I met Mrs Greville.
Not the real Mrs Greville, she has been gone sometime (1863-1942)
but I was introduced to her thru her beautiful home.
I am certain this woman had spunk...she could hold her own with the best of them.
Not always an endearing quality but in her case, certainly memorable.
and once the country home of the 'dynamic and ambitious' Margaret Greville.
I ascertained that Mrs Greville was a woman to be reckoned with.
This was a woman who knew what she liked and how things should be done.
This was a woman you would not have wanted to cross.
This was a woman of exceptional taste.
It was so much fun and I took so many pictures
that I am going to have to break it up into a few posts.
The house, the furniture, the painting, the details....all so lovely.
But first, let's meet Mrs Greville
as the curators of Polesden Lacey would like us to know her.
'Mrs Greville rose from obscure origins to attain political influence, great wealth and the friendship of royalty. An inveterate traveller and relentless celebrity-hunter, she could be both discreetly charitable and personally waspish.
The natural daughter of William McEwan, a millionaire Scottish brewer and philanthropist, she declared 'I would rather be a beeress than a peeress.' She was one of the most influential hostesses in Europe for nearly four decades. Princes and maharajahs, viceroys and prime ministers, ambassadors and captains of industry enjoyed her lavish hospitality, but there was a price: she often aroused strong and contradictory reactions. The diarist, Chips Channon wrote that there was 'no-one on earth so skilfully malicious as old Maggie'. But when she died, the Queen Mother wrote wistfully to Osbert Sitwell, 'I shall miss her very much'.
The Duke and Duchess of York (later George VI and Queen Elizabeth)
spent part of their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey in 1923
Mrs Greville with Spencer Tracy and guest
A drunken butler...
'Glorious as the setting was, Mrs Greville's staff would occasionally let her down. On one occasion, it was apparent that the butler was intoxicated. She wrote a surreptitious note saying, 'You are drunk; leave the room at once', summoned the butler and placed it on his salver. He bowed courteously, advanced to the guest of honour, Sir Austen Chamberlain, and presented the note to him. The eminent politician spent the rest of the meal in mystified silence. When she explained the misunderstanding, he replied that it was the first time he had ever been silenced by a drunken butler'.
A grand entrance...
Every evening, at 6pm, the footman would lay out drinks on the 17th-century refectory table, while the gramophone would play the latest hits by Noel Coward. When she was sure that all her guests were gathered attentively below, Mrs Greville would descend the staircase slowly, pausing at the landing for maximum impact before completing her entree among her visitors'.
Food for the famous...
'Attention to detail ensured that the food arrived piping hot, while the champagne chilled, a welcome novelty compared with many country house dinners. Mrs Greville was renowned for her french cuisine, which was described in the Daily Telegraph in 1930 as 'unsurpassed anywhere'.
The Polesden Lacey Dinner Book
If you were a guest of Mrs Greville,
you would have enjoyed...
The Guest Room
The Billiard Room
Hooray for Mrs. Greville!
images 5,9 and text references here
all other images~ me