16 August 2011

once upon a time: Princess Radziwill at Turville Grange

Once upon a time in an idyllic spot -a place for family and friends- a house full of flowers there lived a Princess. Princess Radziwill- the beautiful  Caroline Lee Bouvier- refined her love for flowers and gardens-and houses-and family at Turville Grange, a seventeenth century Queen Anne bakehouse outside of Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

In 1971 VOGUE-with photographer Horst and writer Polly Devlin visited the Princess and were charmed-intrigued -as their story of decades ago attest.

The country house was not quite what the Princess envisioned -too many small rooms but the overlying  rambling nature of the house and " the eccentricities, the charm, the way the floorboards creak."

Timeless, elegance, charming-words we hear less of these days-and need more of.

"A house of flowers, where the weather wouldn't be noticed...I am getting passionately interested in gardens... I now see the intrigue." 

 photograph of Princess Radziwill from VOGUE, September 1971 by HORST

from Lee Radziwill's book Happy Times

a current photograph of Turville Grange© Copyright Leonard Harding


the foyer hints of the abundance of flora & fauna pervading in the rooms of Turville Grange

celebrating Christmas at Turville Grange with Jacqueline Kennedy from Happy Times

Caroline Kennedy & Jacqueline at Turville-Christmas

with Stas, her Prince- celebrating Christmas at Turville Grange, from Happy Times

A room given over to music and birds is an extension of the garden and grounds beyond.
The walls and sofas are covered in a floral fabric.

Carrot colored canaries flit in the Victorian wired cage, while a Polish speaking parrot floats above in his hanging bird cage.

 Happy Times by Lee Radziwill


the Renzo Mongiardino Dining Room walls are covered in lacquered Sicilian silk scarves & painted flowers

"I wanted a slightly faded look-a little of Turgenev"

over the mantle a Lila de Nobili, Mongiardino associate, portrait of Tina with her pets, with side panels painted with the family birds-and one panel awaiting future meaningful moments to the Princess. The house was full of animals- along with Willow the cat there were five dogs. Outside three horses-Lee's Topaz and one pony.

from the page of Vogue UK September 1971


watercolour of the Mongiardino decorated bedroom at Turville Grange


Tina Radziwill, age 10 seated with her cat Willow in the Turville Grange's Flower Arranging Room at left, a quiet place where Radiwill can paint and relax on the right.


on the grounds of Turville Grange with Tina, from the pages of LIFE

Lee and her son, Anthony on the grounds exploring the Gypsy Caravan

The Pool Pavilion planned by Prince Radziwill

from the pages of Happy TImes

Lee Radziwill with her two pet dogs, a pekingnese and a labrador retriever on the grounds of Turville Grange  photography by Horst, wearing YSL and boots by Gucci.

from the pages of VOGUE

 The Cobblestone Courtyard

 Lee in the cobblestone courtyard adjacent to the main house. 
A guesthouse, stable and dovecote and herb garden surrounded it.

from the pages of VOGUE

from the pages of VOGUE 

Though the idyllic life of Princess Radziwill at Turville Grange didn't last-today her love of houses and flowers -and dogs endures in her interiors -now maintaining homes in Paris and New York. Her book Happy Times is a chronicle of a small part of that life.
Of the many images of this woman- these by HORST taken at Turville Grange are some of the most beautiful, charming and natural-
surrounded by flowers
-and dogs.



  1. I am filled with immense sadness as I look at these photos. But thanks. Mary

  2. great inspiration. I was never a big fan of hers but she was the real thing and "they don't make them like that anymore" .

  3. That contemporary indoor pool is a real head-scratcher. But I love the Mongiardino interiors.
    __ The Devoted Classicist

  4. i have actually visited the Turville Valley several times over the years. It is an enchanting area. The photos are beautiful. I had no idea she lived there. Thank you.

  5. Mongiardino is such an amazing designer, his work is so rich and dense and patinated in effect.

  6. What a marvelous world this is...and I love that joy here complete with ponies and Gypsy caravan. The dining room is one of those completely memorable ones, a wall treatment that could only have been accomplished by the incomparable Mongiardino. As you have shown he used similar pictorial arrangements with scenic reserves ( seen in late 18th cent. interiors and early 19th, and originally a Pompeian inspiration, second style wall paintings) in other projects, and the fact that these are Sicilan scarves, pieced together and lacquered only adds to delight of it all. Love it.

