Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again

If you recognized the words from the title of today’s post, then you have certainly read my all-time favorite book, Rebecca, or seen Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film rendition of Rebecca staring Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier. I first read Rebecca in high school English, and I have read it countless times since. With its vivid depiction of the mysterious Manderley, the ancestral home of Maxim de Winter, and the malevolent Rebecca, Maxim’s late wife, Rebecca is a novel that has haunted and enchanted generations of readers who find themselves drawn to return again and again. Rebecca’s famous opening line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” sets the scene for a novel about a house full of secrets where nothing is as it seems.

The author, Daphne du Maurier, placed Manderley in the setting of Menabilly, a home she leased that was hidden away in the woods on the south coast of Cornwall, England. The interiors were based on Milton Hall which du Maurier visited in her youth. Dating back to the 16th century, Milton remains the largest private house in Cambridgeshire, England. Today it is the family residence of Sir Philip and Lady Isabella Naylor-Leyland (in laws to Alice Naylor-Leyland) and it was prominently featured in The English Country House, published by Vendome in 2013. I am delighted to share a tour of Milton today with images graciously provided to The Glam Pad by Vendome.

Last month I posted this image on Instagram, and I was delighted to see so many share my passion for Rebecca!
I love this image of Alice Naylor-Leyland’s precious son at the family’s ancestral home, Milton. Image via @mrsalice (a must-follow on Instagram!)

In a recent survey, Rebecca – which celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2018 – was voted England’s favorite book from the past 225 years. A beautiful anniversary edition of Rebecca can be purchased here (best price) or here. And if you love Rebecca, I also recommend Daphne du Maurier at Home and The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories.

80th Anniversary edition of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
80th Anniversary edition of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

You can learn more about Milton and other historic English homes in The English Country House, a beautiful coffee table book I highly recommend. And (spoiler alert) a tour of Hitchcock’s movie set of Rebecca is available via Hooked on Houses.


  1. What a wonderful house! Love all the grand portrait paintings and the beautiful china. Thanks for letting us tour this grand house — its like a mini mental vacation for the Monday blahs!

  2. Thank you for this wonderful post. Rebecca is my favorite, as well. I picked it for my book club to read. It had haunted me ever since I furst read it. In the movie, my heart quickens every time Mrs. Danvers shows the second wife around Rebecca’s bedroom. I always anticipate that I will see more of it each time and that more of her clothes will be revealed. That room was so majectic and beautiful!
    In my mind there is only one person who could have played Rebecca if she was shown and that was Vivian Leigh. Heddy Lamar would have been a close second if she didn’t have an accent.

  3. Thank you for carrying me back to the first time I saw Rebecca. I was completely drawn in to the magnificent story
    and house. I have shown it to both my daughters and many teenage girlfriends visiting. It captured them just as much.
    I also wanted them to be exposed to the old glamour and good taste of yesteryear that old Hollywood entertained us with.
    So sorry that today’s generation of Hollywood is so lacking of beautiful homes , elegance, romance, integrity, handsome
    clothes, and good manners.

  4. On a study trip with Attingham, we visited Milton. Before our visit, a fellow student, who was English, and I were talking about Manderley, and she told me that she had been to Menabilly years ago. I was agog, because I’d read the book and loved the movie, and knew that the present tenants have few visitors and it is never open to the public. Then, when we arrived at Milton and the estate agent for the Naylor-Leylands told us that they had a letter from Daphne du Maurier stating that she had been inspired by the interiors there on a visit, and incorporated them into the descriptions of Manderley, I was enthralled. “Heavens!” I thought. “I’m about to visit Manderley.” My feet never touched the ground the entire day, and I remember it all so well. The bleating of the many sheep on the other side of the haha, and the frolicing of the lambs. The smell of the freshly mown lawn. The pleached limes in the courtyard near the stables. The solid mass of the building, the mellow stone of the hall, and the overall beauty of the estate, with a feeling that it had always been so, and always would be. Then we went inside, and when we reached what I thought of as the morning room, I looked at the desk that would have had all of the embroidered accoutrements in Rebecca, and there was…a laptop. Hah! I felt like a tire that had been deflated, and then had to chuckle to myself. “Modern life reaches out it’s ugly hand; even here.” Unfortunately, the Naylor-Leylands were not at home, so I never got to meet them, but they certainly know how to live. The place was impeccable, tasteful, lavish, but still a home. It was a highlight of my many trips to England and many stately homes visited. I feel very fortunate to have been there, as it is not open to the public. On another trip, I went to Hampstead Heath and saw Daphne du Maurier’s childhood home. In the photograph above of her at Menabilly, the portrait behind her is that of her father, Gerald. In the movie, Mrs. Danvers shows the new Mrs. de Winter Rebecca’s dressing table, with its silver vanity articles, and notices that the brush has been moved. My dressing table, while not as large as the oversized Hollywood version, has gold accoutrements and as I prepare my toilet each morning, I often think of Rebecca, and how she would have arranged it. The idea of it certainly informed the way I assembled it all, and I think she would have approved. I have yet to have a morning room, however. It’s something very civilised to which we may all aspire.

  5. One of my all time favorite books! Think I’ll get it out and re-read it yet again. Love this post as I’ve never seen a house associated with it. Can’t wait to look up the other books you mentioned!

  6. So enjoyable. So interesting! I had no idea, Andrea, that this is Mrs Alice’s family! Her Instagram pictures are almost dream like. She is well named… Alice. Your posts seem to get more exciting with each passing day!
    Xo Elizabeth

  7. This is just too wonderful! The moment I read your heading, I knew. Rebecca is one of the best books & movies ever. Thank you as always for your enchanting posts.


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