Kent seems a rather unlikely spot for Russian royalty to choose to settle in. Its gently undulating landscape is more likely to be filled with apple orchards than fir or birch forests. But one branch of the Romanov dynasty came here in 1949 and the family have remained ever since.

In the reception hall, dark oak timbers criss-cross the ceiling and form carved coronets above double doorways that give access to other parts of the house

In the reception hall, dark oak timbers criss-cross the ceiling and form carved coronets above double doorways that give access to other parts of the house

Olga tells me that the magnificent carved fireplace that is now painted in white and gold was once simply oak. “My father and I came back from Scotland to find that my mother had had this painted. It was her Swedish and Finnish ancestry I suppose, she just couldn’t help wanting things to be white and gold

Olga tells me that the magnificent carved fireplace that is now painted in white and gold was once simply oak. “My father and I came back from Scotland to find that my mother had had this painted. It was her Swedish and Finnish ancestry I suppose, she just couldn’t help wanting things to be white and gold..."

Doors from the hallway lead into a low-beamed dining room with an enormous inglenook fireplace

Doors from the hallway lead into a low-beamed dining room with an enormous inglenook fireplace

The red carpet and the coral silk curtains that are swagged and trimmed with gold fringing add to the sense of formality

The red carpet and the coral silk curtains that are swagged and trimmed with gold fringing add to the sense of formality

The mirrored table top in the Oak Room produces a wonderful effect when the candelabra are lit and the epergne filled with flowers

The mirrored table top in the Oak Room produces a wonderful effect when the candelabra are lit and the epergne filled with flowers

I follow Olga up a Farrow & Ball ‘Chappell Green’ painted staircase to the oak panelled Gallery

I follow Olga up a Farrow & Ball ‘Chappell Green’ painted staircase to the oak panelled Gallery

Olga's mother had the long dining table in the Oak Room painted too and then the table top was covered with mirrored panels

Olga's mother had the long dining table in the Oak Room painted too and then the table top was covered with mirrored panels

Olga has now reached the stage where she can concentrate on the decoration of the major rooms of the house which are open to paying guests from May to October

Olga has now reached the stage where she can concentrate on the decoration of the major rooms of the house which are open to paying guests from May to October

Provender began as a hunting lodge in the 13th century, but has been augmented over the centuries so that the house is now a huge, rambling residence

Provender began as a hunting lodge in the 13th century, but has been augmented over the centuries so that the house is now a huge, rambling residence

I open the house every first Tuesday in the month from May to October and I also conduct Sunday tours on the first and last Sunday of every month

Olga opens the house every first Tuesday in the month from May to October and she also conducts Sunday tours on the first and last Sunday of every month

Olga as a young girl in a white tulle dress with a Finnish blue sash. “I wouldn’t get off my horse for my portrait to be painted,” recalls Olga. “So the artist got his revenge by painting me in that dress – that he completely made up – that I absolutely hated and still do.”

There is a painting of Olga as a young girl in a white tulle dress with a Finnish blue sash. “I wouldn’t get off my horse for my portrait to be painted,” recalls Olga. “So the artist got his revenge by painting me in that dress – that he completely made up – that I absolutely hated and still do.”

The panelled walls of the drawing room have been painted ballroom blue which perfectly offsets the gilt framed portraits around the room

The panelled walls of the drawing room have been painted ballroom blue which perfectly offsets the gilt framed portraits around the room

Olga’s mother’s mirrored dressing table and an oval mirror-topped dining table stand in the oak panelled gallery

Olga’s mother’s mirrored dressing table and an oval mirror-topped dining table stand in the oak panelled gallery

Olga’s private drawing room

Olga’s private drawing room

The library walls are painted a soft ochre yellow and two sides of the room feature floor to ceiling cupboards and shelves that support hundreds of leather-bound books.

The library walls are painted a soft ochre yellow and two sides of the room feature floor to ceiling cupboards and shelves that support hundreds of leather-bound books.

There is a chaise longue and a handsome desk in one corner of the room

In the library there is a chaise longue and a handsome desk in one corner of the room

Olga’s old night nursery is an almost perfect capsule of late 19th century interior design, the woodwork on the panelled walls is painted pale powder blue and in between, the wallpaper features tiny yellow rosebuds with pink ribbons running between them

Olga’s old night nursery is an almost perfect capsule of late 19th century interior design, the woodwork on the panelled walls is painted pale powder blue and in between, the wallpaper features tiny yellow rosebuds with pink ribbons running between them

The Crown Post room has a distinctly Russian feel. The walls are painted a kind of Baltic blue and a circular mahogany table and balloon back chairs stand just off-centre on simple scrubbed floorboards

The Crown Post room has a distinctly Russian feel. The walls are painted a kind of Baltic blue and a circular mahogany table and balloon back chairs stand just off-centre on simple scrubbed floorboards

The room beyond is the bedroom where the warm, honey coloured timbers are offset by fresh blue and white linens on the bed and armchair

The room beyond is the bedroom where the warm, honey coloured timbers are offset by fresh blue and white linens on the bed and armchair

The Crown Post room features a handsome white marble fireplace

The Crown Post room features a handsome white marble fireplace

Olga, with Jak the Jack Russell and Ronny the Dachshund, outside Provender’s heavy front door which is studded with large iron nails

Olga, with Jak the Jack Russell and Ronny the Dachshund, outside Provender’s heavy front door which is studded with large iron nails

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

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