Marilyn’s Summer in Surrey

The Millers at Parkside House

In 1956, Marilyn and husband Arthur Miller arrived in England to film The Prince and the Showgirl with co-star/director Laurence Olivier. Their four-month stay would be the longest Marilyn spent outside the United States. Today, the public mainly knows about that year’s events from the 2011 movie, My Week With Marilyn.

Although well-received, with an award-winning performance by Michelle Williams, the biopic – based on the memoirs of Colin Clark, who had worked as a runner for Olivier – contains some glaring inaccuracies, such as Clark’s spurious claims of a romance with MM.

In 2022, author Michelle Morgan will publish a book on this period, When Marilyn Met the Queen. (She previously devoted two full chapters to the subject in her excellent biography, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed.)

En route to Terence Rattigan’s house party in Windlesham, Surrey

While we’re waiting, Seren Hughes has written an article for Surrey Live about Marilyn’s links to the English county.

“Between July and November of 1956, the iconic Hollywood actress lived at Parkside House on a large country estate in Englefield Green which backs on to Windsor Great Park. Filming took place at Pinewood Studios, a stone’s throw away from Parkside House. Englefield Green is a large village mostly known today as the home of Royal Holloway University, but in 1956 it became a temporary home for Monroe.

Monroe flew to London on July 14 with her third husband, the celebrated playwright Arthur Miller, just weeks after they married. Apparently, they travelled with 27 items of luggage at the cost of $1,500 in excess baggage fees. They were welcomed at the airport by her co-star Sir Laurence and his wife Vivien Leigh before heading to Parkside.

The following few months were punctuated by press conferences, filming and various events before Monroe flew home on November 20. Some locals have spoken out about their brushes with Monroe during her visit.

On one notable occasion in July, the famous couple attended a party at the home of [playwright] Terence Rattigan in Windlesham. PC 607 Jack Packham of Bagshot police station is reported to have been on duty at the house to keep out uninvited guests, and is alleged to have initially turned Monroe and Miller away because he didn’t know who she was.

Recalling a much more mundane situation, Patrick O’Shea told the BBC of how Monroe’s chauffeur came to his stepfather Frank Parker and mother Dorothy’s shoe shop in Egham to buy tennis shoes for Marilyn. Parker asked the chauffeur if there was something they could have to mark the occasion, and a few days later the chauffeur returned with a signed photograph of Marilyn and Arthur cycling in Windsor Great Park showing off the shoes.”

Cycling in Windsor Park