and residential study.

When this offer was turned down she offered it to the Trades Union Congress for use as a college, but this offer was also rejected.

In addition to stories and pictures of the house's history, visitors on the open day can also enjoy the gardens' lush spring foliage and flowers.

By May the leaves are fresh on the trees, the laburnums are covered in vibrant yellow flowers, and the handkerchief tree may still have its flowers wafting in the breeze.

The tulips will be giving way to irises and alliums, and roses will be coming out around the gardens.

At this time of year the gardens' elephant statue will be in a sea of cow parsley, and visitors will be able to search for the last of the bluebells and cowslips and the first of the wild orchids.

Musical duo Karen and Tony will perform a range of folk and other popular songs, and there will also be a children's trail and craft activities.

As with other Sunday open days at the gardens, there will be plant, craft and other local information stalls, with refreshments provided by the trust's volunteers. Dogs on leads are welcome.

On May 21 the gardens open at 11am and close at 5pm, with last entry at 5pm.

Tickets can be bought in advance via