From May 17 hugs and holidays abroad will be allowed again as England enters phase three of the roadmap out of lockdown.
In line with the Government easing of restrictions, the National Trust will be inviting guests back inside the stunning properties in its care.
National Trust director general Hilary McGrady described next week as “a big moment that we have all looked forward to for months”.
“Our places are nothing without our visitors there to enjoy them. It is a matter of huge relief, pride and gratitude that the places in our care can start to reopen following closure due to the pandemic,” she added.
See below for details on the four spectacular Surrey houses you will be able to visit.
Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham
The country retreat, which the Queen Mother visited on her honeymoon, was home to the famous Edwardian hostess Mrs Greville, who entertained royalty and the celebrities of her time.
Jonathan Marsh, Polesden Lacey collections and house manager, said: “In recent weeks we’ve been polishing the crystal chandelier in the gold Saloon, dusting the ceramics, winding the clocks and taking off the furniture covers ready to welcome visitors inside again.
“The house at Polesden Lacey just isn’t the same without our visitors, we can’t wait to throw open the front doors and welcome everyone back safely.
“We have plenty of space during the week, but at weekends it’s important to prebook tickets via our website and join the house queuing system on arrival, so that we can ensure there is safe social distancing.”
Look out for the Italian-Byzantine triptych of The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints on display at Polesden Lacey, painted in egg tempera and gold. The hinged ‘wings’ of the triptych were designed to close in order to protect the interior images when not in use for prayer.
Where? Great Bookham, near Dorking, RH5 6BD
Entry: £13 (adult), £6.50 (child), £32.50 (family), one adult and two children (£19.50). More details here.
Hatchlands Park, East Clandon
The Georgian house at Hatchlands was built in 1756, replacing a Tudor house on the estate.
Inside you can gaze at several beautifully restored rooms. There’s also a chance to see some of Robert Adam’s earliest work, plus collections of paintings and a world class group of musical instruments brought together by tenant Alec Cobbe.
The Cobbe Collection includes paintings by old masters and 40 remarkable keyboard instruments, which is one of the largest collections of its kind in the world.
The dining room will be closed so that visitors can move through the house safely. You will be able to see the staircase hall and garden hall, the saloon and the drawing room.
Where? East Clandon, Guildford, GU4 7RT
Entry: Open from Tuesday (May 18). The house will be open from Tuesday to Friday and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm, with last admission at 3.30pm. The parkland is open 10am to 5pm daily. More details here.
Clandon Park, West Clandon
Clandon Park was one of the country’s most complete examples of a Palladian mansion and was designed by Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni.
But on April 29, 2015, a devastating fire engulfed the historic home.
The fire, likely caused by a faulty connection in the electrical distribution board, destroyed 95 per cent of the Grade-I listed building as 300 years’ worth of history went up in flames.
It was somewhat of a miracle that many treasures were unearthed beneath the ashes, with firefighters praised for their salvage operation that preserved paintings, statues, books and antiques.
Since the devastating event, a specialist team at the National Trust has been carrying out development work and, along the way, uncovering new things about the house.
From May 22 the property will open for brand new tours so visitors can explore its post-fire state.
Where? West Clandon, Guildford, GU4 7RQ
Entry: Hour tour prices £8 (adult), £4 (child) and £20 (family). From May 22 the house will reopen for two tours per day, every Saturday and Sunday. Tours will commence at 12pm and 2pm. More details here.
Leith Hill Place, Dorking
The 17th-century Leith Hill Place, which was added to and improved in the 18th century, has been called home by some of the most influential families.
Naturalist Charles Darwin frequently stayed at the house where he conducted research around the estate. His ‘worm-stone’ still sits within the grounds today next to a trail marker.
A one-way route will be in operation through the house and each visit is expected to take around 20 to 30 minutes. From May 21 the ground floor of the house will be open Fridays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. Booking in advance is required.
Where? Leith Hill Lane, Leith Hill, RH5 6LY
Entry: £5 (adult) and £2.50 (child). There is a suggested donation of £3.50 in the Rhododendron Wood car park for non National Trust members.
Other small National Trust properties or rooms which can’t accommodate social distancing will reopen later once Covid restrictions are lifted or when repair work is completed.