  7. LOVE LOVE this post - I think I might have to buy the book just to have something to look at and escape to when the harshness of modern reality becomes just too much!!

  8. Lee Radziwill's decorating reminds me of Gloria Vanderbilt's interiors. Very much the same multiple overlaying of pastels and flowers. I like the look, but not in every room!

  9. That photo of Caroline and Jackie (gazing at JFK's photo)- a heart breaker.

  10. thank you for this.
    i really need to know more...

    this was and is fascinating.
    i know little
    about 'the princess sister'-
    so, i am off to the library.


  11. John-I agree about that pool-very much the hand of the Prince surely.

  12. Lee R. had the great sense to have Mongiardino create rooms for her while she was in England-here and in London. Certainly 2 of the most beautiful rooms of the era to my mind.

    Mark- yes to some degree especially the bedroom-I think Lee knew who to call to create this mood, while GV full of her own ideas-I love her rooms-and her style-was pulling much of her ideas off. Another of the rooms of this era that for me would be one of my favorites-GV's patchwork bedroom!

    1. I agree totally!
      I was in my "teens" (I think) when I first saw Gloria Vanderbilt's rooms.....with the patchwork everywhere!! ON THE FLOORS!

      HAD THERE been pinterest.........my quota would have been filled up in one hour!

      Renzo and Gloria....I wonder if they ever met! Totally from the same "tribe"! My favorite thing about the internet!

      A quick story. Two of our daughters were living in the East....one in New York City; one in Boston. We were staying at the Carlyle.
      We came into a small, (I think octagonal room. I shrieked!! "YIKES!!! This is RENZO!!!" (AREN'T ALL OF YOU SO GLAD that I am not your mother or your wife!!)

      (Anyway; no one knew what the hell I was talking about.....so off I went to the manager! "Did Renzo Mongiardino do that room?" He said....."YES!!
      It was quite difficult; because he will not leave Italy. He sent his people to measure; he painted the panels...and then his people came and installed the panels !" (kind of like hand-painted wallpaper)!

      the manager kindly said....."I will tell him that someone recognized his work!"

      20 years ago; or something close.
      Lee has beautiful taste......and always has.


      DO you remember the floors in her patchwork rooms?

      The floors!



  13. Lee Radziwill has always been my style icon! As a child I collected over 1000 photos of her. I once read that was she was sitting on a couch looking pensive. I didn't know what "pensive" meant so I looked it up and spent two weeks sitting around trying to look "pensive." Alas, I simply look a bit insane and my mother threatened to call a therapist.

    1. HOnestly, this is the funniest thing I have read on the internet....or anywhere in my entire life!

      Weren't you so smart to choose such an unusual person as your "style icon"!!
      Your mother was very smart to call a "therapist"! Seriously; I had the most wonderful mother. She was from the South; and "no one called a therapist. Even for the criminally insane"!

      I had ADD (no one had ever heard of it) ; was kicked out of 5 schools; and my mother's faith in me; and the Holy Child nuns (I am not even Catholic) saved me!

      I wish I had been so chic to choose Lee Radziwill as a style icon! Wow!!!
      I have a really good friend here in Santa Barbara who has a grandson named "Radziwill"...Perhaps for the same reason!


    2. that picture of Lee with the dovecote and stables incorporated into the house....reminds me of heaven! And of my friend Kelly Harmon's work! she is incomparable at designing stables as part of houses......which is a beautiful way to live!

  14. To see these Photos grouped together is a treat!-I have seen some of them before. But, not in this way. Lee is a pisces, which means she is extremely creative and intuitive about what is beautiful. What I find most astonishing is how stylish, pretty and cozy both she and her rooms are nearly 50 years later!!! There is a timelessness to the photos. Things are layered but, not to the point of feeling too precious nor, formal.
    The dogs and flowers add the "lived in" feeling that surely transformed this old house and gave it a pulse-while she was there. Of course, it's fun to see Mark Hampton's water color of her bedroom. I've used it for inspiration numerous times in my own career. She surely aligned herself with the right team of people (Renzo) who could transmute her vision. Brava Lee! Still chic in her 80's!



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